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[SANET-MG] Unnatural Ag


Where did you get your information about what organic farming is?  We are
regularly amazed at what people who have nothing to do with organic farming
say about it.  Chrispeel has been cited as the source of some of their
ridiculous statements about organic farming by people like Dennis Avery and
Tony Treewaves.  He may be a great scientist in areas that he understands,
but he really doesn't know what he is talking about when he comments on
organic farming.

Please don't make the same mistake that they do.  Learn more about organic
farming from reliable sources before making such broad and misinformed
generalizations as these:

> Organic farming gets it's identity from rejecting man-made inputs.
> Certification is based on a list of acceptable inputs.  When you get
> down to the nitty-gritty issue of who is and who is not authentically
> "organic" it is simply a matter of whether you avoid certain manmade
> substances.  The real issue in this community is whether such-and-such
> chemical is man-made or synthetic.  Caring for the environment is
> secondary.

I can assure you that caring for the environment is central to organic
farming and that the environmental degradation you talk about is not
tolerated.  The manmade products that you love to defend are not banned from
organic farming BECAUSE they are manmade.  They are banned because they are
damaging to the life of soil.

Don't take my word for this, check out the work of Cornell University's Soil
Health Program Work Team and see the research results for yourself.
Conventionally farmed soils have been degraded very badly in recent years.
Factors like water infiltration rates, compaction, aggregate stability,
biological activity, and many others are being monitored by this group of
extension and university researchers.   The organic soils in the study are
showing great improvements soil health over the conventional ones.
Chemically farmed no-till fields are included too and while they are a
little better off than the conventional ones, they still fall behind the
organic ones in most measures of soil health.

This work is not coming out of organic research but from conventional
scientists working on problems faced by conventional farmers.  Yields of
processing vegetables are falling and the work of the Soil Health group was
started to determine why.  They now think that declining soil health is the
major limiting factor in declining vegetable yields.

Perhaps Midwest soils can continue growing Bt corn and Roundup Ready
soybeans in degraded soils for awhile yet but vegetables are more
susceptible to soil quality problems, perhaps in effect, vegetables are the
'canary in the coalmine'.  Now we hear that soybean yields are starting to
decline too - could there be a connection to soil health??  Could the
current practices and chemical inputs not be as good for soil health as
everyone has been led to believe?

Chemicals, even Roundup and chemical fertilizer, cause major disruptions in
the soil microbial balance.  This is pure biology.

Of course all farming causes microbial disruptions of one sort or another,
but perhaps we need to first better define what microbial balance and what
other parameters are best for soil health, and then work toward that with
agricultural practices.

When 'modern' (chemical) farming started, researchers such as William
Albrecht, S C Hood, Bernard Rademacher, and many others who are now
forgotten saw connections between the use of the new fertilizers and
pesticides, and changes in soil biology/chemistry/physical condition.  They
further saw connections between the condition of the soil condition
(chemical/biological/physical) and the level of plant health as well as
insect, disease, and weed pressure.

Farmers observe these changes too, and some have concluded that these
changes were not for the good.  There's a smell to healthy soil, a smell of
life - a smell that is absent in chemically farmed soil.  Even if
researchers can't smell that, farmers can - if they try.

Perhaps not all 'organic' farming practices take us to a healthy soil, but
they are doing a whole lot better than conventional practices.
Klaas & Mary-Howell

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