organic energy

Organic Farming and Energy Efficiency

Less Energy – Same Yields

A farming trial study was conducted over the course of 22 years in the United States and some interesting discoveries were made. It was found that organic farming and conventional farming can produce the same yields of soybeans and corn in the same amount of time, but with using a lot less energy. The study found that in addition to as much as 30% less energy, organic farming also uses less water – and of course no dangerous pesticides.

Longest study ever

The study is known as the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial and was published in Bioscience Magazine. At the time it was the longest running trial in which organic and conventional farming were compared in the US. An agriculture and ecology professor at Cornell University named David Pimentel is a very clever man, an agricultural expert and was the lead author of the study.

organic energy

How comparisons were made

A conventional farm and two organic farms were used in the trial. The conventional farm used fertilizer and pesticides while the organic farm used either legumes or manure instead. The research was done over time and included crop yields, energy efficiency, costs, soil changes, nitrogen accumulation, fungal activity and nitrate leaching. Both soybean and corn yields were the same in all three farms. An interesting finding was that although the yields at the organic farms were lower at first, it drastically increased in the followings years. I would imagine this happens as the soil heals and becomes more fertile. It was also found that these farms performed exceptionally well under drought conditions.

Good for global warming

Organic farming not only makes less of a carbon footprint on the earth, it actually has a positive effect on the environment and restores some of what we take out for energy. Because organic agriculture farming systems absorb and keep considerable amounts of carbon within the soil, the soil carbon is increased by almost 30%. This is more or less like removing over 3,500 pounds of carbon dioxide per hectare of air. It also reduces groundwater pollution by not using chemicals. Organic farming is good for the farmer, and good for the planet.


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