The Tech Herald

Organic vs Monocropping: Age-old questions answered by study

by Rich Bowden - Apr 7 2009, 08:53

Img: Corn field, Iowa. Credit: PlanMyGreen/flickr

An age-old argument between supporters of organic farming and those who prefer the monocropping methods of modern agriculture may have been resolved.

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Michael Fields Agricultural Institute have found that traditional organic farming techniques of planting a variety of plants to ward off pest infestation, is more profitable than monocropping.

"In our study we found that diversified systems were more profitable than monocropping," said Joshua Posner, of the University of Wisconsin, in a statement.

The study of species-diverse pasture and organic systems was carried out at two sites in southern Wisconsin between 1993 to 2006 and examined a variety of test cases.

The study found "...the organic systems were more profitable than the Midwestern standards of continuous corn, no-till corn and soybeans, and intensively managed alfalfa," said the statement.

"Rotational grazing of dairy heifers was as profitable as the organic systems. And to our surprise, including risk premiums into the evaluation did not change the ranking of the systems," it continued.

"This study indicates that governmental policy that supports mono-culture systems is outdated and support should be shifted to programs that promote crop rotations and organic farming practices."

The findings of the research are published in the March-April issue of Agronomy Journal.

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