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Increasing Yield: Part 5 [Agriculture
Posted on June 22, 2017 @ 07:47:00 AM by Paul Meagher

Jean Martin Fortier, in his excellent book The Market Gardener (2014), explained and illustrated how he and his wife make 100,000$ per acre. There farm is an example of a very high yielding enterprise measured by the quantity of produce grown or income generated.

A critical aspect of their argument as to why the farm was high yielding was because he did not use a standard tractor and its accompanying implements to cultivate the land. Instead he relied on smaller scale equipment that was appropriate to the permanent bed system he setup on his 1.5 acre gardening area. He argued that this helped also with the financial yield of the system because he did not have associated machinery debt and maintenance costs. He was not afraid to spend money on tools that improved his productivity, he just made the decision that he didn't see a role for a standard tractor in maximizing yield.

The metaphor of the market gardener is that there are alot of potentially good paying niches our there were our focus might turn to improving quality and getting better at production, rather than getting bigger. Investments into quality and efficiency can still increase yield without dedicating more physical area to production. By focusing on quality and efficiency, we might increase yield by getting more production using less work and inputs and higher prices for better quality. Fortier's argument is that getting bigger in physical scale is not the best route to increasing yield.

That being said, Jean Martin had a generous benefactor invest alot of money into scaling up the market gardening approach to more than 1.5 acres (to 8 acres). This latest video shows how he is scaling up in a way that remains true to many of his market gardening practices, but he now has the room to incorporate new animal and permaculture systems to potentially produce even greater per-acre yields. That is still to be determined. As far as his benefactor is concerned, the most important yield of the system might be the trained market gardeners that the larger scale operation can foster. There are multiple types of yield a business can try to optimize for and which defines what the enterprise considers success.

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