Is Regenerative Agriculture Profitable? New study says it is
Published: April 1, 2020
Category: Regenerative Agriculture, The Organic & Non-GMO Report Newsletter
Regenerative agriculture is a growing trend in the United States and worldwide. The primary goal of regenerative agriculture is to rebuild soil health, a key solution to sequestering atmospheric carbon to help mitigate climate change.
Many farmers are adopting regenerative agriculture practices such as no-till, cover crops, and diverse crop rotations. But is regenerative agriculture profitable? According to new research it is. Researchers from Ecdysis Foundation investigated how transitioning to regenerative practices might affect profitability. The study looked at 20 farms growing corn that implemented regenerative practices. In particular, the researchers looked at soil organic matter, pest presence, crop yield, and profit.
Corn crop yields decreased in the regenerative systems by as much as 29%. But the decreased yield doesn’t tell the whole story. The study found that the regenerative farms were 78% more profitable than conventional corn farms. The increase in profitability was due to lowered input costs and profitable end markets.
Regenerative agricultural systems require far fewer external inputs such as seeds and fertilizer. In fact, conventional farmers spend almost a third of their gross income on external inputs, compared to 12% for regenerative farmers.
The regenerative systems also increase soil organic matter leading to increased diversity of insects in the soil, which decreases harmful pests in cornfields. This made for stronger crops.
The study also found that regenerative farmers received higher premiums for their crops through certifications, by selling their grain as seed or feed directly to consumers, and by planting more than just corn in their fields.
The study showed that soil organic matter may be a more important driver of farm profitability than yield.
Regenerative agriculture is not a quick fix. It takes years to get right but has the potential to pay off if viewed as a long-term investment.
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