What is the yield of a harvest
Yields in organic and conventional farming
In the case of organic vegetables, the conditions for outdoor and greenhouse cultivation are quite different. In general, the comparison of the yields should be interpreted with a bit of caution, since national, statistical mean values were used here. Differences in yield could therefore also have other causes than the farming method. For example, the proportion of vegetables marketed directly in organic farming is greater. And direct marketing companies are spread all over the country, so they can also be found in locations with less favorable climates or locations with lighter soils.
Organic farmers harvest 77 percent of the amount of conventional vegetable cultivation in field vegetable growing. In addition to a wide crop rotation with legumes, they use manure and often hair meal pellets for fertilization. Many farms operate without cattle, but are very successful even then.
According to an analysis by Agrarmarkt Informations-Gesellschaft mbH (AMI) of the Federal Statistical Office's vegetable survey for the years 2012 to 2019, the smallest differences in yield are found in lamb's lettuce and rocket, but also in asparagus, kale and pumpkin. Organic farms harvested only a good ten percent less than conventional farms on average between 2012 and 2019. With carrots, the most important organic vegetables in Germany, the yields of organic farms are 22 percent below the conventional average. None of these crops have a particularly high nitrogen requirement.
Onions and leeks are more difficult to produce in organic farming. Here the organic farms only harvest two thirds of the yields of conventional farms. The main problem with onions is the high weed pressure. Even crops that are less common in organic farming often have significantly lower yields. This is the case with leafy salads such as the dominant ice cream salad or the romaine lettuce, behind which mainly the "lettuce hearts" are hidden.
There are also greater differences in fruit vegetables, between 53 percent of the organic yield for free-range cucumbers, 67 percent for sweet corn and 74 percent for zucchini. The information on cucumbers is not reliable due to the often extremely small organic cultivation areas. In the case of broad beans, higher area yields are published in organic cultivation almost across the board. The reason here, however, is likely to be that conventional cultivation is mainly used for processing with machine harvesting, while organic cultivation is used for hand picking.
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