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Date: Fri, 16 Dec 94 17:13:35 PST
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Date: Fri, 16 Dec 94 17:13:35 PST
From: Sal Schettino <sals>
Full-Name: Sal Schettino
LACK OF KNOWLEDGE SLOWING DOWN GROWTH OF ORGANIC AGRICULTURE
Christchurch, Dec 15 - A lack of knowledge about organic farming, what
it entails, and how to do it, are factors which are slowing down
progress, a leading British organic farmer says.
Helen Browning, who runs a mixed organic farm at Wiltshire in England,
told the international organic conference at Lincoln University that
misconceptions about the system abound among conventional farmers.
There was still a great deal of scepticism and cynicism in the farming
community and within organisations such as the British National
Mrs Browning said she showed hundreds of farmers around her farm each
year and it was apparent that ``first they are confused by the
standards, and secondly, they expect to be confronted by fields
growing little but weeds, and sick animals at every turn.''
If ``these farmers are going to convert, they are going to need re-
educating and a considerable amount of hand-holding, because it is
clear that they have no confidence whatsoever in their ability to farm
without chemicals,'' she said.
Some British colleges were taking up the challenge with enthusiasm.
But there was still a lack of fundamental husbandry within the
syllabus let alone any real attempt to examine the complexities of an
``Unfortunately, I suspect that, rather than leading the way into the
agriculture future, the colleges will only respond to perceived market
demand,'' she said.
If a small percentage of the money that had been spent on conventional
research over the last 40 years had been invested in organic methods,
production systems far in advance of where they were today would be in
Prospects had improved for UK organic producers, she said. The reasons
included an upturn in demand for products and the long-awaited
introduction of the organic aid scheme which gave financial support,
at a low level, for the first five years on land newly converted to
Organic acreage showed no sign of even modest expansion, she said.
There had been only 14 applications for the aid scheme funding.
Organic acreage was static around 20,000 hectares, managed by about
Mrs Browning said organic growers needed more information and a major
breakthrough could have a substantial impact on the whole of
``A good example is work being done on no-plough techniques, using
basic fertility-generating swards into which cereals and potentially
other crops, are sown. I understand this work is progressing well, and
should yield great benefits,'' she said.
These benefits would include the ability to crop more frequently,
rapid improvements in soil structure, and the elimination of erosion
risks posed by exposing bare soils, a reduction of nitrate leaching,
and improvements in yields.
Organic farming was seen by conventional farmers as regressing.
``Famous organic farmers include the Prince of Wales, whose
magnificently run farm at Highgrove provides inspiration to us all.
It is too easy, however, for the world to dismiss his efforts with,
`Ah, it's okay for him, he can afford it. So it's either a rich man's
hobby or a poor man's dream.''
But Mrs Browning says she remains optimistic about the future of
organic farming. She has been appointed to a new think tank on
agriculture policy reform set up by the British Government.
NZPA CHP kca 15/12/94 17-23NZ
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Fri 26 Nov 93 11:50
By: Daniel Cohen
Re: SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS
UNITED STATES IMPORTS MOST OF ITS SHIITAKE MUSHROOMS
Shiitake mushroom production in the United States reached 2.7 million pounds
in 1991-1992, says a fact sheet published by USDA Small-Scale Agricultural
Alternatives. The United States imports 14,000 metric tons of dried Shiitakes
annually, nearly 100 times its current fresh production.
A 13-minute video, "Growing Shiitake Mushrooms," is available for $10. from
Extension/Research, NCA&T University, PO Box 21928, Greensboro, NC 27420.
Source: Maine Agricultural Report, Maine Dept. of Ag., Sept. 10, 1993
Excerpted from Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener (MOFGA), Nov/Dec 1993.
For more information on MOFGA:
PO Box 2176
283 Water Street
Farrell Building (Fourth Floor)
Augusta, Maine 04338
* Origin: The Daily Planet - Maui, HI (808) 572-4857 (1:345/111 FidoNet)