Are you trying to imply that I am a company lackey? I am a wee bit
Rather than continue tit-for-tat debate on specific cultural practices,
I suggest we take an issue or two we have some agreement on, and
stimulate discussion about possible solutions.
>one should take a "systems" approach - fair
>enough - but it is difficult to do this as a researcher when the
>funding sources refuse to see past their next bottom line.
>Researchers without funding have to be creative verging on magical to
>produce anything of merit.
I think we agree on the need for long-term (more than 2 -3 years at a
shot) research on production systems. Farmers develop their own
production systems, and do "research" in a way, though, perhaps they
don't bring the best design and organization to bear. One approach for
public R & E, is to enable and empower farmers to do a better job
studying and developing their own systems.
But if the goal is to develop and communicate recommendations for other
farmers, structure and design that go beyond the individual farm are
needed. I'm not talking about demo plots and showcase farms, but about
statistically sound regional experiments. How can a system be put
together to do this -- on a shoestring?
You know, in our dialogue, the seed industry was debated in the context
of genetic engineering, but to a large extent, our success is the result
of "low-tech" agronomic systems to evaluate new varieties. Trials at
many locations, can substitute for time, at least in part, since local
environmental quirks tend to average out. The statistical power, and
generalizability developed by combining hundreds of strip trials
conducted on farms, are truly awesome. Perhaps the same kind of
approach could be used to study cropping systems and sustainability
I know a few people at universities and industry who are really good at
this kind of research. Is there any way to develop networks of
researchers, including farmers, who can execute large-scale R & D?
Perhaps the seed industry could play a role in information management
systems, and experimental design, maybe emulate large-scale field
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