Firstly, ecological farming can produce higher yields per unit of external and artificial inputs. These external and artificial inputs are usually expensive, intrusive, addictive, and often harmful. Too often, we see higher prices for agricultural commodities being quickly absorbed by rapidly rising input costs.
By minimising the use of these inputs, we can significantly lower operating costs. Secondly, ecological farming builds natural capital, the true foundation of any investment in agriculture. Industrial agriculture is somewhat like a mining operation, extracting in a few short years the fertility that nature has taken millennia to build. Fortunately, once we start to work with nature we can rebuild the health, fertility and productivity of our land asset.
Lastly, ecological farming rebuilds soil health and brings resilience back into the ecosystem. Farming means dealing with the vagaries of the weather, and a strong, living, fertile soil within a healthy diverse ecosystem is a resilient system. Over time, this resilience will allow for more consistent and predictable production of both crops and livestock.
By farming ecologically, we can access the growing markets for chemical free, organic, nutrient dense food and fibre that is produced in a genuinely sustainable and positive way. Combine the upside benefits of this higher price potential with the downside protection of low inputs and resilience, ecological farming can produce higher margins per unit of production. High prices alone do not guarantee high returns to investors; strong margins are the best indicator of good long-term returns.
Farming ecologically also means that we are able to access the new and developing markets for ecosystem services, such as carbon offsets. These ecosystem services are produced as a natural “by-product” of our management, and so represent strong upside built on the foundation of a profitable farming operation.