Economic Performance Of Organic Cropping Systems For Vegetables In The Northeast
Between 1980 and 2010, organic farming has become one of the fastest growing segments in agriculture in the United States. Although a national standard for organic agriculture was established by the USDA in 1997 and amended in 2005, organic farming systems are extremely heterogeneous compared to conventional farming methods. A variety of strategies that comply with the USDA guidelines of organic production practices can be applied ranging from high input systems to those with greater reliance on internal processes. This thesis examines the economics of four alternative organic cropping systems that comply with USDA guidelines. The analysis compares the profitability and land management capability of four different organic cropping systems used to produce winter squash, cabbage, potatoes and lettuce. Interactive crop budgets were developed to document both production costs and income streams for each cropping system. The analysis using data from trials between 2005 and 2009 indicate that different systems generate different economic outcomes across the crops, and sometimes the differences are substantial. The ridge-tillage system that relied on cover crops for nitrogen (System 4) yielded the highest revenues for squash production, while System 1, which relies on compost for nitrogen, occasional cover crops and uses conventional tillage, had the highest revenues for cabbage. The economic analysis used here develops a framework to outline the financial implications of adopting each of the four organic cropping systems. When the economics for a full crop rotation across the systems are examined as a whole, large differences are not detected. However, individual crops do respond differently to the different systems, but overall, the high intensity system generated the highest profits.
organic cropping systems; economic analysis; sustainable agriculture
Rickard, Bradley J.
Kaiser, Harry Mason
M.S. of Agricultural Economics
Master of Science
dissertation or thesis