[permaculture] Potato farming

Mark mpludwig at facstaff.wisc.edu
Mon Sep 2 09:57:03 EDT 2002

At 12:04 PM 8/31/02 +0000, you wrote:
> >Corporate industrial farming in the USA is highly subsidized
> >by the government, and the availability of cheap commercial
> >fertilizers and water for irrigation makes them profitable,
> >but not efficient.
>While I'm aware of issues around 'corporate industrial agribizz' it was
>really brought into a new perspective reading "The Botany of Desire"
>about the author's visit to potato farmers in Idaho where input costs
>average $1950 per acre and return on yield $2000 - no wonder they need
>3000 acres per farm to be 'economically viable'. All depends on use of
>ground water, massive applications of chemicals (via irrigation system)
>and government subsidies to produce the right potatos for MacDonalds
>french fries. The soil is sterilised i.e. clinically dead, crops
>broadacre hydroponically grown and when the land is salted or poisoned
>and can no longer produce they buy up another 3000 acres of dessert and
>do the same thing all over again. These are the farmers clamouring for GM
>potatoes so they can reduce their chemical input costs a little - maybe
>by $50 an acre to double their return.

Conventional potato farming is about the worst for chemical and water 
use.  I mention this so you can...
1. always buy them organic or grow them your self.
2. not associate all types of industrial ag being that extreme.

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Mark P. Ludwig
Poultry Research Lab
University of Wisconsin -Madison
608-262-1730 WK
608-846-7125 HM

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