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Is it possible to grow enough food?

11 years ago

Greetings all:

I live in the Great Plains, surrounded in all directions for many 10's of thousands of acres, by agronomic crops and pasture. You could literally drive in any direction at 60 mph for many hours on end and still be seeing grain fields on both sides of the road. Yep, this country produces an enormous amount of grain which we in the US consume and the rest of the world relies on too.

For decades, all of this grain production has been accomplished with synthetic fertilizers that supplied the N, P and K needs of the crops.

sometimes I wonder, aware of this vast grain producing area if it would be possible to produce anywhere near as much grain using state of the art organic (for the soil part) methods. It seems there isn't any where near enough organic material to do the job even with cover cropping and manure additions. A great many animals are raised here on pasture and finished in feed lots yet the amount of manure they produce is tiny compared to the amount of land that surrounds them. It would require an enormous amount of energy to truck in and apply organics to all this ground out here. So, where is the organic supply of just the N, P and K supposed to come from?

I suppose we could simply not produce nearly as much grain and allow land to lay fallow and/or cover cropped for years on end, that would help the soil but not produce much grain.

Some say we need to increase the organic content of the soil, calculate out how much organic material it would take to raise the %O.M. of 1000 acres and you'll find out real quick the sort of dilemma I'm contemplating. One thousand acres of land out here is chump change, so to speak.

It is not at all my intent here to rag on organic production, just point out the corner we have backed ourselves into as a species...keep going with the current farming methods that got us here or, it seems to me, shrink the world population way back and switch to organic.

It would be a wonderful thing if everybody had their own garden but there again, I have to scrounge for enough O.M. from the trees around here just to keep my garden going and those leaves can no longer blow into the creek bottoms and other good places for them to be. I can get manure from a friends feed lot which is great for me but now there is less for his fields. In short, there is only so much O.M. to go around and no excess it seems to me, so, what are we to do in addition to cover cropping?

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