Washington: Compared to the conventional farms, organic ones produce more flavourful and nutritious strawberries while leaving the soil healthier and more genetically diverse, says a new study.
"Our findings have global implications and advance what we know about the sustainability benefits of organic farming systems," said John Reganold of Washington State University.
"We also show you can have high quality, healthy produce without resorting to an arsenal of pesticides," he said.
The study analysed 31 chemical and biological soil properties, soil DNA, and the taste, nutrition and quality of three strawberry varieties on more than two dozen commercial fields-13 conventional and 13 organic.
All the farms in the current study were in California, home to 90 percent of the nation’s strawberries and the center of an ongoing debate about the use of soil fumigants.
Conventional farms in the study used the ozone-depleting methyl bromide, which is slated to be replaced by the highly toxic methyl iodide over the protests of health advocates and more than 50 Nobel laureates and members of the National Academy of Sciences.
The study found that organic strawberries had significantly higher antioxidant activity and concentrations of ascorbic acid and phenolic compounds.
It has also hinted that organic strawberries had longer shelf life and more dry matter, or, "more strawberry in the strawberry."
The researchers also found the organic soils excelled in a variety of key chemical and biological properties, including carbon sequestration, nitrogen, microbial biomass, enzyme activities, and micronutrients.
DNA analysis found the organically managed soils had dramatically more total and unique genes and greater genetic diversity, important measures of the soil’s resilience to stress and ability to carry out essential processes.
The findings were published in an online journal, PLoS ONE.