Mark Bittman of the New York Times wrote an article about a very important study recently carried out (by USDA researchers) on Iowa State University’s Marsden Farm. Please check out Mr. Bittman’s article and the study itself if you have time.
“The results were stunning: The longer rotations produced better yields of both corn and soy, reduced the need for nitrogen fertilizer and herbicides by up to 88 percent, reduced the amounts of toxins in groundwater 200-fold and didn’t reduce profits by a single cent.”
This isn’t any amazing new farming technique here, it’s one that our grandparents and great grandparents used (well, in my case make that mostly great-great grandparents). Using more diverse crop rotations and livestock as a part of those rotations is simple, and although it requires more labor input, this is made up for by less spent on chemicals. Think about that–which would benefit society more: spending money on chemicals that end up making everyone sick, or paying a farm worker a little more money to do a little more work. I bet I know what the farm worker would choose. . .