Sunday, July 1, 2012

Life on the Farm - We grow as organic as we can

I am a big advocate of organically grown food. I am a bigger advocate of locally grown food either grown using organic methods or pest controlled using basic IPM rules.

As much as we try in South Texas, bugs are a part of our lives all year long. Our first approach to insect control will always be to use a natural method or organic formulation to control or eliminate those nasty pests. We do not try to stick to the standards of a certified organic farm but we do try to keep our gardens as chemical free as we possibly can.

Having said that, our mindset when developing and utilizing food plots is that we are trying to provide ourselves with as much food as we can produce on our own that is physically possible. Sometimes that means, after all organic or natural remedies have been exhausted, we will use chemicals to control insects.

Now, before you stop reading and cancel your subscription give me a chance to explain.

Our number one reason for having ever growing (size) food plots is to have locally grown food at my disposal 365 days out of the year. In abundance. Or else I am forced to buy not so locally grown food at the local grocer at outrageous prices  not knowing what kinds of pesticides or other foreign materials it may have come in contact with. If I grow it myself, I know where it came from and how it was produced. 

If I am forced to use chemicals on my gardens, and I must be at the end of my last nerve to do so, we follow safe IPM practices. IPM stands for Integrated Pest Management. Essentially it's purpose is to encourage an environment that encourages plant growth and discourages pests and if all else fails, then to use a safe application of chemical pesticides. That is, follow the instructions to the letter. And yes, I know we can debate the "safe" piece all day long. Keep reading.

Most chemical pesticides, herbacides, and other 'cides have received criticism because they are not used properly and are over used. It's their overuse that has resulted in trace deposits found in our rivers and lakes and in some extreme cases our ground water. Several studies have shown that the trace deposits have not come from agriculture but have come from consumer overuse. That is - homeowners.

The best example is in turf grass. Every year, in the late winter and early spring thousands of homeowners weed and feed their turf grass or lawns. Most buy bags of the chemical compounds widely advertised on television, pour in their little broadcaster on wheels and get after it on a weekend without reading the label. These studies have found that the average consumer broadcasts much more than what the manufacturer suggests. After a good rain or many days of deep watering the excess then runs off into the drainage systems and then ends up in a lake, stream or river. Common sense will tell you that all those pretty lawns in all the nice subdivisions times hundreds of thousands in the United States could easily create a problem. Search for yourself online. There are plenty of case studies for you to read before you start debating.

So, the bug is out of the bag pardon the pun. I will, in an extreme case, carefully mix and deliver a chemical pesticide on my garden as a last result. I will read the directions and mix accordingly and in some cases I mix it thinner that directed. And I will only spray when needed and usually that is a light spray, one time and the task is complete.

So what is worse? Occasional using chemical pesticides on your food plots or purchasing produce that was originally produced thousands of miles away and flown into your local grocer? On the Earths carbon footprint producing your own food, even if you use chemicals is less harmful to the environment than purchasing foreign produced fresh food. I vote to reduce the carbon footprint and if I need to, again on rare occasions, use a little chemical pesticides on my garden.

That's my 2cents. What's your take ??

1 comment:

  1. I try not to use it at all if I can help it, but if we have a severe problem, we'll have to deal with it. I don't water my lawn or worry about weeds there, so that's not my issue.


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