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  • The organic peach and nectarine season has just started at Pro-Plum, part of the OrganoGroup, on the Waterberg highlands of Limpopo Province, flown out to primarily Canada and Europe, with some smaller volumes to the Middle East.

  • Prices for organic food-grade grain and soybeans in the August-September period declined from June-July, with wheat prices also down from a year ago but corn and soybeans above year-ago levels, according to Mercaris, the organic and non-GMO trading platform and market information company.

  • With 30 years of experience in the organic sector, Yvonne Legros is certain: it won’t be long before the European consumer solely demands organic fruits and vegetables. “Something we’ve always wanted is about to become reality.” 

  • Organic farming is a method of crop and livestock production that involves much more than choosing not to use pesticides, fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, antibiotics and growth hormones.

  • It’s a golden October afternoon in Burgundy—a few weeks after harvest. Most of the growers here picked their grapes earlier than usual this year.

  • In her book Silent Spring, Rachel Carson writes: “The sense of smell, almost more than any other, has the power to recall memories….”

  •  A new study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Research reveals that people who switched from a conventional to an organic diet reduced their intake of pesticides by 60 percent in just one week.  Well, that’s it. Game over. The evidence is all in, and organic wins.

  • It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” This opening line from the Charles Dickens novel, “A Tale of Two Cities,” could also be used to describe the current state of the organic grain industry. Demand for organic grain-based products has never been greater, particularly in the U.S. and Western Europe, but a recent wave of negative publicity may hamper efforts to expand production and strengthen the public’s trust.

  • The organic milk market is likely to maintain healthy growth rate during the assessment period 2018-2028, as steadily growing awareness among consumers in the last decade translates into commercial opportunities for companies.

  • We are all familiar with erosion and the soil’s ability to wear away, but few people associate soil with growing upward.

  • American consumers are increasingly interested in organic food. So it should be no surprise that organic commodity farmers will harvest a record 3.1 million acres of U.S. land certified for organic field crop production this year, 7% more than a year ago, according to a new report.

  • Is organic agriculture the solution to our global food system challenges? That's been the premise and promise of the organic movement since its origins in the 1920s: farming that's healthy, ecological, and socially just.

    Many people from consumers and farmers to scientists and international organisations believe that organic agriculture can produce enough nutritious food to feed the world without destroying the environment, while being more resilient to climate change and improving the livelihoods of farmers.

    But as with many important issues of our time, there are more passionate opinions about organic agriculture than there is scientific evidence to support them. And there's nothing black or white about organic agriculture.

    For a paper published today in the journal Science Advances, we systematically and rigorously evaluated the performance of organic versus conventional agriculture on three key fronts  environmental impact, producer and consumer benefits. As much as possible, we based our review on previous quantitative synthesis of the scientific literature  so-called meta-analyses. We also examined whether those studies agree or disagree in their verdicts.

    We discovered that organic farming does matter  just not in the way most people think.

    Organic wins on some fronts and loses on others. Author providedEnvironmental impacts
    Compared to a neighbouring conventional farm, an organic farm at first appears to be better for the environment. But that's not the whole story. Here'show it breaks down.

    What's good: Organic farms provide higher biodiversity, hosting more bees, birds and butterflies. They also have higher soil and water quality and emit fewer greenhouse gases.

    What's not-so-good: Organic farming typically yields less product  about 19-25% less. Once we account for that efficiency difference and examine environmental performance per amount of food produced, the organic advantage becomes less certain (few studies have examined this question). Indeed, on some variables, such as water quality and greenhouse gas emissions, organic farms may perform worse than conventional farms, because lower yields per hectare can translate into more environmentally damaging land-clearing.

    Organic farms have more biodiversity than their conventional neighbours. Mike Blake/ReutersConsumer benefits
    The jury's still out on whether the comsumer is better off, too.

    What's good: For consumers in countries with weak pesticide regulations, like India, organic food reduces pesticide exposure. Organic ingredients also most likely have slightly higher levels of some vitamins and secondary metabolites.

    What's not-so-good: Scientists can't confirm whether these minor micronutrient differences actually matter for our health. Because the difference in the nutritional value of organic and conventional food is so small, you'd do better just eating an extra apple every day, whether it's organic or not. Organic food is also more expensive than conventional food at present and therefore inaccessible to poor consumers.

    Pricy organic ingredients don't fall within many consumers budgets. Phil Roeder/flickr, CC BYProducer benefits
    Organic methods bring certain benefits for farmers, some costs and many unknowns.

    What's good: Organic agriculture is typically more profitable up to 35% more, according to a meta-analysis of studies across North America, Europe and India  than conventional farming. Organic also provides more rural employment opportunities because organic management is more labour-intensive than conventional practices. For workers, though, the biggest advantage is that organic decreases thei exposure to toxic agrochemicals.

    What's is-so-good: We still don't know whether organic farms pay higher wages or offer better working conditions than conventional farms. Organic farm workers are most likely exploited in similar ways asthose tilling the fields on conventional farms.

    We still don't know whether organic farms offer better labour conditions. Mike Blake/ReutersThe takeaway
    In short, we cannot determine yet whether organic agriculture could feed the world and reduce the environmental footprint of agriculture while providing decent jobs and giving consumers affordable, nutritious food.

    It's a lot to ask of one industry, and there are still just too many unanswered questions. Some of these questions relate to agriculture, such as whether organic farms can eventually close the yield gap with conventional farms and whether there are enough organic fertilisers to produce all the world's food organically.

    But some questions are also about humanity's collective future. Can people in the rich world learn to change our diet and reduce food waste to avoid having to increase food production as the global population grows? And are enough people willing to work in agriculture to meet the needs of labour-intensive organic farms?

    A more useful question is whether we should continue to eat organic food and expand investment in organic farming. Here the answer is a definitive yes.

    Organic agriculture shows significant promises in many areas. We would be foolish not to consider it an important tool in developing more sustainable global agriculture.

    Only 1% of agricultural land is organically farmed worldwide. If organic land continues to expand at the same rate that it has over the past decade, it will take another century for all agriculture to be organic.

    But organic farming is influence goes far beyond that 1% acreage. Over the past 50 years, organic farms have provided conventional agriculture with examples of new ways to farm and acted as a testing ground for a different set of management practices, from diversifying crop rotationsand composting to using cover crops and conservation tillage. Conventional agriculture has neglected these sustainable practices for too long.

    So yes, you should identify and support those organic farms that are doing a great job of producing environmentally friendly, economically viable, and socially just food. Conscientious consumers can also push to improve organic farming where it is not doing so well  for example on yields and worker rights.

    As scientists, we must close some of the critical knowledge gaps about this farming system to better understand its achievements and help address its challenges.

    But in the meantime, everyone can learn from successful organic farms and help improve the other 99% of agriculture that�s feeding the world today. The conversation

  • If you are a price-conscious shopper, ignoring anything marked "organic" is traditionally the right move.

  • Keeping the soil covered is a fundamental principle of CA. Crop residues are left on the soil surface, but cover crops may be needed if the gap is too long between harvesting one crop and establishing the next.

  • As a farmer, I’m supposed to hate vegans and environmental activists, but that’s nonsense.

  • Of all the components of soil, organic matter is probably the most important and most misunderstood.

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