Friday, July 31, 2009

The Case for Industrial Farming?

Blake Hurst, a farmer from Missouri, has written an interesting response to critics of industrial farming techniques. Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dillemma receives most of his criticism, and in the process he defends the farming practices, both for livestock and plants, that are widely condemned in a slew of recent books. I am not quite ready to give up on organic food altogether, but his arguments are good enough to make me highly uncertain – which, for me, is familiar territory.


Anonymous said...

I'm glad that Mr. Hurst has taken up no-till farming, and that he is reducing his use of nitrogen fertilizer in favor of good old manure. But when he says that farming will demand the use of petroleum and natural gas for a long time to come, he points to the fundamental unsustainability of our current agricultural system. We have to go back to getting our food and fiber from sunlight and soil, not fossil hydrocarbons. This does not mean going back to old technologies. I'm as sick of the romanticization of farming as Mr. Hurst is. But we have to find modern ways to farm sustainably.

John Tiemstra

Steven McMullen said...

No doubt our use of nitrogen in farming needs to be used as efficiently as possible, but perhaps this is where our fossil fuels will need to go for the foreseeable future. It may be that using fossil fuels for food production will have to continue while we reduce their use in transportation and the many other manufactured goods they go into.

But if not, and we can still produce enough food, that would be sweet.

It is interesting to read this guy's account of how new technologies have been adopted to make farming more efficient.