So What has Happened to Agriculture Over the Last Hundred Years?

Basically rural populations in industrial countries have diminished while the cities have flourished which in essence means that more and more people rely on farmers to feed them.

Shouldn’t this mean then that farmers are able to charge more and get better returns? No, it doesn’t simply because of what also occurred with the so-called “Green Revolution”. This era heralded the introduction of synthetic fertilisers, chemical pesticides and weedicides and fungicides, a byproduct of the Second World War.

Suddenly farmers were going to war on their farms! Farmers were told of these new products that would increase their yields and their returns. This meant adding superphosphate, urea, MAP and DAP to the soils to boost growth and increase the size of the crops. At first this was great as farmers had bumper years and returns were bountiful.

However on farm costs were going up as the new system also resulted in more weeds and more pests and more diseases. However the farm supply companies readily supplied products to combat theses problems, and they still are! Farmers were encouraged to add more fertilisers and simply spray out anything that was not wanted so that yields were maintained. Some people refer to these farmers and still do, as “the more-on” farmers. Instead of looking for the cause of the problem these farmers simply use more and more specialized products to get rid of their problems. And guess what? The problems increase and often become harder to deal with!

Why? Because these industrial farming methods which use synthetic fertilisers to ‘feed’ the plants and use chemicals to kill the weeds, the pests and the diseases slowly kill the soil life. The result? Over the years the soils have become compacted lacking the structure to hold moisture and the natural ‘bridge’ between the soil biology to deliver nutrients to the plants’ roots is severely hampered and is unable to release the nutrients needed for healthy plant growth. The plants, deficient in mineral dense nutrients, are thus subject to insect attack and disease leading to poorer animal health and poorer human health.

It is really only recently with less rainfall, reduced returns and rising costs of inputs that many farmers have been forced to search for other ways to farm. It is just becoming obvious that adding XYZ just doesn’t work anymore forcing many to look for more sustainable and viable ways to farm.

Recently 300 farmers gathered to hear talks addressing the future of their land and of their farms. Leading farm experts one after another declared that the “Green Revolution” is over. The take home message was clear: It is time to understand the biological processes and allow them to work for you and your farms.