Notices
Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 100 of 313
Like Tree10Likes

Thread: What problems does organic agriculture solve?

  1. #1 What problems does organic agriculture solve? 
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Hello


    As a city kid, I have zero knowledge about agriculture. To learn a bit about this, I will spend a few days on a farm at the end of the month to talk with farmers who went from "conventional" agriculture to organic.


    In the meantime, I'm reading a bunch of books about agriculture, both conventional and organic, but am having a hard time finding sound, non-biased, scientific information about...


    1. what problems organic agriculture is supposed to solve (too much, too strong pesticides/fertilizer? lower nutrition in food?)


    2. whether these solutions really work, and if they have any drawbacks


    For instance, some organic farmers refer to BS like homeopathy or biodynamics


    Can you recommend good books and online articles that I should read before I go?


    Thank you.


    Reply With Quote  
     

  2.  
     

  3. #2  
    Forum Bachelors Degree dmwyant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    456
    I think the primary concern is pesticides and the effect they have both environmentally as well as on consumers.

    Here is a link to a paper that discusses some of the issues.

    http://www.organicagcentre.ca/Docs/P...ersion2_rm.pdf


    Reply With Quote  
     

  4. #3  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Thanks for the link.

    1. Organic agriculture also uses pesticides (apparently, it's just impossible to grow food without pesticides, or with output just too low to make it viable): Are synthetic pesticides found in consumer's food, and in a quantity that is enough to have an impact on health?

    2. Have organic pesticides been scientifically proven to be better for the environment/health and as efficient as synthetic pesticides?

    2. Who are the authors of the paper? "Rod MacRae, Ralph Martin, Anne Macey, Paddy Doherty, Janine Gibson and Robert Beauchemin. [...] This paper outlines the benefits of organic food and farming, based largely on literature from the industrial world. [...] We gratefully acknowledge the financial support of Agriculture and Agri-food Canada’s Canadian Adaption and Rural Development (CARD) Fund and The Laidlaw Foundation.": Is this a public, independent organization that can be trusted?

    Thank you.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  5. #4  
    Forum Bachelors Degree dmwyant's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    456
    1. The problem with pesticides, as I understand it, is that they seep into ground water and move into the environment. This can cause alterations to the food chain which can have serious repercussions. As for health impacts in consumers I just don't know.
    2. Again I am not an expert. I have a garden which is organic meaning I do not use any pesticides or non-organic fertilizer. I know my food tastes better but I don't know if it makes me healthier other than getting out in the sun and fresh air and eating more vegetables and fruits.
    3. You answered your own question about the authors. As to the organization, I am not a Canadian but from the US. You will need to do more independent research on them however I read through the appendix of the paper and it has a couple of hundred books and papers that you could look up and do further research.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  6. #5  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Will do. Thanks.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  7. #6  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Most of the supposed advantages of organic farms turn out not to be such an advantage when compared to modern farm practices.

    Here's the down side of organic farming.

    Lower yeilds, because highly productive GMO varieties are not used. That means MUCH more land is required along with potential for erosion, nitrogen leaking into the watershed, etc http://www.nature.com/news/organic-f...gh-1.10519#/b1

    Greater crop waste because natural crops varieties are less tolerent to drought and organisms and most natural ways to defeat are much less effective than pesticides.
    No nutritional advantages nor GMO enhancements which increase nutrition. (its mostly more nutritious because of varieties that dont' have to travel well)

    Organic food is mostly hype. Fine for your garden but a threat if it went large scale.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  8. #7  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    27
    I think that sustainability is the watchword for organic farming (real organic farming).

    The idea is that the in an ecologically sound system, returns can be sustained indefintely. Also there is the idea of stewardship. that the land is the most important resource to protect.

    In modern crop production the returns are too low to deviate from the modern practises, so a producer has to stick to producing as much as he can for as little cost as possible. This means he must only make one pass on his field. He must spray herbicides (usually round-up), til the soil, plant the seed, and fertilize. In essence the business uses very controlled practises to produce the most from the least and try to make a profit that will allow the producer to pay for the high imputs of seed, fuel, fertilizer, equipment, and land.

    An interesting point to make is the genetic variability of seed and who controls the patents on them. Seed is more valuable than precious metals on a mass basis. That packet of seed you bought for $2.00 might contain 20 very small seeds. These seeds are usually hybrids meaning you will have to purchase the seed from the supplier (who owns the patent) to get the desired result. You cannot plant seeds you produced and get the same plant.

    Organic gardening encourages (in some cases) the saving of seed from heritage varieties that will grow true from generation to generation. The greater the diversity in these varieties, the more likely they will be able to withstand drought, insect attacks, and disease. The modern seed compnaies offer a few varieties that are all the same in genetic make-up and all respond the same to adverse conditions.

    I am suprised that you cannot find some of the many good articles on the subject.

    Here is a link to a successful producer (famous in the circle).

    Polyface, Inc.
    Last edited by jetstove; May 6th, 2012 at 10:49 AM. Reason: gramatical error
    westwind and dmwyant like this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  9. #8  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    I think that sustainability is the watchword for organic farming (real organic farming).
    Yes how organic farming is defined is yet another problem.

    Sustainable doesn't mean no herbicides, nor pesticides, nor GMO varieties...the best sustainable practices might well depend on them.

    Also you should know that many modern farms are increasingly turning towards non-till farming, which is much better for the land.

    And the variety you speak is one of the reasons organic farms aren't as efficient nor produce as much yeild (the link was a survey of 60 scientific studies--it is very well studied)...different parts of the crop coming to ripeness at different times etc.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; May 6th, 2012 at 07:48 PM.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  10. #9  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    28
    Organic farming solves a few problems but introduces a few of its own.

    1. planting many different crops reduces the chance that an outbreak of disease will kill your entire field
    2. This reduces the need for Pesticides and GMO's which may be harmful
    3. by not using chemical fertilizer you improve soil structure (its ability to retain water and air) and your far less likely to leech nutrients into waste water ways which can eventually cause toxic algae blooms (which can come back to poison humans via the food chain)
    4. The use of inorganic chelates like EDTA, DTPA, EDDHA to make the metal cation micronutrients (Iron, zinc, copper etc..) soluble and bioavailable is problematic because they also have the capacity to chelate heavy metals like lead and cadmium. So using these cause more bad stuff in the soil to be absorbed by the plant, they also have a relatively long half-life and can enter the waste water ways and shallow water tables.
    5. Benificial microorganisms prefer a combination of starch and protein as food which organic fertilizers are more likely to supply. These microorganisms greatly promote growth to the point that plants don't even need to have roots for phosphorus uptake.



    The biggest issue with organic farming is that it is more costly and less efficient. For example the most lauded and most expensive organic fertilizer is high nitrate fossilized Chilean bat guano which consists of mainly nitrate salts (potassium nitrate, sodium nitrate, calcium nitrate), it costs 3 bucks a pound while the nitrate salts derived from industrial processes can cost less then 25 cents a pound. But In order to get the organic certification you must use the more expensive guano.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  11. #10  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Lower yeilds, because highly productive GMO varieties are not used.
    The GMO varieties actually in use have slightly lower per acre yields, on average, than otherwise identical crops farmed with the same level of sophistication etc over a normal variety of weather and economic conditions. This is what one would predict, of course, since the crop is modified to divert some of its energy to the expression of the alien genetics in addition to the full panoply of its own genetic code.

    Meanwhile. the comparisons with organic crops are invalid, since "organic" farming (conventional farming of days gone by, usually) has been neglected by agricultural science for generations now - missing out on an entire era of research and practical innovation. Put the billions wasted on the common and standard GMO stunts into improving organic agriculture, and then compare. As of now, you might as well compare modern buses and 1920s streetcars, and declare internal combustion engines more powerful and reliable than electric engines.

    That means MUCH more land is required along with potential for erosion, nitrogen leaking into the watershed, etc http://www.nature.com/news/organic-f...gh-1.10519#/b1
    The link does not support that assertion. The link specifically notes that more nitrogen is applied to industrial cropland, for example - increasing, not decreasing, the runoff potential (which is observed, with large aquatic dead zones in the dump areas of industrial agriculture everywhere). And of course the best organic farming controls erosion better than industrial farming practices of necessity - it depends on building up the soil in place, and cannot tolerate the kind of erosion losses that an industrially fertilized field can simply ignore for many years (see Iowa's erosion in conventional corn land, for example).

    Greater crop waste because natural crops varieties are less tolerent to drought and organisms and most natural ways to defeat are much less effective than pesticides.
    Many natural crop varieties are more, not less, drought tolerant and the like. Meanwhile, these factors have not been measured long term and with a variety of comparisons, as is prudent for evaluating wholly new agricultural crops (especially those genetically bottlenecked); the potato was a godsend to Ireland for many years until it wasn't, at one point in the 1970s the US corn crop faced disaster within a couple of years due to one single disease organism because 2/3 of it was one kind of hybrid that happened to be vulnerable. Most of the GMO organisms in actual commercial distribution set up similar disasters.
    No nutritional advantages nor GMO enhancements which increase nutrition.
    Few if any actual and successful GMO enhancements, or other industrial innovations, increase nutrition. That benefit remains mostly theoretical, and dependent on narrowly restricting the concept of nutrition.

    Economics might be an even bigger factor down the road - the main cost savings of industrial agriculture to date rode on depopulating the countryside (lowering labor costs) and obtaining oil for cheap. Industrial agriculture depends on export markets and obtaining things like pesticides and herbicides and fertilizers (even the very seed) from multinational corporations, and puts local farmers in price competition with huge and well-financed corporate interests. The result is often - we see this all over - food insecurity among the politically vulnerable. In Haiti, say.
    The biggest issue with organic farming is that it is more costly and less efficient.
    That depends considerably on how one measures cost and efficiency - industrial agriculture more easily externalizes its costs.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  12. #11  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Meanwhile. the comparisons with organic crops are invalid, since "organic" farming (conventional farming of days gone by, usually) has been neglected by agricultural science for generations now - missing out on an entire era of research and practical innovation.
    Ice....links to science please.... Not more hand waving in the environmental extremism tradition. The one link was a survey of 66 studies comparing organic to conventional farming techniques, that is significant amount of research. You might try to belabor that perhaps organic farms all aren't using the latest technique, but it is what it is nevertheless and one could easily complain likewise for traditional farming. The evidence is that organic methods are much less efficient and needs a 3rd more land area--that increase in land use carry high potential for many of the same problems as conventional farming such as this study of European organic farms which leak excess nutrients.

    ScienceDirect.com - Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment - Approaches to assess the environmental impact of organic farming with particular regard to Denmark

    --
    As put for in this Nature article, many of the claims of organic farming are ideological rather than scientific."
    "Organic agriculture was originally formulated as an ideology, but today's global problems — such as climate change and population growth — need agricultural pragmatism and flexibility, not ideology. "
    http://148.216.10.92/archivos%20PDF%...a%20NATURE.doc


    The point is just because it has a "organic" label at the market, doesn't mean it was less damaging for the environment--not even as a general average when hard science is brought to bare. The ideal most sustainable and efficient farms probably need a combination of conventional and so called organic techniques depending on the farm location--not being pigeonholed into inflexible categories.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  13. #12  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Posts
    27
    Problems organic agriiculture solves

    1.) Increases pollination

    Honeybee Deaths Linked to Corn Insecticides - ABC News

    2.) Taste better

    Local-Food Movement: The Lure of the 100-Mile Diet - TIME

    3.) Better for the environment and us

    http://www.newsomseed.com/Herbicides...4-D%20MSDS.pdf

    4.) Conserves the soil

    Organic farming - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    5.) Preserves traditional methods and cottage industries

    http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/organics/or...y/section7.pdf

    6.) Increase local employment

    Organic Farming Could Grow Even More Jobs with Better Policy Support | GreenBiz.com
    dmwyant likes this.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  14. #13  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Problems organic agriiculture solves

    You do realize that the most common honey bees used for agriculture for both "organic" and "conventional" farms are invasive to the US? By most definitions, it's only "organic" if you twist your mouth the right way when you say it.

    2.) Taste better
    Not so much "organic" versus "conventional," but, as I already covered in an earlier post, the choice of variety is the cause for tastier varieties, those selected that don't have to survive transport across thousands of miles. But local food with those tastier varieties are a good thing. I plant gourmet radishes for the same reason. And GMO varieties can be both tastier and more nutritious.

    3.) Better for the environment and us

    http://www.newsomseed.com/Herbicides...4-D%20MSDS.pdf
    If you discount the 34% greatest habitat loss to make up for crop harvest inefficiencies on average. But my argument is saying "it's better for the environment" is too simple and more a matter of ideological faith than one based on science.

    Again hard to get past that 34% more land required for the same yield. Also makes an unfair comparison because it assumes conventional farming is about tilling, when a growing amount of conventional farming practice now included no-till methods.

    5.) Preserves traditional methods and cottage industries

    http://www.agf.gov.bc.ca/organics/or...y/section7.pdf
    I did just enough back breaking labor alongside migrant workers picking blue berries to know traditional methods, while romantic to some degree, also leave a lot to be desired.

    That is true...and only a good thing if you enjoy paying more for food than you have to. Conventional farming during the past 80 years dramatically lowered food cost for Americans relative to income and we shouldn't do anything that reverses that trend. For the first 50 of that much of the gain was done by unsustainable brute force methods of over fertilization, bigger harvesters and irrigation. The past two decades have seen much better use of water, adoption of no-till methods and introduction of GMO crops to add resistance and other beneficial characteristics--these trends will most likely continue.

    So while organic will wear the ideological "feel good" badge, defined before the science.. sustainable conventional farms based on science will continue to proliferate and unhampered by ideology become the actual sustainable farms of the future.



    --
    Don't get me wrong, I'm not dead set against organic farming...I am against the blanket assumption that it's always better just because it's "organic." Organic farming will bypass many well proven ways to make a better crop with higher efficiency and better sustainability just to keep a label.
    Last edited by Lynx_Fox; May 7th, 2012 at 04:22 PM.
    skeptic and jetstove like this.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  15. #14  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    28
    To reiterate my point, the biggest problem with the organic movement is the assumption that inorganic fertilizers are somehow bad. Used alone in the manner they are is bad because of runoff, but plants actually prefer them. Organic nutes are difficult to titrate and are practically impossible to use in hydroponics. Theres no way to "ride the lightning" with organics - having your plants just on the verge of nutrient toxicity. It would be much better if we had labels like "pesticide free" as opposed to "organic".

    I'm not sure on the exact requirements of the ORMI, but its possible that an organics can allow the use of pesticides like Azadirachtin, Abamectin, and nicotine which can all be harmful to humans.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  16. #15  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    The basic problem with organic is that it is based on dogma rather than science.

    Organic does not equal sustainable or environmentally friendly. Some of the methods used are good. Some are not so good. For example : the more widespread use of green compost instead of fertilisers helps to conserve soil is good. As is rotating crops with a nitrogen fixing crop, which is plowed into the soil.

    Bad in organic is the excessive amount of tilling of the soil, which means soil is washed or blown away. This is compensated for by plowing more compost in, including cattle manure. But the result is that nutrients from the field producing the compost are lost.

    However, conventional farming involves such things as no-till agriculture, which conserves soil. Organic may use nasty pesticides, like copper sulfate (kills earthworms and is non biodegradable).

    I could envisage a third type of agriculture, which is much more friendly to the environment than either conventional or organic. This type of farming would use scientifically proven methods, rather than dogma, which are both productive and environmentally friendly.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  17. #16  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Thanks all for the feedback. That should provide enough material for a week-end on the farm

    Speaking of which: Why do most farmers still till soil, why is it a bad thing, and are there drawbacks about no-till farming?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  18. #17  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally Posted by Winfried View Post
    Thanks all for the feedback. That should provide enough material for a week-end on the farm

    Speaking of which: Why do most farmers still till soil, why is it a bad thing, and are there drawbacks about no-till farming?
    Unlike the topside of the plant which consumes CO2, the roots and many of the benificial microorganisms use O2 (this is why hydroponics kicks butt) tilling the soil mixes air into it aswell as any nutrients you supply. If there isn't adequate oxygen for the bacteria in the soil they will rip the oxygen bound to nitrogen and release the primary nutrient nitrogen as gaseous atmospheric nitrogen - this process is called denitrification.

    The root pathogens tend to be Anaerobic while the good microorganisms tend to be aerobic. The good ones compete and sometimes even predate on the bad ones. This is the argument behind fertilizing with citric acid - because it contains calories which can only be obtained through aerobic metabolism.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  19. #18  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Thanks. I don't have the scientific background to understand the second paragraph: Do you mean that tilling is a way to kill root pathogens by turning soil upside-down, ie. putting anaerobic organisms out in the open air?

    What about weeds: I guess no-till farming requires more work to get rid of those?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  20. #19  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally Posted by Winfried View Post
    Thanks. I don't have the scientific background to understand the second paragraph: Do you mean that tilling is a way to kill root pathogens by turning soil upside-down, ie. putting anaerobic organisms out in the open air?

    What about weeds: I guess no-till farming requires more work to get rid of those?
    No tilling introduces oxygen into the soil which the good bacteria use and the bad ones don't - the good ones compete with the bad ones so giving them oxygen is good. Tilling does destroys fungal mycelium - many fungi form a symbiotic relationship with plants in which the plants direct spare starches during the night to the fungus in exchange for nutrients obtained through the fungal mycelium, mycelium is the fungal analog to the roots of a plant, but they are microscopic and expand much more efficiently. This is why people say that the whole forest is essentially one organism.

    With weeds you can still burn them off without tilling, but without pesticides weeds do become a bigger problem.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  21. #20  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    If soil has enough fibrous content, it will aerate perfectly well without being turned over. No-till farming involves using a biodegradable herbicide like glyphosate to kill weeds. The crops are glyphosate resistant, and the herbicide does not harm them. When the harvest is complete, the crop is allowed to die. Every year, the dead bodies of weeds and the old crop are left to lie on the ground forming mulch. Over time, the action of earthworms (and other organisms) will bury the fibrous material, enriching the soil.

    Seeds are planted using a machine that injects them into the soil, so that the soil is disturbed as little as possible. There is no mechanical action to till the soil, aerate the soil, or otherwise disturb it. This keeps the soil rich and full of decomposing plant material. The layer of mulch on the surface provides nutrients, keeps the soil damp, and prevents erosion.

    This method of farming is now the leading system used for soya beans, as one example.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  22. #21  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Ice....links to science please.... Not more hand waving in the environmental extremism tradition.
    You're the one making the wild ass assertions - you first. No more hand waving in the corporate stooge tradition.

    My observations so far have been simple and ordinary, of stuff you can see by looking around at the farms and gardens of most anyone's neighborhood, or find with even minimal effort on the net.

    (Your only source so far contradicts the assertion you based on it - so I used it to support that contradiction. "Science" link score so far: me-1, you - 0. )
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Organic farming - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Again hard to get past that 34% more land required for the same yield.
    A false assertion, in general.

    Especially with GMOs, that normally feature somewhat lower yields per acre.

    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    I did just enough back breaking labor alongside migrant workers picking blue berries to know traditional methods, while romantic to some degree, also leave a lot to be desired.
    The early days of industrial agriculture are still with us, and the modern days are still based on them - but that has nothing to do with "organic" agriculture. Your example is of conventional, not "organic", industrial agriculture.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The ideal most sustainable and efficient farms probably need a combination of conventional and so called organic techniques depending on the farm location--not being pigeonholed into inflexible categories.
    So quit pigeonholing, quit doling out the corporate spam about "science" and "yield" and so forth, quit attacking the character and comprehension of people who do recognize the benefits - and necessities - of "organic" agriculture, and recognize the many problems with industrial agriculture that non-industrial agriculture can solve.

    Especially, the economic ones - food insecurity is no small factor in the world. Dependency on Monsanto is good for nobody except Monsanto.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    If soil has enough fibrous content, it will aerate perfectly well without being turned over.
    Not if it's compacted by heavy equipment, depleted of that "fibrous material" in the first place, or missing key factors necessary to i Industrial agriculture is a put and take operation - oil based fertilizer and chemicals in, the proper chemical base for food product out. The effect of this approach on soil quality is a concern.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The basic problem with organic is that it is based on dogma rather than science.
    The basic problem with the corporate flac is that it has "science" confused with "industry".

    The lack of scientific effort put into non-industrial agriculture, and the diversion of public monies and structures to private corporate goals and profits, is a scandal of the post-War US university system, not a problem with "organic" farming.

    The corruption of science, which should be in the service of the large civilization that supports it, by the influence of private interests and wealthy men, is not a mark against "organic" farming. Somewhat the reverse.

    For example:
    Every year, the dead bodies of weeds and the old crop are left to lie on the ground forming mulch. Over time, the action of earthworms (and other organisms) will bury the fibrous material, enriching the soil.
    Except the pesticides and so forth interfere with this - the soil is not full of healthy active "organisms" (they were poisoned) or enriched with the dead bodies of weeds (they were prevented via herbicide, recall) - and if genetically similar crop residue is left year after year, the viral and other misfortunate loads carried by the monoculture become ever better established.

    Not to say it isn't an improvement, in some cases and for some periods of time, over the industrial techniques it replaced. But the heavy use of herbicides and pesticides and the bizarre genetic threats involved should be approached with wariness, not oblivious complacency. The continual use of words like "conventional" or "traditional" imply a familiarity and experience that is nowhere near the reality of this stuff.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  23. #22  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Iceaura

    Have you seen Penn and Teller on organics?
    Penn and Teller BS: Organic Food Myths Debunked (Excerpt) - YouTube
    Reply With Quote  
     

  24. #23  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by thevillageidiot View Post
    With weeds you can still burn them off without tilling, but without pesticides weeds do become a bigger problem.
    From what I read, weed control is the reason farmers have been using tractors for decades now, and fear that no-tilling will make it much harder to get rid of weeds. Are burning and glyphosate enough even on large farms?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  25. #24  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Again hard to get past that 34% more land required for the same yield.
    A false assertion, in general.
    It's a fact based on 66 studies, Ice. No "opinions," no matter how verbose or cleverly nuanced in rhetoric, without it's own independent evidence can refute that. Of those studies, there wasn't a single crop that showed organic crop yields producing better yields than conventional farming--only strawberry crops came close but involved more labor.

    and fear that no-tilling will make it much harder to get rid of weeds.
    Other factors are education as well as significant cost of refitting $million+ combines and other machinery. Total expense seems to be a mixed...with some claims either way.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  26. #25  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Thanks. I'll add this to the list of questions I'll ask those farmers who turned to organic farming.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  27. #26  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    No till is just one part of organic farming...one being used by many non-organic farms. Some have no choice, such as farms running out of top soil which need to preserve what they have....on the other hand farmer companies in places with deep topsoil know they have decades before soil loss becomes a huge concern.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  28. #27  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    I guess the farmers I'll meet have switched to non-till, so I'll ask them what changes they had to make and how expensive it was.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  29. #28  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Organic farms do not use proper no-till, for the simple reason they are not permitted to use chemical herbicides. No-till needs glyphosate. Since it is synthetic, organic farmers cannot use it.

    The great thing about glyphosate is that it is rapidly biodegradable, and pretty much harmless to soil animals, to humans, and to local wild-life, even though it is dynamite on weeds. So its use is friendly to the environment. The ban on organic farmers using it is one of the evidences that their methods are based on stupid dogma, and good sense is not a part of it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  30. #29  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    To complicate matters, apparently, some organic farmers over here do use glyphosate when going no-till :-/

    The more I read about agriculture, the more it looks like organic is a lot (not all, but) of New Age BS.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  31. #30  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Again hard to get past that 34% more land required for the same yield.

    A false assertion, in general.

    It's a fact based on 66 studies, Ice.
    No, it isn't. The one link you posted in support explicitly contradicts it, for example, - reread for yourself.

    Not only is it not a fact based on lots of studies if you actually read the studies and your own links, but it is pretty obviously nonsense just on its face: how would you get one number like that for dozens of crops and animals in dozens of different climate and soil regimes? That is not believable. It isn't even reasonable. Flagrantly stupid, would be the first take - if it were taken as honest or in good faith.

    Furthermore, it's not really relevant: as noted above, "organic" farming has been neglected by science for many years now, years which saw the major scientific advances that industrial agriculture has coopted to its benefit. So straight yield comparisons like that are comparing not "organic" with "industrial", but modern with 19th century. That is not informative. Industrial agricultural was not that productive in the 19th Century either.

    Quote Originally Posted by winfred
    The more I read about agriculture, the more it looks like organic is a lot (not all, but) of New Age BS.
    Do share - because unless you are using a politically motivated and agenda driven definition of "organic" - like our ever so informative little buddy up there telling us what "organic" farmers are and are not "allowed" to do - many of us are unable to duplicate your findings in actual reading and studies and so forth.

    My own reading seems to more or less consistently show that industrial agriculture is among the most overhyped and misrepresented industrial activities in the Western world. The biggest gains in productivity on record, for example, seem to have come from crop rotation and seed drills and the green revolution" breeding programs and mechanized power (that last a dubious set of tradeoffs), all of which fit an "organic" paradigm just fine. Neither is the low cost of food - compared with total income - much attributable to industrial farming practices (outside of specific instances such as industrial egg production).
    Reply With Quote  
     

  32. #31  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Lots of things would fit an 'organic' paradigm just fine if the proponents suddenly had a rush of sanity. eg. glyphosate and other low toxicity, biodegradable, synthetic pesticides, plus GM crops etc.

    The problem has always been that lack of sanity. Organic agriculture has a lot in common with fundamentalist religion. It is largely based on faith instead of evidence, and anyone arguing against its tenets becomes a nasty blasphemer.

    On the 34% lower productivity - well I do not have an actual number off hand, but I know its level of productivity is well below that of conventional farming. The main reason for that is due to its dependence on green fertiliser or animal manures. In other words, it is not just the acreage growing crops. You need to add the acres used to produce the organic fertilisers. This means that the production in terms of tonnes of food per acre are well below that of conventional farming, that does not need extra acreage to produce composts. Organic farmers often quote productivity in terms of crop acreage only, which is seriously dishonest.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  33. #32  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    On the 34% lower productivity - well I do not have an actual number off hand, but I know its level of productivity is well below that of conventional farming.
    "It" doesn't have "a level of productivity".

    Much of modern industrial agriculture has not been around long enough to earn the label "conventional". There's absolutely nothing "conventional" about genetically modified food plants, for example - they are brand new, and we have less than twenty year's experience with them even in limited, trial circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    This means that the production in terms of tonnes of food per acre are well below that of conventional farming, that does not need extra acreage to produce composts.
    Industrial farming not only needs acreage to produce meat, extra to handle manure and other waste, extra to produce cash for purchase of fertilizer etc, extra to handle the infrastructure of transport etc, but also must put even unsuitable and marginal land under the same production regime as the rest - no grazing of woodlots and hillsides, no running chickens through the garden or pigs through the corn stover. The efficiencies available to non-industrial agriculture are many and detailed, and vary by region, crop, climate, even individual farmers.

    Many lead to quality improvements simultaneously - grass grazed beef having better ratios of fatty acids, garden run chickens laying eggs with richer yolks, field run pigs yielding pork without that foul taste that results from stress.

    With a few billion dollars and a couple generations of dedicated research, we can expect great improvements in these aspects as well - to match the results of the enormous subsidies accumulated by industrial farming since WWII, even.

    The problem has always been that lack of sanity. Organic agriculture has a lot in common with fundamentalist religion.
    You don't know jack shit about farming or farmers.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  34. #33  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Again hard to get past that 34% more land required for the same yield.

    A false assertion, in general.

    It's a fact based on 66 studies, Ice.
    No, it isn't. The one link you posted in support explicitly contradicts it, for example, - reread for yourself.
    "... and range from 5% lower organic yields (rain-fed legumes and perennials on weak-acidic to weak-alkaline soils), 13% lower yields (when best organic practices are used), to 34% lower yields (when the conventional and organic systems are most comparable)."

    Ice either provide some links to credible evidence or desist in spreading your thus far apparently emotional response. This is a science forum...start contributing in a meaningful way.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  35. #34  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    You don't know jack shit about farming or farmers.
    I was raised on a farm, have a degree in biology, live in a rural area right now, have worked on farms for a significant part of my life, and have a wide scope of reading on agricultural matters. So you will forgive me if I disagree.

    Your last expressed view of 'industrial farming' appears to be somewhat limited. The topic is organic versus conventional. You appear to have got that distinction mixed up with corn fed versus grass fed. Both methods can be organic or can be conventional.

    Actually, I kind of agree with you on grass fed, and think it superior for a number of reasons. But grass fed does not mean organic.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  36. #35  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    On the 34% lower productivity - well I do not have an actual number off hand, but I know its level of productivity is well below that of conventional farming. The main reason for that is due to its dependence on green fertiliser or animal manures.
    What I also find puzzling about organic agriculture, is their strange distinction about "natural" vs. "chemical". In the end, aren't all fertilizers and plant disease control products (is that the right expression?) all atoms and molecules?

    Their use of homeopathy for cattles and biodynamics for agriculture are also very strange
    Reply With Quote  
     

  37. #36  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Homeopathy is another issue. It is not particularly an organic technique. Just an insane technique.

    Biodynamics is organic agriculture taken to the realm of mysticism, and magic.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  38. #37  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Some organic farmers say that they use homeopathy instead of antibiotics to heal sick cattle. Scary :-/
    Reply With Quote  
     

  39. #38  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Most sick cattle get better by themselves. The others die. Homeopathy will not change the ratio.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  40. #39  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Right, but I find it scary that organic farmers are allowed to resort to homeobullshit rather than antibiotics.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  41. #40  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally Posted by Winfried View Post

    What I also find puzzling about organic agriculture, is their strange distinction about "natural" vs. "chemical". In the end, aren't all fertilizers and plant disease control products (is that the right expression?) all atoms and molecules?
    Yes, all organic fertilizers with the exception of amino acids must be broken down into inorganic forms before the plant can use them. The most harmless organic pesticide, neem oil, can cause infertility in rats.

    Organics is not, and will never be nearly as efficient as conventional techniques. The conventional techniques haven't even been refined on large scale operations yet. I have decades of outdoor, greenhouse, and indoor gardening experience; Ive read thousands of research articles on plant physiology and agriculture, I mix my own nutrients from dry salts, used dozens of different techniques, built 8 hydroponic systems, and have just about every type of organic fertilizer in my garage.

    Personally Ive only ever used 3 pesticides and zero herbicides (not including my blow torch). I've used azadirachtin, abamectin, and befinthrin.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  42. #41  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    If organic techniques aren't as productive as "conventional" even on gardens, I guess organic farms are profitable because their products are sold at a premium.

    So it looks like a reasonable choice in terms of efficiency/environment protection, is to keep using synthetic pesticides + fertilizer, but only use them with restraint, and move to no-till + glyphosate + culture rotation/combination to preserve topsoil?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  43. #42  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally Posted by Winfried View Post
    If organic techniques aren't as productive as "conventional" even on gardens, I guess organic farms are profitable because their products are sold at a premium.

    So it looks like a reasonable choice in terms of efficiency/environment protection, is to keep using synthetic pesticides + fertilizer, but only use them with restraint, and move to no-till + glyphosate + culture rotation/combination to preserve topsoil?
    Yeah, there sold at a premium. Some people seem to get a placebo effect where they think that organics produces much taster food. More care does go into it so I suppose it may taste a bit better, but I think its negligible. Organic farmers farm more variety and its nice to have purple broccoli and carrots now and then, its also nice to buy local.

    I have no problem maintaining enough compost to preserve my soil quality - IMO there is so much organic waste around that could easily be used to maintain soil quality with tilling. I honestly don't know why its a problem - I guess ethanol farmers use the corn stalks to cook the ethanol
    Reply With Quote  
     

  44. #43  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Another issue with conventional vs. organic, is that we compare remote produces that are grown hundreds or thousands of miles away, possibly soilless, and brought by truck/planes with local produces that were harvested yesterday. Apples and oranges.

    It's only common sense that a produce that is harvested when it's ripe and eaten within a few hours/days would taste better, regardless of the way it's grown.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  45. #44  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    28
    Quote Originally Posted by Winfried View Post
    Another issue with conventional vs. organic, is that we compare remote produces that are grown hundreds or thousands of miles away, possibly soilless, and brought by truck/planes with local produces that were harvested yesterday. Apples and oranges.

    It's only common sense that a produce that is harvested when it's ripe and eaten within a few hours/days would taste better, regardless of the way it's grown.
    They can use ethylene inhibitors to reduce that problem.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  46. #45  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Right, but it's another sign that some/most organic farmers and consumers are being illogical.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  47. #46  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Organic fruit often tastes better. However, it is not a reflection of an important difference. It is just that organic farmers more often ripen their fruit on the vine/tree. Riper fruit tastes better than less ripe. Conventional produce is often sold less than ripe, so tastes less sweet. The solution is simple. Don't eat it till it is ripe.

    When we buy supermarket tomatoes, for example, my wife and I put them in a bowl on the bench to ripen. We do not eat them till they are properly red. Delicious!
    Reply With Quote  
     

  48. #47  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    I tried this with "regular" (ie. non-organic) tomatoes, but it makes no difference: They look ripe at the store, but don't spoil even after a couple of week sitting at home and don't taste like anything even when purchased in the summer

    I'll give another try this summer and see if organic tomatoes do taste better.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  49. #48  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Winfried

    I once carried out an actual experiment on this. My aim was, in fact, to check the taste of modern hybrid tomatoes against 'heritage' genetic stock. I planted three different heritage plants, and three modern hybrids. I grew those tomatoes 'organically' using compost instead of fertiliser. As an additional control, I used store bought, commercially grown and non organic tomatoes.

    My conclusion after sampling all types, both under-ripe and well ripened, is that they all tasted great when ripened, and not so great earlier. For an equal level of ripeness, there was a small difference between heritage and modern types, (modern tasted better) but no taste difference at all between the organically grown modern ones and the store bought, bowl ripened ones.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  50. #49  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Pennsylvania
    Posts
    8,822
    Quote Originally Posted by Winfried View Post
    I tried this with "regular" (ie. non-organic) tomatoes, but it makes no difference: They look ripe at the store, but don't spoil even after a couple of week sitting at home and don't taste like anything even when purchased in the summer

    I'll give another try this summer and see if organic tomatoes do taste better.
    The gas reddened tomatoes you sometimes find in the grocery store are awful. These are picked green and ripened with ethylene gas. Home grown tomatoes taste great, whether or not they are "organic." Also, they don't have to be picked fully ripe. If they are just turning pink when they are picked, they will ripen just fine, and taste just as good.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  51. #50  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    My conclusion after sampling all types, both under-ripe and well ripened, is that they all tasted great when ripened, and not so great earlier.
    Thanks for the feedback. It'd be interesting in conducting the experiment in front of a Whole Foods store and see if people can tell which is which

    So as far as taste is concerned, there's no difference between "conventional" and "organic" as long as produces are harvested at the right time, ie. semi- or well-ripened.

    But I guess ripened produces don't travel too well, which is a problem now that farms are pretty far from cities.

    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    The gas reddened tomatoes you sometimes find in the grocery store are awful. These are picked green and ripened with ethylene gas.
    Didn't know that. Thanks for the info.

    So when health authorities recommend that people buy seasonal produces, it's not that simple. Even in the summer, tomatoes bought at the store in big cities don't taste much better than off-season.

    Too bad farmers can't collaborate and set up their own distribution network so that consumers could get fresh, rippen produces at affordable prices.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  52. #51  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    "... and range from 5% lower organic yields (rain-fed legumes and perennials on weak-acidic to weak-alkaline soils), 13% lower yields (when best organic practices are used), to 34% lower yields (when the conventional and organic systems are most comparable)."

    Ice either provide some links to credible evidence or desist in spreading your thus far apparently emotional response. This is a science forum...start contributing in a meaningful way.
    To point out the obvious, your quote there supports my original assertion, and contradicts yours. Please read my assertion, reread your quote, and nod your head? Probably not, my bet. But in upshot: your contribution here appears to be a personal attack based on a confusion, which is nothing new, and nothing I can fix from my end. There is no way for me to make contributions that are "meaningful" to some guy who doesn't comprehend English or follow simple arguments, OK? Stop reading and responding to my posts, and we'll get along just fine.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    You don't know jack shit about farming or farmers.


    I was raised on a farm, have a degree in biology, live in a rural area right now, have worked on farms for a significant part of my life, and have a wide scope of reading on agricultural matters. So you will forgive me if I disagree.
    Another example of how hard it is to find reliable experts - someone with your background should not be as ignorant as you, or have such a poor grasp of the relevant issues. You should be an expert. No one with a degree in biology should be unable to handle the notion of habitat loss, or oblivious to the hazards of genetic modification, or blind to the nature of industrial agriculture.
    Quote Originally Posted by winfried
    Right, but I find it scary that organic farmers are allowed to resort to homeobullshit rather than antibiotics.
    All farmers are allowed to avoid antibiotics - that isn't scary. The loss is theirs. What is scary is that farmers are allowed to use antibiotics that are critical in treating humans disease, routinely, without justification in disease or effectiveness, on their livestock, without training or supervision. The routine administration of antibiotics to entire herds of dairy and beef cattle in their feed, for example, is a colossal stupidity from any scientific or common sense viewpoint. Nothing any organic farmer has ever said or done is as irrational and foolish as that.

    So why are we using words like "irrational" or "illogic" only when referring to "organic" agriculture? Why are so many people here attempting to frame the matter as "irrational organic" vs "scientific conventional", when the one is as conventional as the other, and science equally valuable in both?



    Quote Originally Posted by winfried
    So as far as taste is concerned, there's no difference between "conventional" and "organic" as long as produces are harvested at the right time, ie. semi- or well-ripened.
    Industrial tomatoes - you've be better off not using the word "conventional", it's usually a framing word used by industrial propagandists to disguise what they are doing - are bred (or engineered) to be thicker skinned and more resistant to shipping damage, to grow and ripen on a more reliable schedule, to handle herbicides and pesticides and mechanical watering adn such, to respond well to inorganic fertilizer, and for other properties conducive to industrial agriculture and marketing. There are of course tradeoffs in such breeding; one tradeoff is with nutrition and flavor, and the line is walked carefully - at one point someone had gone so far as to breed a variety of tomato that was cubical in shape, but even the industrial marketers could not handle the degradation of quality involved.

    If you are comparing directly with non-industrial produce, keep in mind that non-industrial varieties were often themselves chosen and adapted for purposes, such as canning or quick ripening or resistance to cold/heat or maximum productivity as hog food, that involved tradeoffs with flavor or human nutirition.

    Right, but it's another sign that some/most organic farmers and consumers are being illogical.
    Of course. But they have no monopoly on illogic and irrationality, not even the lion's share - and the industrial agriculturalists do have a near monopoly on political and economic power. Their irrationality, lack of logic, defiance of science and reason, foolishness and irresponsibility, fills your supermarket and governs your world.

    Quote Originally Posted by thevillageidiot
    Organics is not, and will never be nearly as efficient as conventional techniques.
    The word "conventional" maximally confuses here. You appear to be contrasting efficient modern techniques with older and less intensively refined techniques - that comparison misleads if labeled "organic" vs "conventional".
    Reply With Quote  
     

  53. #52  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    Nothing any organic farmer has ever said or done is as irrational and foolish as that. So why are we using words like "irrational" or "illogic" only when referring to "organic" agriculture? Why are so many people here attempting to frame the matter as "irrational organic" vs "scientific conventional", when the one is as conventional as the other, and science equally valuable in both?
    Because a certain number (most?) of organic farmers resort to unscientific techniques such as homeopathy or biodynamics, and keep making the empty distinction between "natural" pesticides/fertilizer and "chemical" pesticides/fertilizer.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  54. #53  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Iceaura

    You are confusing things yourself when you talk of "industrial agriculture". Certainly, that classification exists, and represents a new discussion topic on its own. Personally, I agree with some of your points related to "industrial agriculture". For example, I agree with your comment about over-using antibiotics in agriculture. But we are not currently discussing that. We are discussing organic versus conventional. Conventional includes industrial, but also includes a wide range of other modes of agriculture.

    You criticize my expertise. Certainly I do not have a degree in agriculture. Mine is in biology. However, I look to the evidence from good science - not towards dogma. Some of your points are based on good science, and when they are, I agree with you. Sadly, a lot appear to be based on pseudo-religious dogma.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  55. #54  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    To get back to the original question, what problems does organic agriculture solve?

    The biggies are retention of moisture in soil, retention of nutrients and organic matter, retention, creation and deepening of soil itself.

    This study looks interesting in comparing no-till and organic processes. Organic wins this one at least.
    Organic Farming Beats No-Till?

    If you go to the link and then follow the various articles on the topic, there's some good work being done in lots of places. Unfortunately, most of the papers I tried to get to were paywalled. Anyone who's seriously interested could contact the authors and see if they'll send a copy direct.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  56. #55  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Adelady

    Certainly if you add organic matter to soil, the soil will grow. The problem, though, is that it is at a cost. The cost is to the soil the organic matter comes from.

    Typically, either animal manures, or green matter are composted, and then plowed into soils. But the manures and green matter have to come from somewhere, and they carry nutrients away from their 'mother' soil, into the organic garden. Benefit one by depleting the other.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  57. #56  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    your contribution here appears to be a personal attack
    You often cry wolf like this and fail to understand the difference between personal attacks and attacking ones ideas and how they present those idea....or in this case fail to. I'm attempting to make you a better contributor to this forum and more in line with how posters should act in a science forum. When people continue to argue without evidence, it degrades the entire process and at some point simply becomes distracting baggage those reading these thread must sort through--at which point people get reported, mod reviewed as pseudo science or a member generally being a pain in the butt for others. You Sir routinely approach that line either claiming you are misunderstood, which is your responsibility to start with, or are somehow being personally attacked, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

    This is a discussion about organic farming in comparison to more conventional farming techniques. Many things fit into the thread, such as...the definitions of each....the overlapping and differences of each, the marketing and labeling of each, the scientific merit of the “organic” label, and most of all the pretty significant body of scientific literature. Empty statements without support, especially if repeatedly stated when asked to provide evidence, is inconsistent with positive contributions to this forum.

    Post such as: "This study looks interesting in comparing no-till and organic processes. Organic wins this one at least.
    Organic Farming Beats No-Till?" (Thanks adalady) are a good model for effective post. No whining, not blaming, nor drowning out the counterarguments with unnecessary and unsupported rhetoric that obfuscates the point....just a piece of evidence from one study's results with enough information to do further research.



    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  58. #57  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    "Certainly if you add organic matter to soil, the soil will grow. The problem, though, is that it is at a cost. The cost is to the soil the organic matter comes from."

    Sorry, I wasn't clear. As I understand transition to organic farming, the "added" material is simply added 'back' to the soil it comes from. No need to deplete any soil anywhere. Such processes do require proper soil analysis - not much benefit gained in nutrient terms if the original soil is lacking in important minerals - and we're not talking nitrogen here, but 'imbalances' as often induced by previous bad management as natural occurring deficiencies. Targeted addition of specified quantities of identified remedial minerals is not the same thing as importing manures or composts - though I'd understand if some people wanted to kickstart a conversion by doing this on at least part of their land. Be opportunistic - just keep an eye out after unseasonal rains and get spoiled straw or hay at reduced prices.

    I'd also be inclined to budget for a green manure system like "Clever Clover" Products arising - CSIROpedia on portions of the land each year for broadacre crops. I'd at least use mustard as a fumigant/ pest control on a regular basis. For orchards, vineyards or horticulture, I wouldn't start planting out until Clever Clover or some other validated green manuring system had been applied.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  59. #58  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Thanks Adelady and Skeptic for the added infos. I'll ask the farmers what issues they had when switching to non-synthetic pesticides + no-till cum compost (I assume they went no-till).

    Considering the resistance from farmers to stop tilling, I assume there must be other reasons than just plain habit.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  60. #59  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by winfried
    Because a certain number (most?) of organic farmers resort to unscientific techniques such as homeopathy or biodynamics, and keep making the empty distinction between "natural" pesticides/fertilizer and "chemical" pesticides/fertilizer.
    In the first place, think a minute: do you really believe that the large producers of organic milk, eggs, grassfed beef, myriad vegetables, rice and other grains, and so forth, that are doing most of the "organic" farming in the real world (as opposed to the strawman fantasy we are bid to focus on as "irrational" etc) are relying on homeopathy and biodynamics for their commercial success and consistently high quality production?

    In the second place: So? That is very small potatoes compared with the irrational, unscientific, and just plain lunatic use of antibiotics by industrial farming, or the landscape scale deployment of genetic modifications that express pesticides, and so forth.

    Humans do act irrationally and illogically sometimes - especially with immediate money at stake. When their nutty ideas get huge corporate muscle behind them, and take over 70% of the farmland of a continent, it's time to pay attention to that - rather than the silly but harmless homeopathic yard chicken practices of somebody's neighbor.

    btw: the real world distinction is not between "natural" and "chemical"; that's the corporate shill's strawman world of the unscientific and incompetent organic farmer. The distinction is between industrial and non-industrial. This has economic and political aspects, as well as nutritional etc.
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    your contribution here appears to be a personal attack



    You often cry wolf like this and fail to understand the difference between personal attacks and attacking ones ideas and how they present those idea.
    You haven't addressed a single idea I've posted here. You have failed to follow the presentation, and cannot competently address that issue either. Hence your continual resort to personal attacks, such as this latest post of yours. I'm not crying wolf, I'm calling you on your bullshit. And I'm going to keep doing it, rather than take the high road of disinterested "objective" diplomacy and pretense of actual discussion, because failing to oppose this kind of behavior from people like you has had really bad consequences lately. This stuff is not harmless. Treating it with respect is capitulation to vandalism.

    Alternatively: you could cease and desist. Why bother? Just quit responding to my posts. Save the bandwidth and aggravation. I'm sick of trying to get you to read and comprehend stuff , and it kills all hope of reasonable discussion when you act like this.
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx

    This is a discussion about organic farming in comparison to more conventional farming techniques.
    So make the comparison, instead of talking about "irrational" people. And make it honestly, pay attention to your own links, follow the counterarguments, argue with reason and care instead of shilling for Monsanto.

    For example: The use of words like "conventional" to describe radical and untested innovations in agriculture would be a deliberate attempt to mislead, if you had paid any serious attention to what you were talking about
    .

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    For example, I agree with your comment about over-using antibiotics in agriculture. But we are not currently discussing that. We are discussing organic versus conventional.
    You cannot easily oppose conventional and organic agriculture - the overlap is too large. They are not easily separable categories, and no one has bothered to separate them here.

    All the examples on this thread have been of industrial agriculture - the industrial herbicide intensive and industrial seed source dependent "no-till" approach, for example - in opposition to conventional techniques such as composting that have not had the benefit of modern science.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Typically, either animal manures, or green matter are composted, and then plowed into soils. But the manures and green matter have to come from somewhere, and they carry nutrients away from their 'mother' soil, into the organic garden.
    If the fixed nitrogen structures and various carbon compounds are obtained from the air, as is common in the "best practices" linked but unread above, the source for other nutrients can be rock.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  61. #60  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    As I understand transition to organic farming, the "added" material is simply added 'back' to the soil it comes from.
    That is one system, and it will build soil by increasing cellulose or fibrous content. However, commercial organic farming requires more. Growing something like alfalfa or clover, and plowing that back is good for nitrogen, but the phosphorus and the potassium the soil needs, along with assorted trace elements, will be depleted over time, since the food that is exported takes those nutrients away.

    Commercial organic farmers get around this by importing animal manures or green compost.

    You cannot get true recycling as long as you export part of the material produced by your crops. If you export nutrients, you must import nutrients to make up for it. in conventional farming, we add fertiliser. In organic, an equivalent must be added. This might be an approved "organic" fertiliser like rock phosphate, but mostly some imported manure or compost is also needed.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  62. #61  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    Commercial organic farmers get around this by importing animal manures or green compost.
    I have a couple of questions about fertilizer:
    1. Why do organic farmers refuse to use synthetic fertilizers, and resort to manure/compost?
    2. Are manure/compost as efficient?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  63. #62  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    Skeptic "the phosphorus and the potassium the soil needs, along with assorted trace elements, will be depleted over time, since the food that is exported takes those nutrients away.

    ....If you export nutrients, you must import nutrients to make up for it. "

    One way of doing this is being investigated, in Oz at least, using chooks. Birds are a fantastic way to get your nutrients back in concentrated form. Some cattle / dairy farmers are setting up modest chook/ egg production, not so much for income from the chooks themselves but for the concentrated manures which are then applied to pasture. The income from the chooks is used mainly as a cost containment - if you can make the chook operation cost-free or a small profit, you're getting the manures and nutrients for nothing.

    I suspect that as some inputs become more expensive or more difficult, phosphorus is the most likely problem child, we'll see some small to medium operators start installing less demanding bird fertiliser arrangements. Dovecotes and pigeon roosts are superb manure resources - and you don't have to look after them the way you do with other fussy critters like poultry. You might have to redesign your operation so that there are more year round food sources for them - but sensible farmers are already planting ancillary resources for pollinators and pest predator habitat as well as deep rooted items for water table maintenance. Adding in a few extra criteria in your plant selection, both ancillary planting and the green manure crop rotations, to include or prefer items that make good bird forage shouldn't be too difficult. The cost of extra seed you might need for supplementary seasonal feeding is trivial compared to the costs of the bulk fertiliser their manure can replace. Reduce your bulk fertiliser costs by 10 or 20%, spend 1 or 2% of that on bird feed - or plant a few extra rows of the crop to set aside for them. You're ahead!
    westwind likes this.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  64. #63  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    For non-native speakers in the audience

    chook: Aussie slang for "chicken." Also, "chookie."
    www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=chook
    Reply With Quote  
     

  65. #64  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Quote Originally Posted by Winfried View Post
    1. Why do organic farmers refuse to use synthetic fertilizers, and resort to manure/compost?
    2. Are manure/compost as efficient?
    1. There is no rational answer to this question, so we resort to an irrational answer. Organic farmers are wed to the proposition that they do everything in the 'natural' way. Synthetic fertilisers are seen as unnatural.

    2. No. They have advantages, such as building soil. But for passing on nutrients and accelerating crop growth, they are not as good. The ideal is a combination. Dig in green compost to build the soil, and add some NPK fertiliser at the same time. Or else use mulches, plus fertiliser.

    For passing on nutrients, animal manures, such as Adelady's chook sh!t, are better than green compost, but not as good for building soil.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  66. #65  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    1. Why do organic farmers refuse to use synthetic fertilizers, and resort to manure/compost?
    2. Are manure/compost as efficient?
    The big issue is time.

    A purely organic arrangement with maximum fertility and productivity is a very, very long-term proposition. It is entirely possible to build and maintain a near-as-dammit self sustaining productive farm. But if you look at how long it takes to build up large and robust populations of earthworms and the associated channels for roots and water to penetrate the soil, you may be staring down the barrel of 15 to 20 years. Then add in simultaneously building up robust populations of pollinating insects, pest predators of various kinds, fungi and other soil biota as well as suitable trees, shrubs and other plants to support them. Try to make a profit off that arrangement in the several years long transition period - it ain't gonna happen.

    It's much more viable for pasture, orchards and horticulture. Orchardists often have to wait a while for profitable crops anyway. And for pasture, there's an old saying about feeding the animals, not the soil, on a certain area of land until the land develops enough nutrient, worm population and other soil biota until it will feed the animals itself. Can't track it down just now, (it was a long time ago) but I'll find it one way or another.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  67. #66  
    Forum Sophomore
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Posts
    102
    I grow blueberries for a hobby. I use chemical fert., but no pesticides. I would rather eat a couple of bugs from time to time than eat sevin. filix.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  68. #67  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    1. There is no rational answer to this question, so we resort to an irrational answer. Organic farmers are wed to the proposition that they do everything in the 'natural' way. Synthetic fertilisers are seen as unnatural.
    Nonsense. Organic farmers in general are not ignorant, stupid, irrational, or unscientific.

    If anyone is still interested in the OP, we now have general agreement about one of the problems that organic farming solves: fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, and antibiotic pollution of waterways.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  69. #68  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post
    about one of the problems that organic farming solves: fertilizer, pesticide, herbicide, and antibiotic pollution of waterways.
    So which one would that be, Iceaura?

    Fertilizer? The biggest fertilizer problem of waterways is cattle sh!t, and that is equal in conventional and organic.

    Pesticide? You mean organic farmers have given up their irresponsible use of copper sulfate?

    Herbicide? Well, atrazine and its relatives are not nice. But the main herbicide used these days is glyphosate, and that causes no harm at all to waterways.

    Antibiotic? It is a problem, but mainly by causing antibiotic resistance in bacteria when used irresponsibly. I am not aware that it is a problem in waterways, outside the imagination of those who imagine too much.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  70. #69  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Washington State
    Posts
    8,309
    Quote Originally Posted by ice
    for example: The use of words like "conventional" to describe radical and untested innovations in agriculture would be a deliberate attempt to mislead, if you had paid any serious attention to what you were talking about
    Quote Originally Posted by ice
    .
    Whether you like it or not, that is the vernacular used by scientist, as exhibited in that survey of dozens of studies as well as a term acknowledged by the US Department of Agriculture, "
    The prevailing agricultural system, variously called "conventional farming," "modern agriculture," or "industrial farming" has delivered tremendous gains in productivity and efficiency. Food production worldwide has risen in the past 50 years; the World Bank estimates that between 70 percent and 90 percent of the recent increases in food production are the result of conventional agriculture rather than greater acreage under cultivation. U.S. consumers have come to expect abundant and inexpensive food.
    Conventional farming systems vary from farm to farm and from country to country. However, they share many characteristics: rapid technological innovation; large capital investments in order to apply production and management technology; large-scale farms; single crops/row crops grown continuously over many seasons; uniform high-yield hybrid crops; extensive use of pesticides, fertilizers, and external energy inputs; high labor efficiency; and dependency on agribusiness. In the case of livestock, most production comes from confined, concentrated systems."

    It is tested for market efficiency, a big part of which is yield per acre, which is why as DOA says it has the characteristics of "rapid technological innovation; large capital investments in order to apply production and management technology." Now there is no doubt that as adelady suggest those efficiencies might not be over generations...but no matter they are used because they work, at least from year to year.

    Organic farmers in general are not ignorant, stupid, irrational, or unscientific.
    Of course not, but unlike conventional farming which can pick and invest in what works of a broad range of strategies, the organic farmer is forced within the organic box in order to get that label and sell to that market--in other words forced to adopt strategies that in many cases were not defined based on science but instead emotional answers looking for questions which might not be either be efficient or even the most sustainable.
    skeptic likes this.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
    “The Holy Land is everywhere” Black Elk
    Reply With Quote  
     

  71. #70  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    The big issue is time.
    Thanks for the feedback.

    Ten more days and I'll get to ask a few conventional-turned-organic farmers about their experience. If organic is significantly less productive, maybe they all have side jobs to compensate.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  72. #71  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Winfried

    No one said organic farming was not lucrative. When you can sell your produce for twice what an equivalent conventional farmer can, you are likely to make money.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  73. #72  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Right, but not everyone can sell Porsches :-)

    Actually, one of the questions I'd like to ask them is how much would a 120-day <oz>chook</oz> would cost compaired to a "conventional" 50-day chicken, regardless of the food or staying in-door. Maybe the cost isn't that much higher. Likewise, is it just impossible to ship rippen tomatoes 300km to the city and still make money? I'm tired of eating mid-summer tomatoes that don't taste like anything.

    Cooking with veggies and fruits that were just picked from the garden is also on our schedule
    Reply With Quote  
     

  74. #73  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    I'm tired of eating mid-summer tomatoes that don't taste like anything.
    That's down to the choices made long ago in breeding tomatoes for commercial purposes. There's a famous photo from a commercial seed supplier showing a couple of bright red tomatoes supporting a couple of large bricks - this was to promote the toughness of the fruit for transport and storage purposes. And this is the result of certain choices in breeding.

    The breeders could have made choices to favour fruit that allowed picking at the same stage as is usually done - long before any signs of colour or ripening - but with the capacity to ripen naturally, slowly and reliably to a texture and flavour like traditional varieties. But they chose to move towards strength and toughness more akin to apples than soft fruit. They've also made the same kinds of choices in traditional soft summer fruits like peaches, nectarines and apricots - enduring toughness rather than extending 'handle-ability' - I just made that up but it's a good word for the process and the result. So we finish up with fruit that can go rotten before it softens by ripening.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  75. #74  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    And so people go organic because they think it tastes better, although the few studies on the subject seem to show no such thing.

    Maybe there's just no way to ship flavorful, rippen produces hundreds of km's away, and we're stuck with blah raw products
    Reply With Quote  
     

  76. #75  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    Maybe there's just no way to ship flavorful, rippen produces hundreds of km's away
    Not with the current commercial breeds. They're bred for toughness during transport and storage, and long shelf life on delivery. Flavour and texture when 'ripe' is not an issue for them. And remember, these are all-purpose breeds. They're intended as much for food processors as they are for domestic, fresh consumption.

    It's entirely possible to breed for different characteristics. Such as extended natural ripening to allow rough handling during cleaning, packing, transport and storage with final ripening to soft texture and full flavour. But it won't be done unless people insist on it. Many people are now so used to the current commercial standard that I've heard of people who throw out fully ripe, soft tomatoes because they think they're rotten. They don't even know that tomatoes are supposed to be soft fruit.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  77. #76  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    I'll add this to the list of questions to ask: Are breeds for taste possible even if produces have to travel hundred's of km's?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  78. #77  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    Are breeds for taste possible even if produces have to travel hundred's of km's?
    Only if you breed in particular ripening features. Different 'heritage' varieties have varying ripening periods. A professional plant breeder could select and then cross breed a few varieties for early picking and long, long ripening so that the resulting fruit has the hard-as-a-rock characteristics needed for all the rough handling up to the point of retail sale, but with the traditional softness and lush flavour of home grown and ripened fruit when given a couple of further days.

    Think about avocados. Noone has any problem deciding on whether to buy the fully ripened items that are already soft on the shelf so they can be eaten that day or buying several hard fruit and progressively ripening and softening them at home for consumption in a few days time. And most people who like avocado know how to speed up ripening if the fruit doesn't progress as fast as you'd like. (A brown paper bag. Even faster? Put in an apple as well.)
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  79. #78  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Adelady

    You must eat different tomatoes to me.
    Mine are unripe and firm when bought, but not exactly harder than rock. They ripen to delicious soft, sweet red fruit.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  80. #79  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    Probably. We do have locally grown in summer season, but most of our tomatoes are grown, picked and packed in Queensland and travel a couple of thousand kms to get here.

    Though we grow most of our own at home. Can't beat them.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  81. #80  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Whether you like it or not, that is the vernacular used by scientist, as exhibited in that survey of dozens of studies as well as a term acknowledged by the US Department of Agriculture, "
    It's confusing, and designed to be - reassuringly so. The USDA is corrupted by corporate interests, and its use of their marketing and propaganda terms is just one symptom or effect of that unfortunate situation.

    It has obviously confused you - you think of it as "the prevailing system", etc, as if it were an established and uniform and known setup: it is and has been changing dramatically in just the past couple of decades. It's in flux, new and untested. You might as well refer to drones and computer viruses as "conventional warfare".

    In a careful discussion of various agricultural options, anyone with a scientific turn of mind would avoid such an easily misleading term.

    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    The prevailing agricultural system, variously called "conventional farming," "modern agriculture," or "industrial farming" has delivered tremendous gains in productivity and efficiency.
    Now you are confusing things like the green revolution with things like Monsanto's GMO operations, partly because of your poor choice of terms and inability to distinguish between conventional, modern, and industrial practices.

    The biggest gains in agricultural productivity in the Western civilizations came from seed planting tech, crop rotation, and organic fertilization.

    Quote Originally Posted by lynx
    Of course not, but unlike conventional farming which can pick and invest in what works of a broad range of strategies, the organic farmer is forced within the organic box in order to get that label and sell to that market
    The box of industrial agriculture offers no more actual choice to the farmer - witness the steady loss of non-conformist farmers and uniformity of operations in the survivors. (At one point the US had 3/4 of its corn crop planted in just one type of hybrid seed - which almost cost the country a couple of year's corn production, when a smut fungus seized its opportunity).

    (get big or get out, plant fence row to fence row and remove the fences, sign on with a big chemical company's mandates or lose all economy of scale and access to distribution or marketing, etc. - if you followed the battle over hormone injections in dairy cattle, recall the types of pressure agribusiness applied to the dairy farmers; it took concerted public, political, even legal action to keep the choice of not injecting one's cows; or look at the Bt fight now, as Monsanto destroys the effectiveness of that pesticide for those who would have preferred keeping their independence from the petrochemical industry)

    Conventional farming systems vary from farm to farm and from country to country. However, they share many characteristics: rapid technological innovation; large capital investments in order to apply production and management technology; large-scale farms; single crops/row crops grown continuously over many seasons; uniform high-yield hybrid crops; extensive use of pesticides, fertilizers, and external energy inputs; high labor efficiency; and dependency on agribusiness. In the case of livestock, most production comes from confined, concentrated systems."
    A damning indictment of the corruption of the US agricultural research institutions by corporate interests.

    For example: There is no reason the researchers at the big land grant universities could not have continued - as, say, Norman Borlaug did - with their programs of breeding non-hybrid but nevertheless high-yielding and quite uniform crops. With genetic engineering now it could be done even more rapidly and cheaply. Except that would have allowed farmers to save seed from their fields, choose varieties that needed less chemical help and protection, and cut out the agribusiness corporations.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Fertilizer? The biggest fertilizer problem of waterways is cattle sh!t, and that is equal in conventional and organic.
    No, it isn't - neither one.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Pesticide? You mean organic farmers have given up their irresponsible use of copper sulfate?
    Not a problem in any waterway I ever heard of. Industrial pesticides, on the other hand, are.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Herbicide? Well, atrazine and its relatives are not nice. But the main herbicide used these days is glyphosate, and that causes no harm at all to waterways.
    Damaging herbicides are in heavy use by industrial agriculture and causing harm to every waterway in North America. And glysphosphate is not harmless.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Antibiotic? It is a problem, but mainly by causing antibiotic resistance in bacteria when used irresponsibly.
    It is used irresponsibly in industrial agriculture, standard.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I am not aware that it is a problem in waterways, outside the imagination of those who imagine too much.
    It is a common runoff component of industrial agriculture - whether that is causing problems, we will find out some day. Nobody knows, yet.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  82. #81  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Quote Originally Posted by iceaura View Post

    The biggest gains in agricultural productivity in the Western civilizations came from seed planting tech, crop rotation, and organic fertilization.

    .
    Not quite.
    It is overall agricultural technology growth. This includes mechanisation, increased chemical inputs (pesticide and fertiliser), improved seed genetics, and improvements overall in how farmers do things.

    Iceaura

    Your answers to my four points fall very short of being useful. Perhaps you might like to try again.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  83. #82  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    And most people who like avocado know how to speed up ripening if the fruit doesn't progress as fast as you'd like. (A brown paper bag. Even faster? Put in an apple as well.)
    Didn't know that. Thanks for the tip. I'll give it a shot
    Reply With Quote  
     

  84. #83  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The biggest gains in agricultural productivity in the Western civilizations came from seed planting tech, crop rotation, and organic fertilization.

    . Not quite.
    It is overall agricultural technology growth.
    The features of overall technology growth that have made the biggest difference to agricultural productivity in Western civilization are seed planting tech (Jethro Tull's great invention), crop rotation, and organic fertilization.

    Features of conventional "organic" agriculture, each of them.

    Which brings up another problem that "organic" agriculture helps solve: large scale and governance resistant corporate control of the food supply and productive land.
    Last edited by iceaura; May 15th, 2012 at 07:21 PM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  85. #84  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Iceaura

    Seed planting tech is valuable, of course. Crop rotation is a good agricultural technique, but some of the most productive farms use monocultures and no rotation - replacing it with chemical treatments, and these guys produce vast amounts of food. That is not an indication I approve of that method. I think crop rotation is better, but the continuous monoculture system is used, and makes plenty of food very cheaply.

    I am not quite sure what you mean by organic fertilisation. But some of the biggest food producers use synthetic fertilisers to great benefit. I doubt organic fertilisers could be called one of the greatest boons to modern western food production, but then I am not quite sure what you mean by it.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  86. #85  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    That is not an indication I approve of that method. I think crop rotation is better, but the continuous monoculture system is used, and makes plenty of food very cheaply.
    The books I'm currently reading seem to say that monoculture is fine at first, but has disadvantages in the longer term. I found this article that weigh the pros and cons: "Monoculture Farming - Disadvantages And Negative Effects On The Environment"

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic View Post
    I am not quite sure what you mean by organic fertilisation. But some of the biggest food producers use synthetic fertilisers to great benefit.
    I wonder the same thing: If organic fertilizer is better in terms of price/performance, why would most farmers stick to synthetic fertilizer?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  87. #86  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    If organic fertilizer is better in terms of price/performance, why would most farmers stick to synthetic fertilizer?
    Two problems.

    1. If you want to apply organic fertiliser at much the same times and for the same purposes as inorganic fertiliser, you have to deal with huge bulk of materials. The increase in transport and spreading costs alone would make it a much more expensive exercise than the current inorganic arrangements.

    2. You don't want to do that? Go with green manures you grow on the land yourself. Your problem then is time. You may have to give up the whole of your first growing season to lucerne, peas, mustard, clovers - whatever your soil needs. Thereafter, you may have to dedicate portions of your land to 'crop' rotations that produce only fertiliser for your property rather than a saleable crop.

    Another halfway house is to spend quite a bit of money on really, seriously detailed soil analyses - several of them for the various areas of your land - because you can't expect the whole parcel to have exactly the same balances of necessary minerals in every area. Precise, targeted applications of needed minerals rather than wholesale applications of general purpose 'balanced' mixtures can reduce your needs for fertiliser and improve your crops or the pasture for animal health at the same time. And you will therefore reduce runoff or gassing out of compounds that don't do water courses or the atmosphere any good.
    skeptic likes this.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  88. #87  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Adelady

    Those are good comments. You call it a problem with time. I have tended to refer to it as a decrease in productivity. But I think we are both correct. If you have to dedicate time and acreage to growing green manures, then your total food production will drop, and it will take more time to get production going. That is one reason why organic food can be double the price of its conventional equivalent.

    Your last suggestion, about detailed analysis of soils, I think will become the standard practice in the future, as we develop miniaturised, cheap robotic systems of doing that.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  89. #88  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    Soil analysis techniques won't have to become very cheap in their own right.

    As other fertilisers become more expensive and other additions, like phosphorus, also become more expensive, soil analysis won't need to reduce its own costs much. It will just be a more sensible option for increasing numbers of farmers.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  90. #89  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    I went through the whole thread and took notes.

    I would summarize the difference between conventional farming and organic farming* thusly:
    • synthetic fertilizer/pesticides vs. manure/compost
    • monoculture vs. multiculture/crop-rotation
    • breeds optimized for transport vs. "heritage" breeds: Shipping ripe produces won't do if they have to be shipped hundreds/thousands of miles away
    • tilling vs. no-tilling: Although no- or light-tilling is used by organic farmers, it seems like conventional farmers are beginning to try no-tilling as a way to cut down on expenses (diesel for tractors, pesticides/fertilizers for crops)
    * To iceaura: At some point, you said:
    btw: the real world distinction is not between "natural" and "chemical"; that's the corporate shill's strawman world of the unscientific and incompetent organic farmer. The distinction is between industrial and non-industrial. This has economic and political aspects, as well as nutritional etc.
    Out of curiosity, I googled for the actual definition of "industrial" or "industry", but found nothing (Free dictionary, Webster's): Why call it "industrial farming"? In what sense is it industrial, as opposed to organic farming? Shouldn't we use "mechanized farming" vs. "manual farming", and use "synthetic fertilizers/pesticides" vs. "organic fertilizers/pesticides"?

    Using the term "mechanized farming" would have the benefit of reminding people that "organic" comes at the cost of more human labor. Considering how backbreaking field work is, this is going backward.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  91. #90  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Adelady

    I understand your logic.
    But, if you look at the history of resource exploitation, you see an interesting long term trend. In most cases, minerals become cheaper - not more expensive. This is due to improving technology, and new methods of obtaining those minerals.

    In the case of phosphorus, we have about 80 years of current resources available. But there are numerous other sources of phosphorus not currently being exploited. If the same long term trend applies, humanity will learn to tap those other resources in a way that is economic, and phosphorus will remain available at a reasonable cost.

    The three main elements needed in fertilisers are nitrogen, phosphurus and potassium. Phosphorus is the most difficult. Nitrogen can be fixed from the air, or directly into the soil using bio-tech. Potassium is found dissolved in the oceans in essentially unlimited amounts. The only real problem is phosphorus, and new technology will, if it follows the same trend as other elements, make it more abundant, not less.

    Winfried

    The real difference between organic and conventional is the desire of the organic farmer to do what organic farmers do in a 'natural' rather than man-made way.

    This desire for 'natural' farming is what leads to rejection of synthetic fertilisers, and synthetic pesticides. It also leads to silliness like using rotenone (from the roots of the derris plant) as an insecticide, in spite of the fact that it causes Parkinsons Disease, because it is 'natural'. Ditto copper sulfate, because it is found in nature as a copper sulfate ore, and is thus 'natural.'

    Conventional farming sometimes does silly things too, of course. Monocultures are not terribly wise long term. Nor is the over-use of antibiotics.

    The best farming is to use the best techniques that science can provide, in terms of both food productivity, and friendliness to human health and the environment. This is neither organic, with its silly and anti-science dependence on what is 'natural'. Nor is it conventional, which quite often sacrifices environmental responsibility for productivity.

    Instead, it is scientific and environmentally friendly farming, using what ever is best, including techniques currently claimed as 'organic' like crop rotation, plus those rejected by organic farmers, like biodegradable pesticides, and synthetic fertilisers, and genetically modified crops, when these are shown to give the best results.
    Last edited by skeptic; May 16th, 2012 at 05:38 PM.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  92. #91  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by winfried
    Using the term "mechanized farming" would have the benefit of reminding people that "organic" comes at the cost of more human labor.
    And the cost of reinforcing the pretense, the propaganda strawman creation, that mechanical aids and clever uses of machinery and manmade tools or innovations etc are avoided by "organic" farmers.

    Example: a neighbor of mine (general area of Willmar, MN) raises beef cattle, and has been adopting such ideas as grass feeding and antibiotic avoidance and so forth, as they appear to him to be useful and sound practices. This makes him somehow not a "conventional" farmer, in the propaganda language being pushed here, although his farm is quite conventional by any dictionary definition of the word -

    far more so than, say, an operation that conveyor-feeds stall-confined veal calves GMO corn and hay with computer controlled dosages of synthetic vitamins and maintenance antibiotics and landfill destined three stage waste processing on a sluice and pump tank setup -

    but to the point: he pastures his steers summer and winter, and has by carefully observing and measuring their behavior refined a layout for pasture rotation, bedding, and outdoor hay/grass feed piles, that suits them during the summer and winter, so that only minimal and movable fencing is needed to keep them best organized for his purpose - which is profiting from their sale for steaks and hamburger.

    By not mechanically feeding them all winter in a barn with a conveyor that needs supplying etc, he saves himself much labor as well as expense. When he was showing me his setup, he mentioned that the previous winter he had had to start his tractor exactly once from Thanksgiving to St Urho's day, and that was to clear some snow, not to muck out the barn. Anyone who has farmed in Minnesota will appreciate what that means in terms of human effort and misery.

    Quote Originally Posted by winfried
    Considering how backbreaking field work is, this is going backward
    The most backbreaking field work ever done on this planet is being and has been done by hired hands in industrial agricultural setups.

    Conventional farming sometimes does silly things too, of course. Monocultures are not terribly wise long term.
    As the example shows - monoculture! - industrial farming is built on those "silly things". Rather than being quirks of individuals or minor glitches in otherwise sound reasoning, they are at the core of the entire approach.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  93. #92  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    But precisely, you don't like the terms "conventional vs. organic", but since even "organic" farmers use machines and tools, I don't see how "industrial" would help distinguish those two practices either.

    Neither is "artificial vs. natural", since fertilizers/pesticides all boil down to molecules, regardless of how they're produced.

    So, what terms could we use, then?
    Reply With Quote  
     

  94. #93  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Generally, the term 'organic' as it applies to farming is laid down by a body of authorities who set rules. Any farmer who obeys those rules can get certified as 'organic' and sell produce as 'organic'. This generally means they have a high cost operation, and sell their produce for substantially more money than non organic farmers do.
    http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/...C_CERTIFICATIO

    Non organic farming can use a wide range of techniques including some that are claimed by organic farmers to be 'organic.' In fact, those techniques are not exclusively organic. They are just farming techniques.

    When I was young, and living on my father's dairy farm, we were not 'organic.' We used super-phosphate fertiliser, spread by aircraft, and we used herbicide sprays to kill off recalcitrant weeds like English gorse, and ragweed. However, we also used the planting of clover to provide nitrogen for our soils, and we recycled cattle manure back into the soil to provide extra nourishment for the grass. We did not use antibiotics. We planted trees for shelter belts. Occasionally we would plant a field in alfalfa, which we plowed back into the soil, to provide better soil texture and more nitrogen. But we were most definitely not 'organic'.

    So Winfried, you are correct to wonder about the terms. 'Organic' is really a legal term, meaning that a farmer is following a set of rules. 'Conventional' means almost anything, including farming to the highest standards of environmentally friendly agriculture.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  95. #94  
    Moderator Moderator
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    city of wine and roses
    Posts
    6,225
    Using the term "mechanized farming" would have the benefit of reminding people that "organic" comes at the cost of more human labor. Considering how backbreaking field work is, this is going backward.
    Depends on scale and 'design' approaches. What you've said is certainly true for broadscale monocultures.

    When you look at permaculture design for mixed farms and smallholdings, there's a different approach. During the establishment phase, they'll happily bring in any number of earthmoving and similar machines for deep ripping of hardpans caused (largely) by previous conventional farming as well as major terraforming for dams and other essential features of landscape for water/runoff/storage purposes and road building to better conform with ease of operation of a farm once it's operating. Causes a bit of shock and horror among some aficionados of 'pure' organic approaches.

    One of the underlying tenets of permaculture is quite simple - make gravity your friend rather than your enemy. Redesign the whole place at the outset if you need to to reduce work and use of equipment in continued operation of the property. They'll also quite happily use machinery to drill through heavily compacted subsoil to allow orchard trees to grow well right from the start rather than wait for 'natural' processes to work their magic. Let's face it, there's nothing 'natural' about soil that's been compacted so badly by previous mismanagement that it can't support growth of very ordinary trees and shrubs.

    Once all that is done though, the whole idea is to reduce human and machine work. Requires a lot of thought and good planning to get everything in the right places and relationships for this to succeed, but it massively reduces work generally and entirely eliminates some heavy repetitive 'backbreaking' work as well as machinery requirements like pumps and lifting gear. Weed control is generally maintained by ensuring, as far as possible that no square metre of soil is ever left bare. Seeding your next crop or green manure into a crop that's nearing harvest is the simplest technique. The seedlings sprout while sheltered from exposure to wind, cold and sunscald by the taller crop plants. When the crop is taken off, the next planting is already established and will quickly take over growing up through the not so tall remnants of the previous crop.

    Of course for this to work there has to be thoughtful 'design' of rotations so that you don't exhaust certain soil components or promote rather than inhibit pests, weeds or soil pathogens . Nitrogen hungry plants should be followed by legumes or, at least, non-nitrogen depleting plantings. Some plants are known to concentrate some minerals and they should be used to restore balance at various times and places. Same thing for attractors/ repellents of nematodes, fungi or other nasties or just undesirables.

    It's possible to use some of these approaches for broadscale, industrial style grain production. One of the 'newer' general farming practices is contour ploughing rather than straight rows regardless of terrain. A great advantage in retaining moisture, reducing runoff and preventing soil erosion. You can reduce some input costs. But in the end, you're using a system that requires a lot of external inputs and a lot of machinery.
    Last edited by adelady; May 16th, 2012 at 06:49 PM. Reason: typos
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
    "nature is like a game of Jenga; you never know which brick you pull out will cause the whole stack to collapse" Lucy Cooke
    Reply With Quote  
     

  96. #95  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Adelady: Thanks for the infos about contour plowing/ploughing.

    Skeptic: "Non-organic" has the same problem as "atheist", though, namely that it's wrong

    So it doesn't look like there's a positive, clear expression to distinguish the two approaches.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  97. #96  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Quote Originally Posted by Winfried View Post


    So it doesn't look like there's a positive, clear expression to distinguish the two approaches.
    That is really what I have been trying to say. Conventional, or non-organic, or whatever word we use, is a form of farming that uses a wide range of techniques, including many that 'organic' farmers like to think are theirs.

    The only special techniques used by 'organic' farmers are the avoidance of certain very useful methods. Mainly synthetic fertilisers and pesticides, and GM crops.

    I remember a comment made by Dr. Harriet Hall (Skeptic magazine)about naturopathy.
    "The things they do that are special are not good. The things they do that are good are not special."

    This comment applies equally well to organic farming.
    The things they do that are special, avoiding synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and GM, are not good. Those synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and those GM crops are frequently very useful, and should be used.

    The things they do that are good are not special. Techniques like plowing green manures under soil, crop rotation, contour plowing etc., are all techniques that are widely used in conventional agriculture also.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  98. #97  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Paris, France
    Posts
    67
    Yes, it's a good summary.
    Reply With Quote  
     

  99. #98  
    Comet Dust Collector Moderator
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Location
    New Jersey, USA
    Posts
    2,848
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Probably. We do have locally grown in summer season, but most of our tomatoes are grown, picked and packed in Queensland and travel a couple of thousand kms to get here.

    Though we grow most of our own at home. Can't beat them.
    Actually we can, here in NJ, USA. Or so we think. I wish we could trade some to taste test, but I doubt they would survive the 4 month sea voyage in good shape
    Reply With Quote  
     

  100. #99  
    Suspended
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Posts
    1,849
    Quote Originally Posted by winfried
    So it doesn't look like there's a positive, clear expression to distinguish the two approaches.
    Not if you accept a confused conceptual framework and vocabulary to begin with - set out muddled, remain muddled.

    Drop the "two approaches" framework, dump the idea that modern industrial farming is traditional or conventional or ordinary, quit trying to pin some ad hominem character flaws on anyone who has a coherent critique of what Monsanto and Cargill and Dekalb and Exxon et al are up to, and start over by discussing the pros and cons of various innovations and approaches in agriculture based on sound ecological, financial, political, and biological principles.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    "The things they do that are special are not good. The things they do that are good are not special."

    This comment applies equally well to organic farming.
    It applies just as well to industrial farming, also.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The things they do that are special, avoiding synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and GM, are not good.
    But they are good, quite often. The failure to avoid abuse of pesticides, fertilizers, and GM, is one of the serious and characteristic downsides of industrial agriculture - to the point of courting disasters both biological and economic, for the dependent societies involved. Avoiding them avoids those abuses.
    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Those synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and those GM crops are frequently very useful, and should be used.
    And they are frequently harmful, and should be avoided in those cases - the question is how important those cases are. So far, for example, GM crops have been apparently harmful, overall and net, compared with equivalently sophisticated and financially supported non-GM cropping. Organic farmers have suffered some of that harm, but caused none of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The things they do that are good are not special. Techniques like plowing green manures under soil, crop rotation, contour plowing etc., are all techniques that are widely used in conventional agriculture also.
    Here we see the confusion created by vocabulary such as "conventional". Plowing green manure and crop rotation are increasingly and whenever possible being discarded by industrial agriculture, for example - these organic farming practices require smaller scale adjustments and personal attention by a farmer, which the industrial approach seeks to minimize in pursuit of economies of scale. Whether or not they are "conventional" is irrelevant to this discussion.

    Practices like detailed adjustment of techniques and inputs to small acreages and idiosyncrasies of landscape interfere with industrial practice and show up as excessive costs on a corporate agribusiness balance sheets.

    Quote Originally Posted by winfried
    But precisely, you don't like the terms "conventional vs. organic", but since even "organic" farmers use machines and tools, I don't see how "industrial" would help distinguish those two practices either.
    Are you confusing "using machines" with "industrial"?

    It distinguishes the corporate approach to agricultural production, the organizing of farming as an industry - where externalized costs are not subtracted from the profit or included in the bookkeeping, the losses and gains are measured in money only, productivity is measured in volume of sales, division of labor and mechanization are evaluated in terms of short horizon payoffs and only in money, failure of the business is a financial risk only, and so forth.

    Food production is organized and evaluated in the same frame and by the same criteria as any other widget production would be, by capital investment and return, with as many costs as possible ignored or externalized. Economies of scale are encouraged, competitive advantage is pressed to increase market share and drive competitors out of business, vertical integration and consolidation of ownership become important factors. Instead of being a component of human society, food production is organized as if it were a manufacturing business.

    To point out just one obvious characteristic of this approach, food for thought: the destruction of the fertility of soil and concomitant destruction of the health of surface waters involved are monetary costs only to the corporate owners of the farm - if the marginal profits from the extra production cover the future loss of the income stream, or even if the marginal gain is necessary to remain competitive with others doing the same, the business decision is to incur them.

    What Hardin called the "Tragedy of the Commons" is a very common feature of industrial agriculture.





    Reply With Quote  
     

  101. #100  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope skeptic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    New Zealand
    Posts
    4,843
    Iceaura

    Believe it or not, but I do understand what you mean by industrial farming. And I agree that some of the practices are not good. You mentioned over-use of antibiotics, and I agree with you on that. I also agree that grass fed is better than corn fed. Plus one or two other points of agreement.

    However, you do not seem to be prepared to see that organic farming is no better in many ways. They use a lot more land to produce the same amount of food, and the world cannot survive on that basis. To feed the 10 billion population that is coming, if you used organic techniques, would require the destruction of half the remaining wilderness. if you want to be ecologically sound, you have to support food production that maximises the amount produced per acre, so that we are not forced to destroy wilderness. This will require synthetic fertilisers, pesticides and GM crops.

    Not does organic farming eschew pesticides. In fact, those guys use some pesticides that are much worse than current modern synthetic pesticides. I sometimes think that the organic lobby is stuck in the past. In the 1960's and 1970's western nations used some truly horrific pesticides (some of which are still used, regretably, in some third world countries).

    But today, in the western world, the vast bulk of pesticides are quite specific to target, biodegradable, and low in toxicity to mammals and birds. If they were not, they would not be approved. Compare this to rotenone and copper sulfate - both highly toxic to humans, and widely used by organic farmers. Modern synthetic and biodegradable pesticides are far better and far less harmful.
    Reply With Quote  
     

Page 1 of 4 123 ... LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. Can getting fuels from space solve our energy problems?
    By mmatt9876 in forum Personal Theories & Alternative Ideas
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: September 22nd, 2013, 08:41 AM
  2. Evolution of agriculture
    By uday yadav in forum Biology
    Replies: 52
    Last Post: May 20th, 2011, 07:30 AM
  3. Metric Prefix Use of formulae to solve problems Please Help
    By scienceteacher in forum Mathematics
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: October 8th, 2008, 07:28 PM
  4. Organic chemistry problems
    By jacketate in forum Chemistry
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: January 13th, 2008, 02:50 PM
  5. Replies: 0
    Last Post: February 25th, 2006, 09:51 PM
Bookmarks
Bookmarks
Posting Permissions
  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •