Thursday, 10 June 2010

Organics - Doing the right thing.

I sometimes wonder whether non interventionist organic agriculture is a ruse from the big oil companies to encourage consumption.
You can use one spray of one litre of glyphosate weed killer and go off and find something better to do or, you can invest in kilometres of plastic mulch, buy a gas weed burner and mow ten times a year using gallons of diesel pumping loads of Co2 into the atmosphere. It's the same with plant sprays - you can go through your vineyard burning up gas every day with compost teas and biodynamic treatments but one single spray of a chemical like CBZ will do the job.
How organic can we be when oil gets too expensive or runs out? The amount of work that you can acheive in spraying, mowing, trimming and general transport of heavy stuff with one small tractor is amazing and you really appreciate the back breaking toil that agricultural workers had to go through. Trust me, I've shovelled enough shit to know what it must have been like!
I rejoice that we have the choice in how we manage land but can't help feeling that taking the completely "natural" way is actually a luxury in that you have a lot of spare money to invest in labour and the risk that you can lose a whole years crop without going bust.
Rightly or wrongly we have taken a middle route where sometimes you just have to spray to avoid days if not weeks of work but, there is also huge biodiversity in the vineyard. Ladybirds are eating aphids, grasses are suppressing nettles in the rows, foxes are keeping the rabbits down and if you remove a single thing from the whole chain then you immediately get something else predominating. We have just put down bait for mice because they are killing some of the vines... now waiting to see what will have lost it's predator.

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