Jorge Montezuma

Camarillo, CA, United States

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Jorge Montezuma
Posted over 2 years ago
Organic Farming vs. Conventional Farming: Why do you favour one over the other?
The Economist study you mention sounds interesting, but studying the ¨natural¨ growth of cereal crops sounds quite odd, unless they followed nature´s way of growing cereal crops--which I haven´t looked into--now, that would be natural, not just planting it somewhere and leaving it to grow. The sustainable agriculture that I practice isn´t just leaving things to grow. It involves studying the landscape, making use of edges, integrating trees, flowers, fruits, vegetables, and roots together, it´s trying to convince nature that I´m weaving a good enough ecosystem to call on bugs and prevent pests from getting created, harvest its own water, etc. This requires a lot of observation and design work. Then it requires a bit of land work, and then just a bit of maintenance alongside produce gathering. Then you just wait to see if the plants will go to seed and replant themselves. If not, save the seeds, collect them, and replant them. How old is conventional agriculture? How much money are farmers and growers making (exclude large agribusinesses)? The positive rate of urbanization kind of tells me that people don´t want to be farmers and ranchers anymore because maybe they don´t see a future there. Don´t you think they should try something new? Shouldn´t the system shift a bit to really reward the farmers and ranchers for literally allowing our peoples to grow and develop?
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Jorge Montezuma
Posted over 2 years ago
Organic Farming vs. Conventional Farming: Why do you favour one over the other?
I agree with your last statement that practices will vary from region to region, there´s not one answer to all. This is what is so great about farming. You need to learn from your surroundings, need to learn the water flow patterns before wanting to flatten the whole field, you need to understand the native nitrogen fixers to avoid going to the store to buy nitrogen fertilizers, you need to learn that trees are needed to prevent erosion, and more. We are currently living in a 3.8-billion-year-old living experiment--in a living laboratory--that has been practicing sustainable farming for all its existence until the culture/time-based agricultural revolution and then the industrial revolution. Then.. humans began to shift things a bit. How can we sustain ourselves for generations to come with machinery that requires a fuel that is finite? Switching to biofuels is not a viable option at this moment. How can we sustain ourselves for generations to come using agrochemicals which are detrimental to the environment? Why not just learn from the living laboratory we are in? Figure out its tricks and begin shifting our way of doing things. For more that I support different strategies to do things, I cannot give my support to a strategy that is so dependent on a finite resource that damages the lungs of farmworkers, cuts down the trees to maximize the flat area so that big machinery can come and till the soil destroying bizillions of microbes that all they are doing is sequestering carbon, increasing the topsoil, and working for us.
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Jorge Montezuma
Posted over 2 years ago
Organic Farming vs. Conventional Farming: Why do you favour one over the other?
"And yet we are told ceaselessly that sustainable or organic agriculture cannot feed the world. I find this claim very hard to understand. Especially when you consider the findings of an impeccably well-researched International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development, conducted in 2008 by the United Nations. The report drew on evidence from more than 400 scientists worldwide and concluded that small-scale, family-based farming systems, adopting so-called agro-ecological approaches, were among the most productive systems in developing countries." http://www.fastcoexist.com/1679436/prince-charles-takes-on-critics-of-sustainable-farming
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Jorge Montezuma
Posted over 2 years ago
Organic Farming vs. Conventional Farming: Why do you favour one over the other?
You should not apply straight manure. You need to allow it to be composted. You need to "dilute" it with other carbonaceous materials so that it does not impact that plants negatively and so it does not leach nitrates into the aquifers. There are several techniques that you can google, people and institutes post recipes, and you should make your decision based on what is around your local ecosystem. About setting up decentralized food production places.. we need to remember that at one time we did not have a global food production/distribution network as we do know. People got by, just fine, with what grew around them: meat and plants. They had, and some still do, very bioregional diets. We have all the technology in the world to grow food in greenhouses, to regulate temperatures very well. I am not pretending to say that we can grow everything, everywhere. What I want to say is that I believe we have the capacity to diversify our crops in various areas, with and without greenhouses. And in order to further the conversation of conventional vs organic, you need to find definitions for both. I do not think that USDA organic is necessarily better for the environment. It might be sometimes, but not others. There are "USDA organic" farms that are depleting aquifers because their crops need so much water. I would not consider this very holistic, yet they seem to be working within the limits to obtain the organic certification.. At Peace Corps I work setting up trainings for Volunteers that will teach rural and indigenous community members low-tech and low-maintenance strategies to grow food locally in an economical and ecological manner. I get to visit different farms, volunteer communities, travel around Panama, and work on demonstration gardens. It's pretty fun and keeps things interesting!
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Jorge Montezuma
Posted over 2 years ago
Organic Farming vs. Conventional Farming: Why do you favour one over the other?
Hi Jesse, I'll try to answer from the bottom to the top.. Everyone doesn't grow organic for many reasons. One of them is that it takes a while to build a healthy soil to meet the conventional cost-produce ratios, but once that occurs then you can become way more productive. Many small farmers and growers can't afford to give up producing less one or two years because they do not have enough money saved up to allow his/her family to go through the transition. Another one is that your market will change. You will be producing fewer things of many different crops, therefore you will also need to diversify your market. Many people do not know how to go about that, may be happy with their 1 purchaser and do not want to bother changing. Some times organic seeds are hard to find, and you are left with treated seeds that actually need pesticides and water. You also have partnerships between the government and agribusiness companies that advocate for conventional farming, and then you have farmers getting trained on conventional techniques, putting organic aside as an utopian model. Bettle banks sounds like an awesome idea! I have heard about owl boxes, iguana and lizard nests, and bees getting integrated into farms as well! In regards to the no till / low till / till ... my take on that is that if you are dealing with poor soil, you will need to till during the first time just to break up the soil, allow air pockets to be created, add composted manure, healthy soil, carboneous/dry materials, and water. After this, a microecosystem will form, reminiscent of a forest, where you will find many different types of microbes and bugs that will help to create a balanced soil. This soil should now be protected, because if you break it up, it will have to recreate itself once again. The different plant roots and bugs will play a role in shaping the soil beneath and around it so that it becomes healthier and healthier as time goes by.
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Jorge Montezuma
Posted over 2 years ago
Organic Farming vs. Conventional Farming: Why do you favour one over the other?
I do not believe an agricultural system based on petrochemical inputs can last longer than an organic system. If you look at just calories, which can be myopic, we have almost as many overweight people as malnourished people in the world. This makes me think that we have an unbalanced world diet. We definitely have the means to regenerate soil and start growing food in very inhospitable places (reference: greening the desert http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sohI6vnWZmk), therefore we do not need an industrial machine to generate food at one spot and distribute it all over. We can have decentralized food production systems all over the world. Pesticides are needed because of pests, right? Pests arrive when there is something wrong with the system. There is a function for pests in the system. Nature is trying to tell us something. There are too many plants together. Nature's way of saying "no no no" is by sending pests to balance the ecosystem. Therefore, we need to diversify our crops to prevent pests from arriving. IPM is great though, but think about integrating IPM from the initial farm design.. what plants will attract the pest-killers that you are buying from the IPM store? Animal manure can become a contaminant if you do not know how to apply it. There are safe ways to transform it into excellent, safe, and healthy compost. Same thing with humanure (human feces). This topic is too large to cover everything, Jesse, but it's something that needs people's attentions. Thanks for starting it. For a study comparing organic and conventional, please see the 30-year-long comparison study by Rodale Institute (http://www.rodaleinstitute.org/fst30years). My background: Environmental Engineer, Peace Corps Sustainable Agriculture Trainer, Permaculture Designer, worked at an organic farm, worked with farming parents and children, started and maintained 2 urban gardens with chickens and no pesticides grew delicious carrots, tomatoes, peas, kale, strawberries, and more.