Mr. Avery, however, has probably been unable or unwilling to
segregate, analyse, and interpret the complex causes of "high-yield."
Certainly there is more to high yields than farm chemicals, just as
there will certainly be an important role for farm chemicals for many
years to come. The current illusory "success" of conventional
agriculture, defined as it is by some narrow and (unintentionally)
misleading criteria, is however, no justification for a prudent and
open-minded change of direction.
Were Mr. Avery's thinking fundamentally sound, we would not see
phenomena such as those observed through 20 years on the Canadian
Prairies. W. McGill (1985 - Soil Conservation ... Opportunities for
Agriculture, Edmonton, AB) reported that wheat production and yields
remained static to declining, and barley yields and production rose
less than 25%, in spite of a 425% increase in NPK fertilizer use.
It is also fair to ask what is the impact on wildlife of fencerow to
fencerow monoculture, spurred on by infilling of wetlands, heavy use
of fertilizers and biocides, increasingly short rotations?
I would suggest that farmland is probably the number 1 potential
wildlife habitat in the country, provided that agriculture is focused
on exactly the type of diversity and reduction of chemicals advocated
by sustainable and organic agriculture. Does anyone out there know
of (or have) studies comparing wildlife diversity, numbers, and
health on organic/sustainable farms with the wildlife situation on
roughly analogous conventional farms in the same general region??
In that respect, Mr. Avery raises a very valid question; I do not
have an immediate answer for it, but I'll bet the sanet mailees can
come up with enough to develop o
a clear sense of whether Avery is
broadly right or broadly wrong in his fundamental premise, viz. A
shift towards organic/sustainable practices will result in
substantial yield reductions necessitating an increase in area
cultivated with no offsetting improvement in the type, amount, or
quality of wildlife habitat on those farms moving away from
agrichemicals and their accompanying approach to land management.