Rodale Celebrates 35th Year of Farming Systems Trial

The Rodale Institute in Pennsylvania began a side-by-side comparison of organic and conventional farming back in 1981. Today, the data collected in Rodale’s Farming Systems Trial show that organic farming produces competitive yields, builds higher levels of soil organic matter, retains more soil moisture, and is more profitable compared to conventional practices.

The Farming Systems Trial also suggests that organic systems produce higher yields than conventional under drought conditions. Yield data from five years when rainfall was below average showed that organic corn yielded 31 percent more on average than conventional corn. Rodale attributes this difference to higher organic matter levels in the organic plots because organic matter helps hold moisture in the soil.

Rodale has posted an update on crop performance in the Farming Systems Trial online. A more detailed description of the study and additional data are presented in the 30-Year Report.