We know industrial agriculture occurs as a manipulated process. Variables in production are managed or minimized and sustainable measures are too costly to undertake in a production maximization model. This leads to time and money spent on “methods” to control aspects of farming that organic farmers don’t really bother with. Those of us that work with nature rather than manipulate nature, call the items we don’t bother with,” Non-Methods”.
As a soil builder and cultivator of biological diversity, my favorite non-method deals with irrigation. The mega-production farms in our part of Michigan are reliant on ground water to push for maximum production on our sandy soils. The field hands will cover hundreds of miles on our county roads to keep irrigation pivots moving and water pumping. A few warm days with no rain and the irrigation systems come to life. Weather forecasts dictate time and energy spent to keep the soil wet. On our land at Tillers International we mulch, add compost and maintain a fertile soil. The healthy soil and plants thrive when the rains abate for a few weeks. Ground water sprayed on the field would add little while increasing the possibility of plant diseases. Capillary action continues to pull moisture from sub-soil and the plants root systems, with healthy fungal symbiosis, provides bountiful conditions for plants to thrive. In most conditions, not irrigating is a favorite non-method.
“Ohhhh, you’re organic!” the farmer with a Pioneer cap says while perusing my produce at Market.
Next thing they usually ask, “Whadya do bout bugs?”
And, my much repeated response, “The good ones or the bad ones?”
Most times the curt reply is, “They’re all bad!!!”
So begins a discussion about another non-method. Diverse plant and animal populations tend to find stasis and pressure from pests are minimal for healthy plants. I bought a pound of an OMRI approved cabbage bug pesticide several years back. A few times while field checking I had reason to use the spray-able powder. I think I made to 2 passes last year during a wet-warm spell when everything was growing gangbusters and the loopers got ahead of the predators. About 2 tablespoons of natural pest control. Nothing like the industrial farm that uses broad spectrum pesticides like chlorpyrifos to kill pests and beneficial bugs in a mega-application. Over the years scouting the fields I’ve learned to anticipate natures response to a pest. In late July we witness the grasshoppers mature and begin to pressure some crops. Nature usually responds to the feast. The sparrows and other insect hunters notice and forage in the field. The grasshopper population is diminished to a tolerable level. ‘ No need to kill anything with toxins. I just observe and use a time tested non-method.
I could continue with many more non-methods. I’d like readers to understand that working with nature is such a time and energy saver. Non-methods make farming so much easier than the industrial group would have you believe. The imminent demise of the whole farming system and starvation is just myth.