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Agronomy 2019, 9(2), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/agronomy9020082

Reframing the Debate Surrounding the Yield Gap between Organic and Conventional Farming

1
Department of Sustainable Agriculture and Energy, Weihenstephan-Triesdorf University of Applied Sciences, 85354 Freising, Germany
2
Department of Plant Sciences, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 28 December 2018 / Revised: 7 February 2019 / Accepted: 11 February 2019 / Published: 13 February 2019
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Abstract

In this article, we review the literature regarding the yield gap between organic and conventional agriculture and then reflect on the corresponding debate on whether or not organic farming can feed the world. We analyze the current framework and highlight the need to reframe the yield gap debate away from “Can organic feed the world?” towards the more pragmatic question, “How can organic agriculture contribute to feeding the world?”. Furthermore, we challenge the benchmarks that are used in present yield comparison studies, as they are based on fundamentally distinct paradigms of the respective farming methods, and then come up with a novel model to better understand the nature of yield gaps and the benchmarks that they are premised on. We thus conclude that, by establishing appropriate benchmarks, re-prioritizing research needs, and focusing on transforming natural resources rather than inputs, organic systems can raise their yields and play an ever-greater role in global sustainable agriculture and food production in the future. View Full-Text
Keywords: yield gap; cropping systems; yield-limiting factor; yield ratio; organic agriculture; feeding the world yield gap; cropping systems; yield-limiting factor; yield ratio; organic agriculture; feeding the world
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Wilbois, K.-P.; Schmidt, J.E. Reframing the Debate Surrounding the Yield Gap between Organic and Conventional Farming. Agronomy 2019, 9, 82.

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