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3 Big Myths about Modern Agriculture

@nathan I know you’ll find this interesting, particularly the third point. :slight_smile:

I think one of the more interesting sticking points is that larger farms are not always more efficient:

What is your guys’ takeaway?

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I think this is not an article about “modern agriculture” in general, but more about how we grow crops in the field and I also think that the references are outdated. 1992 - that is 25 years ago and it refers to a soil based report.

I do share the concerns however about mono crops and the degradation of our farm lands. Take into account that lots agriculture nowadays is not even meant for direct food production. Think about corn, for fuel, syrup and animal food. That corn is not suitable for direct human consumption. Tastes like shot but has a great yield.

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I think @nathan would be interested in this article for sure!

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All points I totally agree with.

Modern industrial agriculture has done really well at increasing the calories per acre, but with massive inputs - when you look at the amount of calories consumed (through fuel etc) to grow such bounty - the equation isn’t as enticing when energy and carbon has increasing value.

Unfortunately - we are now calorie dense - but nutrient deficient - the majority of peoples food intake comes through the 3 primary grain crops - corn, soy and wheat - even their protein (meat) is fed that. Corn, soy and wheat are in nearly every single processed food item.

And our soil has become depleted in nutrients, dependent on chemical fertilizers. We mono-crop and destroy ecosystems…

Yeah - industrial agriculture is great for the shareholder - and their marketing departments do really well telling you that they are the only path to a food secure future.

But…

The majority of the world outside North America and Europe is fed by small holder agriculture (peasants) producing on less than 10 acres.

As a case in point - I farm small scale (10acres) in a nutrient dense polyculture system that builds soil fertility and creates a dynamic food ecosystem with integrated pest management etc… With limited inputs other than labour - I can return $30-50,000 an acre (only growing vegetables and produce - Cannabis is another matter all together). I have a neighbour - who farms 400 acres - he has huge tractors and trucks, he grows the cash crop rotation of corn, soy and wheat. He is happy if he can return $500+ an acre - and he probably owe’s half a million or more on equipment and farmland.

I can feed 20-50 local families with nutrient dense vegetables and proteins - i support the local community and have deep roots. He on the other hand sells his feed to mills, it gets processed or refined and shipped out of the area - the money leaves the community, the nutrients leave the community, and all that is left is depleted soil and a bunch of big machinery that sits idle for 95% of the time.

As we head into increasingly turbulent times with climate change and societal upheaval - it will be the communities that have strong local food networks that will survive. The ones that rely on produce shipped in from ‘somewhere else’ will find it increasingly difficult. The world is only one bad year of harvests away from a very difficult space.

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Oh, definitely. You can even make fuel ethanol from wood pulp or other plant byproducts. Anything that’s plant-matter can go into the brew.

Yeah, that’s one of my big concerns – historically humans have subsistence farmed, meaning that a family had to grow everything they’d need, not just one or two crops. The plant diversity would help the soil while reducing pests, and we have gotten too far into mono-cropping. I’m hoping that legislation could be drafted to encourage better practices. But then again, the US Farm bill never seems to care about regulating the big guys. :frowning2:

Fantastically said Nathan. Id on’t even really have anytging to ad! I NEVER post anything on Facebook, much less anything charged or opinionated, but I think I might have to copy and paste this one if it’s ok with you. I have worked on very similar farms to you for a few years. I’m interested if our returns per acre per year were as good (I’m in Colorado) -as I was just in production. I often talk to people about the future stability issues within communities relying on imports. It’s a system that inherently puts itself at huge catastrophic risk. It really wouldn’t take much for agricultural supplies to be cut off… any number of things could do it…

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