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Growing for Profit

 
 
 

To achieve growing for profit you need a business plan to clarify your goals and direct how you will achieve them. You need to decide how many crops and which crops you will grow and where you will grow them, how much land you will need to obtain your targets for each crop. You need to order the seeds and seedlings, the fertiliser, and do the soil tests etc. Do you have enough water? Will you use irrigation? Will you focus on vegetables, herbs, berries, nuts, grains or fruit? So you need to have the clarity that comes from writing down your goals for your property. Growing for profit requires some planning.

Based on the plan for your property, you need to make some annual revenue projections and costings i.e. a budget, and decide what equipment to invest in and how you will finance these investments.

To grow for profit you also need to know how and where you will sell your produce. This means assessing the demand for each crop and deciding on a marketing strategy, eg will you sell at retail or wholesale prices, what about transporting the goods to your market, how will you pack....


Certification.


One of the many decisions you will have to make is on the question of certification.  Assuming you choose the organic farming or biodynamic gardening  approach you then need to decide whether to seek certification. In Australia  there are several organic certifying bodies (eg BFA) and there is a Biodynamic Institute.

In Australia there are five or six different organisations “certifying” organic farms and charging large annual fees to audit farming practices used. It can take three years to obtain certification. It seemed to us that they have a fairly negative approach, telling you what not to do. I thought I knew what not to do and was looking for an approach that told us what to do.

Anyway I decided that I would not seek certification. I grow crops the way Nature approves. I do not like the idea of having to pay someone to approve how I do things when it is already approved by nature as is evidenced by the health and vigour of the plants and trees and the absence of diseases and pests. In practice not having certification has not been a problem – the demand for fresh nutrient-rich great tasting produce that has no toxic sprays far exceeds our capacity to produce.

However there are advantages to being certified particularly if you sell wholesale in that you will get a better price for your crops. The price you obtain is a critical factor in growing for profit. This is very important the smaller the number of crops you choose to grow, when the profitability of these crops will affect your end profit more.

If you decide to grow a crop that has less demand (eg radishes or kohl rabi rather than carrots and tomatoes), the larger the volume you produce the more critical the price you get becomes and certified produce will give you an edge. If you are interested in obtaining organic certification, the cost of being ready for certification will depend on the prior uses of the property you choose. If the land has been used for conventional farming, you will need to take measures to eliminate the toxicity and rebuild the organic matter and soil life. This all takes time and money. If in doubt, you should get the soil tested for toxicity.


Growing for profit: how do you determine the profitability of each crop?


There is very little published data on the comparative profitability of crops. One of the surprising conclusions that I have come to is that if you take into account the cost of labour then many crops are not profitable at current prices. This is obviously crucial information if growing for profit is important to you,  as it’s no good just making a good revenue. As many farmers don’t pay themselves a wage, generating a good cashflow can obscure this fact. There can be a significant investment in land, buildings and machinery for big farms and the decision on what crop to grow is probably the most important of all.

The other surprise to me is both which categories of crops are most profitable and which specific crops. My gut feel was wrong and I wonder how many others have made the same mistake when trying to be growing for profit.

To learn more about growing for profit on organic farm or gardens click here...

 
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