What is Eco-Agriculture?

In the 50 years that we’ve been informing farmers about non-toxic alternatives to the insanity of so-called modern industrial agriculture, many terms have come and gone: organic, biological, sustainable, ecological, regenerative, and more. Despite recent claims by others, Charles Walters coined the term “eco-agriculture” back in 1970 because he wanted to rope in the concepts of “ecological” and “economical.” It was the belief of our founder that unless agriculture is ecological it cannot be economical.

START WITH SCIENCE

The science called eco-agriculture is not complicated. But it is infinitely more sophisticated than the current “chemical amateurism” running rampant across our land. Eco-agriculture simply holds that to be economical, agriculture must be ecological. By contrast, for the last 50 years, farmers should have been paid depletion allowances as they mined their soil — all to satisfy an international cheap food policy.

But there is another way. Farmers and growers have resisted this movement, and nontoxic methods are becoming more common and more lucrative. The lessons those experienced in fundamental regenerative agriculture systems are fundamental:

1. Simplistic nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N, P, and K) fertilization means malnutrition for plants, animals, and people because either a shortage or marked imbalance of plant nutrients prevents balanced plant health and therefore animal and human health.

2. Plants in touch with exchangeable soil nutrients needed to develop proper fertility loads, structure, and stabilized internal hormone and enzyme potentials, provide their own protection against insect, bacterial, and fungal attack.

3. Insects and nature’s predators are a disposal crew; their task is to eliminate sick plants. They are summoned when they are needed, and they are repelled when they are not needed.

4. Weeds are an index of the character of the soil. It is therefore a mistake to rely on herbicides to eradicate them, since these things deal with effect, not cause.

5. Crop losses in dry weather or during mild cold snaps are not so much the result of drought and cold as nutrient deficiency.

6. Toxic rescue chemistry hopes to salvage crop production that is not fit to live so that animals and men might eat it, always with consequences for present and future generations of plants, animals, and men.

7. Man-made molecules of toxic rescue chemistry do not exist in nature’s blueprints for living organisms. Since they have no counterpart in nature, they will not likely break down biologically in a time frame suitable to the head of the biotic pyramid, namely man. Carcinogenic, mutagenic, and teratogenic molecules of toxic rescue chemistry have no safe level and no tolerance level.

NPK formulas as legislated (and enforced by state departments of agriculture) mean malnutrition, insect, bacterial and fungal attack, toxic rescue chemistry, weed takeover, crop loss in dry weather, and general loss of mental acuity — plus degenerative metabolic disease among the population, all when people use thus fertilized and protected food crops.

Therefore the answer to pest crop destroyers is sound fertility management in terms of exchange capacity, pH modification, and scientific farming principles that USDA, Extension, and land grant colleges have with rare exceptions refused to teach ever since the great discovery was made that fossil fuel companies have grant money.

Young people today are starting to understand and implement this profound philosophy. They turn to the farmer for answers, but most farmers no longer understand. They may still remember that nature created life, but they think the test tube and fossil fuel factory have vacated nature’s rhythm of life and death. As we convert and transition our farms, we need education and a new way of thinking in order to thrive as an industry.

If you ask Acres U.S.A., “What does a farmer do?” we will answer quite differently from most. In agribusiness, they say a farmer produces corn, wheat, cattle, or swine, or perhaps one of a hundred other crops, and this may be correct as far as it goes. But we and a few farmers see the final product of the farm as well-nourished human bodies with minds capable of thought and reason.