I think I'm pretty much middle of the road as far as chemical use/tolerance. IMHO I see more comments that are rabidly (might be the wrong choice of words but it was the most appropriate that came quickly to mind) opposed to chemical use than I do From members who are more like myself or (gasp) proponents of liberal chemical use.
I sometimes wonder just how many "antis" (that is not meant to be derogatory, typing with 1.2 hands so this makes it easier) have experience with more than a 32 sq. ft. bed and a book written by another anti. At any rate, bear with me a bit, I'm having a little trouble trying to put my thoughts on a very large issue into the short form for here.
My own background includes family history and friends in the dairy industry in the NE, not a lot of similarity with huge grain acreage but some of the mindset runs pretty close.
Some of the ag practices of today can be traced back to the "dustbowl" era. Excellent cropland being cultivated in areas where there were no natural windbreaks. By and large small farms but a lot of them, grouped together, covering a lot of area. Soil was plowed and harrowed every year, then cultivated through the growing season to suppress weed growth. A lot of it fall plowed, providing perfectly bare soil for the wind to grab.
Throw in a drought and we got a disaster. Hard times hit everyone involved in agriculture until the rains came again. A lot of good land no longer had any occupants, the last ones having bailed out, leaving their broken dreams behind.
One of the things that was done to prevent a recurrence was to plant vegetation in strips around the fields. Primarily trees and shrub type plants these windbreaks delineated small fields. With water the crops could grow again.
One constant in agriculture is the almost obsessive need to expand. One small landowner is able to buy out a neighbor due to death, health issues or financial problems. A lot of the farm boys who went off to war didn't come home to the farm. Some didn't come home at all, others took city jobs, unwilling to commit to the lifestyle needed of a farmer any longer. Farms get steadily bigger.
At the same time the equipment was getting bigger also. A farmer could till more acres in the same time as before. The bigger equipment was a bit clumsy working in small fields so the shelterbelts(I was fighting to remember that word earlier, it just popped into my head now) got ripped out, many small fields got converted into a few big ones.
Did the wind stop blowing or did we just forget something?
Corn used to get planted in clumps. The equipment used a wire stretched across the field to trigger the drop mechanism. "Check row" planting spaced the plants in both N-S and E-W axes. Some lucky farmer drove through the field in both axes, cultivating, probably the dullest way to spend several weeks, maybe months of summer.
Enter the early ag herbicides! Now you can plant in rows, which increases plant count. And you're not burning fuel keeping the weeds down. You can deal with more acreage again and the guy next door wants to move to town sooo,,,,.
All is wonderful,,, but now there is no vegetation left in the corn stubble to help cut the wind. Herbicides are developed for other crops than corn and more acres are left with no soil cover. How quickly we forget!
It is finally recognized that we might get the conditions to make another dustbowl. One of the things being done to deal with that(some people are planting, or advocating the planting of, shelterbelts) is no tillage farming. Planting is done in the stubble of last years crop and herbicides are used to control weeds, no freshly turned soil sits exposed for winter winds to carry it away.
Agribusiness is just the extension of the expansion of private holdings. It's not something I agree with but it is a fact of life now. When you get into bashing agribiz don't scream too loud at the executives for "corporate greed". Their job is to manage the operations of the company so that the stockholders see a return on their investments. With that said, I wonder how many here have ADM stock in your retirement portfolio?
As for finding the "truth" about chemicals and their use I pulled these two comments out of posts made earlier in this thread.
milifestyle wrote: In many cases any pro-use research that has been undertaken has been funded by either the manufacturer or a 3rd party connected with a positive outcome from the products use.
milifestyle wrote:Before agreeing with or believing any research results, make sure the research was NOT carried out by the product manufacturer or funded by an industry that supports the products use.
These happened to be made by the same member. Sorry, milifestyle, I'm not trying to pick on you.
Why is it that the antis will urge caution about information from a "Pro" orientation but offer, as recommended reading, all manner of "Con" information presenting information equally twisted to the anti point of view? I'm probably wrong but I don't remember seeing so much of that from the moderate or pro factions.
As much as anything it annoys me that I have to wade through reams of blatant propaganda in an attempt to glean any truth that might be there.
Having run across "rabid anti" in real life and getting well lectured on what is wrong with how we live I think I can offer a little advice on trying to effect change in how things are done.
The ways things are done now IS the way they are done, NOW! Right or wrong attempts to change that can be likened to a military force attacking a well dug-in enemy. I think the military use a figure of 3-4 to 1 is needed to root out the enemy. Short form is that you need numbers on your side. To get those numbers you need people converting to your beliefs. You don't get converts by insulting their intelligence with biased information or comments like "Their is no need for pasteurized milk, ram milk keeps fine in my refrigerator for 6 weeks!" It's true, it must be true, that was told to be by a rabid believer.
I could go either way. I'm gardening enough that I might be able to deal with it organically but, without some real compelling arguments, it is easier to make sparing use of the technology available.
I also pulled this out of a previous post. I don't want this to come across as attacking the poster but to me it comes across as one of those things that plays better in words than reality.
So Jona, isn't the hit here on monoculture? Michael Pollan thinks it's a big part of the issue. Bill McKibben thinks it supports agribusiness, the big corps, running Mom's and Pop's out by dragging prices down. Some pretty smart folks think we are doing it wrong, so why do I hear so much resistance from growers? The artisanal food movement is proving that small focused growing has a market that pays better than traditional chemically based growing, so why are farmers and growers fighting back so much?
Seems this would be a good thing for most farmers if we moved to localized food production done organically. It would only hurt the huge guys and the increased profits would help preserve farmland as open space in our communities, not just on corporate farms the size of communities, monocultural communities with limited habitat and food values for any species other than our own.
My first thought is whether or not those names mentioned or those "pretty smart folks" have a clue about anything real world or if it's a "great idea" they can bounce around amongst others of like "experience".
I don't like the whole monoculture concept but that just happens to be the most cost effective method at this time. Like it or not, business, whether big or small, strives for efficiency to maximize profits. Is there something different between a business trying to torn a profit or an individual trying to get the best standard of living he can out of his working hours?
The artisanal food movement is proving that if you have a sizeable enough population there will be a percentage who will, and can afford to, purchase a the higher priced of two or more similar products based on their perceived value of the more expensive. It does not indicate that everyone would jump on artisanal foods if they were more widely available. Maybe we could get all growers involved, flood the market to where prices drop to a point that nobody can make money at it.
"Localized food production" sounds nice too, and is a nice concept. I don't know the numbers but how many acres would be needed to feed the population of NYC? Take out all that is not able to produce a crop for one reason or another and you're going to have a huge semi-circle there. Just how far do you go before "localized" becomes 500, or more, miles away?
No, it would hurt more than the "huge guys". Organics cost more to produce so where would be the benefit to someone on a limited budget? If we got every acre now farmed converted to organic we might
be able to feed our own population. But the cost, to everyone would be higher and there would be no shiploads of grain to send to others.
I could be wrong but I think it is better to be comfortably fed with the "bad" food we are now growing than to be hungry while living on an inadequate supply of those wonderful-for-us organics.