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Farming Controversies Are So Complicated

Farming Controversies Are So Complicated


​I read an article on the DTN/Progressive Farming website that once again shows how difficult it is to resolve differences of opinion in farming disagreements. The article was an even-sided discussion of possible overproduction of organic crops, (which I plan to write about soon) but a respondent took the occasion to launch into a rather vitriolic attack on organic farming. He was irritated about the organic stand against herbicides. How could organic farmers consider their methods to be environmentally correct, he wrote, when they use cultivation to control weeds in row crops and shun herbicides. Cultivation increases the severity of erosion and uses more fossil fuel than herbicide applications. That’s true as far as I know. Cultivation also releases CO2 to the atmosphere, disturbs soil life negatively, and breaks up soil particles too much, he argued. He concluded by opining that those of us who cultivate row crops, or use flame throwers instead of herbicides to kill weeds, are stupid.

​But herbicide farmers cultivate the soil quite a bit too, during fall and spring when erosion is more severe. At least here in my neck of the woods, fields are cultivated in the fall, so as to be ready for planting as soon as possible in spring, and then cultivated again in the spring ahead of planting. If a no-till planter is involved, the operation is called “no-till.” Beats me. The big trend now is cover crops overwinter, surely a good idea, but that means either more herbicides in spring to get rid of the cover or more cultivation of some kind to smack down the cover crop.

​It leads me to a dismal conclusion. As soon as mankind reaches a population level where agriculture, as opposed the hunting and gathering, is necessary to provide enough food, collapse of the civilization is inevitable.

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