Rodale Study Finds
Organic Superior In Withstanding Drought
The Rodale Institute's Farming Systems Trial in Kutztown,
Pa., reported that organic test plots did better than
conventional plots during 1999's East Coast drought. Rodale
compared soybean systems under organic and conventional
management, and figures show yields of 30 bushels per acre
from legume-based organic soybeans compared to only 16
bushels per acre from conventionally grown crops.
Pennsylvania was one of 14 states declared a drought
disaster area by the U.S. Department of Agriculture this
summer. Because Kutztown received only 4.4 inches of rain
from June through August compared to an average of 13.4
inches in normal years, The Rodale Institute's organic
soybean yield is even more impressive. Scientists at the
Institute say improved soil conditions because of organic
management is the reason for the strong performance.
The trial's manure-based organic soybean plots also
performed well above the level of conventional plots,
achieving 24 bushels per acre. "Over time, organic practices
encourage the soil to hold on to moisture more efficiently
than conventionally managed soil," Jeff Moyer, Farm Manager
at The Rodale Institute's Farming Systems Trial. "The higher
content of organic matter also makes organic soil less
compact so that root systems can penetrate more deeply to
find moisture." In addition, organic practices reduce
nitrate leaching and erosion.
For more on the Institute's study, go to:
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