Organic Farming vs Conventional Farming: Yield
A survey report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicated that yield in organic farming is less compared to conventional cropping. Some factors and insights around their comparative analysis are discussed below.
COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS: ORGANIC VS CONVENTIONAL CROPPING
1. Organic Yields Lower Than Conventional Cropping
- According to the USDA survey report, the long term experiments in Iowa, Pennsylvania, and other states in the US for a per acre/bushel field area, indicated that organic farming yield is less compared to conventional cropping. The "organic corn yields to be 41 bushels per acre less than conventional yields, organic wheat yields to be 9 bushels per acre less, and organic soybean yields to be 12 bushels per acre less."
- The yield differences revealed by the survey report between the organic and conventional cropping was estimated due to the unique problems encountered by organic systems, such as effective weed control, seed varieties and high percentage of organic growers who use lower yielding food-grade varieties.
- The organic versus conventional cropping yield gap for row crops was highest in cotton (45%) and flex seeds (43%); for tree nut and vine crops-cranberries (67%) and vegetable crops-spinach (71%) for per acre area.
- The Grist article highlights that the best apple-to-apple comparative studies have shown that organic farming for per acre land generally yields 20-30% less than conventional monocropping.
2. Land Upstream for Production
- The Grist article states that the organic agriculture requires more land upstream of production which affects the production cost as the farmer has to grow nitrogen fertilizer before he can grow food which is not in the case of conventional agriculture which takes up more space downstream from production.
- The USDA survey report states that the mean operating and operating plus capital costs per acre for crop production were generally less for organic than for conventional farms. The organic producers had higher fuel and capital costs per acre of farm because they used more field operations, particularly for tillage/land upstream.
- The additional economic costs of $83 to $98 per acre for corn, $55 to $62 per acre for wheat, and $106 to $125 per acre for soybeans are incurred from organic production in comparison to conventional cropping.
3. Pesticide Residue
- The USDA Pesticide Data Program (PDP) database identified that the pesticide exposure estimates for organic food produced per kcal was recorded to have lower concentrations in comparison to conventional food produced. It was found that the organic foods have around one-third of the pesticide residues of conventionally grown produce.
- In the point of view concerning health factors, organic foods are considered to be safer by most consumers due to its lower pesticide exposure and even pay premium price for these products.
- The study by Research Gate states that the organic farming, although uses frequent pesticide applications along with synthetic fertilizers, gains more retail price of organic products as compared to conventional food produce due to the higher perceived nutritional content in the output.
OTHER HELPFUL FINDINGS
- In the US, the organic production has 0.6% of the total land share (4.9 million acres) with certifiable organic operations found in every state.
- It is found that even though the amount of land dedicated to the production of organic goods is low in comparison to its conventional cropping, consumer demand is high.
- The overall organic market in the US reached $39.7 billion in retail sales representing 47% of the global organic market, accounting for nearly 5% of all food sales in the U.S.
In order to identify the three key insights into the comparative analysis of organic versus conventional cropping in reference to yield in the US, we initially searched through market research reports and publications from credible forums including Research Gate, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, NCBI, Our World in Data, IOPscience and others, to check any directly available comparative analysis in this topic.
Through the search, most of the information identified from multiple sources where related to global comparatives for the overall organic versus conventional cropping systems based on its advantages and environmental impact. Hence, through the available data, we extrapolated the relevant findings related to the three key insights which shared comparative analysis in reference to the yield/output for the US organic and conventional cropping and is based on a similar metric for farms (size/revenue).
The key insights listed above were included as they were highlighted in more than one credible source and are based on the comparative metric of size (per acre/per bushel) of the farm referred. Reports from Research Gate, USDA survey, and Grist organization highlighted that organic farming yields are lower than conventional cropping with references for per bushel of corn, wheat, and soybean farms has been provided. Also, the sources highlights that the land upstream production in reference to output for comparatives of organic versus conventional cropping for per acre land is higher in organic farming. Additionally, the key insight from the above sources indicated that the pesticide residue for the per kcal of food produced from organic cropping versus conventional cropping is found to be less in organic products which in turn helps in achieving higher premium/retail price for organic products. An old source from Grist organization article has also been added as it contained multiple key insights and findings related to the comparative analysis of organic versus conventional cropping in reference to output and no such similar source with relative findings could be found from recent years.