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.