Using organic soil amendments results in better soil health and yield in the long run

A recent study from Geoderma shows that over time, organic yields can match and even exceed those of conventional when built up soil health and biodiversity lead to better crop production. This study is important because past research on yield gaps between organic and conventional typically make short-term comparisons between the two systems, and show that conventional can produce more food and faster. This study instead shows that when organic production is monitored over a long period of time, the yield gap decreases and can even disappear. In this case, researchers measured multiple parameters of soil health after 34 years of various soil treatments including synthetic and organic fertilizers. The soil under organic management had reduced acidification, improved nutrients, more beneficial bacteria and better yields of the rice crop studied.

Organic production invests in ecosystem services like biodiversity, pollination, and natural control of pests and diseases. This systems-based approach takes time to build up and become effective, and this study shows that in the long-term, the improved soil health results in bigger yields. Science also shows that in the long-term, when conventional farming relies on quick-release, synthetic fertilizers and chemical sprays for pest and disease control, soil health, biodiversity, and overall yields are degraded. This important research suggests that a using a long-term lens will reveal the true benefits of organic farming practices.  

Banner Photo Credit:  Sergio Camalich;