Farmers could increase their profits by up to 7% by adopting some ecological management practices.
That is according to new research from SRUC – Scotland’s Rural’s College.
The study aimed to understand whether the economic feasibility of an ecological management practice would lead to better uptake by farmers.
Researchers carried out an economic assessment of four different ecological practices on Scottish livestock farms.
They looked at farm level data collected from 31 livestock farms as part of a large-scale survey of Scottish farmers between January and March 2020.
They used a farm-level economic model, ScotFarm, to analyse the economic impacts of several ecological farm management practices.
Ecological management practices
Researchers found that farmers can increase profits by up to 7% by:
- Setting aside an ecological area on agricultural land;
- Reducing farm inputs.
They said that farmers can “easily” adopt these practices.
They added that these moves could also help achieve sustainable and greener goals for agriculture.
Researchers acknowledged that changing from a conventional to an organic farming system and setting aside agricultural land to plant trees require capital investment.
They stated that this is a “more challenging prospect” for adoption by livestock farmers without the provision of financial support.
Cleaner, greener and healthier
Shailesh Shrestha, an economist from SRUC’s Department of Rural Economy, Environment and Society, said:
“The Scottish Government has put forward a long-term Climate Change Plan to achieve a cleaner, greener and healthier Scotland by 2032.”
“Adaptation of agroecological management practices by farmers is a potential approach to support these plans.”
“However, a critical issue is the economic impact of the adoption of these practices.”
Shrestha said the research provided a “snapshot” of the economic impacts of several ecological management practices and economic challenges farmers face in adopting those practices on farms.
“However, a better understanding of the economic feasibility of these agroecological management practices would be very useful in maximising the uptake of these management practices by the Scottish farming community.”
The research, which zenodo.org published, is part of the EU project Low Input Farming and Territories (LIFT).
It received funding under the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.