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#860258 - 23/04/2010 06:29 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
I have been going on at length on this thread about food production and the world population and how farmers around the world have continued to increase food production and despite numerous western do-gooder, pseudo nature worshipping outfits attacking farming at every opportunity, the world's farmers have ensured that although hunger may be still unfortunately be a part of our civilisation, actual starvation is very rare.

So, courtesy Ed Scott , a commenter on WUWT, some forecasts for the future of mankind; circa 1970,

Earth Day Predictions, 1970

“We have about five more years at the outside to do something.”
- Kenneth Watt, ecologist.

“Civilization will end within 15 or 30 years unless immediate action is taken against problems facing mankind.”
- George Wald, Harvard Biologist

“We are in an environmental crisis which threatens the survival of this nation, and of the world as a suitable place of human habitation.”
- Barry Commoner, Washington University biologist

“Man must stop pollution and conserve his resources, not merely to enhance existence but to save the race from intolerable deterioration and possible extinction.”
- New York Times editorial, the day after the first Earth Day

“Population will inevitably and completely outstrip whatever small increases in food supplies we make. The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years.”
- Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“By…[1975] some experts feel that food shortages will have escalated the present level of world hunger and starvation into famines of unbelievable proportions. Other experts, more optimistic, think the ultimate food-population collision will not occur until the decade of the 1980s.”
- Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“It is already too late to avoid mass starvation.”
- Denis Hayes, chief organizer for Earth Day

“Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa. By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions….By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”
- Peter Gunter, professor, North Texas State University

“Scientists have solid experimental and theoretical evidence to support…the following predictions: In a decade, urban dwellers will have to wear gas masks to survive air pollution…by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half….”
- Life Magazine, January 1970

“At the present rate of nitrogen buildup, it’s only a matter of time before light will be filtered out of the atmosphere and none of our land will be usable.”
- Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

“Air pollution…is certainly going to take hundreds of thousands of lives in the next few years alone.”
- Paul Ehrlich, Stanford University biologist

“We are prospecting for the very last of our resources and using up the nonrenewable things many times faster than we are finding new ones.”
- Martin Litton, Sierra Club director

“By the year 2000, if present trends continue, we will be using up crude oil at such a rate…that there won’t be any more crude oil. You’ll drive up to the pump and say, `Fill ‘er up, buddy,’ and he’ll say, `I am very sorry, there isn’t any.’”
- Kenneth Watt, Ecologist

“Dr. S. Dillon Ripley, secretary of the Smithsonian Institute, believes that in 25 years, somewhere between 75 and 80 percent of all the species of living animals will be extinct.”
- Sen. Gaylord Nelson

“The world has been chilling sharply for about twenty years. If present trends continue, the world will be about four degrees colder for the global mean temperature in 1990, but eleven degrees colder in the year 2000. This is about twice what it would take to put us into an ice age.”
- Kenneth Watt, Ecologist


Regret not the past.
Fear not the future.

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#860312 - 23/04/2010 12:47 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
AaronD Offline
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Registered: 27/12/2007
Posts: 1017
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
many of those quotes say along the lines of "if present trends continue"

have processes became more sustainable since the 70s?

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#860327 - 23/04/2010 14:58 Re: Organic Foods [Re: AaronD]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
Dunno Aaron! If you look at the projected increase to about 9 billions on this planet by 2040 or 2050 the rising living standards and adequate food production hinge almost totally on the availability of cheap energy.
Cheap energy as the history of the development of our industrial society has proven was the reason behind the increased availability of food as food production could then move from a peasant type production to a mechanised system and from where as I have mentioned above up to 80% of the income of the lower classes was spent on enough food to enable them to live to where food now takes less than about an average 20% of a worker's wages.

The advent of cheap energy meant iron and then steel could be manufactured in large enough quantities and so cheaply that it could be used to build the machines that provided work and better pay and etc
The ability to travel to employment with the advent of trains plus water supplies, sewerage and consequent better health, food transport so that seasonal shortages or surpluses in a region could be supplied from other areas meant that the rapid rise in living standards during the industrial revolution and so on all rested on cheap energy.

Cheap energy meant the production of artificial fertilizers at prices where they could and can be used to dramatically boost food production.
With cheap energy and therefore cheap fertilizers and cheap transport opened up many other areas for food production in the late 1800's and the early 1900's
In fact South Australia was the world's largest wheat exporter in the late 1800's and that was entirely due to the unique SA situation where their main grain growing areas were within 50 or a maximum of about a 100 kms from the coast.
There is nowhere else in the world where this situation existed, where big acreage's of wheat and grain was grown so close to coastal ports.
With that situation the horse drawn wagons which was the only heavy transport in those days could haul wheat to the all those little ports that line the SA gulfs where the bagged wheat was loaded onto the sailing ships for transshipment to overseas markets or to other Australian markets.
Rail and the advent of road trucks, all tied to the availability of cheap energy, of course eventually finished this trade as other regions world wide could then compete with SA wheat.

Just to back track on fertilizers.
Fertilizers both the phosphorus based fertilizers and the nitrogen fertilizers take a lot of energy to produce.
When these fertilizers reached over a thousand dollars per tonne due to the Chinese demand a few years ago, a lot of farmers did not use any fertilizer or just cut right back.
OK for a year or two as the crop can draw on unused reserves of fertilizer in the soil if you have been conscientious about your farming.
Now with the crazy demands of the global warmers and politicians to put a huge tax on all sources of energy then fertilizers and chemicals and numerous other necessary inputs to food production will be reduced unless there is a dramatic rise in prices received for grain which of course leads to dramatic rises in food prices of every type.
A lot of grain is used in animal feed, the starch from grain such as wheat, is used in food of all sorts and in some industrial production.
Transport costs rise and ditto above as grain is shipped everywhere around the world and in fact the grain supply pipeline is estimated as 28 days.
If the world's grain supplies fall below 28 days supply or even down near that number then the world no longer has enough food to feed itself, a situation I have sen at least twice in my lifetime.

Huge taxes on energy as wanted by the warmers and politicians will create immense problems and probably lead to some potentially serious food shortages as areas go out of food production as they cannot afford the long distance cartage costs for the inputs or their produce and / or can no longer afford the much higher priced fertilizers and chemicals that use a lot of energy in their production.
Unless there is a dramatic rise in the price of food to compensate for the big increases in energy costs due to the global warming taxes and imposts.


When it comes to whether there is and can be on farm sustainability of production, the answer to your question as it applies to Australia, the USA, Canada, Europe and other similar advanced countries is Yes!

I posted about the 1940's and how the farmers of the 1950's completely rebuilt their soil fertility within about a decade using nitrogen fixing plants that were plowed back into the soil to provide the essential nitrogen for the following crops and to give dramatic increases in the soil organic carbon content and matter.

A measure of soil fertility is Organic Carbon content or levels.
Australia's soils have a very low organic carbon content like only one percent or a bit better and as I have posted they are some of the poorest soils on earth as Australia being the oldest continent has highly eroded soils that over the aeons have had all their nutrients leached out.
American and European soils being much younger on average have high organic carbon levels of up to 5 and 6 per cent which is close to peat type soils.

Cultivation breaks down the organic carbon and converts it into nitrogen without which the plant will not grow as the processes within any plant need nitrogen and CO2 to function and in fact it is calculated by the plant researchers that the rise in atmospheric CO2 levels of perhaps some 40 ppm over the last 30 or 40 years has actually accounted for about 20% of the increases in yields that have occurred over this period.
Note, 20% OF the increases in overall yield, not a 20% yield increase.
CO2 Science gives a set of tables where crops give their highest yields at certain CO2 levels and for wheat the highest yields come at about 700 ppm of CO2.
Atmospheric CO2 levels are calculated to be about 390 ppm at present but considerable variations in levels around the globe are now known to exist.

As above cultivation breaks down soil organic carbon content and therefore continuous cultivation as it was practiced prior to the advent of the modern chemical herbicides led to ever lower fertility levels over the long term.
Since the advent of the use of more and more weed controlling chemicals,ie; herbicides, farming technology had changed dramatically as we no longer have to cultivate perhaps 8 or 10 times to control weeds before planting a crop.
Now we use a couple of sprays to kill the weeds and in a lot of cases NO cultivation at all before planting so far more soil organic matter other than what the crop needs is retained.
Also with herbicides we can control weeds and kill any previous crop regrowth that springs up after the first seasonal winter rains and then plant a new crop of a different type to reduce disease problems straight into the old crop stubble or the residue and stubble of the previous crop.
So instead of getting one crop every two years as in the 1970's we are now getting a crop every year off the same area [ if it ever rains! ]
That is one of the ways we have just managed stayed in business as the consumers force the prices ever lower.

The really interesting thing here and there is a lot of research and innovation in machinery and technology going on to enable us to do all of the above is that when we retain the old crop residues, the stubbles, the soil organic carbon levels remain relatively constant and in a lot of cases show a very slow increase in levels, something that was not realised could be done some 30 or 40 years ago.
In other words, the soil when chemical weed control is used, when stubbles are retained and when the right artificial fertilizes are used actually very slowly increase in their fertility.
This doesn't happen everywhere as soil types also have big bearing on the results but that increase in fertility or the maintenance of fertility using modern technology and techniques, despite increasing tonnages of grain being taken off an area, is far more common nowadays than a significant loss of fertility due to the cropping of the land.
And this is a world wide trend in cropping and grain growing
The next factor is by using chemicals to control weeds we are not pounding the soil down all over so a lot less traffic across the paddocks means that the soil is far more permeable which allows a lot more rainfall to penetrate into the ground instead of sitting around and either running off or evaporating away,
This of course mean more deep soil available water for the growing plant.

Retaining the previous crop's residues also protects the soil surface and increases soil water uptake as well although special machinery has had to be developed to sow through the stubbles of previous crops as normal machinery just blocks up with the stubbles or crop residues.
Some farmers, and most of us use the automatic GPS steering systems nowadays in our tractors, sprayers and harvesters, only use one set of regularly spaced wheel tracks across their crop paddocks right through the crop growing season and all machinery follows these sets of wheel tracks for the entire season and in some cases they are the only wheel tracks that are used full time every year that paddock is under crop.
Again this is to keep the soil as open and permeable as possible to allow rain water to permeate into the soil and to give a nice soft open soil for the plants to grow in.

Yes we can retain fertility and we can continue to increase yields of most of mankind's most important crops but there are now signs that we are closing in on the biological limits for many crop yields and as we do so, as with all systems operating near their limits, smaller and smaller problems have larger and larger repercussions and that in crops means reduced yields.

The UN's Food and Agriculture divisions [ FAO ] has calculated that the world neds another 200 million hectares of crop land to feed the 9 billion people that will be on this planet by 2050 [ global population is calculated by demographers to start to decline after 2050 ] however the FAO can only identify some 94 million hectares that could still be converted to crop land but most of that 94 million Ha's is under forest and that is going to really cause a ruckus in the green camp.

So mankind's choice may yet be, do we feed the extra mouths or do we let them starve to save the environment.

I wont be around to see that but you might be right in the middle of it and then the world will see just who has the real morality and who really cares about people or does the environment come first?

Yep farmers are real dumb and they rape the soil and despoil nature and they feed each and every one of the 6 3/4 billions of human beings on this planet.
And they will continue to do so for the many, many more generations of the human race still to come.

And remember; Don't criticise farmers with your mouth full!

Hope the above epistle above answers some questions, Aaron.


Regret not the past.
Fear not the future

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#860398 - 24/04/2010 07:49 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
RC Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 29/09/2007
Posts: 2084
Loc: near Rockhampton, Qld
Organic foods are not necessarily environmentally friendly..

From an animal perspective having seen an organic animal production all I can say I am glad those animals were not mine.... They were not happy animals....Covered with all sorts of pests..

Don't you think it ironic that people do not want chemicals used, yet run to the doctor and grab a handfull of pills when they are sick?

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#860409 - 24/04/2010 08:54 Re: Organic Foods [Re: RC]
KevD Offline
Occasional Visitor

Registered: 23/09/2001
Posts: 5079
Loc: Bellingen NSW 2454
I suggest RC that you could report the farm you mention - sounds like the animals were being neglected and nothing like any of the commercial organically farmed animals I have ever seen. It is not in the farmers intrest to have sick and sad animals. Please do not think your experience is representative of the organic indusry.

Sure if people eat organic food and then run straight to the pharmacist every time they get sick then there are some contradictions in there...For many of our customers I know they avoid the doctor whenever possible - but then again keeping out of the sickness industry loop is a pretty good idea for everyone regardless of what they eat!

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#860427 - 24/04/2010 10:42 Re: Organic Foods [Re: RC]
AaronD Offline
Weatherzone Addict

Registered: 27/12/2007
Posts: 1017
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Another few to add to the list of quotes that someone can quote in 40 years time and see how accurate these philosophers were (they are more reputable sources because they aren't from a "green group" so im sure this is an outrageous claim from me):

"Huge taxes on energy as wanted by the warmers and politicians will create immense problems and probably lead to some potentially serious food shortages as areas go out of food production as they cannot afford the long distance cartage costs for the inputs or their produce and / or can no longer afford the much higher priced fertilizers and chemicals that use a lot of energy in their production.
Unless there is a dramatic rise in the price of food to compensate for the big increases in energy costs due to the global warming taxes and imposts."
ROM, Grain Farmer from Horsham

"the world needs another 200 million hectares of crop land to feed the 9 billion people that will be on this planet by 2050 [ global population is calculated by demographers to start to decline after 2050"
The UN's Food and Agriculture divisions [ FAO ]


why is everyone so quick to jump on the bandwagon with their cynical attitudes and make generalised assumptions that people "do not want chemicals used, yet run to the doctor and grab a handful of pills when they are sick"
Im sure there might be people like that but in my experience the people i know who eat organics don't get into the pills from drug companies either.
im only assuming here but i think you may find most people who eat organics aren't too keen on going to the doctor for medicine. But maybe its just people from rural areas who have those ironic beliefs because i haven't experienced that here.


And I'm not criticising farmers at all and yes i do understand what everyone is trying to say that it is not really feasible to mass produce organic food without leaving the land unrenderable for the future or without 1000s and 1000s of man hours and costs, causing food prices to sky rocket.
herbicides etc are all necessary in order to have a sustainable way of mass producing food for the worlds population.

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#860432 - 24/04/2010 10:55 Re: Organic Foods [Re: RC]
AaronD Offline
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Registered: 27/12/2007
Posts: 1017
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Originally Posted By: RC

Don't you think it ironic that people do not want chemicals used, yet run to the doctor and grab a handfull of pills when they are sick?


and yes i think it is very ironic and hypocritical almost of people who do that but IMO its not a common thing people do

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#860440 - 24/04/2010 12:47 Re: Organic Foods [Re: AaronD]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
I had a chuckle at that, Aaron.

If you really expect anybody to take a comment on a possible future from a poorly educated 72 year old retired grain farmer as gospel, they really would have to be naive in the extreme.
You need somebody with a high level degree, doesn't matter in what discipline as any sort of degree should do it for media purposes, before making such a statement which is placed on record as the new unchallengeable way of the future.

On the FAO's analysis of the requirements for more agricultural land, they did take into account potential increases in food production productivity and a list of other criteria before making that statement which is to found in a couple of their forecast documents of a year or so ago.
But frankly from where I sit, I have problems and reservations with that particular FAO claim.

Having seen the ability of the world's farmers to react to any new situation and to do so in just one growing season and been involved for nearly 30 years as a trustee for one of Australia's largest grain research institutes, plus involved with other grain grower financed research organisations, I have a very healthy respect for Ag researchers and their abilities to keep on developing new and more productive agricultural systems, varieties and crops.
And this despite governments, particularly in Australia, constantly cutting back and reducing finance and support for agricultural research.
No problem though to pour millions or billions of dollars into some crummy so called research, based on what is now showing up in the data, the increasingly potential non event of significant global warming from rising atmospheric CO2 levels that MIGHT cause a few problems by 2100.

If and it is a big IF, Governments are prepared to significantly increase the resources and inputs to agricultural research and to stop further encroachment of innumerable petty regulations on agricultural production that have their origins in naive and heavily propagandised anti farmer beliefs about the so called despoiling of nature by farmers then we can get on with increasing productivity from the available land and I think that the world's farmers will possibly be able to adequately feed the peak 9 billions of Earth's peoples and quite possibly do this without needing any significantly larger areas of land than the present to do so.

But I also fear that we will slowly be driven ever down as food producers until the world really gets hit with a totally out of the blue massive global food shortage of some duration and then and only then will the all the political forces and the anti farmer organisations realise what they have wrought for the world's peoples.

[ That sort of global food shortage can so easily arise from major crop failures in the USA , Europe, China, India.
China and India between them currently have about 40% of the global population and that is an increasing percentage s their respective populations head up and well over 1.3 billions in each country. ]

And only then will come the realisation by the politicos and bureaucrats that their policies of minimal and downgraded support for the world's food producers has led to very serious global food shortages and that they are directly to blame for the consequences which quite possible will be devastating for millions on this planet.
And when an agricultural system is run down as the Russians and the east Europeans found out to their cost, it takes up to two decades until the new researchers and advisers cane be trained up and acquire the on ground skills and knowledge that is so fundamental to any success in agriculture.

I might be right but I might also be equally wrong in this assessment but at least I have tried to see into the possible future and make an educated guess at just what the future outlook is for that critical second only to water item and the absolutely essential to all human life, adequate food and nourishment.

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#860478 - 24/04/2010 19:43 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
RC Offline
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Registered: 29/09/2007
Posts: 2084
Loc: near Rockhampton, Qld
As I was told recently... You have to be in the black to be green..

Yes we would all like to be totally organic, but it is impossible in most parts of Australia due to various laws and regulations..

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#860491 - 24/04/2010 21:19 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
AaronD Offline
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Registered: 27/12/2007
Posts: 1017
Loc: Tokyo, Japan
Originally Posted By: ROM
I might be right but I might also be equally wrong in this assessment but at least I have tried to see into the possible future and make an educated guess at just what the future outlook is for that critical second only to water item and the absolutely essential to all human life, adequate food and nourishment.

I think its important that people do try and see in to the future and make opinions about what they think, makes for a good democracy.
i was just having a bit of a poke with my last post.


RC its interesting what you say about laws and regulations.
I have a friend who purchases organic unhomogenised and unpasturised milk. there is very few places that sell it and the place she gets it from actually markets it as "Body milk" (with a warning saying it is not for consumption... but they well know people buy it to drink) as that is the only way they can legally sell it.

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#860909 - 28/04/2010 06:48 Re: Organic Foods [Re: AaronD]
Arnoldnut Offline
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Registered: 18/10/2006
Posts: 1549
Loc: Arnold, NthWest Vic
[ That sort of global food shortage can so easily arise from major crop failures in the USA , Europe, China, India.
China and India between them currently have about 40% of the global population and that is an increasing percentage s their respective populations head up and well over 1.3 billions in each country.


if the icelandic volcano had chugged a way a little longer this could easily have happened ....and you would see heaps poured into agriculture in the sth hemisphere ....could even see the bulldozing of the sandy sth-eastern suburbs of melb and plant them all in vegies again ....as they were in the past wink

...anythings possible if hunger rose it's ugly head in our populations.
_________________________
“The trouble ain't that there is too many fools, but that the lightning ain't distributed right.”

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#861443 - 02/05/2010 20:00 Re: Organic Foods [Re: Arnoldnut]
Andy Double U Offline
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Registered: 28/10/2006
Posts: 1829
Loc: Mundoolun, SE QLD, 129m ASL
News story about organic food.... Link

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#861812 - 04/05/2010 19:38 Re: Organic Foods [Re: Andy Double U]
majorowe Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 27/01/2002
Posts: 242
Loc: SE France
Round-up resistent weeds rearing their heads in the US:

US Famers Cope with Round-up Resistent Weeds

The benefits of organic farming become more apparent by the day.

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#861856 - 04/05/2010 22:52 Re: Organic Foods [Re: majorowe]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
You make me chuckle a bit, Majorowe!
Australia was the first place where Round Up resistant weeds appeared in 1996 and I can remember it quite well and the world has not collapsed yet to my knowledge.

I had a decent debate with my agronomist of the time about the increasing use of Round Up [ glyphosate ] and the fact that we would possibly get resistance to it if the heavy use continued.
He argued back that it was not possible to get resistance to Round Up.
He turned up again a few days later and confirmed that he had a good discussion with the Monsanto technical people and it was just about impossible to get weed and plant resistance to Round Up due to the multiple enzymic pathways that Round Up affected and operated through while killing the plant which of course, makes it so effective as a weed killer.

I was still doubtful as I had seen and read quite a lot on herbicide resistance including some technical stuff in our local big Ag Research Institute.
A very chastened agronomist turned up about a couple of weeks later to be greeted with a big grin and some concern.
A day or so before hand it had been announced that the Wagga Research Institute had just verified that a sample of ryegrass from an orchard which had had very regular routine treatments with Round Up for a few years had the world's first proven case of Round Up resistance.

The Aussie farmers latched onto this problem very quickly and started to take steps to reduce RU use to the more essential requirements and to develop a combination one two knockdown spray technique that uses chemicals with two totally different modes of action and which are used in combination a few days apart.
A couple of such treatments nearly eliminates the problem resistance weeds for a couple of years.
Many farmers, particularly in WA where herbicide resistance is a real problem are now using hay made for the export hay industry again to remove the resistance weeds.
The paddocks are turned to hay production about one year out of seven or until the resistant weed numbers build up again.
Export hay is a very sophisticated business with each 1/2 to 3/4 tonne bale now identified with it's own bar code and the position GPS'ed so that any quality problems found by a fussy Japanese farmer while feeding his ten cows that he makes a very good living out of, can come in screaming to his agent and the agent can trace exactly who, when and where that bale was made and then the Aussie farmer cops it!

Some farmers collect weed seeds and harvest residue in harvester mounted bins which are dumped every few tens of metres while harvesting and the heaps are then burned so destroying some 80% or more of weed seeds which are collected while harvesting.
We are always changing chemicals to get different modes of action on the weeds and so reduce resistance problems with all herbicides, not just Round Up.
And there are other techniques that are used and further weed control strategies are being developed and sometimes reinvented.
That article you read there about American farmers is about a decade behind here we are here in Australia but that has been a consistent story when comparing American and Australian farm technology in crops and weeds and their control.

In your reference about the benefits of organic farming, you apparently did not read some of my posts above.
You can go for organics and some of the more fanatical organic food proponents would like to even legislate to force their use onto farmers as after all that is what a lot of other mostly eco outfits are trying to do, to force their own personal beliefs and cult like ideologies onto everybody else by any means possible.
If the organic food fanatics did force the use of organic farming only onto farmers world wide then I hope, not to put to fine a point onto it, these same people who would do this will be amongst the first to volunteer to starve to death so that there is sufficient food for the couple of billion souls left on this planet which will be all that the organic food production can support.

Food production in 1800, when there only about a billion people on the planet and there were no fertilizers, no herbicides for weed control, no chemicals for disease and fungal control and no insecticides for insect control existed then so all food was "organic", those billion people often went hungry or starved as the history of the times tells us of so many famines in India's Raj and other places around the planet.

So if the farmers were forced to grow only organic foods, will the organic food proponents and their fellow travellers be the first to volunteer to starve to death so that others might live?

Harsh but that is reality and maybe a population control "benefit" of organic food production that not many in the west would like or admit to thinking about.

If anybody wants to just use "organically" grown food for themselves and they can actually find some real genuine "organic food" and not a cast off special with some spurious "organic" claims for it, then go for it.

It's still a free country, I think !

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#862016 - 06/05/2010 06:59 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
majorowe Offline
Weather Freak

Registered: 27/01/2002
Posts: 242
Loc: SE France
You make me chuckle also ROM, mainly because your posts are so verbose that they merit a response the length of a small novel. I will try and keep my response brief.

Your most recent post covers two topics - modern methods for reducing weed resistance to herbicides and secondly, supposed limits on organic yields.

Firstly, let's note that two of the methods you cite that are now employed for minimising the build up of weed resistance, namely hay production and weed/seed batching and burning, I would consider as a step closer to organic farming. No organic farmer is going to protest against these methods. Afterwards you add:

"And there are other techniques that are used and further weed control strategies are being developed and sometimes reinvented."

This is a common theme with organic farming - resurecting 'old', pre-green revolution methods for weed control. Weeds can even be beneficial to agriculture as I am sure you would know.

The persistence with herbicides in knockdown combinations will still over time encourage resistence, something that you admit with:

"A couple of such treatments nearly eliminates the problem resistance weeds for a couple of years."

What would the next step then be, the complete abandon of herbicides?

On the topic of organic vs. intensive yields, this is an old chestnut that always surfaces. It is far too easy to take your previous example of historic and current yields (yes, I do read your posts) and extrapolate to deduce that such past yields would never suffice to feed a population of 6 billion. You are surely aware that advances in yields over the last 70 years are due to a lot more than just herbicide use. It is drawing a long bow to compare agriculture of 1800 to organic agriculture of 2010...

We can also note that western citizens are now eating more than ever and are not necessarily better off for it. Another very important factor to take into account is diet - do we really need to eat so much meat which relies heavily on grain production? Then there is food waste:

"A study by the University of Arizona in 2004, indicated that 14-15 per cent of US edible food is untouched or unopened, amounting to $43 billion worth of discarded, but edible, food."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_waste#Impact

Finally, many a study has been attempted to determine if intensive agriculture is in fact necessary to feed everyone. From wikipedia:

"A 2007 study [17] compiling research from 293 different comparisons into a single study to assess the overall efficiency of the two agricultural systems has concluded that

...organic methods could produce enough food on a global per capita basis to sustain the current human population, and potentially an even larger population, without increasing the agricultural land base. (from the abstract)

The researchers also found that while in developed countries, organic systems on average produce 92% of the yield produced by conventional agriculture, organic systems produce 80% more than conventional farms in developing countries, because the materials needed for organic farming are more accessible than synthetic farming materials to farmers in some poor countries."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organic_food#Yield

The argument that organic yields will never suffice has a lot more to do with a fear of change than a fear of hunger. As you say 'regret not the past, fear not the future'.

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#862022 - 06/05/2010 08:05 Re: Organic Foods [Re: majorowe]
Andy Double U Offline
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Registered: 28/10/2006
Posts: 1829
Loc: Mundoolun, SE QLD, 129m ASL
Originally Posted By: majorowe

The researchers also found that while in developed countries, organic systems on average produce 92% of the yield produced by conventional agriculture, organic systems produce 80% more than conventional farms in developing countries, because the materials needed for organic farming are more accessible than synthetic farming materials to farmers in some poor countries."


I don't have the time to address all of your points majorowe but the one quoted above I have a lot of issues with.

For organics to make this claim is a massive contradiction in my opinion. Fact is, whether the organic groups like it or not, they are riding on the successes and hard work of what could be termed "today's conventional farming techniques".

How so? Well with the amount of land that is under crop and with all of the conventional farmers treating their land with herbicides and pesticides, organic farmers sit comfortably under this umbrella with a lot of the crop failure/economic issues suppressed whilst others do the dirty work. It's a bit like vaccinations for children to prevent old diseases. The argument is now that they are unneeded because no one catches these things anymore... why is it that things like Measles etc. are no longer around in big numbers? Because of vaccinations! In essence, without exercising diligence in minimising pest and disease, we risk letting the cat out of the bag and may not be able to to get on top of these issues again.

The other point that I would like to make is that there seems to be a lot of self interest perpetrated by Organic Control Bodies and Organisations. Fact is, as demonstrated by one of ROM's earlier posts, that these guys can shift the goal posts on organic production as much as they like, the worst part is that consumer's wouldn't be any the wiser! If organic farms can't maintain a good supply, then organic bodies tend to bend the rules to allow more conventionally farmed produce enter the market to protect the perception that organic food is a viable option in its own right.

Fact is, pesticides and herbicides are expensive products to purchase and apply and there is not a single farmer that I know that doesn't wish that they could get away with reducing usage / eradicating the usage completely. Roundup resistance along with Antibiotic resistance are issues because of improper usage in the past. Our weed control methods on our property consist of two to three different herbicides + mechanical control to try and cover all of the bases when it comes to trying to achieve 100% weed kill. This I think is the smartest way of reducing the chances of resistance occurring as well as trying to keep abreast of new developments in land management.

At the end of the day, organics is about perception that somehow they are superior to conventionally farmed foods. There is a perception that conventional farming is bad for our health. Well I tell you what, when I watch my nearly 80 year old neighbour ride up the road on his motorbike, flat shifting as he goes I have to question that. He would have been exposed to far more sun and chemical then the conventional city slicker but somehow keeps on keeping on. An anomaly? Perhaps, but I know a lot of farmers like this whilst I also know a lot of city slickers who don't see the other side of 70 due to health issues. Maybe its not necessarily the food that we are eating that is killing us, but lifestyle, people being people always love to blame somebody else for THEIR OWN problems!

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#862061 - 06/05/2010 11:08 Re: Organic Foods [Re: Andy Double U]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
Due to manner in which any subject in Wikipedia can be edited by anybody, and that amounts to thousands of "editors" who fulfill a few criteria set by the Wikipedia governing body, there are numerous examples of blatant rigging and the deliberate use of misinformation where ideologically biased editors post heavily biased and corrupted information.
A very senior Wikipedia editor was recently removed after some years of completely removing any references that questioned his personal attitude to, in this case, his near fanatical support of the AGW theory.
He also quite deliberately altered the profiles of some leading climate scientists of a skeptical persuasion and repeatedly did so after those same scientists had corrected their profiles a number of times.

Numerous other cases of bias and corrupt editing are known in Wikipedia which is why it is losing it's status as reference source.
So the guts of this verbose post is that anybody who trusts Wikipedia for information on a subject when that subject has a very pronounced ideological bias is somewhat naive.
The ideologically biased will always take the opportunity to push their personal prejudices whereas the rest of us don't bother so the corrupted information often goes unchallenged.
Simply put, when I see references to the "facts" such as the references above to the "success" of organic farming as a replacement for conventionally based farming, all based on Wikipedia as the source, I am immediately very skeptical and wonder what other equally verifiable sources that counter this claim have been rejected and discarded because of the ideological bias of that particular editor.

And Andy is absolutely right.
I do not know of any farmers who enjoy spending vast amounts of money on chemicals or who likes to dabble in chemicals for the fun of it.
In fact, as Andy says, the opposite is the case with farmers often bemoaning that they have to use chemicals to the extent that they do.
Such is the price for the world having sufficient food to supply all of Earth's peoples.

And like Andy and every farmer I know, we also rotate crops, rotate chemicals and use some limited cultivation and other techniques to reduce chemical usage and potential herbicide resistance in weeds.

And yes, there was a period in recent history when all food was near organic and it was only some 90 years ago.
At the end of WW1 [ and WW2 ] the returning soldiers, the Returned Servicemen, the great squatter's empires with their huge acreages in Victoria plus other states were broken up into what were supposedly liveable acreages for the Returned Servicemen and their families to farm.
Those areas were usually either 320 or 640 acres or a half a square mile to one full square mile.
The breakup of the squatters empires was also used to settle very large numbers of "settlers" to farm these quite good soils in good rainfall areas.
My son is currently farming an area where some 70 or 80 years ago, at least 7 farming families, each with half a dozen kids, used to farm in the first part of the 20th century.
If "organic" farming was and is so viable why did those Returned Servicemen and settler's families all leave by about the late 1950's and just one small family is left and even then that family, my son, can no longer make a profit due to the extremely low prices that the consumer is willing to pay for their food.
And there are farms for sale everywhere through this area for that same reason.

If we had the enormous subsidies that the Europeans farmers collect then we could indulge in some fancy "organic" farming with the full knowledge that we wouldn't be allowed to go out of business if we made a mess of it nor would it be very important if we made or did not make an actual profit on "organic farming"
The appearance, not the end result would be the important thing.

In Australia, if you are a farmer you are on your own and if you don't make a profit thats your problem and do it often enough and you are out and without a tear being shed for you by anybody in the city or the government.

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#862065 - 06/05/2010 11:35 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
Editing timed out!
In the reference to underdeveloped countries and their "organic food" producing potential, why is it that the farmers in those underdeveloped countries are leaving their "organic" food producing farms in droves and heading for the big city lights or the underdeveloped version thereof?
Like everywhere, the prices paid for this "organic" food and the unreliability of production due to disease, weed pressures and the sheer hard physical work and the poor living conditions and the lack of decent facilities, a parallel and similar situation to rural Australia, that arise from the low farm incomes as nobody, again, is willing to pay enough for food just means that eventually the farmer gives up and moves to where living conditions and social facilities are much easier and better even in those underdeveloped economies, than back on his "organic food producing" farm.

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#862121 - 06/05/2010 20:22 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
ROM Offline
Meteorological Motor Mouth

Registered: 29/01/2007
Posts: 6628
Almost exactly an example of some Organic Farm research that highlights the biases found in Wikipedia with a direct reference to organic farms.

Organic Farming Shows Limited Benefit to Wildlife, Researchers in UK Find

And then read the very enlightening research;
Quote:
Comparing farm by farm, the researchers found a 55 per cent drop in yield [ on organic farms ] compared to a 12.4 per cent increase in biodiversity. However, comparisons between larger areas found that 'hotspots' with a greater density of organic farming showed a 9.1 per cent increase in biodiversity across the board.

and
Quote:
The research also threw up some unforeseen negative impacts. Conventional farms in 'hotspots' tended to use higher levels of herbicides than those in 'coldspots' to counteract the seeds coming across from their more weed-tolerant neighbours. And numbers of small farmland birds were actually lower on organic farms, as these tend to attract birds such as magpies and jays, which prey on smaller birds.

and
Quote:
"However, given the lower yield and the limited biodiversity benefit of organic farming, it isn't sustainable to promote it as the best or only method of agriculture. To meet future demands of food production, we will need to keep farming our most productive areas in the most intensive way we can -- and potentially offset that by managing some of our remaining land exclusively as wildlife reserves."


But as I posted above, if that is how somebody wants to live then that is their right and if they get personal satisfaction from living this way then the best of luck to them.
Just don't try to ram your choice of lifestyle down other's throats or display the utter self righteousness that so many of this ilk seem to do.

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#862124 - 06/05/2010 20:50 Re: Organic Foods [Re: ROM]
KevD Offline
Occasional Visitor

Registered: 23/09/2001
Posts: 5079
Loc: Bellingen NSW 2454
Originally Posted By: ROM

Just don't try to ram your choice of lifestyle down other's throats or display the utter self righteousness that so many of this ilk seem to do.

Happy to read your posts but them see the usual poor-me abuse thrown out @ the end...If you want to lose credibility (with me at least) then you sure choose a good way to go about it. FWIW I reckon this discussion has been useful with great input on both sides - just dissapointing with you trying to pick fights when there is no need for one...

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