INFORMATION-BASED FARMING

Richard Winder rwinder at PFC.Forestry.CA
Mon Sep 14 12:42:08 EST 1992


In article <1992Sep12.080143.4004 at ncsu.edu>, samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu (S. A. Modena) writes:
>In article <1992Sep11.162916.3759 at ccu.umanitoba.ca> browns at ccu.umanitoba.ca (Stuart Brown) writes:
>>I found Steve Modena's discourse on Information-Based Farming quite interesting.
>Thank you.
>
>>However, I do not think that this type of pragmatic "forget the philosophy, its
>>a high-tech competitive world out there" approach adequately addresses the very
>>real issues raised by Ricardo.  
>
>I'd never say "forget the philosophy."  I'd just say: "It a high tech
>world out there and *ignoring* that is a death sentence to your way of life."
>etc.

Oh yeah?  So how are the Amish surviving?  And why is soil erosion from their
fields in Pa. so much less than even nearby no-till situations?

I think we better delineate Agribusiness as a lifestyle from farming in general
as a lifestyle.

Many people, self included, run small farms to reduce their food budget and
perhaps supplement their income.  There are even a few of us that manage to do
it without pesticides.  The small farm, as a way of life, is not going to die-
relax!  I spent about 6 years getting my grad degrees in Botany/Plant Path. at
N.C.S.U., so I've had a fair bit of exposure to the N.C.S.U. scene.  It's not
a typical pattern.  N.C.'s central location permits a wide variety of crops and
has permitted access to a large market since time out of mind- small farms
never were an *important* form of land use in that state, except near towns. 
Check out the field sizes the next time you fly into RDU, and compare with what
you see north of, say Virginia (and away from urban centers).  Most of the
alarm being raised here is regarding the merger of farms that are already
fairly large anyway.

If technology is so great, why are small organic farms consistently turning a
greater profit?  It's not a huge profit, but its there (about 1% greater in
some stats I've seen from Rodale in Pa., California citrus farms,  and from 
Murray Pronc in Ontario).  I won't start ranting and raving about the other 
benefits, and I know organic produce has an unfair advantage in some markets-
I just want to point out that there used to be a thing known as `plant 
husbandry', and that large scale operations, of the type banks seem to prefer
to finance, inevitably lead to poor management practices.  (I'll start another
hot potato here and say that this also applies to forestry).  Ultimately,
agribusiness will have to return full circle to sustainable practices if it
wants to remain competitive.  So, I say, compete your hearts out!  Buy spy-sat
photos!  Just don't lose all our soil or water tables in the process.

Do you take advantage of the free gardening space the City of Raleigh makes
available to anyone, Steve?  It's one thing I regret not doing- everyone
should try preserve this way of life- even if you're a 9-5er, it doesn't take
all that much effort to plant a cover crop, raise a few chickens, etc.  I've
only got 2.5 hectares (O.K., so things grow well in rainforest), but I'm 
managing to bring in about $100/week and eliminate most of my grocery bill.  
That's profit inanyone's book.

  RICHARD WINDER                    Title: Visiting Fellow
  Forestry Canada                   Phone: (604) 363-0600
  Victoria, B.C.                    Internet: RWINDER at A1.PFC.Forestry.CA



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