…Monsanto has been forced into the unenviable position of having to pay farmers to spray the herbicides of rival companies.Roundup, trade name for glysophate, doesn’t work anymore because the weeds mutated: Continue reading
If you tend large plantings of Monsanto’s “Roundup Ready” soy or cotton, genetically engineered to withstand application of the company’s Roundup herbicide (which will kill the weeds — supposedly — but not the crops), Monsanto will cut you a $6 check for every acre on which you apply at least two other herbicides. One imagines farmers counting their cash as literally millions of acres across the South and Midwest get doused with Monsanto-subsidized poison cocktails.
The move is the latest step in the abject reversal of Monsanto’s longtime claim: that Roundup Ready technology solved the age-old problem of weeds in an ecologically benign way.
Deep tilling of crop land pocked and rutted by heavy equipment used on rain and snow soaked, often frozen farm land may not only clean up the land, but may have a significant positive effect on managing herbicide resistant weeds, especially Palmer pigweed.Back to the future! “Deep tilling” is the current buzzword for plowing. That’s how my father farmed, with a bottom plow, a subsoiler, a harrow, and a cultivator.
The same article continues to defend no-till:
There is no doubt about the many benefits of minimum or no-till cropping systems. Reduced-tillage saves farmers money in equipment, improves soil quality, improves the environment by making the soil more porous and produces better drainage. The list of benefits goes on and on.Promotes more erosion, is my observation. And how does no-till save farmers money if they have to pay for increasing amounts of pesticides to try to deal with mutant weeds like pigweed? Continue reading
The scene is set at harvest time in Arkansas October 2009. Grim-faced farmers and scientists speak from fields infested with giant pigweed plants that can withstand as much glyphosate herbicide as you can afford to douse on them. One farmer spent US$0.5 million in three months trying to clear the monster weeds in vain; they stop combine harvesters and break hand tools. Already, an estimated one million acres of soybean and cotton crops in Arkansas have become infested.
The palmer amaranth or palmer pigweed is the most dreaded weed. It can grow 7-8 feet tall, withstand withering heat and prolonged droughts, produce thousands of seeds and has a root system that drains nutrients away from crops. If left unchecked, it would take over a field in a year.
Meanwhile in North Carolina Perquimans County, farmer and extension worker Paul Smith has just found the offending weed in his field , and he too, will have to hire a migrant crew to remove the weed by hand.
Here’s the good news: Continue reading
The problem, Jackson explains, is that agriculture in most places is based on practices that use up limited resources. The major grains, like wheat and corn, are planted afresh each year. When the fields are later plowed, they lose soil. The soil that remains in these fields loses nitrogen and carbon.The solution will have to be somewhat different for each region, Continue reading
This worries Jackson because vast quantities of soil are washed out of the fields and down the rivers, and the soil that’s left is gradually losing its nutrients.
Trying to figure out how to solve this problem, Jackson realized the answer was right in front of him. It was the patch of native prairie on his own farm — full of grasses from ankle to shoulder height, peppered with white and purple flowers, and surrounded by shrubs and cottonwood trees.
“Here is a steep, sloping bank with a lot of species diversity, featuring perennials,” Jackson says. “This is what I call nature’s wisdom.”
Perennials are plants that put down strong roots 10 feet or more into the ground and hold the soil in place. Perennials live year-round, unlike annual crops that get planted every year. In Kansas, perennials survive the harsh winters and the blazing hot summers.