Agricultural, Forest + Urban, Green By-Product Marketing + Recycling
The Organic Alternative: A New Look at Profitability
By David P. Brown
Gas prices continue to rise. Water is in short supply. Food rates are climbing. And so to the dismay of farmers everywhere, synthetic fertilizer prices are swelling. An alternative is needed.
For many years, "organic" has meant "expensive." But in the wake of depleted soil and a challenged economy, can it be that organic farming is now indispensable?
If so, at what cost?
The answer is, well, cost itself.
In a recent Vegetable Grower magazine article entitled "HomegrownN," organic research specialist Jane Scooby said that according to her sources, "More than 50% of nitrogen applied in the U.S. today comes from outside the U.S." And because of the weakened dollar and rising oil prices, she concludes that this reliance can only reduce stability of synthetic foreign supply.
In other words, organic fertilizers will actually become the more cost-effective option.
Following is a summary of some advantages, as stated by organic farming advocate Timothy LaSalle, in an online interview entitled "Farm Team":
Organic farming removes carbon from the air. With the aid of a protein encasement called mychorrhiza, soil can hold more carbon. The results are a healthy food source for crops and the surrounding soil, as well. This helps ensure soil fertility for up to, literally, hundreds of years.
Organically fertilized soil retains more water, cutting down on both a farm's water bill and the contribution to potential drought.
In times of environmental stress, organically treated soil often has higher crop yields than synthetic-fertilized soil.
LaSalle's observations illustrate direct short- and long-term paybacks to farmers everywhere.
What we're left with is a much stronger case for organic fertilization. Whereas once seen as both sacrificial and costly, organic farming is becoming logically profitable.
Best put by Jane Scoby: "While now may seem like a ‘perfect storm' of increasing input costs, it is also a perfect opportunity to consider alternatives." Coincidentally, the positive effects of organic farming can filter through the pocketbook and well beyond the borders of farms worldwide.
Scooby, Jane. "The Organic Report." Vegetable Grower. Jane Scooby. June, 2008: 28.
Lappe, Anna. "Farm Team: Timothy LaSalle of Rodale on the surprising climate benefits of organic farming." 9 May 2008