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Re: [nafex] FW: organic works - the evidence

This sounds like something our former President (of the US) would have written!!!

Ed, heaven, lovin'it, etc.

"Lon J. Rombough" wrote:

> ----------
> From: kathryn marsh
> Subject: organic works - the evidence
> Date: Fri, Apr 20, 2001, 3:24 AM
> from todays "Nature"
> Nature Science Update is an entertaining, informative and accessible
> round-up of what's new in  the world of science  brought to you by
> the  Nature News Service --  the popular science syndication arm of
> the leading international science  journal Nature.
> To find out about buying news and features like this for your website
> or news paper please e-mai  syndication@nature.com
>    policy: Green apples upset cart       TOM CLARKE
>    A study of apple farming published today finds that organic
> orchards can be more profitable, produce  tastier fruit at similar
> yields compared to  conventional farming, and be better for the
> environment at the same time1.
>    John Reganold and colleagues at Washington State  University in
> Pullman farmed three experimental
>    plots of Golden Delicious apples (Malus x domestica) using organic,
> conventional and
>   'integrated' growing methods.
>   Although the organic system took longer to reach profitability, it
> ranked first in terms of environmental
>   sustainability, profitability and energy efficiency by the end of
> the six-year study. Integrated farming,
>   which reduces the use of chemicals by combining  organic and
> conventional production methods, came
>   second, conventional farming last.
>    What's more, untrained tasters rated the organic apples the sweetest.
>   "This is one of the first well-replicated rigorous   experiments
> that's looked at all of the benefits and costs involved in an
> alternative framing  practice," says David Tilman, who works on
> sustainable development at the University of  Minnesota in St Paul.
>    "We kept track of everything that went in," says Reganold. By
> recording inputs of compost, chemicals and even the amount of fuel
> used by farming machinery, Reganold's team produced an
> 'environmental impact assessment' for each growing method.
>    Critics say organic farming is based more on ideology than on
> environmental or economic merit2 .
>   They also worry that because organic farming is often more energy
> intensive and produces lower  yields than conventional methods it may
> place an even higher burden on the environment.
>   Although Reganold's study finds that this is certainly not the case
> for growing Golden Delicious  in Washington, it does not necessarily
> imply that organic farming is more environmentally and  economically
> sound for other types of agriculture in other regions, he admits.
>                             Dennis Avery, director of the Center for
> Global Food Issues in Churchville, Virginia argues that  this is a
> persistent problem with research hailing the benefits of organic
> systems.
>     "The real issue of sustainability doesn't have a lot to do with
> intensive fruit and vegetable    production," says Avery. He argues
> that it is the large-scale production of staple crops like  wheat,
> corn, rice and wood that have the greatest impact on whether or not
> agriculture is environmentally and economically sustainable and that
> organic methods cannot produce sufficient  yields in these crop
> systems to compete with conventional methods. "Organic field crops
> are 50 to 60 percent less productive per acre," says Avery.
>   But organic farming experts argue that if there was as much research
> into 'alternative' farming
>   practices as there is into conventional ones, the muddy boot could
> be on the other foot when it   comes to the sustainability of organic
> farming.
>   "The research input that goes into organic farming is so small that
> I just get irritated at people who are trying to make comparisons
> between the two systems when there isn't a level playing  field,"
> says Martin Wolfe, an organic farming researcher at Wakelyns
> Agroforestry in Suffolk,  UK.
>     Alternative farming practices could lose their unscientific "muck
> and luck" image if there were more thorough studies into organic
> methods such as Reganold's, says Wolfe. "As more of a scientific
> spotlight plays on what is occurring, in most cases it will emerge
> that organic farming is  coming up with the goods."
>     1.Reganold, J. P., Glover, J. D., Andrews, P. K., Hinman, H. R.
> Sustainability of three apple
>   production systems. Nature 410, 926-930 (2001).
>     2.Trewavas, A. Urban myths of organic farming. Nature 410, 409-410
> (2001).
>    3.Drinkwater, L. E., Wagoner, P. & Sarrantonio, M. Legume-based
> cropping systems have
>    reduced carbon and nitrogen losses. Nature 396, 262-265 (1998).
>                                                Macmillan Magazines
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