Friday, September 16, 2011

Organic Agriculture Is Profitable

I've been skeptical of organic agriculture's promises, so it's only fair I should highlight this piece from the Agronomy people, reporting on a long term U of Minnesota (my dad's alma mater--go gophers) study. It finds that organic agriculture is more profitable than conventional over an 18-year period.  However:
What gave organic production the edge wasn’t higher crop yields, however; instead it was organic price premiums. In their absence, the net return from a 2-yr, conventional corn-soybean rotation averaged $342 per acre, compared to $267/ac for a 4-yr organic rotation (corn-soybean-oat/alfalfa-alfalfa), and $273/ac for its 4-yr conventional counterpart. When a full organic premium was applied, though, the average net return from organic production rose to $538/ac, significantly outperforming the conventional systems both in terms of profitability and risk. And organic production was still more profitable when the price premium was reduced by 50%.
Cost of production was also lower, because herbicides cost more than organic weed control methods.

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