Thursday, May 12, 2005

frosted flakes triple whammy

Via LifeAfterTheOilCrash,
High cost of diesel hitting hard at farm industry
FRESNO -- The farmers who grow many of the fresh fruit and vegetables for the nation's dinner tables say the rising cost of oil is making this one of their toughest planting seasons yet -- and might shove some of them out of business.
(F)armers are the ones caught in a "three-way whammy," said Keith Nilmeier, who just finished harvesting his 185 acres of oranges outside Fresno. Farmers are squeezed by higher prices for the diesel that runs their harvesting and irrigation equipment, for the fertilizer made by combining nitrogen with the hydrogen in natural gas, and for the transportation of crops to your local supermarket.

A succinct description of the dilemma a modern day farmer finds himself in.

Farmers being shoved out of business is no good. Their land will be either bought up and replaced with condos and exurbs, or farmed by corporations. Their expertise will be lost, just when it is most needed.

I do have a suggestion - get a horse. Long considered too much of a bother, their ability to fertilize fields and directly convert all available biomass into useful energy will prove without equal in an era of suddenly and irreversibly expensive energy.

"When no amount of tinkering, kicking, or cursing would revive the engine, the humiliating trip to the nearest farm would have to take place. The farmer would probably be glad to add to the driver's mental anguish by making remarks about "them new-fangled contraptions," but with some degree of stability, he would harness his team and hitch it to the front of the horseless carriage. "


At 6:31 AM, May 12, 2005, Blogger Big Gav said...

Don't forget that all terrain vehicle of the animal kingdom - the goat.

(If I wasn't so lazy I'd scan in a much better picture than that one - its amazing how many Moroccan goats can fit into a single tree)

At 12:59 PM, May 12, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although farmers may be pinched by higher costs, luckily for them, demand for their product is more than a little inelastic.

At 6:56 PM, May 12, 2005, Blogger WHT said...

Watch out about adding too many farm animals. Some right-wing fundie is going to try to bugger them.

See yesterday's

At 12:47 PM, May 13, 2005, Blogger UNplanner said...

But wait...didn't the advent of fossil-fueled agriculture free up the estimated 25% of lands that was reserved for draft animal forageing? Damn us getting dependant on that phantom carrying capacity.

Agriculture in the future will have to be by and large HAND power. Planting, maintaining and harvesting. Fortunately there are methods that are well suited for human powered agriculture. Now we just need the workers.

At 5:46 PM, May 13, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Well... if we replace horses with human power, we still must feed the people...

I'm not sure if the set-aside would equal 25% for draft-persons.

I think the cubans have it about right - they hitched up their plows to big ugly cows, and supplamented with mini-organic farms all throughout the cities and the countryside.

I think this will prove more palatable to americans than hitching up a team of aging baby boomers to a plow and whipping them to action under the noonday sun.

At 12:51 AM, May 14, 2005, Blogger UNplanner said...

Nah, we shouldn't be plowing anything. Or almost anything. The use of raised bed agricultural methods should eliminate the yearly plowing of most fields (which is a very disruptive and ultimately harmful practice)for most veggie, fruit and most other crops.

Wheat rice and alfalfa do not seem to be applicable to raised bed agriculture. The use of no-till practices, cover-croping and crop rotation should be used to protect the land. Draft animals or people could be used to pull harvesting equipment. Grain raising will utilize less energy overall anyway due to no fertilization/pesticides or mechized impliments. Not overturning the soil also consumes less energy.

And oh yeah, livestock needs to be able to access their feed via foraging and not by continued importation of food frome eleswere.

At 2:47 PM, May 15, 2005, Blogger monkeygrinder said...

Unplanner: Thanks for the info, interesting stuff. More proof that I'd be lost on a farm...


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