Economics of raised bed farming in Western Australia

Page last updated: Friday, 20 March 2015 - 8:26am

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Raised beds are a long-term option for preventing waterlogging and increasing crop yield on target areas. Raised beds prevent waterlogging and increase the productivity of land previously prone to waterlogging. Crop yields are more reliable and yield and profit are increased. The raised beds require a capital investment for its adoption. This is can still be profitable given the productivity increase even when the necessary finance is borrowed.

Where land is suited to raised bed farming and loans are required to purchase and modify machinery, larger returns on investments will be gained by maximising the rate of installation and the total area installed to raised beds.

Raised bed farming is demonstrably successful in eliminating waterlogging. It removes the risk of very substantial income losses from crop yields diminished by waterlogging. In areas that are highly prone to waterlogging these losses are often real, not just less profit, but negative gross margins or actual dollar losses.

Farmers seeking to decide whether to adopt raised bed farming should be concerned about the ability of this technology to pay for itself, particularly if monies have to be borrowed to make the change.

For these reasons, and because:

  • raised bed farming is a very different way of integrating soil and water conservation into a farming system
  • It requires a considerable level of planning and capital investment, an investment analysis approach has been used to assess the economic wisdom of adopting raised bed farming on land prone to waterlogging.

The additional costs associated with raised bed farming include:

  • purchasing a specialised bed-former;
  • installing raised beds (bed forming) and associated drains (surveying and drain construction);
  • adapting the track width of tractor, seeder and sprayer to match the spacing of the furrows;
  • the swather and harvester can be left unaltered by travelling on top of the beds.

Associated costs include the interest bill on monies borrowed to pay for the machinery and the installation of beds and drains.



Contact information

Derk Bakker