GardenJester wrote:I'm going to have to say MG will do better than organic. There's a reason why majority of the commercial farmers use artificial fertilizers similar to MG. The yields are simply more/better than the organic methods.
I don't believe this-- I will get back to the yield question in a minute. But I think most commercial / industrial agriculture uses petroleum based fertilizers and lots of chemicals because they are a business
and they are doing cost-benefit analysis and working for the most profit possible. Organic methods are more labor intensive and labor is always the biggest expense in any business. Chemical methods are easier for one person riding around in a gigantic air-conditioned machine (compacting their soil) to do.
Prices of food are so low that increasing the yield by using more labor is not cost effective, the increased yield doesn't earn enough to pay for the increased labor. But the reason that chemical methods are more cost effective is that lots of the actual costs of the process are out-sourced and not counted in -- petroleum production is heavily govt subsidized, so the agro business is not paying the true cost of the petro-fertilizer, not to mention the environmental costs such as the billions it will cost to try to remediate the Gulf after this massive spill. Water remains nearly free so the cost of extra irrigation needed because organic soils retain water so much better isn't counted in, etc etc.
So about yield... here's a great article I found on the whole question of can we feed the world organically. I recommend reading the whole article it is very enlightening https://www.cnr.berkeley.edu/~christos/articles/cv_organic_farming.html , but here's a few highlights from it of studies of organic vs industrial methods for yield:
Soybean production systems were also highly productive, achieving 40 bushels/acre. In 1999 however, during one of the worst droughts on record, yields of organic soybeans were 30 bushels /acre, compared to only 16 bushels/acre from conventionally- grown soybeans (Rodale Institute, 1999). "Our trials show that improving the quality of the soil through organic practices can mean the difference between a harvest or hardship in times of drought"
A comprehensive review of a large number of comparison studies of grain and soybean production conduct by six Midwestern universities since 1978 found that in all of these studies organic production was equivalent to, and in many cases better than, conventional
Corn yields were comparable in all three cropping systems (less than 1% difference) (Drinkwater, 1998). However, a comparison of soil characteristics during a 15-year period found that soil fertility was enhanced in the organic systems, while it decreased considerably in the conventional system. Nitrogen content and organic matter levels in the soil increased markedly in the manureÃ¢â‚¬â€fertilized organic system and declined in the conventional system. Moreover, the conventional system had the highest environmental impact, where 60% more nitrate was leached into the groundwater over a 5 year period than in the organic systems (Drinkwater, 1998). [RBG - again the farmers aren't paying for that kind of damage they create, so it isn't counted in the cost]
The article says that at least sometimes the organic methods don't just give higher yield they are actually more profitable. So I have to think that sometimes commercial farmers use chemical methods because that is what they were taught and they don't know any better.