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Science says organic farming can be more profitable than conventional agriculture

A wheat field near Parkes in New South Wales. Ian Waldie/Getty Images

Organic farming can make more money than conventional agriculture, according to a new study analysing the financial performance 55 different crops.

Drawing on international data, including research from Australia and New Zealand, the scientists found that organic agriculture is significantly more profitable than conventional farming and has room to expand globally.

David W. Crowder and John P. Reganold of Washington State University analysed the financial performance of crops on five continents over 40 years.

When price premiums were not applied to organically grown crops, the benefit/cost ratios were significantly less than those for conventionally grown crops.

However, applying cost premiums made organic agriculture up to 35% more profitable than conventional agriculture.

Yields were up to 18% lower and labour costs were up to 13% higher for organic farming compared with conventional farming.

Organic farmer typically operate without chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

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