Traditional grain planting method being revived - a move away from monocultures.

LordOfWizards

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Mono culture crops only exist because of the profit motive. In the states, the practice is well over 100 years old. One of the biggest issues is pests. When you have a mono culture, only the bugs that like that food will multiply, oh and they will multiply. Then they pour gobs of insecticide on our food. Yum! It also depletes the soil of nutrients since that crop uses it all. Then Monsanto comes along trying to engineer the crop to be pest resistant. That's how we got GMOs.

It has been shown that poly culture crops are much more resistant to pests.

 

Bren G

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Mono culture crops only exist because of the profit motive. In the states, the practice is well over 100 years old. One of the biggest issues is pests. When you have a mono culture, only the bugs that like that food will multiply, oh and they will multiply. Then they pour gobs of insecticide on our food. Yum! It also depletes the soil of nutrients since that crop uses it all. Then Monsanto comes along trying to engineer the crop to be pest resistant. That's how we got GMOs.

It has been shown that poly culture crops are much more resistant to pests.

The One-Straw Revolution is a great book that a Japanese farmer wrought about this very topic. I read it years ago. If memory serves correct, the flooding of rice paddies for example are used to remove pests and is not necessary using his approach (derived through years of experience) that increases bio-diversity and increases yields without pesticides.
 

THX1138

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It's like to old song, 'Oats, Peas, Beans and Barly Grow'. There are a lot of benefits to dense Companion Growing, like your article states.
We do that in our simple garden plot. It looks like a dense overgrown mess, but when done correctly, it provides a lot of produce throughout out the growing season. With many beneficial and predatory insects. The weeds are more controllable, and we leave some of the beneficial ones for the insects.

Makes sense for grain as well, they have their own companion groups too, again referring to the article.
I prefer the mixed grain sourdough breads myself. They have a more complex flavor and are more satisfying overall.

Have you ever been around a GMO crop field? I read about some that had no insects and just the passing bird now and then. I had a chance to go through some large commercial sized ones. One had few insects and birds, the others were, on the most part, eerily quiet.
 

THX1138

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Not just profit. Easier to plant and harvest. Easier to produce large quantities and feed lots of people, whatever the downsides.
It's why we have grain goods year-round. Proffit is the biproduct of a growing population. It's a convenient and historical fact!
Here in the US and Canada, and to a small point WEU, gone are the days of seasonal food products. Unless we're talking real maple syrup, but we're not. Back to grain.
One of my parents was from EUP, and in their town, they had a number of small fields that were used for growing grains. One year they would do wheat, rye, wheat, rye, in the plots and the next was rye, wheat, rye, wheat, and so on. they were small irregular shaped plots that shared boarders with the orchards.
So, this is more rotation of crops then companion planting. But the same pre commercial farming idea.
 
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hitmouse

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One problem is that if you have a significant urban population, industrialised society, most of the population in non-agricultural occupations etc, then that society cannot be easily maintained purely by small-scale farming and locally-produced seasonal products. It is an unfortunate reality of the way that most of us live.
 

Robert Zwilling

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Its quite simple, bio diverse land is functional land, monoculture land is dysfunctional. While it is true that we need large quantities of food, that doesn't mean we can grow it any way we want to and get equally beneficial results. Plus the food distribution system is profit based and a good deal of food that isn't paid for gets thrown away because it goes undelivered. Some estimates are as high as 30 percent, which would mean we are compensating for the undelivered losses by growing more, any way we can, instead of figuring out how to get it all delivered. The distribution problem extends through all levels of the agri industry, from figuring out how to successfully gather the products of small bio diverse operations to the distribution of the product to everyone who needs it. Ironically organic farming started out as small bio diverse operations, but has since gone the monoculture route and has lost many of the benefits of the original farming techniques.
 

Parson

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this is more rotation of crops then companion planting. But the same pre commercial farming idea.
Crop rotation is the default of large scale farming here in Iowa. Most farmers around here have never done complete monoculture farming and many have quit because it is just too hard on the soil and too expensive in terms of herbicides and pesticides. --- Which by the way are becoming less and less effective.
On the production side this example of traditional* grain planting will work for subsistence farming or in a situation where a huge mark up for "organically" grown products can be achieved. But at this time I know of no examples where a family can make a 1st world income following that model with prices which allow the majority of the world to be fed.

*I'm not sure I buy this argument. I believe that archelogy would lean toward planting whatever grain works best in your situation about as soon as the idea of saving seeds and planting becomes wide spread. Growing different grains together sounds more like what you do when gathering than farming.
 
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THX1138

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Crop rotation is the default of large scale farming here in Iowa. Most farmers around here have never done complete monoculture farming and many have quit because it is just too hard on the soil and too expensive in terms of herbicides and pesticides. --- Which by the way are becoming less and less effective.
On the production side this example of traditional* grain planting will work for subsistence farming or in a situation where a huge mark up for "organically" grown products can be achieved. But at this time there I know of no examples where a family can make a 1st world income following that model with prices which allow the majority of the world to be fed.

*I'm not sure I buy this argument. I believe that archelogy would lean toward planting whatever grain works best in your situation about as soon as the idea of saving seeds and planting becomes wide spread. Growing different grains together sounds more like what you do when gathering than farming.
Same here in Colorado. Polyculture tends to work best for a small town were every household get a share of the harvest. It's either feast or famine for everyone.
 

hitmouse

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Crop rotation is the default of large scale farming here in Iowa. Most farmers around here have never done complete monoculture farming and many have quit because it is just too hard on the soil and too expensive in terms of herbicides and pesticides. --- Which by the way are becoming less and less effective.
On the production side this example of traditional* grain planting will work for subsistence farming or in a situation where a huge mark up for "organically" grown products can be achieved. But at this time I know of no examples where a family can make a 1st world income following that model with prices which allow the majority of the world to be fed.

*I'm not sure I buy this argument. I believe that archelogy would lean toward planting whatever grain works best in your situation about as soon as the idea of saving seeds and planting becomes wide spread. Growing different grains together sounds more like what you do when gathering than farming.
Absolutely.
It is necessary to differentiate practical reality from a largely middle-class conceit about an agrarian utopia (with the ability to head off to Macdonalds when you get bored), or genuine subsistence farming with no safety net, hard toil, and the threat of malnutrition or starvation.
 

Montero

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Doing 17th century re-enactment one thing I learned about was the origin of the term "piggy bank" - you and your neighbours had one or more pigs being fattened for slaughter and you could indeed salt and/or dry some of the meat, though salt was expensive and drying relied on expensive fuel or sunshine - but if you and your neighbours co-operated then the system became sharing your pig when you slaughtered it and when everyone had eaten/preserved that pig, then the next one was slaughtered and shared out. But they did keep pigs through into the Autumn - all the mentions of taking them into the woods for acorns.

Storage of what you produced was one of the big work items/problems - but I remember seeing an Open University programme on Anglo Saxon farming a lot of years ago, and how they'd had granaries - they went for deep clay lined pits and put the grain in those, putting more clay over the top - and the grain lasted. This was reproduced with sensor in it, and the clay made it air tight. As the grain respired it gave out carbon dioxide, which was sealed in by the clay and any pests in there suffocated. So grain could be kept for a long time. I don't know how well the system worked with taking out the grain for use, whether your resealed the clay plug at the top.
 

Ray Zdybrow

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One problem is that if you have a significant urban population, industrialised society, most of the population in non-agricultural occupations etc, then that society cannot be easily maintained purely by small-scale farming and locally-produced seasonal products. It is an unfortunate reality of the way that most of us live.
In Central and South America, there were large urban populations (eg, Aztecs I think) which were fed by exactly this method. Granted the "cities" were more spread-out than a modern industrial settlement. There is ample evidence for this
 

Montero

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In Central and South America, there were large urban populations (eg, Aztecs I think) which were fed by exactly this method. Granted the "cities" were more spread-out than a modern industrial settlement. There is ample evidence for this
Wasn't a chunk of it growing types of maize that could be stored for long periods, having well built store houses and a good distribution system? I seem to remember something about their empire expanded on the back of their cropping and storage system - a lot of their neighbours when offered the carrot and stick option - be conquered or join us voluntarily hey look at our wonderful food system went for the latter. Their expansion was halted when they reached an area that was doing just fine for food thank you very much. Memories from a documentary.
 

Parson

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In Central and South America, there were large urban populations (eg, Aztecs I think) which were fed by exactly this method. Granted the "cities" were more spread-out than a modern industrial settlement. There is ample evidence for this
The key question is: How much land was needed to produce food for one person. I have no figures for that in that day and age. But I do know that in the early 1900's a farmer was said to produce food enough for 25 ish? people (and the crops they raised were very much like today's) in 1970 that figure was 73, and today it's 155.

how many people does the average farmer feed - Google Search
 

LordOfWizards

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One problem is that if you have a significant urban population, industrialised society, most of the population in non-agricultural occupations etc, then that society cannot be easily maintained purely by small-scale farming and locally-produced seasonal products. It is an unfortunate reality of the way that most of us live.

Why did we shift into "small scale" farming? Am I getting that you don't believe it is possible to do poly culture farming on a large scale?
I am not a farmer. From the article: Crop rotation is only one possibility.

I should put it this way - What are the challenges facing poly culture farming on a large scale?
 

hitmouse

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Why did we shift into "small scale" farming? Am I getting that you don't believe it is possible to do poly culture farming on a large scale?
I am not a farmer. From the article: Crop rotation is only one possibility.

I should put it this way - What are the challenges facing poly culture farming on a large scale?
I am not sure that the sort of farming you are thinking of can sustain megacities of 20 million people, or an overall population which is highly urbanised.

The challenges are:
Ability for automated mechanised mass-production, highly reliable crops/husbandry, very efficient storage, marketing, distribution at a large scale, and food which is inexpensive to the average consumer.
 
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Ray Zdybrow

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The key question is: How much land was needed to produce food for one person. I have no figures for that in that day and age. But I do know that in the early 1900's a farmer was said to produce food enough for 25 ish? people (and the crops they raised were very much like today's) in 1970 that figure was 73, and today it's 155.

how many people does the average farmer feed - Google Search
But that requires a lot of people who aren't farmers to be involved in the production of fertilisers, fuel/power, machinery, transport, global economy, blah blah, etc etc.
 

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