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Organic versus Conventional Cropping Sustainability: A Comparative System Analysis

Author

Listed:
  • Tiffany L. Fess

    () (Division of Plant & Soil Sciences, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6108, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA)

  • Vagner A. Benedito

    () (Division of Plant & Soil Sciences, West Virginia University, P.O. Box 6108, Morgantown, WV 26506, USA)

Abstract

We are at a pivotal time in human history, as the agricultural sector undergoes consolidation coupled with increasing energy costs in the context of declining resource availability. Although organic systems are often thought of as more sustainable than conventional operations, the lack of concise and widely accepted means to measure sustainability makes coming to an agreement on this issue quite challenging. However, an accurate assessment of sustainability can be reached by dissecting the scientific underpinnings of opposing production practices and crop output between cropping systems. The purpose of this review is to provide an in-depth and comprehensive evaluation of modern global production practices and economics of organic cropping systems, as well as assess the sustainability of organic production practices through the clarification of information and analysis of recent research. Additionally, this review addresses areas where improvements can be made to help meet the needs of future organic producers, including organic-focused breeding programs and necessity of coming to a unified global stance on plant breeding technologies. By identifying management strategies that utilize practices with long-term environmental and resource efficiencies, a concerted global effort could guide the adoption of organic agriculture as a sustainable food production system.

Suggested Citation

  • Tiffany L. Fess & Vagner A. Benedito, 2018. "Organic versus Conventional Cropping Sustainability: A Comparative System Analysis," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(1), pages 1-42, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jsusta:v:10:y:2018:i:1:p:272-:d:127997
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Beckman, Jayson F. & Borchers, Allison & Jones, Carol, 2013. "Agriculture's Supply and Demand for Energy and Energy Products," Economic Information Bulletin 149033, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    2. repec:gam:jsusta:v:8:y:2016:i:5:p:479:d:70099 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Filippo Sgroi & Matteo Candela & Anna Maria Di Trapani & Mario Foderà & Riccardo Squatrito & Riccardo Testa & Salvatore Tudisca, 2015. "Economic and Financial Comparison between Organic and Conventional Farming in Sicilian Lemon Orchards," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(1), pages 1-15, January.
    4. Claire H. Luby & Irwin L. Goldman, 2016. "Improving Freedom to Operate in Carrot Breeding through the Development of Eight Open Source Composite Populations of Carrot ( Daucus carota L. var. sativus )," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(5), pages 1-14, May.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

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    Cited by:

    1. Zoran Ciric P & Dragan Stojic & Otilija Sedlak & Aleksandra Marcikic Horvat & Zana Kleut, 2019. "Innovation Model of Agricultural Technologies Based on Intuitionistic Fuzzy Sets," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(19), pages 1-12, October.
    2. Cristian Pérez-Caselles & Margarita Brugarolas & Laura Martínez-Carrasco, 2020. "Traditional Varieties for Local Markets: A Sustainable Proposal for Agricultural SMEs," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 12(11), pages 1-19, June.
    3. Leah L. Bremer & Kim Falinski & Casey Ching & Christopher A. Wada & Kimberly M. Burnett & Kanekoa Kukea-Shultz & Nicholas Reppun & Gregory Chun & Kirsten L.L. Oleson & Tamara Ticktin, 2018. "Biocultural Restoration of Traditional Agriculture: Cultural, Environmental, and Economic Outcomes of Lo‘i Kalo Restoration in He‘eia, O‘ahu," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 10(12), pages 1-21, November.
    4. Sabrina Magaly Navas Cajamarca & Douglas Martins & Juscimar da Silva & Mariana Rodrigues Fontenelle & Ítalo Moraes Rocha Guedes & Cícero Célio de Figueiredo & Carlos Eduardo Pacheco Lima, 2019. "Heterogeneity in the Chemical Composition of Biofertilizers, Potential Agronomic Use, and Heavy Metal Contents of Different Agro-Industrial Wastes," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 11(7), pages 1-13, April.
    5. Thierry Caquet & Chantal Gascuel-Odoux & Michele Tixier-Boichard & Benoit Dedieu & Cécile Détang-Dessendre & Pierre Dupraz & Philippe Faverdin & Laurent Hazard & Philippe Hinsinger & Isabelle Litrico-, 2019. "Réflexion prospective interdisciplinaire pour l’agroécologie. Rapport de synthèse," Post-Print hal-02154433, HAL.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    agricultural ecology; energy use efficiency; natural resources; organic breeding; pesticides; soil conservation; sustainable development;

    JEL classification:

    • Q - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics
    • Q0 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - General
    • Q2 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Renewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q3 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Nonrenewable Resources and Conservation
    • Q5 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics
    • Q56 - Agricultural and Natural Resource Economics; Environmental and Ecological Economics - - Environmental Economics - - - Environment and Development; Environment and Trade; Sustainability; Environmental Accounts and Accounting; Environmental Equity; Population Growth
    • O13 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Agriculture; Natural Resources; Environment; Other Primary Products

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