> Thanks for addressing this issue. My strategy as a sustainable farmer is
> to get extension agents involved on my farm. It started a few years ago
> with including them in a SARE Grant. Now I have them doing variety
> trials (which is somewhat of a neutral issue when thinking about farming
> philosophies) and then they get to see first hand how a successful
> sustainable farm operates. I really appreciate how my extension agents
> have sincerely helped me over the years. Once a mutual respect has been
> developed, the door is wide open for extention agents to openly search
> for sustainable options if they haven't already.
> I once was elated that one of my agents went to a sustainable ag conf.
> only to have the keynote speaker blast extension as being worthless.
> This is not the strategy needed to advance sustainable ag. We need to
> build bridges and not make war.
First let me say that I feel extension agents and specialists play a very
important role in agriculture in North Carolina, and agriculture is better
because of their interactions with farmers. Also, these men and women are
genuinely concerned with helping farmers and gardeners with their problems.
However, I've been witness to both extremes of extension agents in North
Carolina as part of field days and a Soil Quality Workshop. These were
considered part of continuing education, and agents could get points toward
license renewals etc.
There are ext. agents that want to learn about soil quality and methods of
organic plant disease control. They ask interesting and thought-provoking
questions, and are genuinely interested in what is being done.
There are also agents who want to get their points. Nothing more. They could
care less about organic plant disease control. It is easier (and more
effective in their minds) to spray the correct pesticide.
Nothing is black and white, however. All shades of gray exist. I'm not
trying to knock ext. agents. As I've said above, these people are an
important part of agriculture.
-- Russ Bulluck Ph.D. Candidate Department of Plant Pathology North Carolina State University PO Box 7616 Raleigh, NC 27695-7616
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ The soil population is so complex that it manifestly cannot be dealt with as a whole with any detail by any one person, and at the same time it plays so important a part in the soil economy that it must be studied. --Sir E. John Russell The Micro-organisms of the Soil, 1923 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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