Nature-friendly farms 'more profitable', report says
Adopting nature-friendly farming practices could make agriculture in Northern Ireland more profitable, a new report suggests.
Seventeen farms – including cattle, sheep, mixed and dairy – took part in Striking the Balance, a study commissioned by the Nature Friendly Farming Network (NFFN) that looked at what effect working within environmental limits would have on farm finances.
It found that, if all the farms looked at moving to a maximum sustainable output (MSO) approach, there would be an average increase of 35% in profitability, once support payments were taken into account.
The MSO is a metric that determines at what point a farm achieves its optimum output while harnessing the natural resources available to it. It aims to show that farms reach a point where inputs like fertiliser, plant protection products and feed are reduced and output is maximised when natural resources are used efficiently. Those inputs are corrective variable costs (CVC) which happen when production is overshooting the land's capacity, compared to productive variable costs incurred when working within nature's boundaries.
The study calls the move towards MSO "potentially transformational" for the economic outlook of farming in Northern Ireland.