Specialization in organic potato production increases

The degree of specialization has increased from 2000 to 2014. Larger yields can be reached but the producers can become more dependent on the following steps in the production and trade.

From 2000 to 2014 the number of organic potato farms reduced by 30% (-249 farms), while the total acreage for organic potatoes increased with 22% (from 464 to 564 ha).

During this period the degree of specialization has increased too. The degree of specialization is defined as a ratio of the potato acreage to total agricultural area. 
The farms that use more than 10% of their acreage for potatoes have increased by 175%. Furthermore the surface of less specialized farms (acreage used between 0% and 4%) has decreased. A specialized farm (>10%) farmed an average of 4 ha last year. That is an increase of 1.3 ha compared to 14 years ago. The acreage of less specialized farms (0% = 1%) remained constant over the same period at just under 1 ha. These developments show that the increased degree specialization mainly happened at already specialized farms and total acreage of those farms has grown the most (In the graph category "> 10%").

The scaling-up of the production means on the one hand a higher efficiency (improved machine use, discounts for seedlings, etc.) can be achieved, resulting in a positive impact on the operation. But on the other hand the producers can become more dependent on the next steps of production and trade. With a high level of specialization, attention should be given to crop rotation, because it has a positive effect on the prevention of disease and pest infestations.

Source: www.blw.admin.ch

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