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attrayant

The End Of Organic Farming Might Be Sooner Than We Thought

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I believe a reality check is emerging here. Ultimately everyone has to eat, even lobbyists that have never lifted a shovel. I have no influence (or much interest) in feeding the world issues and even less in trying to sort out the black or white "real truths" of farming practice. There simply is no "right thing to do" that can be universally applied.

We live in a profit driven, consumer society where the consumer pays and we are all consumers. What we consume is based on our ability to pay. The only way to increase a market is to make the product more affordable to more people, that is, cut costs. So the question becomes, how does a farmer do that within a shrinking and aging labour pool and current input costs? Make that more challenging given the theme of this thread, how does he do it "organically" on a small holding?

The small existing organic market discussed here is the current answer, the low hanging fruit, markets where price is not an issue. I've done that and it was sustainable even growing, until Bangkok floods again or bankers ruin the financial world selling bad debts again.

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A thought comes to mind. Years ago in Switzerland it was decided to put a limit on the level of 'Nitrites' (not Nitrates) in vegetables as this was thought to be possibly cancerogene. I repeatedly pointed out that the region where the highest proportion of vegetables was eaten (Cabbage land as we called it) was also the healthiest in Switzerland judged by longevity, doctor and dentist visits. I was shouted down. A few years ago the limit was quietly removed and nobody said a word.Or died come to that.

A lot of unserious and unscientific nonsense is propagated by the greenies of this world who, as Isaan Aussie states, have never weeded a field by hand for days on end.

The question of biodiversity and pollution is being slowly resolved but I don't see this as part of the organic veg question.

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Your studying agriculture,how are they advising you with regards to organic,normal and hydroponics.Good points,bad points,yields v input costs etc.

Okay, I will try to give you some of my impressions on organic farming from my studies. As my course "Tropical Agriculture"

is a very broad topic I don't know so much in detail.

Most professors agree to reduce agricultural chemicals to reduce costs and produce safe food, especially for export.

Anyway some professors from Agronomy (sugar cane, rice, etc.) still do some kind of "old style" teaching with very nasty chemicals

recommendations and the opinion that it is not harmful to the farmer and consumer. But they say you can't do big size farming without chemicals.

I personnally doubt this...

For fertilizer, I can say I have a very good professor in Soil Science, he always recommends a soil test for the properties

and nutrients of the soil. He also is an advocate for "the right crop in the right place". Not everything should be grown

anywhere and anytime with the help of chemicals and fertilizer and after a few seasons the soil is depleted.

He recommends a split 70/30 of synthetic/organic fertilizer and sees the latter more as soil conditioner/impover as carrier of nutrients.

He always talks about the importance of organic matter and proper cultivation (tilling, ploughing) of soil.

I think in this point Thailand needs to improve a lot.

For organic pest control, most professors don't believe in organic ways but there is a rumour that they are paid for research

by agri-chemical companies...

For hydroponics, a good way for producing leafy vegetables or in not arable soil regions. One must be aware of a possible

contamination from heavy metals in the fertilizer. So in doubt don't choose the cheapest stuff.

Also some believe the taste from hydroponic herbs is less intense than soil grown. Maybe...

And they can contain a higher level of nitrate. That is true for some point.

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"Personally I believe that ethical farming is a more appropriate term for today." Issan Aussie is so right; It's the terms that are used that can be misunderstood

I like the term "Bio-rational" that is being used more and more.

The terms chemical and pesticide are dirty words and reacted to negatively by many, but everything in our physical universe has a chemical basis, so what chemicals are you talking about? should be better qualified.

BIO-RATIONAL / REDUCED-RISK PEST CONTROL OPTIONS

PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE

The most important aspect of plant health care is to improve and maintain growing conditions with intelligent landscape and farm design, compatible plantings, soil and water management, regular inspections, anticipating potential plant problems and utilizing early intervention with bio-rational methods and materials when needed. With intelligent plant management, resistance to pest infestations and disease infections can be enhanced, therefore reducing need for pesticides.

SOME PESTICIDE CATEGORIES

  • Synthetic pesticides are manufactured in a laboratory and marketed by a chemical company. Synthetic pesticides are generally grouped into similar chemical classes such as organochlorines, organophosphates, pyrethroids, or carbamates.
  • Natural pesticides like rotenone, pyrethrum, nicotine, and neem extracts are products of living organisms. Often they are chemicals that plants use to protect themselves from parasites and pathogens.
  • Inorganic pesticides like borates, silicates and sulfur, are minerals that are mined from the earth and ground into a fine powder. Some work as poisons and some work by physically interfering with the pest's metabolism, reproduction, and/or feeding.
  • Bio-rational pesticides are those synthetic, organic, or inorganic pesticides that are both low toxicity and exhibit a very low impact on the environment. They also have minimal impact on species for which they are not intended (called non-target species). Bio-rational pesticides include oils, insecticidal soaps, microbials (such as Bacillus thurengienesis and entomopathogenic nematodes), and botanical (plant-based).

Reduced Risk Pesticides, as defined by the US EPA, are those commercially available products that are "viable alternatives to riskier conventional pesticides such as neurotoxins, carcinogens, reproductive and developmental toxicants, and groundwater contaminants."

According to the US EPA reduced risk pesticides offer:

Low impact on human health

Lower toxicity to non-target organisms (birds, fish, plants)

Low potential for groundwater contamination

Low use rates

Low pest resistance potential

Compatibility with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) practices

METHODS OF APPLICATION

A bio-rational approach to pest and disease management can utilize reduced risk materials, and also methods of application that reduce applicator and environmental exposure.

Hydraulic spraying of the foliar canopy: Reduced risk pesticides can be sprayed onto the foliar canopy of the tree for a contact kill of a pest, or as a repellent, anti-feedant, reproductive disruptor. Some systemic pesticides can be absorbed through the leaves for translocation through the leaf or throughout the plant tissues, so that when a pest sucks the tree sap or chews the leaves , it ingests the pesticide.

Soil drench and Sub-surface soil Injection: Soil applications use water soluble fertilizers or pesticides applied to the soil surface, or injected with hydraulic equipment below the surface. These systemic materials are then absorbed by tree roots and dispersed throughout the tree through its vascular system.

Trunk (Stem) Injection: Trunk injection is a closed system method which involve drilling into the tree trunk and injecting a pesticide or fertilizer directly into the conductive tissue of the tree where it is taken up and translocated throughout the tissues.

Basal Bark Application with PentraBark: This technique uses a specialized water soluble systemic solution, mixed with a bark penetrating surfactant, sprayed on the tree trunk for absorption through the bark, into the tree conductive tissue.

With intelligent plant management and use of bio-rational methods and materials, soil and plant health can be maintained with minimal use of pesticides and exposure to harmful substances.

"For organic pest control, most professors don't believe in organic ways but there is a rumour that they are paid for research
by agri-chemical companies..."

Of course, and this is much more than a rumor, it is well known that research money, or lack of it, influences what gets studied and what doesn't, and sometimes affects the results. This is a huge factor and this issue permeates so-called "science".

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Dr Treelove's post shows that there are alternatives to the toxic overdosing methods and materials used for so long. The Ag Chem companies will have to move towards offering LESS RISKY options in the near future, it's either that or oblivion for them if current awareness grows.

But there will remain the need to make corporate profits and I wonder if the net result will offer any benefit to the smallholding farmer. Hopefully consumer health will benefit and with it society healthcare costs will be reduced. But I doubt the structure of modern agriculture and its supply chain will change much. I suppose the best we can hope for is the gap between conventional agriculture and natural farming produce will close and with it the ridiculous burden of proof and associated certification cost will be lifted from the organic farmer.

Ultimately "independent" testing of marketable produce under a common set of rules would level the playing field. Can't see that being allowed to happen though.

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Dr Treelove's post shows that there are alternatives to the toxic overdosing methods and materials used for so long. The Ag Chem companies will have to move towards offering LESS RISKY options in the near future, it's either that or oblivion for them if current awareness grows.

But there will remain the need to make corporate profits and I wonder if the net result will offer any benefit to the smallholding farmer. Hopefully consumer health will benefit and with it society healthcare costs will be reduced. But I doubt the structure of modern agriculture and its supply chain will change much. I suppose the best we can hope for is the gap between conventional agriculture and natural farming produce will close and with it the ridiculous burden of proof and associated certification cost will be lifted from the organic farmer.

Ultimately "independent" testing of marketable produce under a common set of rules would level the playing field. Can't see that being allowed to happen though.

IT IS HAPPENING! And that's what is exciting these days, in the US at least - I know first hand, and I think around the world. . Major ag chemical companies are following the trend and public demand for organic program compatible products, a demand that is huge and cannot be overlooked any more. Organic growing methods are mainstream and not going away, but ever increasing. University IPM programs are growing, and promoting Intelligent Plant Management, considering growing conditions, soil and water management, rather than the old reactionary methods of "got a bug, choose a chemical to kill it". That's why I said the title of this thread is a ridiculous notion. The opposite is happening, through public awareness, laws and regulations that protect the environment and sustainability.

For example, I am currently living and working in Santa Cruz County California where the strawberry industry is huge. In 2006 I attended an organic strawberry production seminar put on by the University of California Cooperative Extension, a UC and County Agricultural Dept collaboration. A lot of the movement toward organic strawberry production is due to new regulations against the use of methyl bromide soil fumigation to control phytophthora root rot. You know Phytophthora as a genus of fungus-like organisms called water molds, common plant pathogens (Irish potato famine of 1840s, avocado root rot, citrus crown rot, sudden oak death). In the organic seminar, methods of crop rotation were discussed that use broccoli and incorporating crop residues from the broccoli crop into the soil, which naturally suppresses phytophthora, reducing the need for harsh chemical treatment. And there is much much more, and new R&D (research and development) of products and methods all the time. This week I am meeting with a compost tea producer who now has a blueberry farm in Watsonville, where he is using strictly organic methods and materials. He sells his actively aerated compost tea (similar to what is called EM, effective micro-organisms in Thailand) to other berry growers for fertigation (irrigation system distributed liquid fertility applications), and his business is booming. Because the market and the money is in the organics, and California's strict pesticide laws are making IPM essential.

In the 1970s I was active in an arborist association in California, and when it was my turn to arrange a speaker for a meeting, I brought in a husband and wife team of biological control experts who were pioneering an IPM project at UC Berkeley. After their talk I was villanized by some of the members whose chemical pesticide spraying business was perceived as challenged by the concept of biological control. I was told that me and my hippie friends should not come back, we were no longer welcome! These were PhD entomologists! Hippie friends? As a contrast and sign of the times, I recently gave a presentation to a Pesticide Applicators Professional Association. The subject was Plant Health Care for Trees and transitioning to less toxic alternatives for pest control, to meet the public demand and ever greater pesticide regulations. My talk was well received, no negative reactions that I know of, and I have gained valuable business associates through this presentation. What a difference 40 years has made, and I've lived to see it!

End of organic farming? I don't think so!

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A current crop i have in has had rock phosphate,gypsum and 240ml/rai of gylsophate applied.

Because i've done the right thing and not applied any pesticides is it only fair i can sell this under the semi-organic marketing tool?

This is thailand,how many small holding farmers would have access to a thermometer to test temperatures in a compost pile to make sure

they are not spreading e-coli,salmonella etc and WHO is controling it.

Sometimes i think its all to easy to blame chemical residues for sickness.

So its established organic food is not healthier than conventional,however it is considered more environment friendly.

I may give it a try when it's finally worked out what criteria is actually needed so everyone is on a level

playing field and when all the products associated with growing organic produce are available in local agriculture shops at a competitive price.

And it's going to make the more per rai in my pocket.

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The big problem around here is the continual onslaught of field and orchard pests. Dealing with them organically would be great if the cost was comparable. We do what we have to do to ensure a crop and our income.

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The last two posts refer to competitive costs and the willingness to move towards a more responsible ethos. To me, that is the attitude needed for farmers to look for a better mouse trap. The playing field will never be even, our consumer society won't allow it. What is happening now is a public move away from the blind acceptance of "stated facts'. If we had enough manure to replace the corporate BS being spread then compost could replace chemical fertilisers completely. For example, and from my first hand experience, commercial bacon labelled as wood smoked, isn't. It has never been near a smoker. It is injected with "liquid smoke", chemical flavouring. Meat products labelled as "Manufactured Meat", products held together with "meat glue". <deleted>?

Any thermometer will measure compost temperatures, 20 baht from the local market, bury it in the pile a few times and experience what 70 degrees feels like. You won't need it soon. Take a trip to the local LDD office and buy a few starter kits of their biofertilisers. Another few baht, very competitive and available.

There are answers already, just keep searching and experimenting guys.

In the meantime if gylsophate is the only workable option you have for the weeds, so be it! To hell with the "well read" theorists, life ain't black or white and the world isn't going to end tomorrow.

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Meat products labelled as "Manufactured Meat", products held together with "meat glue". <deleted>?

What's the problem with transglutaminase? Of course when you call it "meat glue" and punctuate your thoughts with an explicative, it naturally evokes a disgust response in the reader. This underscores the ugly side of the organic issue for me. If they could just be honest about the product, I'd feel better. But many people lean towards organic because they're under the impression that the conventional option is somehow unsafe or "icky". "Don't eat that, it has meat glue in it!!" Entire movements are set up to demonize glyphosate simply because it's synthetic, as if that's automatically a bad thing.

TG is a naturally occurring enzyme. We can use enzymes to make cheese and beer, why can't we use them to make useful meat portions out of meat scraps that might otherwise be discarded or relegated to the hotdog factory?

You could just as well call rennet "cheese glue". <deleted>?

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Well done, very happy you see my point. If products and processes were honestly described the consumer and farmer could make informed choices.

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Ah, a labeling advocate. No I'm afraid I don't see any point in that. As long as the final products are identical, there's no good reason to call attention to how they were made unless the process involves something illegal such as child labor.

commercial bacon labelled as wood smoked, isn't. It has never been near a smoker. It is injected with "liquid smoke", chemical flavouring.

You realize that actual smoke is also a "chemical flavoring", don't you? Why is one chemical flavoring inherently better or worse than another? The end result is that both products are "smoked". If both processes produce an otherwise identical end product, then why call attention to how they were made?

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No mate, the current labelling level is fine. Pity most is pure convenience. No comment on the smoked meats issue, too obviously different. Calling attention to how it is made is entirely the point. Can't you see that?

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It is hardly surprising when consumers become distrustful of labels and food in general. Monsanto lied, or at least, withheld the truth about, Roundup for instance. (I use the stuff as necessary myself).

You do get to wonder whatever else we are being lied about. A replacement for the old neonicotinoids (which I also use, no bees left around here anyway) has been developed, https://www.pesticideresearch.com/site/?p=12101 and there is already a petition being circulated to stop this coming onto the market. It really does, on first view, seem to be much less harmful to bees, but this is what happens.

I know Americans that will spend ages reading labels on food stuffs, they won't understand much of what is written there (nobody does) but they do know which substances to knee jerk at.

The 'E' numbers on some European labelling sometimes refers to perfectly harmless, naturally occurring substances but people will refuse to eat food labelled as containing it (rich people, that is). Eg Riboflavin, vitamin B2, which has the honour of being named E101 in Europe.

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You do get to wonder whatever else we are being lied about.

There's a fine line between being cautious and letting fear get the better of you. Letting our imaginations run free is more the latter. All companies act in their own best financial interest and this is often seen by detractors as lying by omission. All we need to do is ensure that the necessary legal framework and regulatory oversight is in place so that the public isn't exposed to actual danger.

Just for my own info, what was the alleged Monsanto lie? I like to be as informed as possible when it comes to this company.

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