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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

No-Till no longer saves Carbon!

I just found out I've been promoting old science. I found this in an article in Grist online. (Click on Grist to go to article). This article brings up a number of things that bug me and have not so much to do with no-till farming.
1. The religion of science.
It is a wonderful new belief system, because you can never be wrong. If you are the right person, (more holy than the rest or perhaps more approved than the rest) you just say, "well I have new scientific information which has recently been discovered which outdates the previous science. So, DDT can be good (1940's science) DDT is evil, (Rachel Carson's science). Or we can have global cooling when I was in highschool, but now have global warming, due to the evils of capitalism.
There is no forgiveness of sin or shall we say redemption, instead we have "re-education."
Oh, just go read "Animal Farm." I'm not feeling real profound....
2. Selling carbon credits is selling the right to sin. While I won't turn down the money because I don't belong to their religion and thus it means nothing to me, I think it is a joke to make folks like Al Gore rich.
3. Environmental groups exist for these reasons. First to make money for those people running the groups. Second, to support the bureaucracy (is that spelled correctly) of the environmental group. Third redistrubution of wealth on a national and global scale. Fourth, a place get rid of white guilt without actually changing your life or reconnecting with your faith-i.e. finding God. Fifth, a concern for taking care of the earth.
4. Those in the environmental movement want a fundemental conflict with traditional farmers. They don't like us, they promote misconceptions about us which suit their mythology (back to relegion there) and they will not actually come out and talk to us in a non-confrontational manner.
5. Never reveal any information other than what is directly and absolutely needed should you ever talk with a government official or environmentalist. True it promotes the misunderstanding in 4. but you can't trust them. They don't like you.... But, always be polite.

Now to answer the article in Grist. No-till may or may not promote carbon sequestering. I have never seen a dime from carbon credits and it is not that much money anyway. But, no-till does not mean a huge increase in herbicide use.
In general my customers use three quarts of Glyphospate before I plant. Then what ever chemical program they would normally use. Most people I plant for would also use Glyphospate before they did conventional tillage.
My old and ineffecient tractor with it's diesel sucking Hercules 471 uses just under a gallon of diesel per acre planted. My friends modern JD uses around 1/2 gallon per acre.
No-tilling into fescue sod (which is mostly what I do) saves 8 trips across the field. Half of those trips would be heavy tillage and I'm thinking you would use a lot more than a gallon per acre. Don't have the figures in front of me now. So, no-till is saving a huge amount of fuel.
The other issue is soil health. We are trying to promote residue, cut erosion, control weeds with rotations INSTEAD of herbicides, and generally improve soil health.
Finally, we really don't give a rip what Grist magazine says. We are doing it for our own reasons, to promote our own soils, to take charge of our own lives. I think that is what annoys the enviormental groups and the government groups the most. It is all just the annoying Yankee type protestantism that has to tell everyone what is best for them. Only without the benefit of finding the one true God. What ever happened to just mind your own business?
I got to go to work...

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