[permaculture] Broadminded thinking?

UrthMomma at aol.com UrthMomma at aol.com
Mon Mar 25 17:30:13 EST 2002

Setting aside the issues of genetic manipulation and runoff pollution of 
excess glyphosphates, yes, the farmer uses a lot less fuel with Roundup ready 
seed : one trip to spray, one to plant and one to harvest. Forty years ago it 
took two or  three trips to prepare the seedbed, one to plant, cultivate 
three times, then harvest.  Planting in last years' crop residue has 
dramatically reduced tillage and helps conserve topsoil.  Roundup ready 
soybeans have "clean fields", and increased yields, but how much energy is 
conserved when all of the processes involved in the extraction, manufacture, 
handling of manufacturing byproduts/waste and transportation  are included ? 
An analysis of this question would make a good subject for an agricultural 

Organic fertilizers should be of a local source where ever possible if you 
are truly working towards a "permanent" , "sustainable" agriculture. Granted, 
some minerals may need to be imported, but nitrogen is a local source 
nutrient -- plant legumes if you can't process dried forage thru livestock. 
Again, look at the total energy budget issues.

I must agree that using glyphosphates to burn down turf can be useful, 
however, some additional cultivation of the soil is required to make a 
seedbed, as generally soil under turf in clay soils is compacted .  
Currently, it seems to take less human hours to turn turf into garden space 
using glyphosphates, but also consider the sheet composting/mulching method, 
which requires forethought at the end of the prior growing season and adds to 
humus and soil building. 

Glyphosphates are probably best suited to a limited role in eradication of 
"noxious weeds", when you can't use goats. 

Sara in IN

In a message dated 3/25/02 1:43:28 PM US Eastern Standard Time, 
mpludwig at facstaff.wisc.edu writes:

>  This has come up a few times in the recent past for me.  Myself and 
>  PC savy fellow got talking about agriculture and he stated that round up 
>  ready (glyphosphate herbicide tolerant) soybeans seemed to him to be the 
>  most sustainable method going for this crop.  I have to say I agree with 
>  him, having grown the crop organically and made 2-3 times the trips across 
>  the fields to get the same yields.  In another context I pointed out to 
>  of our new PC group members who had posited organic farming as the only 
>  acceptable alternative in PC that this was too narrow.  Organic fertilizer 
>  made from ground up ocean fishes and kelp may be far less "sustainable" 
>  than industrial by product based materials in our area (midwest 
>  USA).  Furthermore spraying to kill turf to convert it to a garden yields 
>  less erosion, preserves soil structure better and burns far less fuel.  It 
>  is essential to get passed our biases and look as clear eyed as possible 
>  all system and be prepared to push past ideologies to really design 
>  sustainable system, or at least move toward the least harmful alternatives.
>  Mark P. Ludwig
>  Poultry Research Lab
>  University of Wisconsin -Madison
>  608-262-1730 WK
>  608-846-7125 HM

More information about the permaculture mailing list