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The crop yield gap between organic and conventional agriculture

Author

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  • de Ponti, Tomek
  • Rijk, Bert
  • van Ittersum, Martin K.

Abstract

A key issue in the debate on the contribution of organic agriculture to the future of world agriculture is whether organic agriculture can produce sufficient food to feed the world. Comparisons of organic and conventional yields play a central role in this debate. We therefore compiled and analyzed a meta-dataset of 362 published organic–conventional comparative crop yields. Our results show that organic yields of individual crops are on average 80% of conventional yields, but variation is substantial (standard deviation 21%). In our dataset, the organic yield gap significantly differed between crop groups and regions. The analysis gave some support to our hypothesis that the organic–conventional yield gap increases as conventional yields increase, but this relationship was only rather weak. The rationale behind this hypothesis is that when conventional yields are high and relatively close to the potential or water-limited level, nutrient stress must, as per definition of the potential or water-limited yield levels, be low and pests and diseases well controlled, which are conditions more difficult to attain in organic agriculture.

Suggested Citation

  • de Ponti, Tomek & Rijk, Bert & van Ittersum, Martin K., 2012. "The crop yield gap between organic and conventional agriculture," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 1-9.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:agisys:v:108:y:2012:i:c:p:1-9
    DOI: 10.1016/j.agsy.2011.12.004
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Giller, K.E. & Tittonell, P. & Rufino, M.C. & van Wijk, M.T. & Zingore, S. & Mapfumo, P. & Adjei-Nsiah, S. & Herrero, M. & Chikowo, R. & Corbeels, M. & Rowe, E.C. & Baijukya, F. & Mwijage, A. & Smith,, 2011. "Communicating complexity: Integrated assessment of trade-offs concerning soil fertility management within African farming systems to support innovation and development," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 104(2), pages 191-203, February.
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    Cited by:

    1. Anglade, J. & Billen, G. & Garnier, J. & Makridis, T. & Puech, T. & Tittel, C., 2015. "Nitrogen soil surface balance of organic vs conventional cash crop farming in the Seine watershed," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 82-92.
    2. Carl F. Jordan, 2016. "The Farm as a Thermodynamic System: Implications of the Maximum Power Principle," Biophysical Economics and Resource Quality, Springer, vol. 1(2), pages 1-14, December.
    3. Jouzi, Zeynab & Azadi, Hossein & Taheri, Fatemeh & Zarafshani, Kiumars & Gebrehiwot, Kindeya & Van Passel, Steven & Lebailly, Philippe, 2017. "Organic Farming and Small-Scale Farmers: Main Opportunities and Challenges," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 132(C), pages 144-154.
    4. Ayuya, Oscar I. & Gido, Eric O. & Bett, Hillary K. & Lagat, Job K. & Kahi, Alexander K. & Bauer, Siegfried, 2015. "Effect of Certified Organic Production Systems on Poverty among Smallholder Farmers: Empirical Evidence from Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 67(C), pages 27-37.
    5. Guy Meunier, 2014. "Land-sparing vs Land-sharing with incomplete policies," Working Papers 2014-05, Alimentation et Sciences Sociales.
    6. Delmotte, Sylvestre & Barbier, Jean-Marc & Mouret, Jean-Claude & Le Page, Christophe & Wery, Jacques & Chauvelon, Phillipe & Sandoz, Alain & Lopez Ridaura, Santiago, 2016. "Participatory integrated assessment of scenarios for organic farming at different scales in Camargue, France," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 143(C), pages 147-158.
    7. Blasi, E. & Passeri, N. & Franco, S. & Galli, A., 2016. "An ecological footprint approach to environmental–economic evaluation of farm results," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 145(C), pages 76-82.
    8. repec:oup:erevae:v:44:y:2017:i:4:p:634-657. is not listed on IDEAS
    9. repec:eee:agisys:v:158:y:2017:i:c:p:78-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    10. repec:eee:agisys:v:157:y:2017:i:c:p:11-21 is not listed on IDEAS
    11. Lakner, Sebastian & Breustedt, Gunnar, 2015. "Efficiency analysis of organic farming systems- a review of methods, topics, results, and conclusions," 2015 Conference, August 9-14, 2015, Milan, Italy 212025, International Association of Agricultural Economists.
    12. Adewale, Cornelius & Higgins, Stewart & Granatstein, David & Stöckle, Claudio O. & Carlson, Bryan R. & Zaher, Usama E. & Carpenter-Boggs, Lynne, 2016. "Identifying hotspots in the carbon footprint of a small scale organic vegetable farm," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 112-121.
    13. Janet MacFall & Joanna Lelekacs & Todd LeVasseur & Steve Moore & Jennifer Walker, 2015. "Toward resilient food systems through increased agricultural diversity and local sourcing in the Carolinas," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 5(4), pages 608-622, December.
    14. Cristian Timmermann & Georges Félix, 2015. "Agroecology as a vehicle for contributive justice," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 32(3), pages 523-538, September.
    15. Blazy, Jean-Marc & Barlagne, Carla & Sierra, Jorge, 2015. "Environmental and economic impacts of agri-environmental schemes designed in French West Indies to enhance soil C sequestration and reduce pollution risks. A modelling approach," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 140(C), pages 11-18.
    16. Mercedes Beltrán & Ernest Reig, 2014. "Comparing conventional and organic citrus grower efficiency in Spain," Working Papers 1406, Department of Applied Economics II, Universidad de Valencia.
    17. repec:eee:agisys:v:159:y:2018:i:c:p:78-92 is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Muhammad Iftikhar ul Husnain & Muhammad Khan, "undated". "The Public and Private Benefits from Organic Farming in Pakistan," Working papers 100, The South Asian Network for Development and Environmental Economics.
    19. repec:spr:scient:v:105:y:2015:i:1:d:10.1007_s11192-015-1677-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    20. Parvathi, Priyanka & Waibel, Hermann, 2015. "Is Organic Agriculture and Fair Trade Certification a way out of Crisis? Evidence from Black Pepper Farmers in India," 55th Annual Conference, Giessen, Germany, September 23-25, 2015 209209, German Association of Agricultural Economists (GEWISOLA).
    21. Siegmeier, Torsten & Blumenstein, Benjamin & Möller, Detlev, 2015. "Farm biogas production in organic agriculture: System implications," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 139(C), pages 196-209.
    22. Beddow, Jason M. & Hurley, Terrance M. & Pardey, Philip G. & Alston, Julian M., 2015. "Rethinking yield gaps," Staff Papers 201093, University of Minnesota, Department of Applied Economics.
    23. Mariarosaria Agostino, 2016. "Organic Agriculture, Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Environmental Efficiency: An Empirical Study on OECD Countries," International Journal of Economics and Finance, Canadian Center of Science and Education, vol. 8(11), pages 78-95, November.

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