Risks and opportunities of increasing yields in organic farming: a review

E Roos, A Mie, M Wivstad, E Salomon, B Johansson, S Gunnarsson, A Wallenbeck, R Hoffmann, U Nilsson, C Sundberg, CA Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

17 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Article number14
Number of pages21
JournalAgronomy for Sustainable Development
Volume38
Issue number2
Early online date27 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusFirst published - 27 Feb 2018

Fingerprint

organic production
farm profitability
adverse effects
pest control
animal welfare
nutrients
livestock feeding
organic foods
human nutrition
greenhouse gas emissions
animal production
mineral fertilizers
animal health
ecosystem services
recycling
weed control
soil fertility
disease control
production technology
nitrogen fertilizers

Bibliographical note

1031570

Keywords

  • Animal welfare
  • Biodiversity
  • Environment
  • Nutrition
  • Organic agriculture
  • Soil fertility
  • Yield

Cite this

Roos, E ; Mie, A ; Wivstad, M ; Salomon, E ; Johansson, B ; Gunnarsson, S ; Wallenbeck, A ; Hoffmann, R ; Nilsson, U ; Sundberg, C ; Watson, CA. / Risks and opportunities of increasing yields in organic farming: a review. In: Agronomy for Sustainable Development. 2018 ; Vol. 38, No. 2.
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Roos, E, Mie, A, Wivstad, M, Salomon, E, Johansson, B, Gunnarsson, S, Wallenbeck, A, Hoffmann, R, Nilsson, U, Sundberg, C & Watson, CA 2018, 'Risks and opportunities of increasing yields in organic farming: a review', Agronomy for Sustainable Development, vol. 38, no. 2, 14. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13593-018-0489-3

Risks and opportunities of increasing yields in organic farming: a review. / Roos, E; Mie, A; Wivstad, M; Salomon, E; Johansson, B; Gunnarsson, S; Wallenbeck, A; Hoffmann, R; Nilsson, U; Sundberg, C; Watson, CA.

In: Agronomy for Sustainable Development, Vol. 38, No. 2, 14, 27.02.2018.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

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T1 - Risks and opportunities of increasing yields in organic farming: a review

AU - Roos, E

AU - Mie, A

AU - Wivstad, M

AU - Salomon, E

AU - Johansson, B

AU - Gunnarsson, S

AU - Wallenbeck, A

AU - Hoffmann, R

AU - Nilsson, U

AU - Sundberg, C

AU - Watson, CA

N1 - 1031570

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N2 - 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.

AB - 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.

KW - Animal welfare

KW - Biodiversity

KW - Environment

KW - Nutrition

KW - Organic agriculture

KW - Soil fertility

KW - Yield

U2 - 10.1007/s13593-018-0489-3

DO - 10.1007/s13593-018-0489-3

M3 - Review article

VL - 38

JO - Agronomy for Sustainable Development

JF - Agronomy for Sustainable Development

SN - 1774-0746

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ER -