While the benefits for all farming methods are variable and depend on seasonal conditions, price variation and skills of growers, Certified Organic agriculture offers the greatest potential for increasing revenue for agriculture and maintaining sustainable farming systems.
This includes increasing farm incomes, maintaining grower independence, and increasing exports and profitability.
In Australia’s semi-arid grain producing areas, Certified Organics is more productive than conventional production, especially during dry seasons.
The Farming Systems Trial (FST)® at Rodale Institute is America’s longest running (30 years) side-by-side comparison of organic and chemical agriculture, which began in 1981. Among the many advantages, it has found that:
- Organic yields match conventional yields.
- Organic outperforms conventional in years of drought.
- Water volumes percolating through soil were 15-20% higher in the organic systems than the conventional system.
- Organic farming systems are more profitable than conventional.
European studies also indicate the following significant benefits for growers:
- Production costs are generally lower for organic farms. Most European studies found that variable (operating) costs are 60-70% lower but fixed costs were higher, compared to conventional farms. Overall, the total production costs of organic farms are lower.
- Labour costs, however, are often greater on organic farms. European studies found labour costs to be 10-20% greater than on comparable conventional operations.
- Conventional farmers have significantly higher debt loads than organic farmers, particularly those in developing countries.