I always feel a bit schizophrenic on this topic. My intellectual process
as it was trained at UCD sees the need for reducing dependent variables in
research design. My more integrated self senses there is more to natural
systems than we can (or should) ever try to control for.
The split block/plot designs seem to fail to take into account the
migration of water, worms, mycelial mass, arachnids and other soil
organisms, critters lie moles and gophers, and with them chemicals,
nutrients, and contaminants. In other words, that soil is a living
ecosystem and not a petri dish.
Maybe we're all asking the wrong questions. To merely look at soil as the
holding medium for roots and assorted inputs, be they organic or chemical,
is missing the bigger picture anyway. We may very well find out it's the
balance of the population in the soil foodweb that influences uptake, the
climatic growing conditions that influence raw biologic availability of the
minerals and nutrients, and the specific biochemistry of each individual
that ultimately determines how nutrients are used.
Our current reductionist thinking and linear ways of measuring are
ill-equipped to deal with wholes. It is from this paradigm that the
question/assertion of organic food being more nutritious springs in the
As your signature block wisely points out -
>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
Marcie A. Rosenzweig
Full Circle Organic Farm
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