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My point... conventional gardening, and conventional farming for that matter, is based on known systems that are failing the consumer and even the producers. Why are those failing systems continued to be used? Why is the nation worried about climate change and not willing to change old habits of food production for a sustainable system?

Our ignorance about life is at present profound.

Source: author Eve Balfour 1953 article "9600 miles across the USA in a station wagon."

It is my understanding that there have been studies proving nutrient depletion in the soil of conventional farming. These studies (Haughley Farms in the mid to late 1930's) at which time states more people should be made aware of the facts that organic farming methods are far more sustainable than conventional. Such as in the area of chemical fertilizer and the nutrient lose over a 10 year period as well as microbial soil depletion which basically means lifeless soil. This is then a comparative of conventional versus organic. We move onto a system of growing food by Mollison the Father of permaculture. Dave Jacke and Eric Toensmeier have a wonderful in-depth set of books "Edible Forest Garden". I applaud these men and women for their contribution towards the education of our ignorance. But it is a daunting task to maneuver conventional farming to organic let alone into the permaculture system. Yet this move is highly needed and seems somewhat sequestered from public use with exception to a few community groups and a farm here and there in the tropics. The main thought of many people is that I don't need to worry about food when I can buy it at the grocery store. Currently I grow food without any chemicals and have been doing so for over 10 years. I have been adding more perennial plants as funds allow and always looking for free mulch. Plus other ideas. I understand that new world opportunities are often only traveled by those most adventurous and willing to take risk. But if some of these reports have been around 50 60 and 70 years what are we waiting for?

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    Welcome to Sustainable Living @JimBo. This is an international site - which nation do you refer to? – andy256 Jun 1 '15 at 6:21
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    You can improve the question by adding a few key points where you think conventional farming techniques fail the consumers and producers. – mart Jun 1 '15 at 7:51
  • Residing in the USA in temperate zone7b of Appalachian mountains. Conventional farming condones dead soil and less healthy consumers. The widespread use of chemicals cannot promote soil bio-diversity. Conventional wisdom if you dare, creates massive acres of nutrient deficient soil which kills off mycelium resulting in less nutrition for plant uptake resulting in unhealthy products and poorer health for the consumer not to mention the ecological aspects and impact on climate even within the farm. – JimBo May 27 '18 at 2:53
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Why do existing systems continue? There are several reasons.

There are many ways that the current system does work. Perhaps not in the long-term sustainable sense, but in the sense of feeding billions of people every day. That's not a small feat.

The existing system has an entire global supply chain built around it. A different system would need a different supply chain. Changing a supply chain takes time, concerted effort, and for regulation and markets to work together to make the change happen.

Intensive mono-cropping has some very specific useful properties. It is highly scalable. As farm-size increases, and thus the number of people fed increases, labour inputs increase much more slowly: two people can farm one hectare or one hundred hectares, thanks to the intensive mechanisation that mono-cropping facilitates. And it's very easy to change the crop grown from one growing cycle to the next.

Things will continue as they are until there are real economic and regulatory pressures to change.

  • The supply chain being global is of great concern as far as who we are dependant on and the environmental impact of obtaining the supply. This is where the "buy local" comes into play. One would hope to support a local supply chain who contributed most to produce food with a positive impact on environment along side with healthy beneifts for the muiltitudes. Mono culture proves a dependance on chemicals whose impact is more negative than positive. youtube.com/watch?v=LeTZ2r8uW6M Lawmakers and appointed officails are problimatic. – JimBo Jun 3 '15 at 4:55
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It is my understanding that there have been studies proving nutrient depletion in the soil of conventional farming. These studies (Haughley Farms in the mid to late 1930's) at which time states more people should be made aware of the facts that organic farming methods are far more sustainable than conventional. Such as in the area of chemical fertilizer and the nutrient lose over a 10 year period as well as microbial soil depletion which basically means lifeless soil. This is then a comparative of conventional versus organic.

This is not entirely true. While I do not doubt these studies from the 30ties, modern conventional farming takes several factors into account. Among them are longterm nutrient depletion (N, P, K, S and micronutrients) as well as the soil carbon content (indicative of the soil ecosystem and the ability of the soil to store nutrients) and acidicity/alkalinity. Farmers take measurements and adjust their practices to ensure productivity of their fields. The most important tools to these ends are crop rotations, mostly by planting cold tolerant species in the winter. This is used alongside manure based fertilizers, chemical fertilizers and soil amanedments like agricultural lime. My source for this is agricultural trade press and conversations with farmers, all of this centered on Germany which may not be representative for everywhere else, environmental regulations are often tighter here than in elsewhere. As a rule, farmers (or cooperations) owning land have an interest in maintaining its productivity and our understanding of this only grew over the last decades. Don't understand this wrong: there are certainly farmers and cooperations that practice a very intensive, soil depleting agriculture, because they think it makes sense for them.

This is not to say that conventional agriculture is without problems, or even that the problems you describe don't exist: Fertilizer is often over-applied, leading to groundwater infiltration, larger fields suffer from erosion by wind, monocultures demand more pesticides, among other issues. Globally, soil loss that can be attributed to (among other things) bad farming practices is a problem.

So the decision between permaculture and "soilponics" is not entirely black and white, conventional agriculture has adopted some ideas because of regulatory pressure or because they make sense from an economic point of view.

  • I appauled todays farmers for which many of my meals come from. Why not use no till methods,cover cropping and crop rotation to make those adjustments? One of the farmers in the video youtube.com/watch?v=LeTZ2r8uW6M states that being a conventional farmer he knows what he is doing is wrong ,but thats the way the system works. I see his concerns & hope he represents unheard farmers of like mind. This points the finger to regulation then. That is a voting topic. I'm glad to hear more use of manure based fertilizer. Pesticides have no selective pest and kill beneificails, too. – JimBo Jun 3 '15 at 5:15

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