A tale of two fields

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Tue, Jul 28, 2015 - 1:40pm

Organic this side ------------------"newfangled" techniques this side

An old Paul Harvey radio show recounted the story of a farmer whose son had gone off to the university and come back with all sorts of ideas for trying modern farming techniques. He wanted his father to try herbicides, pesticides, special fertilizers and more, since he was sure it would increase their yields.

Yes, his father asked, but would it be profitable? The older man suggested an experiment. Half a field would be done in his old techniques and half in the new ones. They'd keep meticulous records on costs and yields to see what worked best.

The first year the new techniques did indeed boost yields, but financial records showed that the older technique still led to higher profits. The second year the modern chemical farming techniques did not yield as well and it was still not as profitable as the old fashioned way (spreading manure, etc) especially since the young man added more fertilizers when he saw it was not going well. The third year the young man increased the use of chemicals and the yields went down even more, because now the soil was depleted.

They concluded that the new techniques were a waste of money and bad for plants and went back to traditional techniques.

Imagine the press that would be generated if the genetic engineering industry developed a transferable gene that would allow crops to yield 35% to 100% more under drought conditions. Every newspaper would feature the story on its front page and it would be on prime time TV. Well, the organic “industry”, a.k.a. organic farmers and researchers, has done the equivalent, not via genetic engineering, but by developing a soil-plant system that numerous studies have shown gives crop yields that under drought conditions are commonly 100% higher than comparable conventionally managed crop systems....Organic crops perform up to 100 percent better in drought and flood years. -newfarm.org




robshepler's picture
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 16 2010
Posts: 112
GMO yeild

The Rodale institute has been doing GMO trials side by side with their organic seeds, promised results from the GMO folks are not holding up. Some of the heirlooms are far ahead of the GMO, especially in drought. It is great fun when the little guy wins.

robie robinson's picture
robie robinson
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 25 2009
Posts: 1220
for me its my ego

I take great pride in being, for my area, a big farmer(550 acres) I can work 150 acres right around my home with Suffolks, make a good living, treat MaMa MUCH better,etc. but it will kill my ego. our 3 yr plan is to do just that. neighbors will think i am crazy. but Noahs' neighbors thought the same thing.


robshepler's picture
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 16 2010
Posts: 112
Small potatoes

Hi Robie!

We are newbies to the farming thing and we have chosen the market garden model. Top producers in our type of farm are producing $100,00.00 plus per acre, we are not there yet and we are still learning and still building soil. I came to farming through beekeeping, the more I read about the synergistic toxicity of the chemicals we use in our commercial agriculture, the more I became convinced that getting into organic farming would at least help my small part of the world. Our community is an island, food (the grocery store) is an hour away. It is gratifying to be able to produce some local food, and we will never go hungry!

You are no small player with that many acres, and I would love to hear your view about how agriculture will be impacted by peak oil. What plans to you have to deal with rising fuel costs? How will peak oil change our food system in your mind? Transportation is a very real cost in our food system, most of our food travels a good long way. What are your thoughts? How will you change what you do to deal with it?


Michael_Rudmin's picture
Status: Platinum Member (Online)
Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 916
I can see it now...

What with GMO, and population growth, and the push to eat vegan, there I will be in my garden

Either shucking or plucking,
But the cornstalk is clucking.

But it will lead to a question: when you feed corn to your GMO crop, will it be cannibalism because it eats corn, thinking it's a chicken? And will PETA implode?

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