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Can Organic Cropping Systems Be As Profitable As Conventional Systems?

Date:
April 7, 2009
Source:
American Society of Agronomy
Summary:
The rise in organic cropping has led agronomists to study whether or not it can be as profitable for farmers as monocropping systems, and they were able to conclude that governmental policy supporting mono-culture is outdated and should be shifted to promote organic farming practices.

Which is a better strategy, specializing in one crop or diversified cropping? Is conventional cropping more profitable than organic farming? Is it less risky?

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To answer these questions, the University of Wisconsin’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and Michael Fields Agricultural Institute agronomists established the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial (WICST) in 1990. This research is funded by USDA-ARS.

Systems ranging from species-diverse pasture and organic systems to more specialized conventional alfalfa-based forage and corn-based grain systems were compared at two sites in southern Wisconsin from 1993 to 2006.

Crop production analysis was published in the 2008 March–April issue of Agronomy Journal while this companion article focuses on the net returns and associated risk exposure of these systems. Full research results from this current study are presented by Chavas et al. in the 2009 March–April issue of Agronomy Journal.

"In our study we found that diversified systems were more profitable than monocropping," explains Joshua Posner, University of Wisconsin.

With feed grade premiums the organic systems were more profitable than the Midwestern standards of continuous corn, no-till corn and soybeans, and intensively managed alfalfa.

Rotational grazing of dairy heifers was as profitable as the organic systems. And to our surprise, including risk premiums into the evaluation did not change the ranking of the systems. This study indicates that governmental policy that supports mono-culture systems is outdated and support should be shifted to programs that promote crop rotations and organic farming practices.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Society of Agronomy. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Chavas, Jean-Paul, Posner, Joshua L., Hedtcke, Janet L. Organic and Conventional Production Systems in the Wisconsin Integrated Cropping Systems Trial: II. Economic and Risk Analysis 1993-2006. Agronomy Journal, 2009; 101 (2): 288 DOI: 10.2134/agronj2008.0055x

Cite This Page:

American Society of Agronomy. "Can Organic Cropping Systems Be As Profitable As Conventional Systems?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 April 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090406132600.htm>.
American Society of Agronomy. (2009, April 7). Can Organic Cropping Systems Be As Profitable As Conventional Systems?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090406132600.htm
American Society of Agronomy. "Can Organic Cropping Systems Be As Profitable As Conventional Systems?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/04/090406132600.htm (accessed October 31, 2014).

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