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Is permaculture superior to monoculture (organic) in EVERY WAY?

 
tony phamm
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Hi all! First off, let me say that I am a newbie to the whole idea of permaculture and this post is simply asking you veterans what the objective comparison between permaculture and monoculture (organic), especially in an economical sense.

We all know permaculture is superior when it comes to restoring a land into a self sustaining ecosystem. We know that permaculture, in a big scale, will raise oxygen levels and arguably lower global warming. And it may also stop global climate change randomly happening these days. That is the whole idea behind a large scale permaculture remodeling of our farming practices. Many other environmental benefits too. Also, some people want to live in a self sustainable way where their food is secured. All good points.

However, I wanted to focus primarily on the economical side of permaculture. I feel that the only way mainstream society will ever convert on its own to permaculture design is if it makes more economical sense.

Let me first explain why I think most things in life have to make economical sense for it to win over the other model and please correct me where you see fit. It's actually pretty obvious for me but first off, if the farm is profitable, the owner will reinvest that profit into a bigger and bigger farm, as big as he can manage. Now combine everyone in the world who goes into farming and then you'll have x amount of farmers to supply x amount of demand. Demand determines prices and supply also determines prices, but the cost of supply determines how much supply there is too. Take for example corn in a monoculture. Farmers use huge machines to till, seed, harvest, etc. the corn fields. I don't know the exact speed but one can estimate it can be 100 to 1000 times faster in terms of output in weight than say a crop that has to be hand picked like saffron. The price is much higher for saffron because it takes much more work (labor costs) than corn which can be mowed down. And of course the lower price of corn is why we use corn for everything like corn oil, corn starch, high fructose corn syrup, etc. Let's not get into subsidies because that's a whole other discussion. I wanted to calculate everything as precise as I can and subsidies is so complicated that we don't really know how much it affects prices, and it's not the main point.

So my point in all this is the ease and ultimately the bottom line is what drives consumers' behavior. Let's compare apples to apples for example: I don't know the exact numbers, but let's say an organic apple costs 30% more than conventionally grown ones. Now the consumer has to decide if that's worth it. Many factors are at play here including his income and what he knows about organics and his opinion about organics, and what priority he takes his health, etc.

Now that we've established the role of supply and demand and the influences it has on consumerism and therefore on back again to farming practices we use, I wanted to ask how permaculture is more beneficial economically than monoculturally (organically) grown crops. I'm using organics only as an example because the differences is less and is more easily comparable. Let's assume that the whole world wants only organics, the question I have still is is the permaculture model more economically sound than mono? Now I know I may be asking the wrong question here because some permies will argue that it's not about the $$$. In fact, it's the opposite. You guys may argue that the whole problem with our society is that we put profits ahead of mother nature. Again, I don't want to get into the subjectivity of it all. I wanted to just be on the objective side of things, so I'm hoping your responses will focus only on the objective factors. And besides, the current economical system is what we have chosen and are using so it's either we wait for an overhaul of the system (hyper inflation will do that for us anyways) or we "play the game" as it is currently, and solve this issue by using its current rule and dynamics.

Anyways, so back to the permaculture model. What are the pros and cons of this compared to mono. Again, I'm new to this so please let me know. From what I know in perm we just have to prepare the land in the beginning and as years go by the soil becomes more and more fertile so therefore we have to maintain the land less and less. If someone can let me know more exact numbers, that'd be great. Someone preferably with a business who has crunched the numbers. I wanted to know what are the %ages in labor costs are each of the processes of getting the crop into market. I mean this could get really detailed and I'll list the details further if anyone wants but let's just say as a general rule, as an example: the perm model takes 20% more TOTAL time to bring the crop into market in the first year but after 3 years it will take 20% less overall time (maybe 100% less time to prep the land, but still other factors are the same like harvesting, delivery, etc.) Let me know what your thoughts are on this.

Again, the bottom line I feel is what is more profitable. The ugly word profit for some can actually be seen as power/energy. This power/energy can be used for many things. It can be used to buy lambos or it could be used to further expand the permaculture farmlands of the world. It's what drives the dynamics of growth. Corporations grow as much as they can profit and once profit hits a plateau then growth becomes stagnant. You can argue that for the permaculture culture, it wants to go against the idea of corporations so the whole profit thing doesn't make sense. I agree, but the world would have to go through hell before this idea of profit being evil will prevail. I'm just discussing how we can solve it before it goes to hell. I know permaculture makes the most sense environmentally, but we have to wait a long long time before everyone cares enough about the environment to actually put his money where his mouth is and buy permacultured (higher priced) products.

I myself am contemplating on whether I want my next business venture to be involved in the permaculture concept, specifically for the profit on selling the crops only. I'm planning on reinvesting that money back into expansion of bigger and bigger land for permaculture use but, investment-wise, I just don't see it as the optimal business to get into. I may just do a small farm just for personal reasons, but I'm not sure if it will expand any greater than that. I feel the whole permaculture thing is more for environmental reasons, which is great, but economically speaking, it's not too strong and therefore we don't see any large scale usage. Let me know if I'm wrong and please point out the big big ones. I know of some from this article:
http://permacultureapprentice.com/successful-permaculture-farms/
but again, most of these get income from educational products and tours and whatnot. I'm just speaking of the income from the crops themselves only.

Again, don't get me wrong, I love the whole concept of permaculture and the people who support it and are involved in it are noble to say the least. I just feel the growth could be exponentially faster if the bottom line profit was there. Profit being the energy used to expand a concept even further.

This all said, I still feel that in the future prices of food in general is going to keep going up as we erode our lands even further and further. The reason why I wanted to start perm now is because I forecast that monos will become less and less effective while perms will stay resilient even during drastic climate change in the region. Monos will suffer from drought while perms will stay consistently intact. Water will be the #1 issue within 20 years, and perms will stay unaffected for the most part. Please let me know if this is true. Part of being a good investor is forecasting the future, and forecasting it before mainstream forecasters. So I'm hoping I can be a good investor and make good investments for our future and be part of the change that will be inevitably needed. I'm obviously going to get a bias response here when I ask if I should get into permaculture now but I wanted some more specifics from you guys to help me in the details. Let me know how I can get started on a personal scale. My preference would be to have maybe 1/2 the land already permacultured while the other 1/2 bare so I can learn from what's already there and 1/2 of it I can apply myself from scratch. Finding that land may take sometime, but I'm flexible enough to move to another state if I have to, or even another country if the weather and people are nice. I was thinking Costa Rica by the way. And any further info you know of on the business side of permaculture is greatly appreciated.

Anyways, let me know your thoughts on all points above. I left out a lot of details but I can clarify and thanks if you've made it this far lol.
 
James Johnstone
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If you farm without debt, other than perhaps a land loan, and sell direct-to-consumer (whether fresh or to a processor/restaurants) in my observation permaculture techniques result in yields so astronomically greater than in monoculture farming that I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself season after season.

If you have to mortgage your great-grandkids in order to get the materials you need to get a crop in, and the only way to have a chance of paying that off is to run a contract with a major ag-business company and take out crop insurance if such is available, then permaculture is not economically advantageous, simply because none of those entities will accept anything other than a monoculture acreage.

So, to the extent we buy in to a retarded agricultural system that subsidizes monoculture, monoculture will be, at the margins anyways on sizable acreage, more profitable. To the extent we ignore the retarded agricultural system and engage in permaculture techniques, including alternative business plans and marketing strategies, permaculture is far more profitable.
 
tony phamm
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Thanks for the reply. Do you have any solid numbers? You said that the perm you're doing is yielding so much more. If that's the case, then it should be much easier to profit from perm given the yield per acreage. The one thing I see is that labor is going to be much more due to the fact that you can't just use huge machines to harvest the crops. But let's take apples only for example. I mean you mention that only if I sell direct to consumers or if I do alternative types of biz, but problem with that is, there's a finite market for that. Not everyone is going to go directly to the farm. I mean I can market myself as the first permaculture farm but I can't do that on a large scale. Ultimately, I think perm cannot rival against monoculture on a global scale currently. It's more of a lifestyle of self sufficiency and it ends there. It'll be great as a security measure in case s*** hits the fan and there's a global crisis of food but that'll take awhile to get to and still monoculture of organics might be the next alternative, but I just don't see the clear advantage of permaculture to mono organics within 20 years currently. If there were, then there would be permacultured crops selling everywhere. But instead, I see just perm farms out there as just an educational tool for ppl who want to get into that lifestyle for themselves.

I agree that it can re-forest desertified areas but that's more on a governmental side of things where the ppl have to vote on whether their money goes to the ecology of mother earth. But as a viable business to rival against the prices of mono organics, I don't see perm as the clear winner. Correct me if I'm wrong because I don't know too much about perms. If I see the numbers and they make sense then I may get into it. Believe me, I really want to get into it as a business, but seems like monos are still more efficient in terms of labor costs and just the overall costs of things (whichever method has the lowest total costs, usually the prices in the market will reflect that).

The only other option is to educate the people and from there raise demand for permacultured foods that have a much higher nutritional value. That itself will take at least a generation. People have been educated for years about meat and still very little has changed so change in ppl's minds take awhile that's for sure.

Off topic a bit - anyone heard of Waterboxx from Groasis? Any comments on that? I wonder if we can apply that with perm principles.
 
tony phamm
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James Johnstone wrote:... in my observation permaculture techniques result in yields so astronomically greater than in monoculture farming that I wouldn't have believed it if I hadn't seen it for myself season after season.


So can you break down the numbers? If you don't have exact numbers, can you at least estimate? For example, an acre of land from monoculture will yield how much vs. one from permaculture? How much more labor does it take for the first year? 2nd year? 3rd year? etc. worth of work to harvest?

As mentioned before, I assume from perm that the most work is the prep of the land, then year after year the soil should get better and better and less and less maintenance on the land thereafter. So can you let me know how much more work is it for each year? Example, like 300% more work for first year, then 4th year 25% as much work.

Anyways, if the yields are fantastic and the data shows it clearly, I wouldn't doubt any entrepreneur's hesitation to invest in perm as a business that can be expanded globally, but I just don't see that right now, unless NO ONE has looked into it yet, and perm is not really a new thing. Honestly, all I really see is perm as being a lifestyle for each individual's needs. This idea of a lifestyle for sure be more and more popular as our governments demonstrate they will fail us every time so I see an upsurge of DIY perms out there but no real big agro thing sweeping the globe. Perm has to at least win over mono organics to at least replace those first of all then it may be popularized further as it gets accepted.
 
Jennifer Richardson
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There is a lot to talk about in your post, so I'm just going to comment on some things that stood out to me instead of trying to make a comprehensive reply, and hopefully the discussion can continue from there, since I think you raise a lot of interesting questions.

It's interesting that you say, "if the farm is profitable, the owner will reinvest that profit into a bigger and bigger farm, as big as he can manage," because I feel like already we see kind of a divide between a permaculture mindset and a conventional ag mindset. I think the key phrase is "as big as he can manage," because good management from a permaculture perspective and good management from a conventional perspective are two very different beasts. Permaculture values human-scale solutions and permanent, more-or-less self-perpetuating systems, whereas in conventional agriculture, if the endeavor is profitable and the land is not so degraded as to preclude farming it altogether, it is almost by definition "well-managed." So yes, a successful permaculture farmer may want to invest in additional land up to a point (although I think it's equally likely he or she might want to invest in debt repayment if any was taken on to purchase the property, investing for financial independence, educational outreach in the community, infrastructure, restoration projects, etc.), but permaculture properties are almost inevitably going to average out to be smaller than conventional ag properties, which I think is all to the good.

Another point on good management and labor and profitability: Right now, many permaculture projects, especially large ones, depend on volunteer labor and/or PDCs and workshops to generate income and provide necessary labor. There is nothing wrong with this, to my eyes, but I think it gives somewhat of a false sense of what's a manageable scale for a permaculture property when you're mentally comparing it against conventionally managed properties in which labor is hired or performed by the owner. The educational component of a permaculture site often sort of "subsidizes" the actual "farm" part of the endeavor, if the project even has market farming as one of its goals (which, again, is not a criticism, just an observation). And of course, in permaculture mechanized labor doesn't have as much of a role to play as in conventional ag, so labor costs are going to be a limiting factor. Now, good design can eliminate a lot of unnecessary labor, but in my experience labor is going to be the wall you run up against in terms of expansion in a way that it just isn't in factory farming or conventional mechanized operations.

Side note: I am not the world's biggest fan of Joel Salatin, but for numbers crunching and a focus on profitability doing something that resembles permaculture in some ways, he's probably the best source I know of who has tracked everything and made it public.

Advantages of permaculture in terms of profitability:

Reduced inputs. Annual seed, fertilizer, herbicides, fuel, purchased food for animals, mechanized equipment, etc. can all be very costly. If you reduce outlays, you can have lower yields and/or lower sale prices while still maintaining or even increasing profit.

Resilience. You mention this toward the end of your post. A diverse operation with good design is far more resistant to crop failures because of drought, climate change, pests, etc. and so much less potential financial loss and instability. A personal example here: I live on a conventional family-owned and -managed cattle ranch. When I was young, we ran about 350 head of cattle on our 550 acres. Now, after many years of drought and the accompanying degradation of our pasture, we run about 70 head on the same area, mostly on the bottom 250 because the top 300 is so marginal that it can barely support 10 cows with calves. Holistic management using permaculture could have addressed water issues, prevented overgrazing and pasture degradation, and increased our stocking rates.

Premium prices. Some people will be willing to pay more for food they view as ethical, environmentally friendly, more nutritious, more humane, local, etc. although you may not be able to command too much of a premium on top of that already present for organic products (vs. conventional)

Greater ability to grow on marginal land, which is cheaper to purchase

Higher total yields per acre than with conventional farming

Less waste than with mechanical harvesting, so more makes it to market to be sold

Reduced cost of living. Assuming one lives on the farm, one can provide many/most of one's own energy, shelter, and food needs using permaculture. Growing a polyculture enables one to eat largely from the farm, versus growing only rice or corn or cattle or whatever, which leaves one in a position of purchasing most of one's food from off farm even if a massive surplus of calories are produced. This means that one needn't make as much money to live at a similar level of comfort, and/or that what money one does make can be reinvested in farming or other things rather than being diverted to maintaining the family and household


Disadvantages:

Human labor costs if operation is large or limitations to expansion (and thus profits) if operation is small enough to be managed by owners or with a small amount of hired labor

Lower yields per acre of any given crop than with monoculture (despite higher total yields), which can mean the loss of economies of scale, reduced viability of certain specialized equipment that could save on labor or time or otherwise be useful, etc., and which can make marketing more expensive and/or difficult

Reduced access (direct or indirect) to some forms of subsidies, reduced access to financing (banks tend to view permaculture with dubiety) and subjection to policies which favor conventional operations



That's most of what I can think of, although I'm sure I've barely skimmed the tip of the ice berg
 
Will Scoggins
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Also, Permaculture isn't only about the "growies". It is considered a design science, or a way to approach a task or problem. Much of Permaculture can be seen in many successful endeavors that have never heard the word: Achieving synergy between separate parts (a team coming together with good chemistry and playing above individual talent levels), function stacking (Already going to town for "x", might as well pick up "y" while I'm there), obtain a yield (necessary to remain in any business) are the ones that spring to mind first.
 
John Brower
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tony phamm wrote:
This all said, I still feel that in the future prices of food in general is going to keep going up as we erode our lands even further and further. The reason why I wanted to start perm now is because I forecast that monos will become less and less effective while perms will stay resilient even during drastic climate change in the region. Monos will suffer from drought while perms will stay consistently intact. Water will be the #1 issue within 20 years, and perms will stay unaffected for the most part. Please let me know if this is true. Part of being a good investor is forecasting the future, and forecasting it before mainstream forecasters. So I'm hoping I can be a good investor and make good investments for our future and be part of the change that will be inevitably needed. I'm obviously going to get a bias response here when I ask if I should get into permaculture now but I wanted some more specifics from you guys to help me in the details. Let me know how I can get started on a personal scale. My preference would be to have maybe 1/2 the land already permacultured while the other 1/2 bare so I can learn from what's already there and 1/2 of it I can apply myself from scratch. Finding that land may take sometime, but I'm flexible enough to move to another state if I have to, or even another country if the weather and people are nice. I was thinking Costa Rica by the way. And any further info you know of on the business side of permaculture is greatly appreciated.

Anyways, let me know your thoughts on all points above. I left out a lot of details but I can clarify and thanks if you've made it this far lol.


Sounds awesome.

I usually point to the fact that some farmers are changing their methods (and attitudes) to include what would be considered permaculture practice. Videos like this one are all over youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJLiUamNfaM

Some farmers are already taking permaculture ideas into account when growing their mono crops: water conservation, soil health, cover crop diversity, reducing waste, no pesticides...

 
Blake Wheeler
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The short answer? No, it isn't superior in every way. I say this mainly as absolutes aren't true 99% of the time.

With that said, I honestly don't believe it's superior period. It has areas in which it truley does shine, but permaculture ideas aren't new. Most of the techniques really are just rediscovered old ways. Polyculture, pesticide free, water conservation, etc. are all old techniques, mainly because in the past they were the only options. Now we just have the intelligence and science to prove their effectiveness. If permaculture or organic farming really were superior in all ways it would still be done this way. The way I see permaculture is its a small scale solution to a large scale problem. It's more an individual solution if you will. It will work if you can get a large enough segment of the population doing it, but that won't happen in any of our lifetimes, let's be honest.

There's no way it's cheaper either. The largest expensive no one seems to mention is personal time. My time, being a very limited resource, is quite expensive. My time also is rigorously competed for....I have more obligations than just farming. Sure, permaculture strives towards a self sufficient system, but getting there takes MASSIVE amounts of work. In the time it took me to lay the groundwork for the small (75'x80') food forest (just the groundwork) which involved doing most of the work by hand I could have easily sprayed, drilled seed, and harvested 1000's of acres of corn or soy using conventional equipment and turned a greater profit doing so. Permaculture techniques make most of the most efficient ways of harvesting obsolete, and tailoring equipment to work would be cost prohibitive.

Permaculture and organics is still too much of a niche market to be economically superior to conventional ag. It's making progress, but it's not there yet. When you start finding organic products in major supermarkets (Walmart, etc), and it is happening, we may be reaching a tipping point.

If you plan on starting a perm/organic business you have to realize it is still a niche market. Being near an affluent community would help, but buying land close enough to make the area a viable market would be expensive. The average consumer just doesn't have the disposable income to justify higher priced foods, that need to be prepared (not pre made), and have limited shelf life. The business can work, and many make it work, but you have to target the proper customer
 
Levente Andras
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You are asking the wrong question so no wonder you are getting all the wrong answers.

Permaculture is not superior or inferior of any other method of farming, simply because permaculture is NOT a method of farming.

Permaculture is a design system - and a such, it is what you make of it.

In other words: You can apply permaculture design to your own house and back yard, or to your business; an agricultural / horticultural / forestry / agroforestry / fishery business, or a business that combines any of these; large, medium or small; rural, urban, or suburban; self-reliant, or subsidised; for-profit or not-for-profit; private / family business, cooperative, community-managed; etc. etc. etc. etc.

Which of these do you want to compare against "monoculture" systems? and can you compare apples and oranges?

If you want to compare monoculture against something else, then try polyculture. And yes, polyculture is something that permaculture strives towards, but you cannot equate the two. Permaculture goes beyond polyculture.

So then, polyculture: there are polyculture systems that can demonstrate profitability, as well as a whole bunch of other great qualities: resilience, less dependence on the ups and downs of markets, short-term yields combined with long-term ones - and are usually also much, much more beneficial to the environment than monoculture operations.

I believe the most attractive and successful polyculture systems belong to one of two situations:

- they include lots of trees. Silvopasture (forestry combined with animal husbandry); alley cropping (one or more annual crops planted in alleys between timber / fruit / nut trees); other variations of agroforestry, e.g., growing log mushrooms or medicinal / ornamental plants under the canopy of timber trees; etc. etc. These are all viable models for agriculture, and have become / are becoming main stream.

- OR they include lots of water. See for instance the traditional rice paddies of South-East Asia, which yield rice and fish (carp) at the same time.

I find the first one more interesting because it contains perennial elements - trees - which give you a perpetual yield and/or are a long-term investment.
 
Ashley Reyson
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Tony, if you haven't already heard it, I think you'll be very interested in "John D Liu's" talk from PV2. You can hear the replay on Diego Footer's Permaculture Voices Podcast episode #103, here: http://www.permaculturevoices.com/podcast/the-great-work-of-our-time-presented-at-pv2-by-john-d-liu-pvp103/

I think John gives an excellent answer to your question, despite the prior concerns about it being the wrong question. If you want numbers, you'll likely research John's work a little further than this audio, but this is a good start.

At the risk of spoiling the punch line, here's a few takeaways... both John's points, and my observations on them:
  • Both historical records and contemporary experiments both support the idea that productivity follows ecology. Those systems that focus on productivity over ecology ultimately lose both. Those systems that focus on ecology over productivity enhance both.
  • Time matters. A productivity focused system may enhance yields at the expense of ecology in the short term. For one who doesn't understand the ecological principles at work, this reinforces the belief in such unsustainable approaches. By the time those approaches begin to decay, the belief may be irreversible.
  • Therefore, it's not enough for ecologically appropriate agriculture to be more productive as you asserted. It's necessary to either produce those results faster, or otherwise generate enough inertia to sustain meaningful experiments long enough to see the divergence between models.
  • Some of those examples already exist (ie Mark Shepard producing $5k/acre on garbage land) but those examples aren't yet sufficient to convince investors in industrial agriculture, who seek to minimize skilled labor and maximize automation.
  • This will take more than an economic argument. The current industrial agriculture system is so tightly coupled with American food distribution and purchasing habits that more $/acre isn't enough. This will require significant shifts in mental models, distribution systems, and consumption habits. That's not bad news though... I have 100% control of my consumption habits and mental models, so I can change as fast as I'm willing. Until I live a bit more of the change I'm pursuing, my time would be poorly spent trying to fix others.


  • Enjoy!
     
    Peter Ellis
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    It has already been noted that "in every way" sets a standard that is, effectively, impossible to meet. In this case, there is a really easy point that goes to monoculture right off - harvesting a monoculture is easier, more efficient and by those measures arguably "better".

    But here is the problem. Your question is liking asking "what color is the sound of thunder?" What does that mean, you ask

    You are asking for a comparison as to which is "better" between two things that are, really part of two very different, and I believe largely incompatible, paradigms.
    Up the thread it is suggested that the fact that techniques advanced by permaculture today are (many of them) old techniques that have fallen out of favor because they are inferior to modern techniques that have replaced them. That idea uses profit as a measure of quality to determine 'better'. That is not a very good measure of quality, for starters, and it is very well established that modern agricultural methods are only profitable by ignoring vast costs that the industry pushes off of its books and onto the public. Soil erosion is a cost, water pollution is a cost, dead zones in the oceans are a cost, elimination of ecosystem diversity, stability and resilience is a cost - and there are arguably many others, but those are plenty to start with.

    Industrial agriculture makes loads of money for some people in its heirarchical structure. But those people are not typically the farmers producing the source product. So, even with the currently 'profitable' system, which is largely profitable by displacing enormous costs, farmers are not making large profit margins.

    If you compare large scale organic to "conventional industrial" agriculture, the biggest difference, I think, is in the character of the inputs. Both run large monocrops with high degrees of mechanization, processes optimized for mechanized handling and long distance shipping with (relatively) long term storage, both push costs off onto the public (land erosion probably the big one they have in common). Both use lots of fertilizers and pesticides, just different chemistry.

    Permaculture approaches seek to minimize the inputs coming from off the property. Big cost advantage there for the Permaculture side. Permaculture addresses the costs that the other guys push off their balance sheets and even manages to turn some of the conventional costs into potential income streams, or at least make them beneficial to the permaculture farm and cost reducers rather than expenses. That's a pretty significant benefit of permaculture, but it will not appear as one when you compare balance sheets - remember, the costs are not showing up on the conventional balance sheet in the first place.

    Permaculture systems are not optimized for mechanization, nor for transport, nor storage. Permaculture's ethics don't encompass using all that energy to transport lettuce from California to Indiana, etc. Permaculture envisions a distributed production system, not a centralized production process with a widespread distribution system. In economic terms, ignoring the costs of operating the distribution system (not a cost to the farm production system, so not on that balance sheet), it is more efficient to run one large streamlined operation than many much more labor intensive operations. But that is a false accounting, the transportation costs are part of the system.

    Permaculture farming will absolutely require more human labor than monocrop production systems. Monocrop systems are optimized for mechanization, minimizing human labor. Even where the mechanization is less (not all crops can be harvested by combine), the monocrop system is designed for efficiency in terms of the costs they acknowledge on their books, such as labor. Diverse polycultures take more labor to harvest than do monocrops. Different priorities are being maximized between the systems.

    The bottom line, as I see it: Permaculture is part of a paradigm where the economics include all of the costs of a system of operation, and where cost/benefit analysis looks first at ecosystem impacts, not at dollars.

    Current industrial agriculture (organic or not) is part of a paradigm where costs of a system are pushed off, buried, ignored, denied; and where cost/benefit analysis looks first and almost exclusively, at monetary measures of success.

    Neither one can compete on anything like an equal footing with the other when placed in the other system's appropriate paradigm.

    Which paradigm is better? One where environmental costs are shoved off corporate balance sheets and we are all left to pick up unimaginably large tabs for their actions? Or one where environmental costs are factored in, where the approach even works to convert some of those costs into benefits (see, for example, conventional manure lagoons versus permaculture approaches to animal husbandry and waste management), and society as a whole does not get stuck with the tab for environmental clean up, largely because the production approaches do not produce negative environmental effects?

    Which is better - healthy for the Earth? or makes a profit for Syngenta's shareholders?

    I know which paradigm I prefer.
     
    I agree. Here's the link: https://richsoil.com/wood-heat.jsp
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