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organic vs conventional

2007-07-16 02:18:41.437071+00 by Dan Lyke 1 comments

Organic farming techniques could feed the world's population:

Ivette Perfecto of the University of Michigan in the US and her colleagues found that, in developed countries, organic systems on average produce 92% of the yield produced by conventional agriculture. In developing countries, however, organic systems produce 80% more than conventional farms.

Perfecto points out that the materials needed for organic farming are more accessible to farmers in poor countries.

(Via Red State Green, via PlasticBoy)

[ related topics: Nature and environment Food ]

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#Comment Re: made: 2007-07-16 12:41:13.133161+00 by: ebradway

That's a good article to keep linked. I hear this debate a lot and I've heard the organic advocates, like the folks at Crabtree Farms in Chattanooga, state that organic farming can generate the same yields as conventional. And those guys aren't just a bunch of hippies - some of them have advanced degrees in horticulture.

Organic farming requires lots of muscle and good, clean shit. As Perfecto states, those are easy to come by in Periphery countries. In the US, it's a little harder to manage because organic techniques don't lend themselves well to large-scale mono-crops. In particular, organic farming relies on the symbiotic nature of many kinds of plants to provide shade and insect protection. Crops are grown on multiple layers so the taller plants (like pole beans) shade the smaller plants (like lettuces).

What caught my eye in this article was the reference to small-scale farming as "precision farming". In the GIS world, precision agriculture refers to using remote-sensing data to input GPS-controlled crop treatment (e.g., watering exactly what needs to be watered and fertilizing exactly what needs to be fertilized). This kind of "precision" technique only works well in large-scale mono-crops.

Remote sensing makes little sense in a small garden where you can just pinch a leaf or stick your finger in the soil to determine plant health. And GPSes aren't accurate enough to separate your three tomato plants!