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A global meta-analysis of yield stability in organic and conservation agriculture


Knapp, Samuel; van der Heijden, Marcel G A (2018). A global meta-analysis of yield stability in organic and conservation agriculture. Nature Communications, 9:3632.

Abstract

One of the primary challenges of our time is to enhance global food production and security. Most assessments in agricultural systems focus on plant yield. Yet, these analyses neglect temporal yield stability, or the variability and reliability of production across years. Here we perform a meta-analysis to assess temporal yield stability of three major cropping systems: organic agriculture and conservation agriculture (no-tillage) vs. conventional agriculture, comparing 193 studies based on 2896 comparisons. Organic agriculture has, per unit yield, a significantly lower temporal stability (−15%) compared to conventional agriculture. Thus, although organic farming promotes biodiversity and is generally more environmentally friendly, future efforts should focus on reducing its yield variability. Our analysis further indicates that the use of green manure and enhanced fertilisation can reduce the yield stability gap between organic and conventional agriculture. The temporal stability (−3%) of no-tillage does not differ significantly from those of conventional tillage indicating that a transition to no-tillage does not affect yield stability.

Abstract

One of the primary challenges of our time is to enhance global food production and security. Most assessments in agricultural systems focus on plant yield. Yet, these analyses neglect temporal yield stability, or the variability and reliability of production across years. Here we perform a meta-analysis to assess temporal yield stability of three major cropping systems: organic agriculture and conservation agriculture (no-tillage) vs. conventional agriculture, comparing 193 studies based on 2896 comparisons. Organic agriculture has, per unit yield, a significantly lower temporal stability (−15%) compared to conventional agriculture. Thus, although organic farming promotes biodiversity and is generally more environmentally friendly, future efforts should focus on reducing its yield variability. Our analysis further indicates that the use of green manure and enhanced fertilisation can reduce the yield stability gap between organic and conventional agriculture. The temporal stability (−3%) of no-tillage does not differ significantly from those of conventional tillage indicating that a transition to no-tillage does not affect yield stability.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:07 Faculty of Science > Department of Plant and Microbial Biology
07 Faculty of Science > Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
Dewey Decimal Classification:580 Plants (Botany)
Uncontrolled Keywords:General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, General Physics and Astronomy, General Chemistry
Language:English
Date:1 December 2018
Deposited On:28 Feb 2019 16:17
Last Modified:25 Sep 2019 00:20
Publisher:Nature Publishing Group
ISSN:2041-1723
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-018-05956-1
Project Information:
  • : FunderSNSF
  • : Grant ID31003A_166079
  • : Project TitleSoil biota as drivers of ecosystem functioning and nutrient cycling

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