Intercropping should large scale farms be

If you are interested in farming, there are many ways to get started. One main thing to consider if what type of farm you wish to have and whether you intend to use the farm as your main source of livelihood. Here are seven different types of farms: Subsistence farm — This is a type of farm that produces only enough food to feed the family with little or no surplus for sale, says Africa Development Promise.

Intercropping should large scale farms be

The only people who think organic farming can feed the world are delusional hippies, hysterical moms, and self-righteous organic farmers. This probably comes as a surprise.

After all, organic farmers scorn the pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and other tools that have become synonymous with high-yield agriculture. Instead, organic farmers depend on raising animals for manure, growing beans, clover, or other nitrogen-fixing legumes, or making compost and other sources of fertilizer that cannot be manufactured in a chemical plant but are instead grown-which consumes land, water, and other resources.

In contrast, producing synthetic fertilizers consumes massive amounts of petroleum. As a result, the argument goes, a world dependent on organic farming would have to farm more land than it does today-even if it meant less pollution, fewer abused farm animals, and fewer carcinogenic residues on our vegetables.

Unfortunately, no one had ever systematically analyzed whether in fact a widespread shift to organic farming would run up against a shortage of nutrients and a lack of yields-until recently.

The results are striking. High-Tech, Low-Impact There are actually myriad studies from around the world showing that organic farms can produce Intercropping should large scale farms be as much, and in some settings much more, than conventional farms.

Where there is a yield gap, it tends to be widest in wealthy nations, where farmers use copious amounts of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides in a perennial attempt to maximize yields. It is true that farmers converting to organic production often encounter lower yields in the first few years, as the soil and surrounding biodiversity recover from years of assault with chemicals.

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And it may take several seasons for farmers to refine the new approach. But the long-standing argument that organic farming would yield just one-third or one-half of conventional farming was based on biased assumptions and lack of data.

For example, the often-cited statistic that switching to organic farming in the United States would only yield one-quarter of the food currently produced there is based on a U.

More up-to-date research refutes these arguments. For example, a recent study by scientists at the Research Institute for Organic Agriculture in Switzerland showed that organic farms were only 20 percent less productive than conventional plots over a year period. Looking at more than studies in North America and Europe, Per Pinstrup Andersen a Cornell professor and winner of the World Food Prize and colleagues recently concluded that organic yields were about 80 percent of conventional yields.

Intercropping should large scale farms be

And many studies show an even narrower gap. Organic tomatoes showed no yield difference. University of Essex researchers Jules Pretty and Rachel Hine looked at over agricultural projects in the developing world that converted to organic and ecological approaches, and found that for all the projects-involving 9 million farms on nearly 30 million hectares-yields increased an average of 93 percent.

A seven-year study from Maikaal District in central India involving 1, farmers cultivating 3, hectares found that average yields for cotton, wheat, chili, and soy were as much as 20 percent higher on the organic farms than on nearby conventionally managed ones.

Farmers and agricultural scientists attributed the higher yields in this dry region to the emphasis on cover crops, compost, manure, and other practices that increased organic matter which helps retain water in the soils.

A study from Kenya found that while organic farmers in "high-potential areas" those with above-average rainfall and high soil quality had lower maize yields than nonorganic farmers, organic farmers in areas with poorer resource endowments consistently outyielded conventional growers.

In both regions, organic farmers had higher net profits, return on capital, and return on labor. High-Calorie Farms So could we make do without the chemical plants? Inspired by a field trip to a nearby organic farm where the farmer reported that he raised an amazing 27 tons of vegetables on six-tenths of a hectare in a relatively short growing season, a team of scientists from the University of Michigan tried to estimate how much food could be raised following a global shift to organic farming.

The team combed through the literature for any and all studies comparing crop yields on organic farms with those on nonorganic farms.

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As expected, organic farming yielded less than conventional farming in the developed world for most food categories, while studies from the developing world showed organic farming boosting yields. The team then ran two models. The first was conservative in the sense that it applied the yield ratio for the developed world to the entire planet, i.

The second applied the yield ratio for the developed world to wealthy nations and the yield ratio for the developing world to those countries.

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It also laid to rest another concern about organic agriculture; see sidebar at left. The idea of those areas being pesticide-drenched fields is just going to be a disaster for biodiversity, especially in the tropics. The world would be able to sustain high levels of biodiversity much better if we could change agriculture on a large scale.

This model is considered the definitive algorithm for predicting food output, farm income, and the number of hungry people throughout the world.

And because the model assumed, like the Michigan study, that organic farming would boost yields in Africa, Asia, and Latin America, the most optimistic scenario even had hunger-plagued sub-Saharan Africa exporting food surpluses. In other words, studies from the field show that the yield increases from shifting to organic farming are highest and most consistent in exactly those poor, dry, remote areas where hunger is most severe.

That is, if other problems can be overcome. The two sides are simply too far from each other and they ignore the realities of the global food system. They have seen with their own eyes and felt with their own hands how productive they can be.Small farms are more productive and resource conserving than large-scale monocultures Although the conventional wisdom is that small family farms are backward and unproductive, research shows that small farms are much more productive than large farms if total output is considered rather than yield from a single crop.

Intercropping should large scale farms be

intercrops. In order to advance the practice, experiments that test the effects of intercropping should use standardized methodology, and researchers should report a set of common criteria to strategy than intercropping in large-scale agriculture and often involve growing different crops in as with intercropping.

However, the spatial. The idea that we should replace the large, polluting farms with the small, diversified farms ignores what might be the best solution: Get the large farms to stop polluting.

N2Africa is a large scale, research-in-development project focused on enabling African smallholder farmers to benefit from symbiotic nitrogen fixation by legume crops through effective production. Performance of double cropping and relay intercropping for black soybean production in small-scale farms Koji Yamane Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kinki University, Nara, Japan, Atsuyoshi Ikoma Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kinki University, Nara, Japan & Morio Iijima Graduate School of Agricultural Science, Kinki.

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Can Organic Farming Feed Us All? | Worldwatch Institute