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Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Success Stories for Kikoricco

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  • Tradingpost
    Have to throw in these references about farm size and efficiency. paul tradingpost@lobo.net ... While the “bigger is better” myth is generally accepted, it
    Message 1 of 27 , Feb 2, 2007
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      Have to throw in these references about farm size and efficiency.

      paul tradingpost@...
      -----------------

      While the “bigger is better” myth is generally accepted, it is a
      fallacy. Numerous reports have found that smaller farms are actually more
      efficient than larger “industrial” farms. These studies demonstrate
      that when farms get larger, the costs of production per unit often
      increase, because larger acreage requires more expensive machinery and more
      chemicals to protect crops.
      from http://www.keepmainefree.org/myth3.html

      THE MYTH:
      Industrial agriculture is efficient.
      THE TRUTH:
      Small farms produce more agricultural output per unit area than large
      farms. Moreover, larger, less diverse farms require far more mechanical and
      chemical inputs. These ever increasing inputs are devastating to the
      environment and make these farms far less efficient than smaller, more
      sustainable farms.

      Proponents of industrial agriculture claim that “bigger is better” when
      it comes to food production. They argue that the larger the farm, the more
      efficient it is. They admit that these huge corporate farms mean the loss
      of family farms and rural communities, but they maintain that this is
      simply the inevitable cost of efficient food production. And agribusiness
      advocates don’t just promote big farms; they also push big technology.
      They typically ridicule small-scale farm technology as grossly inefficient
      while heralding intensive use of chemicals, massive machinery,
      computerization and genetic engineering - whose affordability and
      implementation are only feasible on large farms. The marriage of huge farms
      with “mega-technology” is sold to the public as the basic requirement
      for efficient food production. Argue against size and technology - the two
      staples of modern agriculture - and, they insist, you're undermining
      production efficiency and endangering the world's food supply.

      While the “bigger is better” myth is generally accepted, it is a
      fallacy. Numerous reports have found that smaller farms are actually more
      efficient than larger “industrial” farms. These studies demonstrate
      that when farms get larger, the costs of production per unit often
      increase, because larger acreage requires more expensive machinery and more
      chemicals to protect crops. In particular, a 1989 study by the U.S.
      National Research Council assessed the efficiency of large industrial food
      production systems compared with alternative methods. The conclusion was
      exactly contrary to the “bigger is better” myth: “Well-managed
      alternative farming systems nearly always use less synthetic chemical
      pesticides, fertilizers, and antibiotics per unit of production than
      conventional farms. Reduced use of these inputs lowers production costs and
      lessens agriculture’s potential for adverse environmental and health
      effects without decreasing - and in some cases increasing - per acre crop
      yields and the productivity of livestock management systems.”

      Output Versus Yield

      Agribusiness and economists alike tend to use “yield” measurements when
      calculating the productivity of farms. Yield can be defined as the
      production per unit of a single crop. For example, a corn farm will be
      judged by how many metric tons of corn are produced per acre. More often
      than not, the highest yield of a single crop like corn can be best achieved
      by planting it alone on an industrial scale in the fields of corporate
      farms. These large “monocultures” have become endemic to modern
      agriculture for the simple reason that they are the easiest to manage with
      heavy machinery and intensive chemical use. It is the single-crop yields of
      these farms that are used as the basis for the “bigger is better” myth,
      and it is true that the highest yield of a single crop is often achieved
      through industrial monocultures.

      Smaller farms rarely can compete with this “monoculture” single-crop
      yield. They tend to plant crop mixtures, a method known as
      “intercropping.” Additionally, where single-crop monocultures have
      empty “weed” spaces, small farms use these spaces for crop planting.
      They are also more likely to rotate or combine crops and livestock, with
      the resulting manure performing the important function of replenishing soil
      fertility. These small-scale integrated farms produce far more per unit
      area than large farms. Though the yield per unit area of one crop - corn,
      for example - may be lower, the total output per unit area for small farms,
      often composed of more than a dozen crops and numerous animal products, is
      virtually always higher than that of larger farms.

      Clearly, if we are to compare accurately the productivity of small and
      large farms, we should use total agricultural output, balanced against
      total farm inputs and “externalities,” rather than single-crop yield as
      our measurement principle. Total output is defined as the sum of everything
      a small farmer produces - various grains, fruits, vegetables, fodder, and
      animal products - and is the real benchmark of efficiency in farming.
      Moreover, productivity measurements should also take into account total
      input costs, including large-machinery and chemical use, which often are
      left out of the equation in the yield efficiency claims.

      Once the flawed yield measurement system is discarded, the “bigger is
      better” myth is shattered. As summarized by the food policy expert Peter
      Rosset, “Surveying the data, we indeed find that small farms almost
      always produce far more agricultural output per unit area than larger
      farms. This is now widely recognized by agricultural economists across the
      political spectrum, as the inverse relationship between farm size and
      output.” He notes that even the World Bank now advocates redistributing
      land to small farmers in the third world as a step toward increasing
      overall agricultural productivity.

      Government studies underscore this “inverse relationship.” According to
      a 1992 U.S. Agricultural Census report, relatively smaller farm sizes are 2
      to 10 times more productive per unit acre than larger ones. The smallest
      farms surveyed in the study, those of 27 acres or less, are more than ten
      times as productive (in dollar output per acre) than large farms (6,000
      acres or more), and extremely small farms (4 acres or less) can be over a
      hundred times as productive.
      ------------------

      Small-scale farming is as old as agriculture itself. One study of 15
      countries, primarily in Asia and Africa, found that per-acre output on
      small farms can be as much as four to five times higher than on large ones.
      Russia, over the years, has often produced 30% to 50% of its food on
      household plots representing as little as 3% to 5% of all Russian farmland.
      The productivity of small-scale farms is also being widely recognized by
      agricultural economists who call it the “inverse relationship between
      farm size and productivity.”
      http://www.growbiointensive.org/grow_need.html
      ---------------------

      "However, by managing more “intensively” the new farmers are able to
      net far more profit from each dollar of sales. They reduce their costs of
      purchased inputs through diversification, increase the value of their
      products through niche markets, focus on the things that they do best, and
      work together to do the things that they can’t do as well alone. As a
      result, their net return per dollar of sales may be 40 to 50 percent rather
      than the 15 to 20 percent for a conventional farm. Thus, the net returns
      on a farm with $100,000 in annual sales may be $40,000 to $50,000 and even
      a farm with $50,000 in annual sales may net $20,000 to $25,000 to support
      the small farm family. The bottom line is that 10 acres, intensively
      managed to produce high valued products, may generate more profits than
      1,000 acres used to produce bulk agricultural commodities - corn, cattle,
      wheat, cotton, etc. Many small farms make some fairly big profits."
      Farming for Profit and Quality of Life, John Ikerd
      http://www.ssu.missouri.edu/faculty/jikerd/papers/SFTkeynote.html
      --------------
      "“Get big or get out” is a refrain with which American farmers are all
      too familiar. Small farms are seen as being too small to survive, and
      thus, unworthy of serious consideration. For example, government programs,
      including publicly funded research and education, tend to focus on large,
      commercial agricultural operations as the future of American agriculture.
      In fact, the opposite is true. Most large, commercial farming today are
      too big to survive. Small farms are the future of farming in America. "
      Many Farms Are Too Big To Survive, John Ikerd
      http://www.ssu.missouri.edu/faculty/jikerd/papers/SFT-Too%20Big.htm
      -----------



      *********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********

      On 2/2/2007 at 8:10 AM Tradingpost wrote:

      >Couldn't agree more about the nutritional density factor. However I do
      >believe the 80% figure allows the industrial farming sector to frame the
      >debate, and it's highly misleading. Studies have shown diversified small
      >farms to be far more productive overall than industrial farms when total
      >output is taken into account instead of a single cash crop mechanically
      >farmed with chemicals.
      >
      >
      >paul tradingpost@...
      >
      >Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
      >--Henry David Thoreau
      >*********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********
      >
      >On 2/2/2007 at 9:18 AM Bart wrote:
      >

      >>So forget about producing only 80% compared with chemical neighbours,
      >>if you compare input-output-efficiency and nutritional "density", the
      >>neighbour looses spectacularly... It's even worse than that: some (or
      >>all) of chemically produced foods are even non-foods in reality,
      >>industrially grown cabbages for instance have been reported to cause
      >>infant death (intoxication by nitrates). Who cares for the chemical
      >>neighbours' nitrate bomb disguised as cabbage anyway?
      >>
      >>Bart
    • Jamie Nicol
      Dear All, in an attempt to broaden the discussion of success and to avoid falling into esoteric chatter, I thought some words of Fukuoka would be
      Message 2 of 27 , Feb 2, 2007
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        Dear All, in an attempt to broaden the discussion of 'success' and to avoid falling into 'esoteric' chatter, I thought some words of Fukuoka would be pragmatic:

        " To achieve a humanity and a society founded on non-action, man must look back over everything he has done and rid himself one by one of the false visions and concepts that permeate him and his society. This is what the 'do-nothing' movement is all about. Natural Farming can be seen as one branch of this movement. Human knowledge and effort expand and grow increasingly complex and wasteful without limit. We need to halt this expansion, to converge, simplify, and reduce our knowledge and effort. This is in keeping with the laws of nature. Natural Farming is more than just a revolution in agricultural techniques. It is the practical foundation of a spiritual movement, of a revolution to change the way we live."

        Obviously, the tenor of these words seems to suggest that NF and 'success' might not be to do with yield, qualitative or quantitative.

        Jamie
        Souscayrous

        ----- Original Message -----
        From: Tradingpost
        To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
        Sent: Friday, February 02, 2007 4:10 PM
        Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Success Stories for Kikoricco



        Couldn't agree more about the nutritional density factor. However I do
        believe the 80% figure allows the industrial farming sector to frame the
        debate, and it's highly misleading. Studies have shown diversified small
        farms to be far more productive overall than industrial farms when total
        output is taken into account instead of a single cash crop mechanically
        farmed with chemicals.

        paul tradingpost@...

        Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
        --Henry David Thoreau
        *********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********

        On 2/2/2007 at 9:18 AM Bart wrote:

        >Maybe we should consider yields rather in terms of minerals, vitamins
        >and general nutritional value per suare meter, instead of volume and
        >weight. It appears that organic vegetables have up to 100% more
        >mineral content (preliminary studies cited in Paul Pitchford's
        >"Healing with whole foods"). So in terms of mineral/vitamin/etc.
        >yield, what at first sight (volume and weight) appears to be a lesser
        >yield, may in fact be a far superior one.
        >
        >Volume and weight are really irrelevant; the ability of produce to
        >sustain healthy life is the real issue. Looking at it that way,
        >natural or veganic farming has a far superior yield compared to
        >chemical farming.
        >Also comparing input of energy and "products" (chemical or not) with
        >output, natural and organic farming have a much higher relative yield,
        >they are much more efficient.
        >
        >I myself experienced very clearly that I needed to eat much less
        >volume and weight once I began to eat only organic food. It has a much
        >higher nutritional "density", so to speak.
        >
        >So forget about producing only 80% compared with chemical neighbours,
        >if you compare input-output-efficiency and nutritional "density", the
        >neighbour looses spectacularly... It's even worse than that: some (or
        >all) of chemically produced foods are even non-foods in reality,
        >industrially grown cabbages for instance have been reported to cause
        >infant death (intoxication by nitrates). Who cares for the chemical
        >neighbours' nitrate bomb disguised as cabbage anyway?
        >
        >Bart





        [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
      • Tradingpost
        High yield and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. To agree that you have to sacrifice one for the other gives up the field to the how will we feed the
        Message 3 of 27 , Feb 2, 2007
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          High yield and sustainability are not mutually exclusive. To agree that you
          have to sacrifice one for the other gives up the field to the "how will we
          feed the world" agribusiness spin. Serious researchers and growers have
          shown higher outputs from small areas grown organically. We know healthy
          plants producing well from healthy soil are higher brix and taste better.
          And I'm not talking about some weird hybrids either.

          paul tradingpost@...

          Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.
          --Henry David Thoreau

          *********** REPLY SEPARATOR ***********

          On 2/2/2007 at 4:52 PM Jamie Nicol wrote:

          >Dear All, in an attempt to broaden the discussion of 'success' and to
          >avoid falling into 'esoteric' chatter, I thought some words of Fukuoka
          >would be pragmatic:
          >
          > " To achieve a humanity and a society founded on non-action, man must
          >look back over everything he has done and rid himself one by one of the
          >false visions and concepts that permeate him and his society. This is what
          >the 'do-nothing' movement is all about. Natural Farming can be seen as one
          >branch of this movement. Human knowledge and effort expand and grow
          >increasingly complex and wasteful without limit. We need to halt this
          >expansion, to converge, simplify, and reduce our knowledge and effort.
          >This is in keeping with the laws of nature. Natural Farming is more than
          >just a revolution in agricultural techniques. It is the practical
          >foundation of a spiritual movement, of a revolution to change the way we
          >live."
          >
          >Obviously, the tenor of these words seems to suggest that NF and 'success'
          >might not be to do with yield, qualitative or quantitative.
          >
          >Jamie
          >Souscayrous
          >
          > ----- Original Message -----
          > From: Tradingpost
          > To: fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com
          > Sent: Friday, February 02, 2007 4:10 PM
          > Subject: Re: [fukuoka_farming] Re: Success Stories for Kikoricco
          >
          >
          >
          > Couldn't agree more about the nutritional density factor. However I do
          > believe the 80% figure allows the industrial farming sector to frame the
          > debate, and it's highly misleading. Studies have shown diversified small
          > farms to be far more productive overall than industrial farms when total
          > output is taken into account instead of a single cash crop mechanically
          > farmed with chemicals.
          >
          > paul tradingpost@...
          >
        • Bart
          I agree wholeheartedly that this is the real issue of natural farming, and that in natural farming yield is not a goal - in a sense, there is no goal. Thank
          Message 4 of 27 , Feb 4, 2007
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            I agree wholeheartedly that this is the real issue of natural farming,
            and that in natural farming yield is not a goal - in a sense, there is
            no goal. Thank you for pointing this out.

            However, let's be careful not to get trapped in Nothingness (which is
            one of the diseases of zen). If my industrial farmer neighbour comes
            to me and tells me, "hey, did you see the sun came up in the west this
            morning", I will tell him that this is not true, i.e. that this is not
            the right way to use these words. I know there is really neither east
            nor west, that these are concepts or illusions, and that the sun
            (another concept) doesn't care, and so on. However, if you open your
            mouth and use words, you should use them correctly.
            In the same way, if he comes to me and tells me "you and your natural
            farming, your yield is pitifull", I think it is important not to let
            ourselves be trapped in his incorrect (selective) use of the term
            "yield", only referring to weight/volume and making abstraction of
            many other important factors.
            Or we can just smile to him of course, but I for one know that if my
            smile doesn't come profoundly from the heart, I better argue :)

            This "industrial high yield"-lie is a stick behind the door with which
            organic producers/consumers/sellers are often beaten on the head -
            with their own full cooperation, choosing to go along with the narrow
            weight/volume-perspective and not finding an adequate response.

            But again, I do think it is very iportant to remember, time after
            time, that he real issue in natural farming is doing nothing.

            Bart

            --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, "Jamie Nicol" <jamienicol@...>
            wrote:
            >
            > Dear All, in an attempt to broaden the discussion of 'success' and
            to avoid falling into 'esoteric' chatter, I thought some words of
            Fukuoka would be pragmatic:
            >
            > " To achieve a humanity and a society founded on non-action, man
            must look back over everything he has done and rid himself one by one
            of the false visions and concepts that permeate him and his society.
            This is what the 'do-nothing' movement is all about. Natural Farming
            can be seen as one branch of this movement. Human knowledge and effort
            expand and grow increasingly complex and wasteful without limit. We
            need to halt this expansion, to converge, simplify, and reduce our
            knowledge and effort. This is in keeping with the laws of nature.
            Natural Farming is more than just a revolution in agricultural
            techniques. It is the practical foundation of a spiritual movement, of
            a revolution to change the way we live."
            >
            > Obviously, the tenor of these words seems to suggest that NF and
            'success' might not be to do with yield, qualitative or quantitative.
            >
            > Jamie
            > Souscayrous
            >
          • Andrew E Fister
            The only time an argument exists between natural farming and conventional farming is when I am having it in my mind. If I am arguing (making one view good and
            Message 5 of 27 , Feb 4, 2007
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              The only time an argument exists between natural farming and conventional
              farming is when I am having it in my mind. If I am arguing (making one
              view good and another view wrong) that's when I get trapped in the
              illusion of concepts. If I make a distinction between "nothingness" and
              "somethingness" as if they are states of mind I could be trapped in, I am
              also trapped. Once I start having this petty argument with my neighbor, I
              am indeed trapped. Unless of course I also know the trap is an illusion,
              in which case I can play and be in love with my conventional farming
              neighbor.

              If natural farming is about how "to do" and how "not to do" then I am not
              doing it and not - not doing it.

              Andrew Fister
              Wandafar Sanctuary
              Glasgow, KY

              b 2007 08:53:16 -0000 "Bart" <bartovan@...> writes:
              I agree wholeheartedly that this is the real issue of natural farming,
              and that in natural farming yield is not a goal - in a sense, there is
              no goal. Thank you for pointing this out.

              However, let's be careful not to get trapped in Nothingness (which is
              one of the diseases of zen). If my industrial farmer neighbour comes
              to me and tells me, "hey, did you see the sun came up in the west this
              morning", I will tell him that this is not true, i.e. that this is not
              the right way to use these words. I know there is really neither east
              nor west, that these are concepts or illusions, and that the sun
              (another concept) doesn't care, and so on. However, if you open your
              mouth and use words, you should use them correctly.
              In the same way, if he comes to me and tells me "you and your natural
              farming, your yield is pitifull", I think it is important not to let
              ourselves be trapped in his incorrect (selective) use of the term
              "yield", only referring to weight/volume and making abstraction of
              many other important factors.
              Or we can just smile to him of course, but I for one know that if my
              smile doesn't come profoundly from the heart, I better argue :)

              This "industrial high yield"-lie is a stick behind the door with which
              organic producers/consumers/sellers are often beaten on the head -
              with their own full cooperation, choosing to go along with the narrow
              weight/volume-perspective and not finding an adequate response.

              But again, I do think it is very iportant to remember, time after
              time, that he real issue in natural farming is doing nothing.

              Bart

              --- In fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com, "Jamie Nicol" <jamienicol@...>
              wrote:
              >
              > Dear All, in an attempt to broaden the discussion of 'success' and
              to avoid falling into 'esoteric' chatter, I thought some words of
              Fukuoka would be pragmatic:
              >
              > " To achieve a humanity and a society founded on non-action, man
              must look back over everything he has done and rid himself one by one
              of the false visions and concepts that permeate him and his society.
              This is what the 'do-nothing' movement is all about. Natural Farming
              can be seen as one branch of this movement. Human knowledge and effort
              expand and grow increasingly complex and wasteful without limit. We
              need to halt this expansion, to converge, simplify, and reduce our
              knowledge and effort. This is in keeping with the laws of nature.
              Natural Farming is more than just a revolution in agricultural
              techniques. It is the practical foundation of a spiritual movement, of
              a revolution to change the way we live."
              >
              > Obviously, the tenor of these words seems to suggest that NF and
              'success' might not be to do with yield, qualitative or quantitative.
              >
              > Jamie
              > Souscayrous
              >




              [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
            • rajuktitus
              Dear Charie, This is working for me i opened this page send by you write mail to group fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com. Thanks Raju
              Message 6 of 27 , Dec 17, 2008
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                Dear Charie,
                This is working for me i opened this page send by you write mail to
                group
                fukuoka_farming@yahoogroups.com.
                Thanks
                Raju
              • grannis04
                Greetings from Maine. I am a new member to this site having arrived here from the fukuoka web site. I have been experimenting with natural farming/ gardening
                Message 7 of 27 , Jan 13, 2009
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                  Greetings from Maine. I am a new member to this site having arrived
                  here from the fukuoka web site. I have been experimenting with natural
                  farming/ gardening for about three years. I have been an organic
                  gardener for forty years and now I am starting over and I'm completely
                  amazed! why did I not see this before. It is the Mahayana aspect of
                  natural farming that rings true to me. Last season we grew a corn crop
                  "Abenaki", a flint type from native american origin, of course. With
                  the high fuel prices last spring I said to myself, "grow a high input
                  crop such as corn and do it without fossil fuel input". I planted in
                  an orchard that was mixed grasses, clover, etc. I close cut with a
                  hand sythe and then covered rows with mulch in preparation for
                  planting. After two weeks I pulled back the mulch and pressed corn
                  seed ( saved from previous years crop) on to the soil. I covered the
                  seed with a light cover,Half inch, of finished compost. after
                  germination I applied cut grasses from the paths to the plants.
                  Thinned to one foot spacing then I top dressed lightly with chicken
                  litter and grass cuttings, this was done about three times during the
                  growing season. Every time I looked at my corn I would say," You guys
                  are A-Maize-ing!". The end of the story is that we are eating our own
                  cornbread made from the corn. The corn produced approx. 25 lbs. from
                  approx. 150' of row space. My next project is to see if I can produce
                  enough corn to supply my family and my chickens.
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