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Letters from readers

By Staff | Sep 14, 2018

To the editor,

Regarding your article, “An organic way of farming (August 24 Farm News),” it seems even after 149 years, death and destruction are still considered progress.

I have to commend Aaron Lehman for his use of winter rye as a weed suppressor in soybeans but beyond that to call his organic farming “sustainable” is a joke.

Granted, we do not know the long term effects of the chemicals we use. But we do know the effects of tillage.

The Civil War days, when the Lehmans started farming saw this country as the only one in the civilized world that had to kill 800,000 of its own people to stop the horrors of slavery. The killing continues today as farmers drag steel through the soil murdering the life God put there as our partners in our production of food.

That life would include fungi, bacteria, insects, worms, and numerous other organisms that bind soil to create pathways for water infiltration and also make nutrients available for use by the plants.

Even more shameful than this destruction by organic farmers is the use of tillage by farmers who also use chemicals. Considering that organic farmers can be profitable without chemicals, why spray and also till the soils, thus causing erosion along with the destruction of the soil structure? Why use both, especially considering that no-till equipment is so readily available.

This is not to disparage all farmers who use tillage. No till takes a long term commitment. I know a farmer who tried no-till for a year. Compared to his conventional tillage system it yielded less because conventional tillage is mainly there to remedy the damage caused by tilling the year before.

We live in a culture of short term thinking. Some studies indicate that no-till takes five years to achieve its full potential. When you see how drought years and wet years alike, are moderated by a more natural soil profile you will be convinced.

The battle lies in overcoming the threat of politics and other artificial market distortions that lead to a stable future and thus long range planning based on short term sacrifices.

Perhaps the reasoning behind the widespread use of tillage is that the soil, like fossil fuels might outlast an earth that will succumb to war or disease before it is mined out.

Fritz Groszkruger

Dumony, IA

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