Farming is not glamorous by any means. Neither is making the transition from conventional to organic crop production.
However, if you can overcome a couple challenging years, you can find positive returns. We discuss what it takes to turn your crop acres over to organic production, below.
AUDIO: J.P. Rhea, AgriSecure
An organic crop expert admits, “Making the change to organics is a big and daunting task.” However, he believes the benefits stemming from this practice are worthwhile.
“We talk a lot about the economic benefits. In today’s economic environment, that’s a compelling reason to do it. But we’ve also seen a lot of sustainability benefits,” J.P. Rhea, CEO of AgriSecure said. “My grandpa always said, ‘Take care of the land and it will take care of you.’ In our transition, we’re using less inputs, getting more productivity and increased biology in the soil.”
Converting acres into organic production takes time, as the land must be free from prohibited substances for 36 months, or two crop years.
“During that period, you farm as if you were organic. But, you sell crops at conventional prices. When we talk about those transitioning steps, we talk about the balance between economics, agronomics and management. There is no one transition program, there’s a balance,” Rhea said.
AgriSecure helps farmers navigate through the transition phase, providing them with customized plans to balance financial, agronomic and other considerations in a step-by-step, year-by-year manner.
“We help design the plans, but also do all the certification and paperwork for our growers. We help them identify and locate sources for inputs. We give general marketing advice and put them in touch with other folks,” Rhea said. “A lot of what we do is take pressure off of the growers, and let them focus on the execution. Let farmers farm; we’ll manage the rest.”
Farmers are advised to plant corn within the first year of organic production, due to compelling economic factors.
“Execution wise, corn is a little bit more manageable than soybeans because once you hit canopy, a lot of weed pressure drops off. That’s what we generally recommend farmers go to that first year. We have a lot of different crop rotations after that, based on these farmers situations,” Rhea said.
For more information on AgriSecure, visit www.agrisecure.com.