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Does Nature Always Approve

by Malcolm Beck

My wife and I started operating our farm organically back in 1957. Some call me the grandfather of organics in Texas. I am a grandfather and old and gray. I don't mind being called either. However there is one thing I do care about and that is DOING THINGS NATURE APPROVES OF.

The word organic describes a method of production, years ago it was a good method. Now the word is beginning to get screwed up. The present organic rules are a good method for some farmers and ranchers to market in a niche. But I don't think the rules are all Nature Approved. However, the National organic Standards are still in a state of evolution and for now they are better than no rules.

Lets look at some examples.

Glyphosate; Sold under seventy or more brand names including Roundup. The farmers that have gone to conservation tillage use glyphosate as a tool. These no till and low till methods save many hours in the field, many gallons of diesel fuel, prevents a lot of air pollution, saves soil moisture, fertilizer, stabilizes soil temperature, stops wind and water erosion. With no till you don't oxidize the soil and lose all your carbon to the air in the form as CO2. The soil organic content goes up one tenth of one percent each year instead of continually going down as it does with regular tillage. The benefits are numerous. Not all benefits are mentioned here, but enough to win Nature's approval.

On my own farm I tried to kill a large patch of Johnson grass by chiseling it to death, before I bled the life out of it a rain came and gave it a new and better lease on life. After all the tractor time, wasted fuel, air pollution and soil carbon loss Nature probably called me a fool.

In healthy humus rich and biologically active soil Nature can quickly, in less than three days, change glyphosate from toxic to microbe food. However, if used in cold or poor soils it could remain toxic for some time before the microbes become active and find enough energy to completely de-grade it.

Bio-solids; The Asians have maintained soil fertility for twenty centuries or longer by using human waste in their fields. We have worn out farm after farm in this country in less than two centuries because of our hang-ups.

Out best farmland is used to produce our food. Those farms badly need organic matter; their organic content goes down each year. Soil loss from wind and water erosion is going up each year. Soil loss worldwide it is tremendous, some researchers claim as much as 25,000 acres turn to desert each day of the year. Almost every town and city in this country has a sewer plant. But instead of keeping it clean of toxins and properly processing this organic material so it can go back on the land like Nature demands we bury it in landfills. To Nature this is a grave injustice.

Urea; Is another product forbidden by the organic rules that could be used in beneficial ways if not overused. Microbes accept urea that is the same as urine. Urine is organic but, you could pee on a tree too much and kill it.

Above are three examples of things that Nature could approve of if used properly in certain conditions. Meanwhile we follow rules made by man and pollute and waste Nature's resources without even consulting her for approval.

Note: I am not endorsing Roundup, only showing that sometimes it is the lesser or two evils.

Malcolm Beck

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last updated:  January 14, 2004