What type of farmer are you?

It’s no surprise that America’s farmers represent a diverse group, especially when it comes to their adoption of sustainable farming practices.

We are living in a world where increasing incomes and populations are going to require farmers to be even more productive, growing more food on less land and using fewer resources while conserving soil, water and air quality.

New research from Farm Futures reveals that farmers can combine both profits and conservation. Its recent survey of more than 1,000 farmers found that those on the cutting edge of conservation were more profitable than other producers.

According to the survey, farmers fall into five groups depending on their practices and profits.
  • Green & Gold (4 percent): These farmers represent a small minority of farmers and are the most conservation-minded growers. They use the most sustainable practices.
  • Big & Brown (17 percent): Farmers who farm an average of more than 3,600 acres are in this group. While they earn good incomes, their return on equity is below average. They are large enough to adopt site-specific technology, but haven’t utilized applications and their conservation efforts fall short of average.
  • Black & Red (16 percent): These farmers are no more advanced in conservation issues than the “Green and Gold” group, but they have found the “sweet spot” of profitability. They are larger than average, but smaller than the “Big & Brown” group because they haven’t bought as much land, which helps to keep their debt levels under control.
  • Green & Gray (7 percent): The adoption of this group’s sustainable practices is more than the “Green and Gold” group, but their demographics contradict the difficulty of being an innovator. While they farm larger than average acres, their size falls short of the most profitable group.
  • Average Joes (56 percent): These farmers’ conservation efforts are typical and their ability to progress is limited. They are smaller, less profitable and older than the average grower surveyed, which appears to limit their willingness to adopt newer and greener technology and practices.
Results from the survey reveal that high-profit farms generally are more engaged in planning, which helps translate conservation efforts into profitability.

The “Green & Gold” farmers are far more likely to have written plans for conservation, pesticide use, nutrient management and wildlife management, as well as standard operating procedures for all farm operations. These practices can help midsize and smaller farmers stay competitive and green.

To view how you compare to other farmers and to determine what type of farmer you are, visit FarmFutures.com.

What do you think of these survey results? For those of you who are farmers, what type do you think you are?

Photo obtained from: johnpaulus.com

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