Green Turns Brown

I’ll happily argue about anthropogenic global warming, and real food, and what

    was

the USDA thinking when they approved “Roundup Ready”. But I don’t actually have to.

The whole Green Revolution was a one off, that, in exchange for a one time increase in yields, stuck farmers all over the world with buying seed for cash money, and fertilizer for cash money, and praying for better than average rain every year. Hey, it works in Lake Woebegone. That instead of saving seed for free, and growing a cover crop and praying that the rain was just OK instead of actually sucking. Sound like a win to you?

Norman Borlaug went down to Mexico and saw the hungry people there. So he bred a super yielding hybrid wheat. Rock on, dude. Problem was, the seed heads were too heavy for the stalk, so it broke and became unharvestable. (The technical term is ‘lodged’.) Ok, he was a smart guy. He bred dwarf hybrids, so the stalk was stiff enough to hold up the heavier seed head. However, grass (wheat, rice, maize, barley, and several more) plants are very symmetrical. The roots are the same size as the plant above ground. Make the stalk half as high and the roots go half as deep.

So, there you are. Buy seed instead of growing the stuff your grandpa grew. Hope you make enough extra to pay for it. You have much more yield per acre, which needs more NPK to grow. Buy synthetic fertilizer instead of growing an off season cover crop. Hope you make enough extra to pay for it.

The dwarf roots don’t reach the subsoil to pull up the minerals. No worries, the government agronomists won’t tell your customers about the micronutrients they’re not getting. A carrot is a carrot, just ask the USDA.

Then, it doesn’t rain one year. The expensive dwarf 100 bushel an acre variety gives you ten bushels an acre, because it can’t reach water. Your grandpa’s (free) 50 bushel an acre variety gives you 45 because its’ roots went two foot deeper and found water.

Can you keep the home place?

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