Thursday 26th April 2012, 22:18 Hong Kong
Conventional yields higher than organic
Research suggests that organic agriculture might not be the answer to the world's food supply problem
Organic yields are typically lower than conventional yields, according to the results of a meta-analysis published online by science journal Nature.
The report, which involved the re-analysis of 66 studies into 34 different crops, raises concerns for those who believe organic agriculture can help the world meet rising demand for food from a burgeoning population while minimising the environmental impact of increased production.
The report's authors emphasised that specific differences in relative yields were "highly contextual" – depending on system and site characteristics – but noted that the production gap was particularly wide in wheat and some vegetables.
Lead author and McGill University Earth system scientist Verena Seufert told Nature: “I think organic farming does have a role to play because under some conditions it does perform pretty well.”
Strawberries were singled out for showing just a 3 per cent difference in organic and conventional yields.