Chelsea Green Publishing

Chelsea Green Blog

Organic Farming Study Is Well Grounded

You’ve heard the myths about organic farming: It’s more trouble. It’s more expensive. The yields are smaller. And the yields are, well, icky — spots and blemishes, hidden bugs, etc. I call them “myths” because guess what? They’re wrong. In a posting on the Web site of the environmental advocacy group Truth Out, writer Susan S. Long reports on the Rodale Institute Farming Systems Trial, a 22-year study (that’s two decades plus, not a misprint), the results of which were published in the July issue of Bioscience magazine. The study, which Long describes as “the longest running comparison of organic vs. conventional farming in the United States,” analyzed the costs and benefits – environmental, energy and economic – of growing soybeans and corn organically versus conventionally. If one of the top organizations in the study of organic agriculture lacks sufficient credibility for you, the study itself was conducted with the assistance of scientists at Cornell University. Tack on the active participation of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a University of Maryland agricultural economist, and the anti-organic-farming Luddites will soon run out places to stand. And (one would hope) to farm. The 22-year study offers plenty of numbers to crunch about the advantages of organic farming, perhaps the most salient of which are these: Thirty percent less fuel energy consumed; More efficient water usage; Less soil erosion and better soil quality, and; More conservation of biological resources. The report acknowledges that yields were lower during the first four years of the study. But as time went on, that trend was reversed. There are even implications for global warming: The Rodale study indicates that organic farming increases carbon storage in the soil by 15 to 28 percent. In this instance, that was the equivalent of taking almost two tons of carbon out of the atmosphere per year. More information about the study is available at the Web sites of Rodale, Cornell University, and Truthout Town Meeting. Oh, yes – did I mention that Chelsea Green Publishing Co is one of the most prolific publishers of books on organic gardening (how to do it, and why) in the country? But you already knew that.


Tips on No-Till Farming and Cover Crops

In the below Q&A, author and permaculture designer Shawn Jadrnicek answers questions about no-till farming and the use of cover crops from two readers (one from North Carolina, and the other from Nova Scotia). In his groundbreaking book, The Bio-Integrated Farm, Jadrnicek provides in-depth information on water flow management along with projects that use the free forces of nature—gravity, […] Read More

Reimagining Restoration as a Radical Act

Finding ways to manage “invasive” species as we’ve come to know them has sparked a vigorous debate within conservation and restoration communities, as well as farmers, gardeners, and permaculturalists.In her thought-provoking book Beyond the War on Invasive Species, author Tao Orion urges us to rethink and reimagine restoration as a way to break out of […] Read More

What Can Wisteria Do For Your Forest Garden?

Jerome Osentowski, founder of the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute (CRMPI) in Basalt, Colorado, is one of North America’s most accomplished permaculture designers and author of the new groundbreaking book, The Forest Garden Greenhouse. Part case-study of CRMPI’s innovative greenhouses and part how-to primer, Osentowski’s book shows that bringing the forest garden indoors is possible, even on […] Read More

Tips on Perennial Crops with Eric Toensmeier

Eric Toensmeier is the award-winning author of Perennial Vegetables, Paradise Lot, and most recently The Carbon Farming Solution—a groundbreaking new book that treats agriculture as an important part of the climate change solution, rather than a global contributor to the problem. As part of our “Ask the Expert” series going on throughout the month of May to celebrate […] Read More

How to Design Swales for Optimum Water Flow

May has arrived! The birds are chirping, flowers are budding, and it’s time to officially celebrate Permaculture Month.Throughout the next few weeks, we are putting our pioneering permaculture authors to work for you in our “Ask the Experts” series. If you are looking to become a better permaculturalist, there’s still time to participate. Submit your questions here.Today’s topic is […] Read More
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