Re: organic farm dependence on off-farm manure sources

Karl S North (
Mon, 23 Nov 1998 20:27:20 -0500


On Mon, 23 Nov 1998 17:14:07 -0600 "Wilson, Dale" <>

>I guess your implication is that use of off-farm nutrient sources is
>undesirable, but I don't see why. It seems like the scale of land
>is purely arbitrary in a biological sense, and that the size of typical
>farms is small compared to biologically rational scales like landscape
> Just as you would not object to a farmer moving nutrient
>from field to field on their own farm, what is wrong with moving
>around in a bioregion from farm to farm?

Long distance transport of both inputs and outputs of farms raises
questions of energy extravagance and food security, and therefore
ultimately questions of sustainability. 400 acre dairy farmers around
here don't even find it economical to recycle organic matter to their
outlying fields! Isn't that a problem of scale? But I see no problem of
sustainability with two farms collaborating on organic matter recycling
as long as transport costs are reasonable. In traditional societies there
are plenty of examples of grazers wintering their animals on the lands of
tillers, trading manure for animal products, for example.

Karl North
Northland Sheep Dairy
"Mother Nature never tries to farm without livestock" --Albert Howard
"Pueblo que canta no morira" --Cuban saying

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