I’ve just started reading parts of Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic.
Early on he uses the phrase ‘a failure of diagnosis.’
American agriculture suffers from a serious ‘failure of diagnosis.’
In previous posts I’ve mentioned two approaches we hope will improve the ability to diagnose a specific agriculture in a specific place (…and, by the way, I think one of the most serious failures in agriculture is the tendency to generalize solutions/landscapes/ecologies).
There is a third leg to our agro-ecological ‘stool’….and it is the most tentative (much work needs to be done…but a good start). It is an ever evolving list of agro-ecological practices.
The outline to date:
- Area I: Improving the physical, chemical and biological conditions of soil.
- Compost Practices (Composition and chemically/biologically specific practices and their application) including vermiculture
- Mulching Practices (Composition and chemically/biologically specific practices and their application)
- Manure Practices (Composition, and animal specific manure practices including amendments/methods)
- Bionutrient Practices (Bionutrient practices including amendments/methods)
- Area II: Managing nutrients
- Practices that ensure minimalization of non-point source runoff from nutrient application
- Practices that ensure protection of air quality
- Practices for row arrangement that aid both nutrient management and other productivity enhancements
- Practices for crop rotation that aid nutrient management and enhance productivity
- Area III: Managing weeds and pests
- Practices creating native plant communities and wildlife habitat consistent with site ecology
- Practices that enhance accessibility, quantity, and quality of forage
- Practices of integrated pest management
- Area IV: Managing water
- Structures for water control
- Practices for stormwater runoff control
- Practices for irrigation, microirrigation
- Practices for water harvesting
- Area V: Managing farm infrastructure
- Practices for vegetative barriers
- Practices for vegetative treated areas
- Practices for tree and shrub establishment
- Practices for obstruction removal
- Practices for land clearing
- Practices for waste recycling
- Practices for seasonal high tunnels for crops
- Practices for fencing
- Practices for hedgerows
- Area VI: Managing farm energy uses
- Practices that reduce on-farm energy use
- Practices that improve the efficiency of on-farm energy use
The initial work was done in a partnership with USDA NRCS as an effort to improve the conservation practice definitions and payments for specialty farmers. We have taken it a good bit further at this point to evolve both a plan for a demonstration farm as well as a training curriculum.