A debate exists in mainstream agriculture that large commercial organic
practices do less to conserve soil than No-Till operations where chemical
herbicides and insecticides/fungicides are used as a tool. While it is true
that No-Till does not employ the plow as do most organic operations, would
it also true that these undisturbed soils are rife with residues from the
chemistry used on them in the name of soil conservation.
This parody may not necessarily be about allelopathy and the philosophies
of "If nature can use untested herbicides why can't I use tested
materials". Nor do I think it is as simple as Professor Dwayne Beck's
argument about rattlesnakes and plows. Can a soil be sustainable if
chemical fertilizers, herbicides and disease/insect controls are employed?
I don't like to think that organic farming could be responsible for loss of
topsoil, but it is. I like it less that No-Till is commonly combined with
chemistry instead of a thoughtful policy of crop rotation to suppress
unwanted biology (weeds,bugs, Pat Buchannon). I hear these No-Tillers use
the word sustainable as if it were their own, is it? And if it is, when did
Glyphosate, Chlorothalonil, and Parathion become sustainable compounds. I
find it encouraging that the Rodale institute has been testing Chemistry
No-Till at the Kutztown, Pa. facility to consider this philosophy. But I
wonder if J.I. is not rolling over in his grave because of this heresy. The
combination of new technologies and common sense does not frighten me until
I remember the photograph in Feb. 1996 Nat. Geo. of the sunbathers at
Jone's Beach being hosed down by this "Safe to Humans" miracle chemical
called DDT. This parody brings me to a rather amusing parallel by author
and scientist Dr. J. Glanz when he speaks of Grant Wood's painting:
"On my latest excursion to Chicago's Art Institute, it occurred to me that
one reason American Gothic leaves itself open to parody is that neither the
disconcertingly direct stare of the farmer-preacher's brown eyes nor the
vigor of his fist on the pitchfork, come across very well in reproductions.
Par Contre, there is the intrinsic riddle of why the fellow has no tan line
from his cap-a bald head like that would be deadly in the sun-and why the
knuckles of the hand don't bear a warking man's scars and scabs. Outside
the world of the painting, of course, none of these omissions is much of a
shock, since the model was a dentist named Dr. McKeeby. The woman is a
greater mystery (what's new). The disapproval on her face is intense enough
to suggest a chronic emotional disturbance. She is looking past her father
and out of the painting. What does she see approaching that vexes her so
visibly? Is it just the neighbor's rattletrap coming up the lane, or the
unacceptable future. "
Perhaps the Dust Bowl is the claivoyant vision of this girl, and the coming
of FDR, Henry Wallace, Mickey D's and Pop-Tarts. The debate of
sustainability in the presence of modern chemistry does however pose a few
Looking forward to discussion
Donald W. Trotter Ph.D.
Organic Resources, Inc.
"A tree will only hit a car in self defense"
The Organic Resource Centre
295 Neptune Ave.
Encinitas, CA. 92024
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