>>> Bob Wilson <firstname.lastname@example.org> 08/29/95 11:01pm >>>
> > Anyway, what I would like to know is your thoughts on the
> of this technology in sustainable farming, on the small farm and on the
> medium sized farm. Is it an appropriate expenditure of public funds to
> demonstrate these techniques? What should be the role of the public
> sector? Should education and demonstration be left to the private
An old adage from database design theory - "You can't manage what you
don't measure.." The availability of these new technologies allows us to
gather more and better information than we have ever had access to
before, and at a price we can collectively afford.
Federal monies are used to install sampling and sensory equipment, a
condensed GPS transducer, and computerized datavault to farming
As the farmer plows, disks, plants, fertilizes, cultivates, or harvests - the
data is collected in realtime and stored on the computer.
At night, while the farmer sleeps, the data in the computer is downloaded
to that county USDA office computer, which then compiles,
compresses, and retransmits via Internet to the Regional USDA office for
GIS mapping and analysis.
The farmer should not, must not, be forced to pay for this kind of service
and equipment all by himself. I don't agree with a lot of the things the
US Government pays with my taxes, but I could agree with expenditure
aimed at getting to this type of Regional information.
The Soil and Plant biology and ecology patterns over a regional scale are
exceptionally complex. However, we will never come to terms with that
complexity until we begin a systematic process of gathering this kind of
data. Such information will help the farmer, the local Extension Agent,
the Regional offices, and those others interested and involved in the
"wise use" of our agricultural landscapes.
Another point. If Mr. Farmer pays for this service out of his own
pocket - on his land - he can rightfully keep the data to himself.
But if the monies for the sensing, GPS, and data storage/transmittal/
analysis come from public monies - then the public has a vested interest
in the information gathered, and can thus gain access.
It matters very little to me what is happening on Mr. Farmer's farm.
I am much more interested in what is happening in the watershed
containing Mr. Farmer's land, and the farms of those around him. And it
is going to take public monies to get to that scale of information.
Fayetteville, Arkansas USA email@example.com