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Risks and opportunities of increasing yields in organic farming. A review

Röös, E.; Mie, A.; Wivstad, Maria; Salomon, E.; Johansson, B.; Gunnarsson, Stefan; Wallenbeck, Anna; Hoffman, Ruben; Nilsson, Ulf; Sundberg, C. and Watson, Christine A (2018) Risks and opportunities of increasing yields in organic farming. A review. Agronomy for Sustainable Development, 38 (2), pp. 13-22.

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Document available online at: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs13593-018-0489-3


Summary

Current organic agriculture performs well in several sustainability domains, like animal welfare, farm profitability and low pesticide use, but yields are commonly lower than in conventional farming. There is now a re-vitalized interest in increasing yields in organic agriculture to provide more organic food for a growing, more affluent population and reduce negative impacts per unit produced. However, past yield increases have been accompanied by several negative side-effects. Here, we review risks and opportunities related to a broad range of sustainability domains associated with increasing yields in organic agriculture in the Northern European context. We identify increased N input, weed, disease and pest control, improved livestock feeding, breeding for higher yields and reduced losses as the main measures for yield increases. We review the implications of their implementation for biodiversity, greenhouse gas emissions, nutrient losses, soil fertility, animal health and welfare, human nutrition and health and farm profitability. Our findings from this first-of-its-kind integrated analysis reveal which strategies for increasing yields are unlikely to produce negative side-effects and therefore should be a high priority, and which strategies need to be implemented with great attention to trade-offs. For example, increased N inputs in cropping carry many risks and few opportunities, whereas there are many risk-free opportunities for improved pest control through the management of ecosystem services. For most yield increasing strategies, both risks and opportunities arise, and the actual effect depends on management including active mitigation of side-effects. Our review shows that, to be a driving force for increased food system sustainability, organic agriculture may need to reconsider certain fundamental principles. Novel plant nutrient sources, including increased nutrient recycling in society, and in some cases mineral nitrogen fertilisers from renewable sources, and truly alternative animal production systems may need to be developed and accepted.


EPrint Type:Journal paper
Keywords:Organic agriculture, Yield, Biodiversity, Soil fertility, Animal welfare, Nutrition, Environment
Agrovoc keywords:
Language
Value
URI
English
organic agriculture
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_15911
English
yields
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_8488
English
biodiversity
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_33949
English
soil fertility
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_7170
English
animal welfare
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_443
English
nutrition
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_49892
English
environment
http://aims.fao.org/aos/agrovoc/c_2593
Subjects:"Organics" in general
Animal husbandry
Crop husbandry
Food systems
Environmental aspects
Research affiliation: Sweden > Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU) > SLU Centre for organic Food and Farming, Epok
ISSN:1774-0746 (Print) 1773-0155 (Online)
DOI:10.1007/s13593-018-0489-3
Deposited By: Nordlund Othén, Janne
ID Code:35150
Deposited On:24 Apr 2019 05:44
Last Modified:24 Apr 2019 05:44
Document Language:English
Status:Published
Refereed:Peer-reviewed and accepted

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