Win a copy of Straw Bale Building Details this week in the Straw Bale House forum!
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education experiences global resources the cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • paul wheaton
  • Anne Miller
  • Mike Jay
  • Jocelyn Campbell
stewards:
  • Devaka Cooray
  • Burra Maluca
  • Joseph Lofthouse
garden masters:
  • Dave Burton
  • Greg Martin
gardeners:
  • Mike Barkley
  • Shawn Klassen-Koop
  • Pearl Sutton

Making Herbicides Illegal: What would likely happen if we tried?  RSS feed

 
master steward
Posts: 4000
Location: Northern WI (zone 4)
967
books food preservation hunting solar trees woodworking
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hopefully when all herbicides are made illegal, we'll have a 5 year phase in period.  During which time we'd stop turning food into ethanol and we'd get better at eating the food that is currently not pretty enough to be sold and eaten.  Those two things alone would go a long way towards offsetting any yield losses.  Cost increases could be remedied by readjusting the incentives and subsidies to support basic food instead of fancy chemistry.  

Someone may say "But doing that is hard!".  But in comparison, equipping farmers to spray toxins on their fields across the globe, genetically modify plants to handle the toxins and convincing everyone it's ok should be harder.

All the great examples of changing monocrop agriculture over to agroforestry (like Mark Shepard) will be even more well known and implementable.  Just need to get it done.
 
master pollinator
Posts: 2724
Location: Toronto, Ontario
290
bee dog forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur cooking rabbit trees urban wofati
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I think the sentiment is great, but the approach will be tricky.

The question, though, seems to me to be the product of the same species of thought as produced conventional agriculture in the first place. We have identified a problem, and so the solution seems to be to eradicate the problem. But as this is permaculture, the solution isn't a panacea, but rather a careful examination and overhaul of the entire system, with a view to minimising harm to the greatest number possible.

An observation about a sub-optimal situation or practice that doesn't, in its summation, offer a solution or alternative, or at least an avenue to explore these possibilities, is at its centre merely a complaint. What use is whining to solving a problem?

To that end, I like the idea of repurposing electrical and service rights-of-way that need to be cleared periodically as wildlife corridors, specifically for endangered species, and ones specifically damaged by fencing across their historical ranges, like bison. What if all electrical service corridors and pipeline rights-of-way were instead converted to wildlife migration and grazing corridors? There would be no need for spraying, and proper maintenance of the corridor, from the perspective of the utilities, would be directly managed by the grazing bison, and the conservation groups concerned with the welfare of the animals.

One of my biggest issues in herbicide use is it's prevalence in forestry throughout Canada, with the exception of Quebec, where it is illegal. It is used to keep down competing growth in commercial forestry plantings, and is widely touted, no doubt by industry schills, as the safest, most effective method of control available. It's one of the most contentious issues that exist between today's forestry industry professionals and the First Nations. Quebec, incidentally, makes use of grazing and mechanical clearing, and controlled burns where applicable. I suppose goat poo everywhere but Quebec is more hazardous than glyphosate.

Honestly, because the market is the playing field we're talking about, in terms of legislation, I think we need to be concerned with how to manipulate the market to make it do what we want.

The pesticide and herbicide game is one that requires constant R&D, as their targets are ever-evolving to thrive despite stressors in their environment. Thus, eventually, the 0.1% or whatever of target plant species that survive constant application of glyphosate long enough to go to seed end up being the ancestors of the next generation of glyphosate-ready weeds, making glyphosate and glyphosate-ready crops irrelevant, obsolete.

With that in mind, what happens when their plans for market expansion are stymied, or even delayed a bit? Ask Bayer-Monsanto. And they were already behind the eight-ball on that one, having underestimated how fast target weed species would breed immunity into local seedbanks.

So we don't need to make pesticides and herbicides illegal outright, at least not at first. This opens the door for a gradual lessening of use, and an adaptation to principles of food production that don't require chemical inputs, or really any kind of extra-systemic inputs beyond what can be sourced from a neighbour's equally clean operations.

I think what we need to do is much of what has been suggested above. I think we need to vote with our dollars, as consumers and producers of food. I think we also need to make it known by our government representatives, that payouts to petrochemical companies whose products are doomed to fail, and to poison us and kill the biosphere, must end.

These are our taxes being used, our hard-earned crystallized sweat and labour, to make business possible for these poison-peddling money-grubbers, and their over-compensated boards and CEOs.

Whatever we do, there will be people negatively impacted, even if it's just the employees of chemical companies who lose jobs. Our job, for those of us advocating for change, is to do what we can to make that transition to a more sustainable, resilient way as gentle as possible, while making sure not to stall progress towards our goal.

Any sort of disruption to the way food is produced will affect food prices. Food supply safety and stability are being threatened by the ongoing failure of these sprays to work as well as advertised, though, so we will see food prices rise anyways. So we might as well take stronger measures.

At the same time as pesticides and herbicides are being attacked with the removal of subsidy and increased regulation, I would focus on food waste, with measures akin to what is being seen in France today.

Imagine, for instance, that each grocery store was obligated to sell human-edible food waste at a discount, and given away for free, where possible at the end, or else routed to a multi-stage insect-based food waste recycler housed in a cargo container next to their trash compactor. In one end would go food too far gone to eat, and out the other end would come some sort of frozen insect, like Black Soldier Fly Larvae, mealworms, african cockroaches, and/or red worms and worm castings. Match this with an uptick in the legalisation of backyard livestock keeping, even just chickens, and a Victory Garden-style surge in backyard food production, and suddenly there's a lot more food in the pipeline that would otherwise go to landfills.

And that doesn't even address the issue of food waste on the commodity scale. But how bad would it be if the 50% loss of food production essentially translated to a near-100% curbing of food loss, and recouping and recycling at the store-level?

As with all problems we are trying to hash out, there's no one single quick-fix. We need widespread, systemic change, and on a scale and to a degree that cushions the negative impact to as many affected as possible.

As mentioned above, there is no panacea, except for the design philosophy we call permaculture.

-CK
 
gardener
Posts: 2293
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
146
forest garden trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Trade offs all around.
There are some permaculture friendly operations( like Curtis Stone) that use plastic in their market gardens, and at least one food forest/orchard operation that uses it.
The labor needed to apply and reapply organic mulch  is cited as the main reason.

 
Chris Kott
master pollinator
Posts: 2724
Location: Toronto, Ontario
290
bee dog forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur cooking rabbit trees urban wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That seems to me to be an example of too narrow a focus on the scope of operations.

Plastic mulch is just a consumable requiring labour to use, and to store when not in use, to keep it from degrading prematurely. Also, when it's put away for the season, it's no longer doing the job of sheltering the delicate soil ecosystem from exposure.

Organic mulch, however, is supposed to break down and be reapplied, mainly because it's becoming soil used to feed and support everything growing in it. The mulch will also foster a more fungal balance to the microbial ecosystem, which is of particular concern to growers of trees and woody shrubs.

In my opinion, it's just another situation that illustrates the need for permacultural solutions.

-CK
 
pollinator
Posts: 294
Location: South of Capricorn
73
food preservation homestead rabbit
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I`m as anti-pesticide as anyone, but here`s my perspective from the third world: everything that is banned up there doesn't just go away. The companies don't realize the error of their ways and then start converting their factories to make solar panels or clothing made from 100% recycled PET bottles. They pick up their stakes and find a new market. Everything that gets banned in Europe or the US is here in Brazil, and is getting dumped on our fields and into our water tables. Just like tobacco, when one market gets smart and sues the manufacturers, they go looking at new expanding markets like Indonesia, the Phillipines, etc. The stuff doesn`t go away, it just leaves Maine`s backyard and goes somewhere else.
I work with forestry, and the only reason we are not using every evil chemical known to man here is that FSC certification doesn`t allow it (in other word, the end clients will only pay for a certified product made with pesticide-free wood). The government can`t stop it (here the law states you have to have an ag tech "prescribe" your pesticide and even your simple fertilizers, but in practice you can walk in and buy whatever you want. My country neighbors who can't read are buying things that someone told them are good because it "kills everything" with no guidance on usage or even on how to protect their own health). The market can help, but it's a mess.
(depressing and without a solution, yes, I know. As Chris mentions, either system-wide massive change, plus presenting better solutions at the neighbor level.)
 
pollinator
Posts: 8152
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
615
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I have met several illiterate people who desperately wanted to get their hands on herbicides,  but couldn't afford them.

The lady who owns these coffee plants, told me that you don't have to do anything with coffee because bugs, birds and monkeys don't like them. They are grown under her coconut trees and very close to a wild forested area. Commercial Growers do use pesticides, so I'm pretty sure that the fact that hers are mixed with so many other different plants, in isolation from those big producers, prevents invasion from coffee loving insects. And there's lots of birds living in that wild forest. I assume many of them eat bugs.
20181208_085608.jpg
[Thumbnail for 20181208_085608.jpg]
 
William Bronson
gardener
Posts: 2293
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
146
forest garden trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Chris there is a permaculture orchardist,  Stefan Sobkowiak, who explains his choice to use plastic better than I can.

Here a thread that gets into it:

https://permies.com/t/36586/Permie-Orchard-talk-plastic-mulch

It seems not unlike using layers of plastic in a wofati, a one time investment intended to last for decades.

In his description of how he decided on using thick,  long lived plastic,  I can see places where he could have tried alternatives, but none are mentioned.
He specifically mentions grass growing taller than the first year trees, but he doesn't mention planting  a living mulch.
He does plant his alley ways with alfalfa, and covers the plastic mulch with the chop 'n drop,creating a cooling barrier.
I'm considering planting common running comfrey(!) for my yarden, as a grass suppressant .
Dock is currently the plant that is trying to do that job, tillage radish failed at it and prairie mimosa is on my list of things to try.
My soil is filled with rubble,  so Ive brought in loads of woodchips,  but by themselves,  they are not enough.

I've just acquired some chainsaws, so timber rounds are also on my list of things to try as weed(grass) killer.
I'm not sure how efficient a use of energy sawing them will be.
I have other,  crazier ideas, like petrified Hessian and such,  but no time to enact theses schemes as of yet.
 
Dale Hodgins
pollinator
Posts: 8152
Location: Victoria British Columbia-Canada
615
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've had an epiphany. After reading about the black plastic which I've seen a million times. I think I've come up with something better, at least for those in the tropics.

Banana paper is naturally water repellent and it's made from the stems of bananas which go to waste by the millions of tons. It's naturally a tan color but it could be infused with ground charcoal to darken it. It could be laid out in sheets that are overlapped at the joints to suppress weeds for row crops. Circular sheets with a hole in the center, could suppress weeds around young trees.

If there are any ground crawling insects that could attack the young tree, let's put some neem leaf or neem oil into the paper so that insects don't like it. Hopefully this will prolong the life of the paper as well. Mosquitoes don't like neem, so the workers planting the trees and tending them would gain some degree of relief.

This idea is only 5 minutes old, so it's bound to evolve. After I have perfected this paper, you can use it to demonstrate why the other stuff is now obsolete.
 
master steward
Posts: 8490
Location: Pacific Northwest
3072
cat duck fiber arts forest garden homestead hugelkultur kids sheep foraging wood heat
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator

William Bronson wrote:

In his description of how he decided on using thick,  long lived plastic,  I can see places where he could have tried alternatives, but none are mentioned.
He specifically mentions grass growing taller than the first year trees, but he doesn't mention planting  a living mulch.
He does plant his alley ways with alfalfa, and covers the plastic mulch with the chop 'n drop,creating a cooling barrier.
I'm considering planting common running comfrey(!) for my yarden, as a grass suppressant .
Dock is currently the plant that is trying to do that job, tillage radish failed at it and prairie mimosa is on my list of things to try.
My soil is filled with rubble,  so Ive brought in loads of woodchips,  but by themselves,  they are not enough.

I've just acquired some chainsaws, so timber rounds are also on my list of things to try as weed(grass) killer.
I'm not sure how efficient a use of energy sawing them will be.
I have other,  crazier ideas, like petrified Hessian and such,  but no time to enact theses schemes as of yet.



When I watched his movie, he actually described using Hostas as a living mulch successfully. I'm assuming he didn't plant a bunch because of expense or lack of market. But, because of him, I now plant hostas under my fruit trees. They're edible and do a great job of shading out grass.
 
William Bronson
gardener
Posts: 2293
Location: Cincinnati, Ohio,Price Hill 45205
146
forest garden trees urban
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
That's cool.
I wonder why the disconnect between the two narratives.
I've watched his videos, but I have not watched the movie.
In his videos, the plastic is clearly in use.
 
Posts: 113
Location: East tn
26
homestead hugelkultur foraging
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Robotics could chop and drop problematic weeds using ai and photo recognition.

Or the people whose jobs are replaced by robotics could chop and drop giving everyone a living wage AND a patch of land to chop and drop weekly.

As for dropping food supply if they were eliminated , we just need to incrementally drift in that direction. First powerlines and easements. Then a few marginal food producing states. Etc

We are so far from that now. Last year an organic farm was almost sprayed from the air with herbicides due to its weeds infringing on neighboring big at outfits. Smh
 
Chris Kott
master pollinator
Posts: 2724
Location: Toronto, Ontario
290
bee dog forest garden fungi homestead hugelkultur cooking rabbit trees urban wofati
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
There are many tools we could use, and I agree strongly, J Davis, about the importance of robotic automation, living wages, and providing meaningful work for people as variables in this equation. These are a few of the real-world concerns that illustrate, for me, how this can't be anything less than a complete systemic overhaul.

Anything less lets too many people fall through the cracks. People make the argument that the market should decide how and what happens. I contend that it's the job of those elected to govern to soften the blow, not necessarily on businesses and industries that are "too big to fail," whatever that means, but on the people. If everyone was guaranteed a living wage suited to where they were, it wouldn't matter if a big employer went under in the short term, because the people that are the capital asset of the failed business would still be available, perhaps with some retraining necessary, for an employer or industry to succeed it.

And if that employer happens to be themselves, growing their own food, perhaps selling the surplus for some savings to get a piece of land of their own, all the better.

-CK
 
Oh. Hi guys! Look at this tiny ad:
permaculture bootcamp - learn permaculture through a little hard work
https://permies.com/wiki/bootcamp
  • Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
Boost this thread!