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High Yield Modern Farming Better For The Environment

Re: High Yield Modern Farming Better For The Environment

Unread postby pstarr » Fri 30 Nov 2018, 12:22:12

farmlad wrote:Looks like we have some more blatant lies to address. Modern day agribusiness is not about maximizing food production. It is about maximizing profits for the petrochemical companies and other agribusiness corporations, second about the farmers maintaining short term viability. Very much like the healthcare industry is not about health.

Ridiculous. No farmer wakes up in the morning and asks himself . . . "how can I make money for the petrochemical companies and other agribusiness corporations. Modern American farmers, both conventional and organic (and in between) have families to raise and money to make. Businesses to operate. Few conspiracies involving certain subsidies (corn production, soybeans, sugar) exist to manipulate international markets and currency. Little to do with other grains, legumes, vegetables and fruits.

Farmlad, you seem to fighting a battle that was waged and won decades ago. I am sorry for your loss, but you need to move on. The USDA Organic Food Production act specifies that health of soil, not profits, not chemicals, not labor issues etc is the Number One concern of sustainable agriculture. Every paragraph that manages an organic production system must return to that basic concept. Soil and its treatment is like the US Constitution.

Sadly the Organic Food Production Act (OFPA of 1990) was written by humans. Not a perfect document, just the best that can be expected. Debate raged at the time around the exclusion/inclusion of worker rights language, organic product nutritional superiority, biocide danger (settled by inclusion of the 'Materials List') socialism, capitalism, wholisticism. Many are unhappy that organic farmers are also capitalists lol I am not one of those types.
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Re: High Yield Modern Farming Better For The Environment

Unread postby farmlad » Mon 03 Dec 2018, 08:22:53

Ridiculous. No farmer wakes up in the morning and asks himself . . . "how can I make money for the petrochemical companies and other agribusiness corporations.
You are totally correct here That is why I specifically used the term "Agribusiness" to include the petrochemical suppliers which are a critical component in 90% of USA current food production. And they are getting their cut first and they are the primary ones telling us that Petro chemical fertilizers and pesticides and GMOs and Big Machines, etc are required to feed the world. And my point is that feeding the world is the least of their intentions. And neither does a farmer wake up intent on feeding the world.
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Re: High Yield Modern Farming Better For The Environment

Unread postby farmlad » Mon 03 Dec 2018, 09:17:46

Kaiser
One Big issue I have with the PBS article (which is in line with mainstream thought) is that they only focus on minimizing acreage in food production as a way to lessen our negative impact on the environment. This is an important part of a solution but not even close to enough. The first problem is who will pay for this. Way to often the pressure is on poor countries to not exploit their natural resources. When often its the case that the more wealthy nations have exploited theirs years ago. So the only real solution I can think of to keep natural reserves is if concerned people buy up or rent natural reserves at their market value.

The elephant in the room is the rampant disregard for the environment on the land that we are cultivating and grazing etc. And that is the part that I as a farmer should focus on.

On my farm I work on improving ecosystem function to improve resilience and profitability. One example is managing the pastures to maximize the production of digestible energy from sunlight. With minimal petrochemical inputs ( 2.5 Months worth of hay, wire. polyethylene water pipe, electric fence and gasoline being some of the primary inputs).

The benefits that I see to the environment on my farm since I switched it from corn and soy to a managed grazing based operation are increasing water infiltration rates, increasing water holding capacity, carbon sequestration, plant diversity, Number and diversity of insects birds rodents frogs.

I don't know how the total meat produced per acre compared using it to raise Soy and Corn and feeding it to chickens. But I know that I am producing just as much if not more lamb per acre than if I were using my state's Land Grant University's best practice recommendations which include grain and chemicals etc. And significantly more meat than any other beef production practices could achieve on my farm.
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Re: High Yield Modern Farming Better For The Environment

Unread postby KaiserJeep » Mon 03 Dec 2018, 13:02:52

You appear to be focussed on the quality of your soils, which long term is a good thing. You are also producing "grassfed" lamb, a luxury meat which is priced relatively high in the USA at least. You say you are finding more profit this way and I do not doubt it.

However you have also admitted that you were producing chicken feeds before, and now are producing premium lamb. My guess would be that the number of meat calories produced by your farm has declined, but the premium price paid for grassfed lamb more than makes up for that.

Thanks for the inputs, but I'm not sure your experiences directly relate to this thread. On a global basis, you may have gone in the exact opposite direction, producing less human food from a given acreage. That sort of change is only going to pay off in a country such as the USA where the citizens have disposable income they can choose to devote to tastier lamb versus new tech toys or fashionable clothes.

IOW, your business would fail in sub-Saharan Africa where people are already spending the majority of their incomes on food and are unable to acquire enough calories to live. I appreciate your inputs but they don't appear to be directly applicable to the thread topic. However your expertise would have been welcommed here in many other farm-related threads.
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Re: High Yield Modern Farming Better For The Environment

Unread postby farmlad » Mon 03 Dec 2018, 20:55:29

Kaiser I understand that I am not addressing your question and the reason is that I feel your question is missing the more important point. That not only do we need to minimize acres in production but more importantly we need to minimize the negative practices on the acres where we do manipulate nature to produce food.

The massive dead zones in our oceans would mostly be all but non existent if all our food would be produced in line with regenerative practices. By using the term regenerative I'm not saying no chemical inputs just cutting the exessess would go a long way and focusing on biological mechanisms. This is what I am involved with on a cash crop farm in South America with soybeans being the main crop. We have been raising multispecies cover crops in the off season and grazed some with livestock. In 4 years we have reduced our chemical fertilizer usage on the soybean crop by roughly 50% and herbicide usage from 4 applications to 2. Instead of several fungicide treatments we have so far only applied 1 on half the acreage to cover our behind and took the plunge on the other half with 0 fungicide. So far we have not applied any insecticide while the neighbors are all spraying for chinche bugs and catepillars. So far our yields have been just as good or better than what they used to be and compared to the average farm in the area.

Our goal in the next 5 years is to be able to grow the soybean crop with only 1 herbicide and 0 chemical fertilizer other than possibly some foliar applied micro nutrients. and 0 fungicide and 0 pesticides. and That will only happen so long as we can raise a decent and profitable crop.

This regenerative ag movement is gaining ground at an exciting rate. Just 5 years ago you would have been shocked to see and article in regular farming magazines about multispecies cover crops or managing for mycorrhizal fungi or integrating livestock onto crop land. But today you pick one up and they will have 2 or even 3 articles down that line with advertisements to boot. And even today the published research is still way behind in agricultural applications even though the biologists knew most of this stuff for a long time. So now with the advent of the internet the farmers are bypassing the AG programs in the universities and getting their education strait from the biologists and trying them out on their own and spreading their successes and failures with the broader farming communities. So that is my thoughts why we don't have much research papers and the AG institutions are still saying the same sh-t on PBS. The other reason is that science is a lot easier when you are dealing with simple systems but very cumbersome when trying to figure out such complex systems as the plant and its associated microbial community. In science we know more about the universe beyond us than the soil dwelling microbial communities right under our feet.
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Re: High Yield Modern Farming Better For The Environment

Unread postby farmlad » Mon 03 Dec 2018, 21:13:51

Kaiser Funny that you mention Sub Saharan Africa since that is precisely where many of the principles of regenerative grazing that I am applying on my farm were developed. Just search on Youtube for Allan Savory, or Ian mitchell innes or holistic management grazing. These grazing methods were developed to reverse the desertification that is happening at a shocking rate all around the globe where we have several months or more at a time without rainfall. You should also youtube Gabe Brown, Dr Allen Williams, and Ray Archuleta, and Christine Jones.

And BTW goat is the most widely consumed meat on the planet and sheep rate right up there. South and North Americans are some of the few people with the luxury to eat lots of beef.
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