The major misconception with organic farming is what the chemical 
companies have to say about how it works overseas... you watch these 
promotion videos for Monsanto and they show how poor the crops grow 
in Nepal or Central Africa and they say how foolish they are for not 
using the most modern chemicals on the market... the truth however is 
much different:

In the United States, it will typically take 7 years of Chemical-free 
farming to certify the farm organic... but what you must remember is 
that sustainable farming on land that has been intensely fertilized 
and the chemical use in general has been high, is that the soil is 
damaged... the soil microbes like some bacteria, and earthworms have 
been killed off by the pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers used 
over the years, and to suddenly try to go no-input is like trying to 
get someone who's trying to quit heroin cold turkey to start living 
life normally again... I guess that's the best analogy... the idea 
that the chemicals used are like drugs and once the soil is addicted, 
the plants will only be able to take up what YOU put on them, and not 
be able to access the nutrients already in the soil.  

The transition to organic farming is a slow one, and it takes great 
discipline because it doesn't necessarily mean cutting cold turkey 
but reducing those things you use.

For example, to start, there is no such thing as zero-input... that 
is foolish... grains and other feedstock do take from the soil... 
using manure, and organic fertilizers like Potassium Sulfate or 
Calcium Phosphate (not oil derivatives such as ammonium nitrate) will 
help the soil.  The most common potassium fertilizer out there now is 
KCl which is a chloride salt of potassium... if you imagine, pour 
table salt on your tongue and feel the burn... that's what's 
happening to your soil.  

A plant will naturally use what it can by its own means.  By putting 
a highly water soluble chemical fertilizer on your soil, you are in 
effect disrupting that balance.  A water soluble fertilizer isn't the 
best source because the plant will take this fertilizer in with the 
water and in some cases, cause toxic effects in the plant.  Sure, the 
corn won't be as green if you use more natural fertilizer _ BUT IT 
WILL BE HEALTHIER, and the vitamin/mineral content will be better, 
and remember, it isn't always the yield that makes the money because 
if you spend $100 per acre to get that extra 50 bushels per acre, are 
you really making it big if the corn price is less than $2.00 per 
bushel?  It is all about inputs vs. outputs because the more you 
input, the more you must get out.  And if you can put less in and get 
less out, but still make the same amount of money, why would you do 
it any other way (other than to go to the local feedmill to brag 
about your yields)

And one last thing, it is foolish to feed all your corn to beef 
animals rather than to allow those animals to be healthy and pasture 
them.  It may take longer for the animal to reach slaughter weight, 
but the animals will be healthier and it will be cheaper to feed 
them. once again input vs. output...   And the surprise of all, no 
one ever mentions dairy, but this is the once situation where feeding 
corn will make money because a pound of corn will yield more milk $ 
than just selling the corn itself.  Sustainable agriculture and dairy 
work hand in hand and of course, rotation of crops does is a big 
key.  Notice how one crop grows, and in the process leaves something 
behind that is beneficial for another crop... and the pest problem is 
gone...  studies have shown that even a crop like oats before corn 
will help increase corn yields over corn on corn on corn year after 
year... and sticking a new crop in the mix every year or two will 
also reduce the need for fertilizers because corn sucks everything 
out of the soil, while small grains and alfalfas take less 
maintenance and are good for soil organisms.

Sustainable agriculture doesn't necessarily mean no input, but it 
means smart stewardship.  Taking care of the soil because that's all 
you have.  If you abuse the soil, it will not produce.  If you take 
care of the soil, the soil will produce just as much as it would 
otherwise.  In one example for my dad who is a dairy farmer in 
Wisconsin (I'm at college) we had 200 bushel per acre corn one year 
(1994), and about average yields in the past decade or so compared 
with those who use all the modern means of farming and all we use is 
dairy manure, and a good solid crop rotation.  (in case you didn't 
know, 200 bushel corn is an enviable position to be in no matter 
where in the US you grow corn, not just NW wisconsin where the 
weather doesn't favor anything more than 100 bushel per acre corn.

check out this webpage for any ideas... 

--- In [EMAIL PROTECTED], Keith Addison <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> Hello again George
> >Hello Keith
> >
> >I don't disagree as much as you would think.
> Oh, good, that makes a change! - I'm kind of used to being 
> with about this. But I know what I'm saying, I've studied it very 
> widely for a long time, not at all just on paper, I've done it 
> in several different places, and I'll do it again. I came to this 
> long ago through Third World rural development work - to me, 
> is THE appropriate technology for rural development. The more I 
> learn, the more convinced I am of that.
> >This is definitly on topic because agriculture will power the 
> >revolution.  Biofuels are our future and I hope your right about 
> >organic farming being their as well.
> Agreed. Starting to get response at SANET to your last letter. 
> whether to post it on to you or to cross-post it here. Hmm... I'll 
> post some references below and cross-post from SANET in next. For 
> >I have one very big problem with small organic farms feeding the 
> >world.  How will they acquire the land.  Government take over by 
> >people maybe. This is a free country and land is very high priced. 
> >And no, I am not a Freeman.
> See especially the University of Essex references below.
> >As for large farms they are suited to large scale production.  I 
> >argue the point both ways on efficiently. Which is better, a large 
> >farm that produces a lot at a lower cost or a small farm that 
> >produces a lower volume but at a higher quality.  This could be 
> >argued for years.
> >
> >I can't quote any studies.  I can't talk about anywhere except 
> >in KS. The people that try to do it here are not competitive with 
> >the conventionals.  Anywhere but here could be different.  So once 
> >again I hope your right.
> In Thailand, farms of two to four acres produce 60% more rice per 
> acre than bigger farms. In Taiwan net income per acre of farms of 
> less than 1.25 acres is nearly double that of farms over five 
> In Latin America, small farms are three to 14 times more productive 
> per acre than the large farms. In Brazil, the productivity of a 
> of up to 25 acres was measured at $34 per acre, while the 
> productivity of 1200-acre farms was only $0.81 per acre. In India, 
> farms of up to 5 acres had a productivity of 735 rupees per acre, 
> while on 30-acre farms productivity levels were about half of that. 
> Across the Third World, small farms are 2-10 times more productive 
> per acre than larger farms. In the US, farms smaller than 27 acres 
> have more than 10 times the dollar-per-acre output of larger farms.
> See also:
> The Multiple Functions and Benefits of Small Farm Agriculture
> By Peter M. Rosset, Ph.D.
> The Case for Small Farms - An Interview with Peter Rosset
> Many studies have shown that industrialized factory farms do not 
> outyield organic farms.
> One 15-year study found that organic farming is not only kinder to 
> the environment than "conventional", intensive agriculture but has 
> comparable yields of both products and profits. The study showed 
> yields of organic maize are identical to yields of maize grown with 
> fertilisers and pesticides, while soil quality in the organic 
> dramatically improves. (Drinkwater, L.E., Wagoner, P. & 
> M. Legume-based cropping systems have reduced carbon and nitrogen 
> losses. Nature 396, 262-265.)
> A Rodale study found that organic farm yields equal factory farm 
> yields after four years using organic techniques.
> "In the USA, for example, the top quarter sustainable agriculture 
> farmers now have higher yields than conventional farmers, as well 
> a much lower negative impact on the environment," says Jules 
> Director of the Centre for Environment and Society at the 
> of Essex, "Feeding the world?", SPLICE, August/September 1998, 
> 4 Issue 6.
> >I do not believe conventional farming is on the right track. I 
> >know if organic will work and if it works can it produce enough to 
> >feed the world.
> "The truth, so effectively suppressed that it is now almost 
> impossible to believe, is that organic farming is the key to 
> the world." -- The Guardian, August 24, 2000
> "Organic farming can 'feed the world'" -- BBC Science, September 
14, 1999
> "The Greener Revolution", New Scientist, 3 February 2001 -- It 
> like an environmentalist's dream. Low-tech "sustainable 
> shunning chemicals in favour of natural pest control and 
> is pushing up crop yields on poor farms across the world, often by 
> per cent or more. A new science-based revolution is gaining 
> built on real research into what works best on the small farms 
> a billion or more of the world's hungry live and work. For some, 
> of "sustainable agriculture" sounds like a luxury the poor can ill 
> afford. But in truth it is good science, addressing real needs and 
> delivering real results.
> "An Ordinary Miracle", New Scientist, 3 February 2001 -- In the 
> world's largest study into sustainable agriculture, Jules Pretty, 
> professor of environment and society at the University of Essex 
> analysed more than 200 projects in 52 countries. He found that more 
> than four million farms were involved -- 3 per cent of fields in 
> Third World. And, most remarkably, average increases in crop yields 
> were 73 per cent. Sustainable agriculture, Pretty concludes, has 
> to offer to small farms. Its methods are "cheap, use locally 
> available technology and often improve the environment. Above all 
> they most help the people who need help the most -- poor farmers 
> their families, who make up the majority of the world's hungry 
> people."
> [Not online, but I can send this excellent article to anyone 
> interested, plus the one above.]
> See: "Reducing Food Poverty with Sustainable Agriculture: A Summary 
> of New Evidence" Centre for Environment and Society, University of 
> Essex
> See: "47 Portraits of Sustainable Agriculture Projects and 
> Initiatives" Centre for Environment and Society, University of Essex
> Cuba Leads the World in Organic Farming -- Cuba has developed one 
> the most efficient organic agriculture systems in the world, and 
> organic farmers from other countries are visiting the island to 
> the methods. Organic agriculture has become the key to feeding the 
> nation's growing urban populations.
> In 1990 Cuba's cheap supplies of grain, tractors and agrochemicals 
> were cut off with the collapse of the Soviet Union. Pesticide use 
> halved overnight, as did the calorie intake of its citizens. 
> for cash, Cuba was forced to embrace low-input farming or starve. 
> Today, oxen have replaced the tractors, and farmers have adopted 
> organic methods, mixing maize with beans and cassava and doubling 
> yields in the process, helping average calorie intake per person 
> back to pre-1990 levels. -- "An Ordinary Miracle", New Scientist, 3 
> February 2001.
> A group of Iowa farmers, professors, and students traveled to Cuba 
> June 2000 to view the country's approach to sustainable 
> Cuba relies on organic farming, using compost and worms to 
> soil. "In many ways they're ahead of us," says Richard Wrage, of 
> Boone County Iowa Extension Office. Lorna Michael Butler, Chair of 
> Iowa State University's sustainable agriculture department said, 
> "more students should study Cuba's growing system." -- AP, 5 June 
> Despite the US embargo, Cuba has turned a severe food crisis into a 
> sustained recovery in food production... Some have called Cuba a 
> national laboratory in organic agriculture... Imports of pesticides 
> and herbicides actually dropped from 1995 to 1998, yet food 
> production rose over the same period... Forty years after the birth 
> of the Cuban revolution, Cuba can claim greater diversity in its 
> production and in its trading partners than it ever has had in 
> history. Remarkably, Cuba has brought about this dramatic change in 
> agriculture in the middle of a massive economic crisis. -- Oxfam 
> Report on Cuban Agriculture, July 20, 2001
> "Cuba: Going Against the Grain" - Executive Summary:
> Use of ANY pesticides on most organic farms is minimal -- fewer 
> 10% of organic farms in the US use even the approved plant-based 
> organic insecticides on a regular basis (see Walz, E. 1999, Third 
> Biennial National Organic Farmers' Survey, Santa Cruz, CA: Organic 
> Farming Research Foundation
> "Kicking the Chemical Habit" by Peter Rosset (Food First/Institute 
> for Food and Development Policy), New Internationalist, May 2000 -- 
> Giving the lie to the agribusiness myths that pesticides are 
> indispensable or that large farms are somehow more productive than 
> small farms.
> Contrary to the modern practice of growing monocrops of one 
> mixed species of rice were planted in Yunnan, China, with control 
> plots of monocultured crops. Disease-susceptible rice varieties 
> planted in mixtures with resistant varieties had 89% greater yield 
> and blast was 94% less severe than when they were grown in 
> monoculture. The experiment was so successful that fungicidal 
> were no longer applied by the end of the two-year program. -- 
> "Genetic diversity and disease control in rice", Nature 406, 17 
> August 2000
> 6797/full/406718a0_fs.html
> A local Catholic priest in Madagascar stumbled on a system that 
> raises typical rice yields from 3 to 12 tonnes per hectare. His 
> is to transplant seedlings earlier and in small numbers so that 
> survive; to keep paddies unflooded for much of the growing period; 
> and to use compost rather than chemical fertilisers. Some 20,000 
> farmers have adopted the idea in Madagascar alone. In tests of the 
> system, China, Indonesia and Cambodia all managed to raise their 
> yields. -- "An Ordinary Miracle", New Scientist, 3 February 2001. 
> See: "Madagascar non-GE rice trials lead to agricultural 
> It's worth noting that the two founding fathers of Organic farming, 
> Sir Albert Howard in India and Rudolf Steiner in Europe, were 
> to increase yields, and developed organic farming methods as a 
> result. They were not initially concerned with environmental 
> protection or food safety.
> >Conventional agriculture could easily bury the world in grain if 
> >government would turn us loose. But then all the farmers this year 
> >would be gone and who would do it next year.
> In a way, it's not a food production system, it's a surplus-
> system, grown for market, not to feed people. It's primarily 
> livestock feed, vanishingly little of it ever gets to poor 
> to feed hungry people.
> >I do know their are lots of hungry people in the world and here I 
> >setting on a large pile of corn and a pathetic low price.  Their 
> >hungry and the American farmer is broke.  Don't that make one hell 
> >of a pair.
> Yes, no winners, except the chemical corps and the big trading 
> companies. These are a bit of an eye-opener:
> 12 Myths About Hunger
> The Myth of Scarcity
> "World Hunger: Twelve Myths" (Book - excellent)
> =FFB&Product_Code=0-8021-3591-9&Category_Code=OTHER
> >The reason everybody plants one crops is money.  You plant what 
> >make the most money and hope to survive. Right now that is corn. 
> >The only reason I plant wheat is so I can plant corn on the 
> >next year.  The only reason I plant soybeans is so I can rotate my 
> >crops to reduce my input costs.  I hope everybody can see that 
> >is not simple.  Their is no quick fixes and we will always have 
> >problems.  As the world population grows I can't help but feel 
> >our problems will grow as well or be replaced by other problems.  
> >have the ability to grow the food, conventional or organic but we 
> >need a better way to distribute it to the poorer countries. 
> >Something where they can afford to buy and the farmer can afford 
> >sell.
> That's quite right. At least 780 million people go hungry, but 
> there's enough food. In fact there's more than enough - there's 
> food than there's ever been before, per capita. Enough food is 
> available to provide at least 4.3 pounds of food per person a day 
> worldwide: two and half pounds of grain, beans and nuts, about a 
> pound of fruits and vegetables, and nearly another pound of meat, 
> milk and eggs - enough to make most people fat!
> There's much more about this in the refs above, and 
> elsewhere, they've done their homework and got their numbers right.
> Another important point is that those poor countries for the most 
> part aren't hungry because they can't grow food. They can, but it 
> doesn't help them. They're not basket-cases, they're victims.
> >My Regards
> And mine.
> Keith
> >George
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >Keith Addison <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> wrote:
> >
> > >Hi George
> > >
> > >Before some list-cop starts yelling "Off-topic", I believe it's
> > >on-topic enough. Is this a way to dispense with all the huge
> > >petroleum inputs in food and ag commodity production in the US 
> > >other industrialised countries) that Dana's just been talking 
> > >and that skew the energy equations of biofuels like biodiesel and
> > >ethanol?
> > >
> > >Short answer - Yes.
> > >
> > >You're not really talking about organic farming, you're talking 
> > >input substitution - chemical farming without the chemicals - and
> > >it's usually doomed to failure. Organics is a management system, 
> > >proactive, not just a matter of a different set of inputs to 
> > >the same reactive aims. It looks upstream to determine why the
> > >problem exists in the first place and then determines how the 
> > >should be managed to avoid having the problem at all. Most 
> > >farmers in the US don't use any pesticides at all, whether 
> > >organic ones or not - they don't need them. They don't use
> > >"fertilisers" either, to feed the crop, and they're not too
> > >interested in nutrients. They're interested in humus-
maintenance, in
> > >building and maintaining very high levels of soil fertility, and 
> > >integration. It's an integrated system, not just an extractive 
one -
> > >"organic" in this sense doesn't really refer to the source of the
> > >inputs (whatever the "standards" might say), it refers to a 
> > >characterised by the coordination of the integral parts; 
> > >It's a different approach, not just a stepping over to
> > >business-as-usual with different ingredients.
> > >
> > >To borrow a couple of useful terms from another organic farmer, 
> > >comparisons are with "organic by neglect" farms - low-input
> > >low-output - rather than "organic by design" farms - low-input
> > >high-output.
> > >
> > >Many organic farmers equal or better their "conventional" 
> > >yields. There are many large organic farms that do indeed run at 
> > >healthy enough profit - but no, they tend not to grow a thousand
> > >acres in a monocrop. But I tend to agree that very large farms 
> > >suited to organic management. I'm not quite sure what they are 
> > >to.
> > >
> > >"Small family and part-time farms are at least as efficient as 
> > >commercial operations. There is evidence of diseconomies of 
scale as
> > >farm size increases." -- "Are Large Farms More Efficient?" 
> > >Willis L. Peterson, University of Minnesota, 1997.
> > >
> > >Re your statement that "organic farming cannot feed the world",
> > >there's now a lot of considered, studied, expert opinion and 
> > >that not only can it do just that, but it's going to have to. 
> > >isn't just a bunch of dewy-eyed idealists talking, these are
> > >scientific studies from reputable institutions, the findings
> > >published in reputable journals and widely reported. (Full 
> > >available on request.)
> > >
> > >There's also mounting evidence that it's so-called conventional
> > >agriculture that just doesn't cut it - not even economically: one
> > >"very conservative" study found that the hidden ("externalised")
> > >costs of British farming almost equal the industry's income. 
> > >industrialised nations are not much different. The high levels of
> > >fossil-fuels inputs are obviously not sustainable - it's hard to 
> > >anything about it that is sustainable. Why grow all that corn? A
> > >billion tons of it went unsold last year. And in spite of it 
all, the
> > >US (like all the other industrialised nations) is left importing 
> > >food than it exports. (References on request.)
> > >
> > >I guess you disagree with all this very much.
> > >
> > >Rather than a long argument about it here, I'll forward your 
post to
> > >the Sustainable Agriculture Network Discussion Group (SANET) for
> > >comment and relay any feedback to you, and perhaps we can 
> > >it for the list later, if that seems appropriate.
> > >
> > >Best
> > >
> > >Keith Addison
> > >Journey to Forever
> > >Handmade Projects
> > >Osaka, Japan
> > >
> > >
> > >
> > >George wrote:
> > >
> > >>I would say that is a very fair question. If it was possible I 
> > >>
> > >>I know several organic farmer and they don't laugh all the way 
to the
> > >>bank. That is just an image they would like everybody to 
believe. In
> > >>order to reach the production goals required by today financial 
> > >>organic don't cut it.  Not even close.  Zero Input Sustainable
> > >>Agriculture (name used by the US government) is just a dream of 
> > >>extreme left wing enviromentalist.  Looks good, sounds good but 
> > >>feastable. You need to draw a clear line between those that do 
> > >>farming with an acre or so and those who farm on the x,000 
acres plus.
> > >>To grow a couple of hundred corn plants on 1/2 acre and then 
petal the
> > >>roasting ears to people who you meet on the street is probably 
> > >>profitable but your going to need a job on the side.  With a 
> > >>population per acre and 1000 acres of corn that's 27,000,000 
> > >>ears. This is but one big problem. The places that broker 
organic food
> > >>are not capable of handling large volume. The market just isn't 
their yet.
> > >>
> > >>Do you have a clue how much manure it takes to equal 250 pounds 
of NH3.
> > >>The average amount of nirtrogen put on an acre of irrigated 
corn here in
> > >>KS. Or how many cows it would take to produce enough manure to 
> > >>1000 acres of irrigated corn. The reason I say irrigated is 
that dryland
> > >>corn here in KS is a "iffy" crop at best. This doesn't even 
touch on the
> > >>labor required to load, haul, and spread the manure or the costs
> > >>involved. To use manure would not only be labor intensely, but 
> > >>costly as well.  I would lose my butt big time to use all 
manure. They
> > >>say rotate your crops.  Yes, alfalfa does put a little nitrogen 
into the
> > >>soil.  But not nearly enough to grow 200 bu per acre corn. I do 
> > >>my crops, especially my dryland crops but I do rotate my 
irrigated as
> > >>well.  To keep the chemical costs to a minmium. On a very small 
farm, an
> > >>acre or so, organic is the only way to go.  Their are organic 
farms up
> > >>to 100 acres or so.  But their not profitable, just diehard, 
> > >>"Gonna do it organic" types.  They would do it even if they were
> > >>starving. If I can't produce in the 175 and up range then I 
won't be
> > >>here next year. Someone else will be farming my farm and he 
won't be
> > >>organic.
> > >>
> > >>For chemicals their is no organic replacement.  They simplely 
let the
> > >>bugs chow down.  Diease is uncontrollable except by rotation. 
In bad
> > >>years like we had last year they don't raise a crop.  If 
organic was
> > >>suddenly required by all governments in this world.  No one 
would be
> > >>able to buy enough food to live on.  It would simpley be a 
severe food
> > >>shortage.  As long as organic has conventional farmer to 
produce for the
> > >>masses then they can produce for the few (and growing) who buy 
> > >>only. If everybody tried to buy organic only, their would be 
one hell of
> > >>a long line everywhere they sell food.
> > >>
> > >>The simple fact is, organic is not ready to replace conventional
> > >>farming. Except on a small and local scale.
> > >>
> > >>One last comparision.  I'm sure you don't like to buy gasoline 
for your
> > >>car or truck, whatever.  I'm sure you don't like to buy tires, 
oil, and
> > >>repairs or that you don't like the idea of being a part of the 
> > >>that is generated in the world every day. So why don't you walk 
to work
> > >>everyday.  I'm sure their is people out their who do, but is it
> > >>feastable for everybody to walk.  Cut down on the gas 
comsumption of the
> > >>world, cut down on air pollution and get a lot of good exercise 
> > >>addition but it's just not workable for the vast majority. So 
it is with
> > >>American agriculture. Organic farming cannot feed the world. 
For me to
> > >>switch would create such a severe income loss that it is not 
even a
> > >>remote option. Conventional ag needs the ag chemicals to 
produce the
> > >>crop big enough to pay the bills by as few people (per farm) as 
> > >>
> > >>To close, I'm sure their are places in the world where organic 
> > >>on a larger scale than I am portraying here is possible, but 
they are
> > >>labor intensive. They just are not possible on a large scale 
and today's
> > >>agriculture is growing larger and larger on that scale.  It has 
to, our
> > >>fixed costs go up every year and the only way to cope is to get 
> > >>  It is a vicious circle. Remember that question about "How 
many cows
> > >>would it take to fertilize 1000 acres of corn"  How many ton of 
poop can
> > >>you scope in a day?  While your scoping poop, who's going to be 
> > >>bugs?
> > >>
> > >>I hope I didn't bore you
> > >>George
> > >>
> > >>
> > >> >
> > >> >      So why don't you? There's plenty of totally organic 
farmers who are
> > >> > laughing all the way to the bank. You
> > >> > too can end your chemical dependancy -- "Just say NO!"
> > >> >
> > >> >
> > >> > --
> > >> > Harmon Seaver
> > >> > CyberShamanix
> > >> >
> > >

------------------------ Yahoo! Groups Sponsor ---------------------~-->
Buy Stock for $4.
No Minimums.
FREE Money 2002.

Biofuel at Journey to Forever:
Please do NOT send "unsubscribe" messages to the list address.
To unsubscribe, send an email to:

Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to 

Reply via email to