The July issue of the journal Bioscience reviewed a 22-year-long field
study by the Rodale Institute which compared organic and conventional
farming on similar plots of land with similar crops. The study found
that in the initial five years of the study, the conventional crops
(i.e. crops grown with pesticides and synthetic fertilizers) had slightly
better yields than the organic crops. But during that same initial period,
the organic farming practices were building up higher levels of soil
mass and biodiversity which then allowed the organic land to generate
yields equal to or greater than the conventional crops. The conventional
crops collapsed during drought years, while the organic crops fluctuated
only slightly, due to greater water holding potential in the organic
enriched soil. The conventional crop also had pesticides leaching into
the water at levels exceeding the EPA’s safety limits. Over the 22 year
period, the organic crops used 30% less fossil energy inputs than the
conventional crops. /old_articles/organic/norm071805.cfm