Apparently, the fact that I'm a romantic has lead you to believe I'm
anti-technology, This isn't so. Obviously, if I'm using the Internet to
converse, I can't be totally technophobic ;-)
I was trying to express my belief that, as scale gets larger and producers
get further from the land, we may be in danger of losing one of the major
drivers of stewardship, the love of soil.
For the record, I do have a Bachelor of Science degree from an ag college. I
use soil testing, cover cropping, soil amendments, micro-irrigation on a
computer-driven clock, pest monitoring, predator releases, and approved
organic pesticides, when needed. I use a spader to protect my soil structure
and I run this farm on a computer. To me, technology is a tool to be used as
much as my shovel is -- but, none of these things is a substitute for the
daily walking of my rows. In fact, without that daily walk, I wouldn't have
the baseline knowledge to apply any of those great tools.
At some point on the scale, the size of the land base, the degree of
technology, and the management time needed to marshall those resources would
mitigate against my ability to be on my land on a daily basis. There would
be a danger that I would rely on the technology more than my own
observations. At that point, I would no longer be a steward, I'd be a
consumer. I also believe that technology driven, massive scale agriculture
will naturally attract folks more interested in the technology and management
tasks for the sake of the use of technology and the management challenge than
for the love of farming. At that point, the land gets viewed just another
data point in the equation not as the living entity it is.
The term, "appropriate scale,"hasn't been in favor for a while. I think,
just as cities break into neighborhoods, large groups of people into smaller
groups, and the animal kingdom into territories, there is an optimal size
beyond which we cannot effectively optimize a system.