Moving towards low-chemical and caring farming systems


  • A.D. Mackay
  • T. Harrison
  • R.A. Moss
  • T.J. Fraser
  • A.P. Rhodes
  • D. Cadwallader
  • M.W. Fisher
  • R. Webby



There is awareness and a growing interest amongst sheep and beef farmers towards the potential opportunity that low-chemical and organic markets offer. However, the ability to supply to these specifications is seriously constrained by a general lack of information among livestock producers of the practicalities of conversion to a low-chemical or organic supply system. This paper reports on a recently completed study that examined the knowledge gaps among livestock producers with an interest in further investigating low-chemical or organic production. The challenges confronting the producer are substantial if the opportunities that low-chemical natural and organic markets offer to the sector is to be realised. It is not a get-rich-quick option, and will require a medium to long-term planning and investment horizon. There is considerable ignorance, and hence confusion about the challenges and the conversion process. The study emphasised the importance of conversion planning, including the need for a pre-conversion period on most properties. Developing decision rules for managing at-risk livestock forms an integral part of the conversion plan as they ensure preservation of the production base, maintenance of high animal health and welfare standards, and management of risk. Contrary to popular belief, conversion to organic supply does not have to result in a cessation in the expansion of the production base or a loss in the performance of the current production base. An integral part of the conversion planning process is the continued development of the farm operation's production base. Keywords: conversion planning, decision rules, livestock farming, low-chemical, organic







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