Comprehensive Study of Natural Farming & Pathways to Scale

We are thrilled to unveil our latest field research report—a comprehensive study on the effects of Natural Farming on farmer income and the environment.

Amidst the noise, our goal was to understand the impact and challenges of Natural Farming. We examined a spectrum of practices, from reduced pesticide and fertilizer use to completely natural farming. We had studied the demand side of these practices in our Safe Food study earlier as well.

At The/Nudge’s Transforming Agriculture for Small Farmers (TASF) team, our mission is to identify agricultural practices that boost farmer incomes, benefit the environment, and improve product quality.

Our latest in-depth analysis of Natural Farming (NF) reveals promising results:
:chart_with_downwards_trend: 80-90% reduction in input costs
:droplet: 50-60% decrease in water usage
:moneybag: Potential profits up to Rs.7000 per acre with multi-cropping
:seedling:Improvement in organic soil carbon levels.

Key Takeaways:
· 3% average yield increase with NF
· 24% reduction in total cultivation costs
· 58% of farmers reported higher net income, averaging 25% more than Conventional Farming (CF)
· 56% transitioned to NF due to lower cultivation costs
· Lack of market forces to drive increased adoption of this practice.
· Initial yield drop in the first year of transition
· Knowledge gaps and higher time/effort requirements for NF inputs
· However, 80% of farmers achieved yields comparable to CF within three years.

Our findings, are based on extensive field studies with 215 NF farmers and 189 CF farmers across three states and eight districts, were made possible through the invaluable support and participation of five organisations.

We also shared a playbook from RySS - one of the organizations has used to scale this practice.

For a concise summary, check out the attached one-page summary & download the detailed report (235 slides) here

665d82156a2e0d552f5083b2_Field Research Report on Natural Farming_June’24.pdf (3.8 MB)


I have a fundamental problem with natural farming studies like this one: There is no path to scaling them to a commercially relevant level beyond the “organic produce niche.”

Not only in India, but anywhere in the world.

If the core argument is that it is equivalent in yield to commercial farming and has lower costs, then market forces are sufficient to create scaled-up adoption. And as market forces have not shown any interest, what is the REAL PROBLEM?

It is almost as if these studies are hiding something.

You can’t say in any business or industry that you can achieve the same results at a lower cost and complain that adoption is low. Adoption is low because there is a BIG problem, too, which is preventing adoption. What is it?

I would like to see studies that are NOT focused on the BENEFITS of natural farming but focused on the PROBLEMS with natural farming. They would be more useful.

Also, if the yield is the same from the third year with lower costs, why should NF get premium pricing? Why is premium pricing an ask/necessity for adoption?

The case should be that large scale NF adoption will reduce prices?

Many more such questions come to mind.