Research has proven that organic farming makes a better business proposition than conventional farming

Research has proven that organic farming makes a better business proposition than conventional farming

Organic agriculture can be defined as an approach to farming that’s reliant on ecosystem management rather than the use of external agricultural inputs.

You can therefore picture a farmer whose operations do not involve the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, genetically-modified seeds and breeds, veterinary drugs, preservatives and additives. In place of these are management practices that are geared towards achieving long-term soil fertility and the prevention of crop and animal pests and diseases.   

According to FAO there are three main motivations for organic agriculture as follows:

  • Consumer or market-driven organic agriculture – whereby farmers target consumers who prefer organic produce
  • Service-driven organic agriculture – farmers are incentivized for implementing production techniques that result in environmental sustainability
  • Farmer-driven organic agriculture – the farmers are self-motivated to embrace sustainable production techniques since they consider conventional agriculture to be unsustainable

From a business perspective though, is it advisable to practice organic farming?

Research carried out by different institutions and stakeholders has indeed revealed that organic farming tops conventional farming. One of these studies, carried out by the Rodale Institute over a 30-year period, practically affirms as much. The findings of this study confirm that embracing organic farming does make more business sense as follows:

1. Organic farms rake in more profits

This study revealed that organic farms made an average net return of $558/acre/year as compared to $190/acre/year in conventional farms. The two major reasons why organic farms manage to earn three times as much as conventional farms include the higher prices paid for organic produce and the lower input costs incurred.

A 20-year study at the Swan Lake Research Farm in Minnesota, USA, also confirmed the immense profit potential of organic farming.

Generally, organically-farmed food attracts price premiums of up to 30%.

Organic produce is sold at far much better prices than conventionally-grown produce and is thus more profitable...

Organic produce is sold at far much better prices than conventionally-grown produce and is thus more profitable…

Further evidence of organic farming’s high earning potential has been witnessed in Uganda, Africa’s leading practitioner of organic agriculture. Earnings from organic exports in 2003/4 stood at US$3.7 million. These increased to US$6.2 million in 2004/5 and leapt to US$22.8 million in 2007/8.

It’s rather obvious therefore that organic farming is the way to go.

2. Organic farming yields equal or surpass yields from conventional and GM farming

The Rodale study revealed that following a three-year transition period, yields from organic farming equaled those from conventional farming. It also revealed that leguminous crops were capable of fixing sufficient quantities of nitrogen in the soil, and that they can in effect be used instead of synthetic fertilizers.

Because the soils are fertile, organically-grown crops yields are typically very impressive...

Because the soils are fertile, organically-grown crops yields are typically very impressive…

In this regard, organic soil enrichment has been shown to offer a better promise for farm efficiency and sustainability.

As a farmer, you would certainly want your soils to remain fertile and productive over the long-run.

3. Organic crops are comparatively more resilient

In this study, organic corn yields in years of drought were 31% higher than conventional corn yields. Interestingly, these organic yields also outdid those from genetically-modified drought-tolerant corn varieties, and whose yields only bettered the conventional corn yields by 6.7-13.3%.

Organic farming techniques will typically result in substantial yields even in harsh climates

Organic farming techniques will typically result in substantial yields even in harsh climates

Growing organic crops is therefore certain to ensure the sustainability of your farming business during drought years.

4. Organic farming methods are comparatively more efficient

The Rodale study revealed that compared to conventional systems, organic systems used 45% less energy. Production efficiency was 28% higher in the organic systems.

Organic farming systems are less energy-intensive and more production-efficient...they are also climate-friendly

Organic farming systems are less energy-intensive and more production-efficient…they are also climate-friendly

Yet another study at Cornell University showed that organic farming systems use 63% of the energy required by conventional farming systems. Additionally, less energy expenditure results in less greenhouse gas emissions. Organic farming is therefore climate-friendly.

An organic farming business will therefore incur less expense with regards to energy usage, thus translating into cost savings.

5. Organic agriculture progressively increases soil health

The study showed that while conventional farming maintained overall soil health, organic farming actually improved soil health.

Organic farming allows Mother Nature's agents to replenish soil's fertility...

Organic farming allows Mother Nature’s agents to replenish soil’s fertility…

Organic farming enhances soil fertility by improving moisture retention and by naturally facilitating microbial activity. As a result, plant nutrition is boosted.

It is thanks to organic practices such as inter-cropping, crop rotation, application of organic fertilizer, planting of cover crops, use of symbiotic associations and minimum tillage that soil productivity is progressively enhanced. These practices are also crucial in helping to control soil erosion.

Organic farming is therefore a superb way to ensure the continuity of your farming enterprise.

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Comments
  1. […] Source: 5 proven reasons why organic farming makes more business sense | The Word Garage […]

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  2. Sandy says:

    Hi Samuel, great article with lots of facts.

    I am surprised by your statement that yields equal or surpass yields from conventional and GM farming. I always thought that one of the reasons that has been given for the higher prices we have to pay for organic produce was that the yields were lower.

    I like to buy organic produce because I truly believe that it is more nutritious and I don’t want my food contaminated with pesticides. Some of it is so expensive here in the Uk that I just can’t justify the extra cost and buy non organic.

    It’s been reported in the media that sales of organic produce is increasing and I see more of it appearing in supermarkets now too. I still hope that as more people buy it the prices will go down.

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    • Hi Sandy,

      I’m glad you liked the article. I think that part of the reason why organic farming yields will continue to outperform conventionally-grown volumes is because the soils get replenished season after season. Hopefully many more farmers will realize how much more sustainable organic farming is; it seems this is already happening going by your observations.

      Regards.

      Like

  3. george says:

    great article

    Like

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