Crop Biotech Update

Rethink Rotations Before Switching to Organic Grains

March 31, 2010

Due to the higher premium of organic produce in the U.S., farmers are inclined to shift from conventional to organic farming. Consumer demand for organic foods increased by 19 percent from 2005 and 2006, and continues to grow. A study conducted by Corinne Alexander, a Purdue agricultural economist, shows that the three to six years transition from conventional to organic farming requires a high cost of labor, lower yield and profit.

The rotation of corn-soybeans-wheat/alfalfa-alfalfa was found to be more profitable during the transition period. In addition, the study found that:

  • Without market premiums, organic grains are less profitable than conventional grains.
  • After transitional period yield penalties, organic grain yields should return to conventional production yield levels because of the accumulation of organic soil matter.
  • Organic grain production doesn't work for every farmer.

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