Researchers at the University of Wisconsin have concluded a multi-year study of our common farm practices versus diverse and rotational cropping.
They state that mono-cropping is outdated and are recommending that government policy should change to encourage crop diversity and rotation, including animals because it provides superior results.
For a major university in the farm belt to condemn our current agricultural practices is truly revolutionary. So now we know.....it's just as we thought.
U of WI study condemns American Ag methods.
This study indicates that governmental policy that supports mono-culture systems is outdated and support should be shifted to programs . . .
I'm with the study until the "should". Why shift anything? "Policy' and "support" are what encouraged mono-culture even when, if the study is correct, it was not as profitable as rotation. No new policy or support is needed. Just take away what is propping up mono-culture.
This message was edited Apr 9, 2009 1:13 AM
Political meddling is so endemic to ag that it makes other "pork" look like peanuts. Maybe science can have a louder voice in the face of forced financial restraint at ALL levels. A new 5 year farm bill got passed last year and I don't know how much wiggle room there is for change. Farming is a business and I've never understood why there is so much government involvement. I've heard the argument that the purpose is to stabilize prices but I don't see much stability.
I feel the author of the Science Daily article makes the conclusion that "This study indicates that governmental policy that supports mono-culture systems is outdated and support should be shifted to programs . . . :
I downloaded the article and it is my opinion that the authors of the articles don't make that strong of a conclusion.
Note that organic farmers qualify for farm payments; however, probably don't get that much since they can ask for a premium price. I'm not pro farm payment. In fact I'm against it. However, I want to read articles for what they are and not slanted. We do a corn / bean / alfalfa rotation. We usually keep our alfalfa 3-4 years as it would be too expensive to plant and harvest alfalfa for just one year.
Here is the word for word conclusion of the article:
Using an econometric model, with data collected at two
locations in southern Wisconsin, we analyzed the profi tability
of alternative cropping systems under alternative scenarios.
When net return estimates are made using only market prices
(no government programs or organic price premiums), we
found that the no-till corn soybean system (S2) was the most
profi table grain system, and rotational grazing (S6) the most
profi table forage system. Once government programs are
included, returns did increase for all the cash grain systems,
especially continuous corn with increases of 50 to 190%. At the
highly productive Arlington location, the diverse three-phase
organic system, without premiums was less profi table than the
two conventional systems. And at Elkhorn, the organic grain
system was more profi table than continuous corn, but still less
profi table than the corn-soybean rotation. When organic price
premiums are included with the government payment, returns
to the organic grain system (S3) increased by 85 to 110% and
in the forage system by 35 to 40%, placing both of them with
higher returns than any of the Midwestern standards of no-till
corn-soybean (S2), continuous corn (S1), or intensive alfalfa
Our analysis explores the role of risk exposure and of its associated
cost (as measured by a risk premium) across systems. Th e
more diverse rotations were found to generate moderate risk
exposure, with risk premiums rarely more than 5% of returns
or signifi cantly diff erent among those systems. Th is indicates
that the management practices associated with the lower input
or organic systems are, overall, no less eff ective than those
associated with high input systems. Th e two systems that had
high-risk premiums were at the more poorly drained location
(Elkhorn) and were the two high-input monocropped systems
of continuous corn (S1) and intensive alfalfa (S4).
A glance at 2007 and 2008 suggests that under high grain
prices and therefore lower government programs, if organic
price premiums remain high, the spread among grain systems
will increase to the advantage of organic grain and organic forage production.
One option we have observed in response to
this changing market is that of parallel production. Under this
system, some growers are converting a farm to organic while
also maintaining their conventional production system on
Thank you Jewel. Yes the original conclusion is something less than condemnation.
I wish you'd elaborate your views on subsidies. I know you farm beef and I'd be very interested to hear an explanation of your rotation and what you mean by keeping alfalfa for 3-4 years. I'm sure all this is crystal clear to you but it's very alien to me. Are most of your decisions guided by experience or based on the newest government recommendations? As a working farmer, you have a perspective that most of us posting here lack.
I'd like to have your ear for days because I have so many questions. Are you hearing of any changing trends? Have you cut back your herd? Do you see reduced demand in the future? What are your greatest concerns for your industry?