Production – Science – Profit

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It was a pleasure to be invited to present a paper at the National Conference on Biological Farming

Systems in Rotorua recently. The Conference endeavoured to cover an extensive range of current

practices and ideas that could be classified as ingredients in what is called modern biological farming.

There was a group of dedicated company people wanting to help farmers improve their lot. Presentation

time was restricted with limited time for questions, which meant that in the two-day programme over forty

subjects were covered. Only a handful of these papers were from scientific research organisations, and the

general feeling at the Conference was that conventional science was ignoring the real value and potential

of biological farming.


The majority of presentations described company products used on farms and invariably reported the

results in production terms. But producing more is not necessarily profitable – ask any successful business

person. We need to assess the huge range of alternative practices and knowledge accumulated in the

past decade in terms of their profitability so that we can evaluate their true contribution to the business of



The word “profit” has been one of the most frequently used words in farming publications in the past few

years but accurate measures of profit are missing from most farm businesses in this country. No other

industry in the developed world evaluates its success in production terms. It is simply not compatible with

best business practice and not sustainable.


It was not until the penny dropped in the early nineties that I adopted the practices of my business advisors

and the food giants of the world and started to measure farm businesses in the same way as the producer

of a can of baked beans. The farmers I have worked with over the past decade or two have improved their

bottom line results by 10 – 40 % per year by adopting the daily profit concept and using the innovative

technology involved.


So let’s measure farming in business terms just like any other industry or producer. Let’s make sustainable

farming sustainably profitable, and make that the key focus to growing more quality food for our


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