Knowledge for Development

Yield and economic performance of organic and conventional cotton-based farming systems


Date: 18/02/2014


This study presents results from a farming systems comparison trial in India, conducted by researchers from the Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, FOAG Switzerland and bioRe Association, India over a four-year period. Investigating a cotton-soybean-wheat crop rotation under biodynamic, organic and conventional (with and without Bt cotton), researchers observed a significant yield gap for cotton between farming systems in the first crop cycle which levelled out for wheat and cotton due to lower yields in the conventional systems in the second crop cycle. Gross margins from conventional systems where 30% higher in the first crop cycle, whereas in cycle 2 gross margins in organic farming systems were significantly higher (+25%) due to lower variable production costs but similar yields. Soybean gross margin was significantly higher in the organic system across the four harvest years. Future research needs to elucidate the long-term productivity and profitability, particularly of cotton and wheat, and the ecological impact of the different farming systems.  

(PLOS ONE, 12/2013)

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