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Author Topic: Climate change, the ocean, agriculture, and FOOD  (Read 265313 times)

JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #100 on: August 30, 2013, 08:52:36 PM »
Bruce,  Thanks I will have to try that.  I guess that would qualify as survival food.

Ah, near LA.  Harder to make money out there as there are just so many farming operations.  My son lives north of Sacramento and what he pays for vegetables at the markets is about 50% of DC prices.

I also started out farming just by myself and kept very good records of hours put in, costs, fuel consumed, and revenues so that I could analyze what I was doing.

My expenses the first year were about 3 times revenues. The 2nd year costs were about 2 times revenues.  The 3rd year I broke even. 

And then I was fine and actually making a poverty level wage.  The main thing I learned was that with a very low level of machinery it is easily possible to feed yourself and a small number of others.  It is not possible to make enough money to justify full time farming.  Each year I analyzed what piece of machinery or other improvement seemed to have the most potential to make me more profitable and then added that in the mix.  I talked to a lot of other farmers and read huge amounts of literature on farming practices.  Bottom line for where I lived (very high land costs and property taxes) was that one could not make enough money to live on unless they were large enough to hire no less than 3 full time workers and had a least 1 reasonably sized tractor (I had a 45hp 4wd and an 11hp diesel BCS 853 2-wheeled) and a fairly extensive set of implements.  There is just so much bang for the buck when you add in equipment that it more then pays for itself (not counting in all the climate change issues of course - just talking making a profit).  The workers are a huge pain in the arse but also essential as if you can make even $1-2 per hours off them it makes for a much higher income.   I used to tell my workers that they should not complain about the low wages as they made more per hour than I did (which was true mostly but I worked about 3300 hours a year also).  I did not know of any farmer selling in the farmers markets exclusively who was making even $15/hr after expenses.  To be fair I was feeding my wife and I mostly out of what we grew and not counting that as an expense and the farm paid for my pickup and lots of other benefits.  I think to really build up a profitable farming operation takes at least a generation and you must have a wife and kids (to exploit). Ideally you turn the operation over to one of your kids when they are capable of doing more work than you and know the business.  Then you work for them and  provide advise.  Rinse and repeat.  Family farming.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Neven

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #101 on: August 30, 2013, 09:22:29 PM »
I take my hat off to you guys. Although I have my qualms with agriculture, I believe farmers aren't rewarded enough. Especially the ones like you who really think about what they're doing, and how they're doing it.
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JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #102 on: August 30, 2013, 09:38:47 PM »
Talking about permaculture and no-tilling, I'm sure you guys have heard of Masanobu Fukuoka and his One Straw Revolution.


Neven

There are a number of different farming approaches out there who are being used by folks who are oriented towards organic/sustainable farming/gardening operations.  Some have similarities to the Fukuoka method.  Many of these approaches also drift into areas that are not directly farming techniques and meld them into a method.  Some are philosophical based, some use astrology, religion and what can only be described as pseudo-science. 

You have Fukuoka (philosophy/pseudo-science), Rudolf Steiner (biodynamic farming - astrology/philosophy/mystic farming techniques), permaculture, John Jevons (bio-intensive - science based), Rodale (organic techniques - science based), EM (effective Microorganisms - pseudo-science and marketing?).

Fukuoka has its adherents but I know of no one who thinks it is a viable method of tying to make a living.  His techniques are a combination of science and philosophy and very difficult to even follow.  I suppose one could garden this way but it would be a poor choice to other methods.

I have known farmers who were following Steiner's bio-dynamic farming techniques.  One would only choose this method for philosophical/mystic reasons and it is not based upon science - though it does contain many elements of 1900 level farming common sense and knowledge).

I have known one (extremely skilled) farmer who became enamored with the EM farming concepts and converted his entire operation over to those techniques.  He was still running an incredible operation and grew phenomenal quality vegetables.  But then he did that before he used the techniques.  We had discussions about the lack of science supporting the EM techniques, but he was sold on the idea.  After about 4 years he went back to regular organic farming because he said that the EM stuff made no difference.  I personally think it is a clever way for the people who run the program to make money.  It does no harm but it makes no difference  either.

Permaculture can partially be explained by the root of the word.  Culture.  And not in the sense of culturing a plant, but in the sense of a cult (this comment make start a fight btw).  When this subject comes up in farming/gardening discussions I always say that it may turn out to be a great future sustainable subsistence gardening technique post collapse and the big die-off. But I am pretty certain that near 100% of anyone who tried to use this as a to make a living farming technique is going bankrupt in short order.  In an ideal location one might be able to feed a family consistently using these techniques but it would probably be a full time job.

I used combination of standard organic farming techniques (Rodale) with a very heavy emphasis on the work of John Jevons (bio-intensive). These techniques are backed up by a lot of science and data and work very well.  Jevons work was largely done with an eye towards intensive gardening and how much food could be grown in a small space.  By combining standard organics and the use of machinery with the techniques of very dense gardening type plantings (Jevons) I managed to produce a much higher than average amount on the land I was using.  I actually think this approach has a lot more to offer the small farmer, whether he be a subsistence farmer or a for profit farmer, than the permaculture type techniques.   And the closer you take Jevons approach to gardening the better it works.

 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Neven

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #103 on: August 30, 2013, 10:02:52 PM »

Permaculture can partially be explained by the root of the word.  Culture.  And not in the sense of culturing a plant, but in the sense of a cult (this comment make start a fight btw).

I feel kind of attracted to the philosophy behind permaculture (as espoused by Mollison and Holmgren), but have no real hands-on experience, so I don't yet know if it's just a cult, or if it makes sense. Bearing in mind, of course, that I do not intend to make a living from my garden, just aim to lower costs and live/eat more healthily.

When this subject comes up in farming/gardening discussions I always say that it may turn out to be a great future sustainable subsistence gardening technique post collapse and the big die-off. But I am pretty certain that near 100% of anyone who tried to use this as a to make a living farming technique is going bankrupt in short order.  In an ideal location one might be able to feed a family consistently using these techniques but it would probably be a full time job.

I can see how permaculture won't work when applied to the current agriculture business model. Then again, I think that it's agriculture that led to the predicament we're in now, and horticulture might be a way out for some. At least a way out of the system that forces you to be culprit and victim at the same time. But again, that's all theory. In about 5 years from now I'll know the practical side of things a bit better, and will adjust my views accordingly.

I used combination of standard organic farming techniques (Rodale) with a very heavy emphasis on the work of John Jevons (bio-intensive). These techniques are backed up by a lot of science and data and work very well.  Jevons work was largely done with an eye towards intensive gardening and how much food could be grown in a small space.  By combining standard organics and the use of machinery with the techniques of very dense gardening type plantings (Jevons) I managed to produce a much higher than average amount on the land I was using.  I actually think this approach has a lot more to offer the small farmer, whether he be a subsistence farmer or a for profit farmer, than the permaculture type techniques.   And the closer you take Jevons approach to gardening the better it works.

I have some of his books on my Amazon wish list, and buy all kinds of books. There's something useful in everything.

BTW, I have a friend who is a hardcore Steiner adept. We've helped around on his farm quite a bit, and he put an amazing amount of work into doing everything the Steiner way, which made things even more work than they already are, and very inefficient. But he seemed to enjoy the ascetic part of it. Unfortunately I'm not so good at believing.
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Bruce Steele

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #104 on: August 30, 2013, 11:45:43 PM »
Ah L.A. It is an easy climate to farm in but land prices make farming a quixotic experience. We have some spectacularly good Mexican / American farmers around here, you have to compete for market price with local competition.
  I don't sell my zero carbon quest. My farm stand customers come in cars and jamming them with zero carbon might backfire. After ten years my customers are friends and I know them by name so sometimes I will tell them about my efforts but I need to be upbeat around the clientele , which means keeping my mouth shut sometimes. How your produce tastes, keeping up with food trends, good heirloom selection, communications ... Those things sell your produce.   
 Neven, I did know a very good small farmer in Santa Barbara who used sheet composting to good effect with his subtropical trees. He would only add a little bit of clippings for each layer and never cultivated or tilled. You don't need to worry about all those pest problems with trees that I was talking about with vegetables. I grow fruit trees but you need a good variety or everything comes on at once.  I said I needed to try some composting in my orchards but damn there is a lot I need to do. It's well above 90F today but I still have some picking to do. Raspberries two flats, 50 lb. HeirloomTomatoes,   8 lb. shishito peppers, 15 lb. Anaheim peppers , 10 lb. Chioga beets, 15 lb eggplant, 40 lb red onion and a couple flats of heirlooms to hustle some more markets.   

Laurent

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #105 on: August 31, 2013, 10:30:36 AM »
The clover is a good cover crop, I will try it with my wheat !

Farmers have to change, first they have to understand it is not the plants that they must grow...but the soil ! If you don't take care of the soil, you won't have good plants at least not for long.

Farmers are a bit screwed because there is competition between farmers, if one is using more oil than an other, he is more likely to gain more then to win the competition.

Second point, as you say Bruce, your customers are coming with their cars, we have to look our entire activity beyond our selfs. It is good to produce bio and 0 carbon but if your customers, use lot of oil to get the stuff that's no good and the trick won't last long, the earth will call us back on track (I am not pointing at you, the problem is the same everywhere). The other point related to this one, is that we have cut the carbon cycle, the stuff that we sell does not ever come back...well it should if we want to make an ecologic cycle.

I found that site, it may be of interest to you :
http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/crops/

Laurent

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #106 on: August 31, 2013, 11:56:17 AM »
Some people see meat products as a mineral stuff, it's not true...really ?
(There is no speech on the video)


Bruce Steele

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #107 on: August 31, 2013, 05:27:49 PM »
Laurent, I know only one family with an electric car and enough solar panels to keep it charged. In a zero ff society transportation wouldn't be so damn petroleum intense but it is currently technologically possible to have an solar electric car and house here in Calif.  I am working on making it possible for someone to buy food without a big carbon footprint but it very much is a work in progress. Farming is a low wage job at best and to add in a zero ff goal it is even more difficult and less profitable. I don't know anyone nor have I read about anyone who commercially farms vegetables without  ff ,making a profit or not. In an ideal society both farmers and city people will need to change.
I try to avoid making claims before I have a working system so it's a work in progress. Selling my boat and leaving the ocean is a very sad thing for me but a good wind machine that will run my water pumps is about $ 30,000. Electric tillers and a nice electric car to transport vegetables is more$.If city people made that sort of financial commitment the fossil fuel industry wouldn't be so fat and happy. If there is even a remote possibility I can help create an alternative then I will risk poverty to pull it off. I am almost 60, I have no health insurance, I have spent my life doing risky things( like 40 years commercial diving) Lloyds cancelled me. If I crash financially I am pretty sure I can work as a farm hand and feed myself and my wife. Time is running out for all of us . I love the ocean , I love the land , and although I consider it a character flaw I like 90% of the people I meet.  It is worth a lot more sacrifice than we( collectively ) are making.  To the fields, it's Saturday and the farm stand needs to be stocked.       

JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #108 on: August 31, 2013, 06:29:49 PM »
INDIA  Comprehensive update on the just finished growing season in India.  Season there runs July to June so this is for Jul 2012 to Jun 2013.

Overall India had a very good year.  Some ups and downs as usual depending on the specific crop.
 
Total grain production was 255.4 MMT just under the 259MMT record.
Corn and other coarse grains a record
Pulses (beans lentils and such) a record
Wheat down about 10%
Rice just below record but with a record high yield



http://www.thebioenergysite.com/reports/?id=2546
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #109 on: August 31, 2013, 06:48:03 PM »
Russia

Russia is estimating that wheat production will be 90 MMT down from an earlier estimate of 95MMT.  Attributed to both the heavy rains/flooding this season in some areas and drought in others.  But no crop failure in the cards.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #110 on: August 31, 2013, 07:41:47 PM »
World Wheat Supply and  Demand Situation August 2013

This is about a 60 page pdf in slide format.  If you are interested in global food production there is a lot of very good information in it.  Every global region is in the report.

Highlights

2013/14 global wheat production projected at 705MMT up 8% over previous year

2013/14 global supply estimate at 872MMT up 17MMT from previous year

2013/14 global consumption estimated at 707MMT up 4% from previous year

global consumption is expected to exceed production by 2MMT

Global ending stocks to fall 1% in 13/14  (China holds 33% of global stocks - stockpiling!)

I recommend that interested readers download the pdf and go to slide 31 (I tried to copy it and failed) as it shows world wheat imports from 1984 to the present.  This chart really brings home the impact of rising population in the countries which are not capable of growing their own supplies.  I have argued that this slowly worsening situation will eventually result in famine in some locations due to the inability to afford the grain.  This slide really brings home the trend on imports and why I think this is inevitable sometime in the future.  Look back in the late 80's when the FSU had a series of crop failures and had to go to the import market.  Think what would happen today if they took that many MMT's.  There would undoubtedly be a number of poorer importers who would have to do without.  If I were Putin I would be stockpiling just like the Chinese are as periodic crop failures in Russia are inevitable due to its location.  Better safe than sorry as the Chinese say.

It is a pain but I don't know how to link directly to a pdf from a Google search (if someone knows let me know how) the only way I could get to this report via this post is by going to this link:

http://www.uswheat.org

Then selecting "Reports" (top of 3rd column)
Then selecting "Supply and Demand"  (half way down left side)
Then selecting "August 12, 2013" report in the middle of the page
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Laurent

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #111 on: September 01, 2013, 10:01:47 AM »
Let me try :

http://www.uswheat.org/USWPublicDocs.nsf/3b386cf3d8d8d19c85257626004dd84d/382173b4871598e885257bc700653652/$FILE/S&D%20130812.pdf

I did it by selecting the button "hyperlink" in the tool bar and you add the link of your pdf taken from the link bar of your bowser.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2013, 10:08:19 AM by Laurent »

JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #112 on: September 01, 2013, 03:48:44 PM »
Laurent

Thanks.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Glenn Tamblyn

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #113 on: September 01, 2013, 04:00:08 PM »
And food prices have been suggested as a significant factor in the trigger for the Arab Spring. Obviously the underlying pressures need to be there but that may have been the match.

With recent interest in the Polar Jet Stream and increased blocking events, it is easy to forget that a blocking event was the cause of the huge Russian forest fires of 2010. And the same year Russia wheat harvest was hit so hard the government suspended wheat exports.

Stockpiling might be good for Russia, but not for the countries that need to buy from them.

Glenn Tamblyn

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #114 on: September 01, 2013, 04:17:49 PM »
I actually live around a kilometer away from where David Holmgren lives on a modest permaculture property on the edge of our country town in Australia.

Permaculture certainly isn't a basis for a commercial form of agriculture except perhaps at a local community level. I see it, overlapping with a range of other approaches, as an attempt at a smarter, engineered, more thought out version of traditional subsistence farming practices.

Many people in the west who are drawn to Permaculture think of it in the 'how can I feed myself on my piece of land' sense. Still retaining the western notions of individual control of land and individual production for oneself.

But the real potential of Permaculture thinking is when it is applied at a whole of community level. Thought out agricultural practices where a local community plans all the agricultural activities on individual properties so they harmonize together, using the local characteristics top maximum advantage. This still permits some level of small scale commercial agriculture by individuals, growing food for their local community that is exchanged for cash, but all within a community level coordiantion based on Permaculture principles.

This is obviously the complete opposite of modern, broad-acre commercial farming and is also significantly different from 'I want to use Permaculture on my block of land' thinking of individuals in the West. This is perhaps why Permaculture has been more successful in developing nations where community level coordination of farming is not that different to their current culture.

For us in the West it would be a huge change of 'culture'. But also a cultural change that would bring real resilience benefits as well. Turning food production into a commercial scale operation may make money, but it is very unresilient as a system. In a warming world, resilience is a survival tool.

Neven

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #115 on: September 01, 2013, 06:34:44 PM »
For us in the West it would be a huge change of 'culture'.


Yes, a change from agri-culture to horti-culture. Permaculture author Toby Hemenway has some nice presentations about that:

Redesigning Civilization with Permaculture - Toby Hemenway


Wrong thread, I know. Sorry. But Glenn is bringing up resilience, and I also have a hard time envisioning large-scale agriculture to become resilient to weather weirdness. I think small-scale horticulture would do better there.
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Laurent

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #116 on: September 01, 2013, 07:37:18 PM »

JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #117 on: September 01, 2013, 07:44:20 PM »
Wrong thread,


Tsk,tsk!  Boy are you in trouble.

Here is the future of farming!  :o

http://modernfarmer.com/2013/04/this-tractor-drives-itself/

http://www.popsci.com/technology/article/2011-09/robotractor

http://harvestpublicmedia.org/article/840/robot-tractors-take-farmers-out-driver%E2%80%99s-seat/5

This is the direction industrial farming is heading.  Fully automated operations as much as possible.  The heck with those pesky workers.  In a few years we will see one man operation grain farmers operating acreages on the order of 2-3000 acres by themselves.

There is one organic farm I know of in Calif that specializes in cut greens (4 million lbs/week - no joke) that is so automated that no human ever touches the produce from planting all the way through the process of harvesting, cleaning and packing.  The product is refrigerated from the moment it is harvested (yes in the field it is refrigerated) until you put it in your cart at the grocery store.

I used to know a farmer in Australia who had an automated farming system based upon the center pivot concept used in irrigation.  He had it computer controlled and arms which reached down to the ground and he attached implements to them.  Then he would turn it on and leave and the system would plow, till, cultivate, fertilize and water.  Pretty nifty.  He was trying to get a company going but I think he ended up retiring.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #118 on: September 01, 2013, 08:07:41 PM »
I hesitate to contribute anything with my very limited experience, but since resilience was mentioned, I was wondering if people had heard of hugelkultur, if they had any experience with it, and if they think it has promise.



The up-front effort to construct the beds seems too intense to do on a very large scale, probably. But it does seem like this system would be resistant to the problems of both drought and flood.
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Laurent

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #119 on: September 01, 2013, 08:36:17 PM »
Sepp Holzer is involved !
Personally I don't like the bed system, because it is completely manual very hard work, no chance to use a bit of mechanic or even automatize anything.
I have a raised bed in my garden, it is flat and 1 meter above the ground, that's because my neighbor has got an hedge that take all the light.
A few days ago, I stored the logs that I did cut this winter, I hope for 2 years storage and with the rest I started a little patch where I did bury them under 5 to 10 cm of earth and an other one where i put them spaced on the earth, I will try to plant between the logs next year. Fungus will colonize the logs and moisture will remain !
This next video is an other type of farming that you probably have never seen. I know it is in French but you will understand the point !
Maraîchage bio sous les arbres - Denis Flores (Hérault)
« Last Edit: September 01, 2013, 10:04:11 PM by Laurent »

JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #120 on: September 01, 2013, 09:15:27 PM »
Wili

Very interesting.  Never heard of it before.  As I was watching it I was thinking it is just like they are building a compost windrow and just adding in a lot of extra large wood.  I googled the hugelkultur name and sure enough it is a form of composting that uses large pieces of wood.

From Wiki
Hügelkultur[edit source]

The practice of making raised garden beds filled with rotting wood.[18][19] It is in effect creating a Nurse log, however, covered with dirt.

Benefits of hügelkultur garden beds include water retention and warming of soil.[18][20] Buried wood becomes like a sponge as it decomposes, able to capture water and store it for later use by crops planted on top of the hugelkultur bed.[18][21]

The buried decomposing wood will also give off heat, as all compost does, for several years. These effects have been used by Sepp Holzer for one to allow fruit trees to survive at otherwise inhospitable temperatures and altitudes.[

A few thoughts.  Building large compost piles is energy intensive as one could see in the video.  One thing about this practice that will impact them in a few years.  They are going to eventually run out of all that extra energy they buried in the compost pile.  All the produce they plant there is taking nutrients out (so we can eat them) and the fuel tank will run dry eventually.  So either they build a new pile every 3-4 years or they have to start fertilizing the piles.  Also after a few years the benefits of the extra heat generated by the composting going on in the  pile will go away (the composting will finish) and then the plants will not grow as well in the spring and fall.  I would suspect an operation like the one in the video to be humanuring as well.  If you are only feeding yourself it is essential to keep those nutrients in play and not bury them.

I actually know a farmer who did something similar to this in that he had a very large pile of horse manure and wood shavings from horse barns.  He used his tractor to make raised beds of it (3ft wide and about 15 inches high) and then planted in them for several years.  Eventually he had to start adding fertilizers to keep production up.   BTW almost all of the commercial mushrooms in the US are grown in the horse poop from the thoroughbred horse barns in the Eastern US.  They buy it by the hundreds of tractor-trailer loads.   

Farmers who do composting on a large scale, like the giant organic operations, have to have specialized equipment and spend a lot of money building and turning them (to manufacture good compost the piles have to be monitored for internal temperature and rolled over many times while they cook).  It requires some training to be really good at it.  I know a 20 acre operation in Virginia that makes about 270 tons of compost a year this way.   This farm has been growing vegetables intensively for over 50 years on the same ground and it is quite profitable.  To turn the piles you need at least a 100 hp tractor and a turning machine (about $75K).  Plus a backhoe to move dirt and wood products.  One of the items that small farmers often get caught up on is finding enough compost to replace the nutrients they are moving off farm (vegetables to the farmers market).  It is very hard to generate this compost yourself (finding time to do the work and the ingredients for the compost pile).

I used to make about 2 dump truck loads myself and bought the rest I needed.  I also bought about 4 tons of phosphate rock a year, limed every other year, put down a mix of micronutrients (calcium, manganese, boron, magnesium, etc) as needed (soil tests determine this) and then about 5 tons of organic fertilizer (made from chicken poop).  Oh, and also about a half barrel of liquid fish emulsion (for the tomatoes).  And I was only growing on about 4 acres of crop land.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #121 on: September 01, 2013, 09:33:15 PM »
Laurent, I am with you, I want some help from machines. I do not believe automated farms offer any answer to controlling energy inputs but one needs to keep an open mind. JimD opened another thread on global limits and the nitrogen cycle is the most disrupted. I couldn't understand the French dialog in the video but the green background is beautiful . Could you tell me if the forest culture/vegetable farm uses manures or legumes to add nitrogen. Even legumes are a bit of a human manipulation and add to increased atmospheric nitrogen when tilled but compared to the huge fossil fuel driven increase in nitrogen I think legumes offer a much more sustainable option. Like I said in an earlier post I buy cover crop seed ( legumes ). How would one produce cover crop seed in a Forrest setting? Isn't mildew an issue when you need to dry seeds?

Laurent

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #122 on: September 01, 2013, 10:29:05 PM »
They are in there second year of production !
This year they have tilled the soil but they expect to use non tilled technique next year.
They have done a cover crop that they did bury this spring and used a bit of  Castor-oil plant cake to fertilize and repulse ground insects.
They did not use any insecticed !
He says that there is some fertilization from the trees with the leafs and as much with the annual dying roots. He says that all the plants grow if you let them the time be use of the shadow.
They are leaving in the south of France, I don't think they have a lot mildew !

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #123 on: September 01, 2013, 11:46:39 PM »
 Laurent,There are leguminous  trees so I was wondering if the trees produced fruit or nuts or if they used leguminous   trees for soil fertility? A more direct question would be what variety of trees do they utilize for the canopy?

wili

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #124 on: September 02, 2013, 02:27:42 AM »
JimD wrote: "All the produce they plant there is taking nutrients out (so we can eat them) and the fuel tank will run dry eventually."

This is of course true of all agriculture. True sustainability would involve all human wastes and bodies returning to the soil.

But, yes, the technique requires building new mounds every 3-4 years, as you say.

L, I couldn't follow all the French, but it sounds like it might be a bit like this approach:

http://www.chelseagreen.com/content/designing-a-forest-garden-the-seven-story-garden/

"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

Laurent

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #125 on: September 02, 2013, 10:01:54 AM »
He does not say what type of tree is used, because they did not choose them, they bought the field with the trees. He says that there is some wheat under some poplars but does not say witch type are above the legumes.
It is not a forest garden there is no more than two layers (3 with the roots legumes).
May be the fungus can help bringing nitrogen with some trees that would not otherwise ?
http://rootgrow.co.uk/mycorrhizal-fungi.html
For some informations on what type of trees will bring you nitrogen, you may buy :
Creating a forest garden
Martin Crawford
ISBN : 978 1 900322 62 1

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #126 on: September 02, 2013, 06:55:49 PM »
Here is an interesting article on phosphorus use in or related to US agriculture.  It really brings home the point often made that US (or anyone for that matter) meat consumption based upon the CAFO industrial model is non-sustainable.

Globally 140 MMT of rock phosphate are mined each year.  These deposits are a critical resource to maintaining the ability to feed 7-9 billion people.  We better get over the idea of using all kinds of manure (human too) in order to get the phosphorous needed by our crops.

Abstract:
Agricultural phosphorus (P) use is intricately linked to food security and water quality. Globalization of agricultural systems and changing diets clearly alter these relationships, yet their specific influence on non-renewable P reserves is less certain. We assessed P fertilizer used for production of food crops, livestock and biofuels in the US agricultural system, explicitly comparing the domestic P use required for US food consumption to the P use embodied in the production of US food imports and exports. By far the largest demand for P fertilizer throughout the US agricultural system was for feed and livestock production (56% of total P fertilizer use, including that for traded commodities). As little as 8% of the total mineral P inputs to US domestic agriculture in 2007 (1905 Gg P) was consumed in US diets in the same year, while larger fractions may have been retained in agricultural soils (28%), associated with different post-harvest losses (40%) or with biofuel refining (10%). One quarter of all P fertilizer used in the US was linked to export production, primarily crops, driving a large net P flux out of the country (338 Gg P). However, US meat consumption relied considerably on P fertilizer use in other countries to produce red meat imports. Changes in domestic farm management and consumer waste could together reduce the P fertilizer required for US food consumption by half, which is comparable to the P fertilizer reduction attainable by cutting domestic meat consumption (44%). US export-oriented agriculture, domestic post-harvest P losses and global demand for meat may ultimately have an important influence on the lifespan of US phosphate rock reserves.


Embodied phosphorus and the global connections of United States agriculture
Graham K MacDonald et al 2012 Environ. Res. Lett. 7 044024

http://iopscience.iop.org/1748-9326/7/4/044024/article
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #127 on: September 04, 2013, 08:21:16 PM »
The Real Reason Kansas Is Running Out of Water

Article about how Kansas corn/cattle operations are depleting the Ogallala aquifer. 

.... The researchers found that 30 percent of the region's groundwater has been tapped out, and if present trends continue, another 39 percent will be gone within 50 years......
...One major culprit has been a shift in what farms grow—from a rotation featuring corn, wheat, and sorghum to a narrow focus on a single crop that flourishes under heavy irrigation and has been in high demand lately: corn.


 A shift to growing corn, a much thirstier crop than most, has only worsened matters. Driven by demand, speculation and a government mandate to produce biofuels, the price of corn has tripled since 2002, and Kansas farmers have responded by increasing the acreage of irrigated cornfields by nearly a fifth. At an average 14 inches per acre in a growing season, a corn crop soaks up groundwater like a sponge—in 2010, the State Agriculture Department said, enough to fill a space a mile square and nearly 2,100 feet high.


I doubt that Americans will ever willingly cut meat consumption by large percentages, but when the Ogallala becomes seriously depleted there will not be any choice.

http://www.motherjones.com/tom-philpott/2013/09/corn-and-beef-sucking-high-plains-dry
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #128 on: September 06, 2013, 07:16:45 PM »
This fits in perfect with my last post about Kansas.

Wheat Research Indicates Rise in Mean Temperature Would Cut Yields

Below link describes a study by Kansas State which determined that a 1 C rise in temperature will cut Kansas wheat yields by 21%.  Interesting note is that wheat yields have risen by 26% over the last 26 years.  So the warming climate will require that wheat yields continue to improve at historical rates (highly unlikely) just to keep pace with yield losses due to a warmer climate.

And then we have the water issues in the post above.  And additional disease issue which are coming.  Hmmm...I say.

http://www.ksre.k-state.edu/news/story/wheat_research090313.aspx

http://www.ksre.ksu.edu/bookstore/pubs/SB665.pdf
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #129 on: September 06, 2013, 08:18:06 PM »
Looks like the ability/speed of attribution of extreme weather events to climate change is improving. This article suggests half of the extreme weather last year (2012) could be attributed to climate change.

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/sep/05/climate-change-partially-caused-extreme-weather-2012

That's pretty substantial, considering it's still early days. What I'd like to see is an attempt to relate the incidence of extreme weather occurs to impacts on agriculture - as this would help derive a starting point to make predictions about how much worsening in the weather we could get before it would start to cause serious (and ultimately potentially critical) issues.

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #130 on: September 06, 2013, 10:06:29 PM »
What I'd like to see is an attempt to relate the incidence of extreme weather occurs to impacts on agriculture - as this would help derive a starting point to make predictions about how much worsening in the weather we could get before it would start to cause serious (and ultimately potentially critical) issues.

Anybody have any good figures on the agricultural damage caused this summer by flooding in Russia, China and India?

My guess is that weather extremes don't need to get much worse. The population growth curve and the ag decline curve will meet in the not too distant future regardless. Climate change will simple increase the speed of the meeting.

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #131 on: September 07, 2013, 09:01:50 PM »
I don't have figures for those countries, but globally there must be an anticipation that supply is going to more than meet demand, since overall food prices are still dropping:

http://www.unmultimedia.org/radio/english/2013/09/global-food-prices-continue-to-drop-fao/

They say that it is especially because of good corn harvests this year. The drought didn't hit the American corn belt very hard this year (though the upper midwest is starting to dry out again now in the last few weeks). Presumably a few other major corn growing regions are doing well, too.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #132 on: September 07, 2013, 09:50:28 PM »
Wili

If you look up thread to posts #108, 110 I laid out some of the reason for this.  It is just as you surmised.  Global grain harvests and projections overall are for several percent above consumption.  But it is also just a matter of time before years with shortfalls become more frequent than surplus years. 
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

wili

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #133 on: September 08, 2013, 04:02:57 AM »
jim, agreed.
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #134 on: September 08, 2013, 06:08:37 AM »
Wili

If you look up thread to posts #108, 110 I laid out some of the reason for this.  It is just as you surmised.  Global grain harvests and projections overall are for several percent above consumption.  But it is also just a matter of time before years with shortfalls become more frequent than surplus years.

As food overall is a relatively inelastic commodity, you can expect fairly large price swings with relatively modest changes in output - especially given how closely supply and demand tend to be matched in recent years (ie no globally large stockpiles of most food crops around).

I think my concern would be that in the worse years we can expect to see large scale Arab spring type shocks - magnitude depending on just how bad the dice roll for a given bad year is agriculturally speaking. Furthermore, I suspect the dice are being increasingly heavily weighted in an unhelpful direction as things advance (on a timescale of years) - that isn't to say we won't have years where there is a useful agricultural surplus - just that those years will become less and less and bad years worse and more frequent (particularly with population and affluence also driving consumption relentlessly upwards - this isn't a static target we're chasing).

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #135 on: September 08, 2013, 01:17:53 PM »
I should have hastened to add that, even though global average food prices are falling slightly right now, they are doing so from historic highs, and prices are still the third highest that they have ever been for this time of year.

http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/foodpricesindex/en/

World food stocks are in slightly better shape than I had thought, though, and predicted to be getting better; so that may help a bit with the 'inelastic price' problem.

http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/csdb/en/
"A force de chercher de bonnes raisons, on en trouve; on les dit; et après on y tient, non pas tant parce qu'elles sont bonnes que pour ne pas se démentir." Choderlos de Laclos "You struggle to come up with some valid reasons, then cling to them, not because they're good, but just to not back down."

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #136 on: September 08, 2013, 04:05:56 PM »
As always global grain supplies will fluctuate due to weather and planting percentages between the various crops.  But there are good reasons that the global supply will never again reach the high surplus amounts which were common 40 years ago.

The biggest reason is profits.  Large farming concerns require a significant profit percentage to justify the investments in land, equipment and infrastructure.  The industrial farm lobby will work hard on the political side to obtain policies and laws favoring their needs.  Lobbyists!

A corollary to the first reason is that if you grow too much the price falls and you make no money.  Industrial farming works hard to figure out how to grow just the right amount.  Sort of like OPEC and oil production set to keep prices high.

It is not possible to dramatically increase global reserves as long as there are large scale programs to convert food into ethanol.

A fast rising population puts us in a situation that is similar to the Red Queen in that it requires us to grow more each year just to stay in the same place.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #137 on: September 08, 2013, 06:54:57 PM »
As long as I am being cheerful today (it is raining again in AZ) I figured a dose of reality was in order.

A Warmer World Will Mean More Pests and Pathogens for Crops

They found that crop pests have been spreading north and south a little less than 2 miles (3.2 km) a year since 1960, though there’s a lot of variety within individual species.


As a result, the mountain pine beetle is now at epidemic levels throughout the American West. The rice blast fungus, present in scores of countries, has migrated to wheat, and has become a scourge of farmers in Brazil.


If crop pests continue to march polewards as the earth warms, the combined effects of a growing world population and the increased loss of crops to pests will pose a serious threat to global food security.

The truly scary possibility is that a new or re-emerging plant disease could decimate one of the few crops — rice, wheat, corn — that the global diet is based on. We’ve already had a few close calls. Wheat rust, which is caused by a fungus, devastated wheat crops in Africa, and is poised to spread to other major wheat-producing countries. It doesn’t help that over the years farmers have narrowed the genetic diversity of commodity crops, which limits our ability to respond if a new pest or disease takes hold


http://science.time.com/2013/09/02/a-warmer-world-will-mean-more-pests-and-pathogens-for-crops/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #138 on: September 08, 2013, 06:57:43 PM »
A corollary to the first reason is that if you grow too much the price falls and you make no money.  Industrial farming works hard to figure out how to grow just the right amount.  Sort of like OPEC and oil production set to keep prices high.

In short, the incentives are in favour of risky behaviour. Where - taking a "for the good of humanity" perspective, it would seem to make sense to start building up larger stocks to try to buffer the increasingly inevitable extreme weather shocks - it actually makes sense for people to regulate supply to keep prices as high as the market will bear (which for food and fuel is pretty damn high...).

That suggests a tendency for ongoing price pressure, increasing threat to social stability in more marginal societies (if not in most societies at this point) - and a much larger chance to get caught seriously on the hop every time we roll bad numbers on the annual weather dice.

I'd allow some nations will stockpile more in the interests of national security (China seems to have its wits together in this respect at least) but so far there is little evidence of either individuals or nations taking the extent of the threats seriously? (and even if they do stockpile, whether or not the stocks are used wisely is a second question)

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #139 on: September 08, 2013, 09:38:53 PM »
In short, the incentives are in favour of risky behaviour. Where - taking a "for the good of humanity" perspective, it would seem to make sense to start building up larger stocks to try to buffer the increasingly inevitable extreme weather shocks - it actually makes sense for people to regulate supply to keep prices as high as the market will bear (which for food and fuel is pretty damn high...).

Indeed. But it is less risky for the farmer who has to make a profit to continue to exist.  If he grew his crops for the good of humanity he would go broke and then he could migrate to one of the cities and live in a slum (so to speak).  This is what free trade agreements do to poor farmers in the 3rd world.  It allows the US to sell industrially grown crops far under the cost of growing for a small farmer in Mexico for instance. He goes broke and moves to the city or emigrates to the US.  The industrial farmer is happy because he has more export markets and then grows more corn the next year.

There is a big component of agricultural analysis whose job is to determine global demand each year and advise the giant farming operations on how much of what to grow to maximize profits. 

The best system money can buy.  sarc

If we wanted to stockpile gains on a global basis (a pretty smart plan from a humanitarian perspective) then we would subsidize growing grain for that purpose.  We could contract for buying any excess grain at a set price to guarantee commodity prices stayed at the profitable level.  The downside is that food prices would not come down in this scenario, but we would have that useful cushion of additional supplies.  The long-term effects of this would not be so good as it would promote gains in population which we cannot afford.
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How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #140 on: September 09, 2013, 02:40:18 AM »
Indeed. But it is less risky for the farmer who has to make a profit to continue to exist.  If he grew his crops for the good of humanity he would go broke and then he could migrate to one of the cities and live in a slum (so to speak).  This is what free trade agreements do to poor farmers in the 3rd world.  It allows the US to sell industrially grown crops far under the cost of growing for a small farmer in Mexico for instance. He goes broke and moves to the city or emigrates to the US.  The industrial farmer is happy because he has more export markets and then grows more corn the next year.

My impression is that the first world farming operations also benefit substantially from government subsidies - far more than the smaller less technologically intensive operations poorer farmers operate in third world countries. The playing field isn't level in any fashion. Even in first world nations small farmers go bankrupt and get pushed to the wall and consumed by the giant agricultural corporations. Lots and lots wrong with modern farming from a sustainability or resilience perspective.

If we wanted to stockpile gains on a global basis (a pretty smart plan from a humanitarian perspective) then we would subsidize growing grain for that purpose.  We could contract for buying any excess grain at a set price to guarantee commodity prices stayed at the profitable level.  The downside is that food prices would not come down in this scenario, but we would have that useful cushion of additional supplies.  The long-term effects of this would not be so good as it would promote gains in population which we cannot afford.

I wonder if the trade in non existent agricultural commodities (futures) were stopped - and all trading had to deal in actual physical items that really existed - if it would provide incentives to build up of stocks of these things. Right now the market can buy and sell crops that don't even exist - there isn't really an incentive to sit on a physical stockpile of goods.

With respect to lower food prices (on one side of the coin) or promoting gains in population (which I argue lower food prices would also do!) - I think that's a sticky subject. My ideal scenario here isn't one of humanitarian needs though - but rather of buffering supply shocks - building up supplies in good years and consuming them in bad years. Dumping food stocks into population growth only builds up a larger problem later.

If you want to see population down - the only credible route I can see is collapse. Early faster collapse is then a sensible policy choice. High food prices and food shortages and the associated conflicts and so on are then secondary effects to starting to correct population.

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #141 on: September 09, 2013, 06:40:56 PM »
My impression is that the first world farming operations also benefit substantially from government subsidies - far more than the smaller less technologically intensive operations poorer farmers operate in third world countries. The playing field isn't level in any fashion. Even in first world nations small farmers go bankrupt and get pushed to the wall and consumed by the giant agricultural corporations. Lots and lots wrong with modern farming from a sustainability or resilience perspective.

Yes, all the wealthy countries subsidize the agricultural industry (if I understand it correctly the Europeans exceed US levels).  Regarding industrial farming it is more efficient than sustainable methods any where not just in the US for instance.  Costs are even cheaper in the 3rd world if you can set up an operation there.  A personal example:  I grew up knowing a family who had parlayed a large ranching operation and its mineral rights (oil & gas) into a significant amount of wealth.  Fifty years later they run (besides a bunch of businesses) one of the 10 largest ranching operations in the world.  They have the majority of their properties in places like Brazil, Argentina, Mexico in addition to the US, Australia and who knows where else. Millions of acres.

I wonder if the trade in non existent agricultural commodities (futures) were stopped - and all trading had to deal in actual physical items that really existed - if it would provide incentives to build up of stocks of these things. Right now the market can buy and sell crops that don't even exist - there isn't really an incentive to sit on a physical stockpile of goods.

With respect to lower food prices (on one side of the coin) or promoting gains in population (which I argue lower food prices would also do!) - I think that's a sticky subject. My ideal scenario here isn't one of humanitarian needs though - but rather of buffering supply shocks - building up supplies in good years and consuming them in bad years. Dumping food stocks into population growth only builds up a larger problem later.

If you want to see population down - the only credible route I can see is collapse. Early faster collapse is then a sensible policy choice. High food prices and food shortages and the associated conflicts and so on are then secondary effects to starting to correct population.

Hedging of agricultural futures was originally implemented in order to lessen the risk of financial ruin to farmers.  By hedging you could buy a price which guaranteed a profit but you then gave up the opportunity to sell that crop for more if the market went up.  If the market went down you avoided a big loss.  The purpose was to even out the good and bad years and thus avoid the bad years which could put you out of business.  I think eliminating this market function would make growing the global grain supply much more difficult.

While I agree that, in a long-term sense, quick collapse is better than a collapse that happens a hundred years from now I don't see that there can be any way to implement it as "a sensible policy choice" as it would by almost definition be a genocidal policy.  That might make rational sense, but not moral sense.

Of course, if you are arguing for quick collapse then also arguing for an increase in global grain reserves is contradictory in a certain sense.   Collapse will come quicker if we continue to eat lots of meat and burn corn in our cars after all.
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #142 on: September 10, 2013, 11:42:23 AM »
Regarding industrial farming it is more efficient than sustainable methods any where not just in the US for instance.  Costs are even cheaper in the 3rd world if you can set up an operation there.

The costs being cheaper - yes, that stands to reason (although many key agricultural commodities are sourced globally, so I'm guessing mostly one means labour?).

Whether or not industrial farming is more efficient I think is more subject to debate - as it isn't sustainable - so how can it be more efficient long term? My understanding is the highest productivity can be realised by individuals micro-managing a piece of land - albeit that's a very labour intensive way to produce food. Computer controlled administration of irrigation and similar technologies may start to close that gap by tailoring intervention as precisely as possible to the very local conditions, rather than blanket application of moisture, fertiliser, pesticides etc.

That last area might also help manage with a lower level of fossil fuel inputs - though I think the problem is twofold, firstly a seriously heavy dependence on agro-chemicals to maintain higher yields, and a short term consumerist attitude where we don't really place any long term value on the land - it's simply another resource to exploit and consume. If it will be depleted in a century, who cares? (a small farmer in a family farming for many generations might, but a large corporation that thinks it can just buy more land might not).

Hedging of agricultural futures was originally implemented in order to lessen the risk of financial ruin to farmers.  By hedging you could buy a price which guaranteed a profit but you then gave up the opportunity to sell that crop for more if the market went up.  If the market went down you avoided a big loss.  The purpose was to even out the good and bad years and thus avoid the bad years which could put you out of business.  I think eliminating this market function would make growing the global grain supply much more difficult.

I'm going to have to go away and give that a bit of thought. The question I suppose is - when food prices soar - where is all the extra money being made? Farmers - or investment bankers?

We've got a financial class of parasites sitting at the top of the socioeconomic ladder, exerting undue influence upon the course of global affairs - notwithstanding that they don't produce a damn thing and can hardly be said to render a meaningful service either (beyond self enrichment and empowerment).

While I agree that, in a long-term sense, quick collapse is better than a collapse that happens a hundred years from now I don't see that there can be any way to implement it as "a sensible policy choice" as it would by almost definition be a genocidal policy.  That might make rational sense, but not moral sense.

I'm not going to argue for the merits of a genocidal policy - but history teaches us such policies are perfectly likely to arise as the strong empowered populations try to survive at the expense of any or all others. They won't be doing so necessarily in terms of responding to climate change, more as a competition for resources which require power and influence to try to retain. In other words - the conflicts will look like business as usual (just the driving pressures will gradually become ever stronger).

Of course, if you are arguing for quick collapse then also arguing for an increase in global grain reserves is contradictory in a certain sense.   Collapse will come quicker if we continue to eat lots of meat and burn corn in our cars after all.

I think we will continue to eat lots of meat and burn corn in cars - for the most part. Certainly we've managed to keep doing both in the face of common sense and plenty of evidence that the high resulting food prices are causing substantial social harm to others. To that extent my assessment of human behaviour lends to my expectation of relatively rapid and early collapse rather than being a policy hope.

If we were going to try a rational strategy for the species on a large scale, in my view we would fortify areas well within carrying capacity containing populations that had some notion of how to live sustainably and stockpile resources in those areas. The rest, we would let wither - while trying to achieve a softer landing and higher collapse floor in the more promising areas/peoples.

Question is - is that a genocidal policy, to the extent one permits suffering one in theory could try to alleviate? (I don't think it will happen either way - I think it's business as usual all the way to majority oblivion)

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #143 on: September 10, 2013, 04:28:13 PM »
ccg

Whether or not industrial farming is more efficient I think is more subject to debate - as it isn't sustainable - so how can it be more efficient long term?

I agree with your comment, but I was speaking in the sense of the typical short-term profit outlook of large businesses.  As to sustainable practices almost none of the farming performed anywhere in the world at any scale fits within a fairly moderately constrained sustainable criteria.  This is one of the problems with the sustainable concept.  It is very hard to actually do. 

Yes, labor is one factor but it is also less environmental regulation, corrupt officials, easier to exploit competition small farmers, no worker safety concerns, less to no taxes.

On the hedging issue I tried to describe how it started.  Today of course you have traders buying and selling commodity contracts just to make profits, not just farmers hedging to avoid crippling loses.  Big difference as you say.  Makes it much harder on the farmers too.

I'm not going to argue for the merits of a genocidal policy - but history teaches us such policies are perfectly likely to arise as the strong empowered populations try to survive at the expense of any or all others. They won't be doing so necessarily in terms of responding to climate change, more as a competition for resources which require power and influence to try to retain. In other words - the conflicts will look like business as usual (just the driving pressures will gradually become ever stronger).

Now you sound just like me.

If we were going to try a rational strategy for the species on a large scale, in my view we would fortify areas well within carrying capacity containing populations that had some notion of how to live sustainably and stockpile resources in those areas. The rest, we would let wither - while trying to achieve a softer landing and higher collapse floor in the more promising areas/peoples.

Question is - is that a genocidal policy, to the extent one permits suffering one in theory could try to alleviate? (I don't think it will happen either way - I think it's business as usual all the way to majority oblivion)

We'll be able to jointly author a book pretty soon (not that anyone would read it).
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Jmo

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #144 on: September 11, 2013, 02:36:36 AM »
A few observations from downunder, just from the last week, and all on the one weather site:

"Wine grape growers on the NSW southern tablelands say the earliest bud burst in 40 years leaves their fruit more vulnerable to frosts in October. "

"Hot and dry weather devastating for wheat crops"

"Farmers on the southern tablelands of New South Wales are having to shoot their cattle because conditions have been so dry."

"Sydneysiders have been spoilt for warmth in their warmest start to spring on record."

I know this is only weather, but the long-term trends across the globe seem to speak for themselves.


JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #145 on: September 20, 2013, 06:59:51 PM »
Now on a personal level I am not convinced that oysters are actually food (slimy things), but AGW in the form of ocean acidification is starting to cause serious problems for those farming them.

HILO, Hawaii — It appears at the end of a palm tree-lined drive, not far from piles of hardened black lava: the newest addition to the Northwest’s famed oyster industry.

Half an ocean from Seattle, on a green patch of island below a tropical volcano, a Washington state oyster family built a 20,000-square-foot shellfish hatchery.


Oyster operations in the Pacific Northwest are struggling due to acidification.  So at least one operation has relocated to Hawaii.  But this is the type of agriculture which really has limited places to run.

http://apps.seattletimes.com/reports/sea-change/2013/sep/11/oysters-hit-hard/
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #146 on: September 21, 2013, 03:28:08 AM »
JimD, The Craig Welch series is a very good bit of newspaper work. Acidification and it's effects on various shellfish are caused by a combination of decreased pH and local alkalinity conditions. Part of the reason for the surface ocean reaching aragonite undersaturation in the Pacific Northwest  is upwelling of old deep low pH (intermediate) waters but fresh water ( low alkalinity ) input from the Columbia River also plays a role.
 Pacific Oyster larva get all of their energy from a yolk sac the first few days of their lives. Acidification causes increased energy demands on the young larva that exceed the energy available in their yolk. They die at a point  called D-hinge stage about 4 days into development. At this stage of development they utilize aragonite for building shell but later in life they form calcite shell. So after the oyster grows to a size where it is utilizing calcite in it's shell it is much more resistant to the effects of acidification.
The oyster industry will pull through the acid test for the time being because in an aquaculture setting you can manipulate the variables( to a point). We in the wild fisheries will suffer a different fate. At this point Alaska Red King Crab looks to be the first wild fishery that will succumb to acidification. Because fishery managers will be forced to reduce quotas as the king crab larva suffer higher and higher mortality the fishery will close before the last crab disappears.The economics of chasing less and less crab in Bering Sea conditions will also come into play.  Maybe they will walk across the arctic ocean to the Atlantic and find better conditions but for Alaska the King Crab fishery may be terminal.
The conditions that drive the King Crab fishery into history will take about three decades to play out so there may be other species more vulnerable we haven't run adequate lab work ( stress tests ) on yet. Acidification is getting more press but Co2 emissions continue to rise unabated. I have been watching since 2004.
 I have a hard time getting people to understand why I think zero fossil fuel farming is an important pursuit. If we don't fix the problems on land there will be no rules , size limits , seasons , quotas or area closures that can preserve our fishing traditions. No sanctuary. You'd think a few more fishermen might stand up. Waiting       
« Last Edit: September 21, 2013, 04:49:15 AM by Bruce Steele »

JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #147 on: September 21, 2013, 04:38:42 PM »
sBruce,

Thanks, I learned a from that.  Though I still am not sure oysters are food I do like crabs and clams  :)  When I lived in Alaska for a time when I was young we used to go clamming on the Kenai peninsula.

I find it very interesting that you estimate that the crab industry only has about 30 years left in it.  This fits in very nicely with my estimates posted on the Forum that significant systemic collapse will be precipitated by the collapse of the industrial food system circa 2050.  Ocean fishing and aquaculture techniques are definitely industrial in nature and need to be taken into account.

Do you have any other estimates of collapse points for other major ocean fish stocks or sub-industries of fishing that will be impactful on global food supplies?
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein

Bruce Steele

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #148 on: September 21, 2013, 06:12:25 PM »
JimD, here is a link to the dissertation paper that I paraphrased. Check out the graphs pages 60,61 and 62 of the paper. I don't know other fisheries with quite that short a timeline.
https://digital.lib.washington.edu/researchworks/bitstream/handle/1773/22815/Poljak_washington_0250O_11591.pdf?sequence=1



JimD

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Re: Weather and agriculture
« Reply #149 on: September 23, 2013, 05:09:47 PM »
I just came across a climate/environmental potential disaster in the making in the Argentine Patagonia.

This is a giant grassland about 4 times the size of California (400 million acres).  It has been used extensively for grazing, primarily sheep, for a long time.  As any one familiar with grazing operations they almost always end up overgrazing and damaging the land. Grazing lands are normally arid to semi-arid and cool to cold and holding moisture in the soil is difficult if the grass is eaten down to the ground all the time.  The American west is a good example of this kind of problem.

In Patagonia the overgrazing has been extensive and long-term.  This has promoted drought conditions all by itself and now with climate change kicking in it is worsening the droughty conditions and there are areas of the grassland (or former grassland I should say) which are near dust bowl conditions.  About 15 million acres are essentially sand dunes at this point.  This region which has average weather conditions which most of us would find challenging (cold and very high almost constant winds) is also now starting to experienced a drilling boom for natural gas (sounds kind of familiar doesn't it).  To give an example of the winds the yearly constant average in some locations is 22km/hr with frequent gusts over 100km/hr.  Mean temperatures in the south are as low as 5.4 C with yearly lows as low as -20 C.

Patagonia clothing and the Nature Conservancy are working there with farmers organizations to work towards restoration projects.  Hundreds of farming operations have gone bust over the last few years.  The climate change drought projections for 2030-2039 for this region look ugly in light of their current problems (Last link).

http://www.nature.org/ourinitiatives/regions/southamerica/argentina/howwework/index.htm

http://www.fao.org/docrep/008/y8344e/y8344e09.htm

http://www.appropedia.org/The_Patagonian_Grassland_Conservation_Project

http://earlywarn.blogspot.com/2010/10/terrifying-drought-projections.html
We do not err because truth is difficult to see. It is visible at a glance. We err because this is more comfortable. Alexander Solzhenitsyn

How is it conceivable that all our technological progress - our very civilization - is like the axe in the hand of the pathological criminal? Albert Einstein