by John Kempf, founder of Advancing Eco Agriculture
We get excited when crops become so vibrant that they regenerate soil heath and build soil organic matter while the crop is growing.
We are passionate about growing crops so healthy that they transfer their immunity to people and could be considered food as medicine.
We feel renewed satisfaction in our work when growers tell us how their crops have become resistant to insects or diseases.
We’re committed to regenerative agriculture because it yields benefits for growers, consumers, the environment, and the world.
But all of this is not enough.
It’s not enough to be passionate about regenerative agriculture. Growing healthy pest-resistant crops that also regenerate the soil and the people who eat the food grown in that soil is not enough to keep us doing what we’re doing.
Successful farms are profitable farms. Exceptionally successful farms are exceptionally profitable farms. And we want you to be exceptionally successful and profitable.
For you to incorporate nutrition management and the principles of regenerative farming systems on your farm, you must be able to know that doing so will cause you to be more profitable.
What we’ve learned is that farm managers who are exceptionally successful and exceptionally profitable prioritize their efforts to focus on increasing revenue, not reducing costs.
Can you answer the question, “How do you make money?”
For the crops you grow, what defines marketable yield with the highest value or profitability?
For most crops, there is a market and premium price for a premium product.
A premium crop may be measured in many ways: fruit size, fruit firmness, percentage of solids, dry matter, protein content, sugar content, fat content, organic certification, GMO-free, digestibility, skin integrity, skin color, blush, stem color, stem length and integrity, etc.
Even when no premium market exists (which is rare), fruit uniformity, number of fruit, kernel size, test weight, lack of deformities and other factors still contribute substantially to marketable yield. Exceptionally profitable growers focus intensely on optimizing these premium characteristics in their crops.
Reducing costs is not the priority of exceptionally successful farm managers. Increasing revenue is.
“Low input” growers who focus on cost savings are almost never the low-cost producer per unit of marketable yield. Growers who focus on optimizing inputs and costs for the greatest return consistently produce the highest marketable yield per acre.
The biggest costs for growers usually are fixed overhead and capital costs in land, buildings, and equipment; and the labor required simply to manage the crop before harvest. The variable costs of crop inputs—seed and fertilizer—often are the least expensive part of producing a crop.
This is why exceptionally profitable growers focus on increasing marketable yield per acre. That focus results in more quality yield to support the same fixed costs.
Growers who focus on reducing variable costs believe that avoiding some additional expense and accepting lower yields will improve their profitability.
Farming is an interesting enterprise. It is the only enterprise I know in which you can plant one seed and expect to get hundreds or thousands in return. Because of this principle, you can never “save yourself” successful and profitable in farming.
Because of overhead and fixed costs, low input growers with their lower yields per acre end up being the high-cost producer per unit of marketable yield.
While we at Advancing Eco Agriculture are passionate about regenerative agriculture, our top priority is helping growers make money and increase profitability. When growers do not make more money than they did before we began working with them, we have not been successful. We believe that all products applied need to deliver immediate economic results.
We have been privileged to work with some exceptional farm managers and observe how they make decisions. We’ve learned that they make decisions using a completely different framework and mental model than less profitable growers, and we seek to share what we’ve learned from these grower partnerships with you.
At our winter seminars, in addition to discussing how to manage the microbial community that lives on the surface of leaves for disease resistance, and looking at how nutrition management at Critical Points of Influence can create or prevent a disease infection, we will also be describing how extraordinarily profitable farm managers make decisions differently to increase profits. We look forward to seeing you there!