i'd accept soil stability in many places that
still have topsoil.
the differences in productivity between topsoil
and subsoil is significant. when any farm runs
out of topsoil the required inputs for reaching
the same level of outputs as before is quite
large (especially when using high yield grains)
sometimes by several factors or even a magnitude
in the future those costs will be much higher
as cheap oil turns into more scarce oil.
if the subsidies already in place for
the conventional system are made available
to the organic system it would be a fair
the conventional system has all the
advantages in many areas because the
infrastructure is already in place to
support it along with the marketing and
lobbying of politicians to ensure it
continues. the conventional system is
also getting a free pass on pollution and
abuse of fresh water resources and
destruction of topsoil turning land into
desert or salt pans.
to do an accurate comparison we need to
list all the costs of each. the conventional
system may be more efficient, but it may also
be more efficient at destruction or pollution
or wasting fresh water.
yes more labor, but last i knew unemployment
is a concern.
i think much of the scaling problem is over-
hyped. if you take most of the greens and
fresh veggies production and do what the Cubans
have done then you've concentrated the perishables
nearer to the population centers. transportation
and infrastructure costs stay reasonable. for
the farms further away they shift to a crop
rotation system which gives them transportable
plantstuffs or animals, but i think it is much
better to process the animals on the land where
they are raised to keep the nutrients there as
much as possible (and transportation from the
population centers should be bringing organic
materials out when they are picking up stuff to
bring in). this reduces fuel costs as then only
the actual edible parts are shipped. you get
an increase in fuel costs hauling organic
materials from the cities, but there is some
cost in that already because the stuff currently
ends up in a landfill or at a recycling center.
eventually energy costs and an accurate
assessment of the pollution costs will show
that organic systems are viable. large scale
organic farms exist now.
if food becomes scarce you can be sure that
there will be a wider push to encourage more
people to grow food in small plots and to
reclaim unused spaces or to restore degraded
areas. already i see a lot more gardens than
i don't know what your local horticultural
trial is about. how large is it?
the claims of the Rodale study is that the labor
and fuel increases of the organic approach are more
than compensated by the reduced input costs and the
higher prices for the organic outputs. i think the
cost of fuels can be worked on in various ways that
aren't considered useful now, but will become more
important when the price of oil goes up.
i think with an accurate accounting of the damage
from conventional system the organic system comes
out even further ahead. my own small scale
practice has shown me enough details and i'm not
even pressing production very hard or getting very
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