It is ecology and smarter land management systems that drive real farmland productive performance.

The ‘slam dunk’ of such smarter management is that measurable environmental outcomes are improved – reduced N leaching, sediment and E.coli in waterways, biodiversity, GHG emissions etc. along with financial performance.

No trade off, better environmental management drives better financial outcomes.

Recent research undertaken here in New Zealand strongly indicates that such environmental gains can be made from the conversion of farmland to organic management. It is not, however, a simple case of converting a farm and away you go. In practice it takes specific management actions and strategies to achieve these results and these are not delivered just because you are in-conversion or have the ‘organic stamp’.

There is a broad and extensive misconception that the organic certification standards are a management guide book. It is a misconception that we have seen prove costly and damaging to production time after time but it is one that persists. They are not a management guide book.

What is required to succeed and deliver those environmental gains is sophisticated ecological system management at the farm level.

The theme areas for management actions that will deliver this impact are:

  • Fertiliser
  • Soil
  • Feed
  • Resource utilisation

The characteristics and benefits of shifting to capable agro-ecosystems are:

  • lower cost production
  • more energy efficient
  • more efficient in terms of output delivered for input supplied
  • measurably better by environmental metrics
  • achieving strong product premiums and supply contracts
  • improved financial performance

If investment goals involve impact investment criteria such as improved and measurable environmental performance from farming systems, particularly farming systems that are otherwise associated with negative environmental outcomes (think intensive dairy), then these are the types of system to apply.

Perhaps the simplest message to understand is that well designed examples of ecologically sophisticated farming systems are more profitable.

Improved environmental performance as the driver of improved financial performance.