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Buying a small farm with GMO neighbors

 
Dave Hardy
Posts: 1
Location: St. Charles County, MO
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Hello all,

My wife and I are interested in starting a small farm. We are currently looking at a piece of property approximately 20 acres with an 1 acre pond. The plan would be to purchase 6 acres build a house and lease to own the remaining 14. We would run a small grass fed cattle operation, mostly to feed ourselves, family members and close friends. We would like to lead a self sufficient lifestyle incorporating as much permaculture as possible. The land has been farmed with GMO crops for years and the surrounding land is mostly GMO crops, as well as cattle . We are concerned about the spray affecting our garden, fruit trees, and berries bushes we plant. Also, with the chemicals run off into the pond and creek that that our cattle would drink out of and kids would play, fish in. How long do the chemicals stay in the water? Just wondering if any one has had a similar experience's?

Thanks
 
Joseph Lofthouse
garden master
Posts: 2011
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
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I used to work in a laboratory testing soil, water, plant, animal, and air samples for -cides. There are all sorts of nuances and caveats, so to simplify I'll just say that the whole world is polluted with -cides. They get diluted with time and distance... The background level of -cides drifting across the countryside is very small in comparison to deliberately dumping -cides on your own place... For example, in Texas certified organic requires a 25 foot buffer zone between organic fields and conventional fields. That seems adequate to me.

My recommendation is to focus on how you treat your land, and not on the past nor on the neighbors.

 
Su Ba
pollinator
Posts: 879
Location: Big Island, Hawaii (2300' elevation, 60" avg. annual rainfall, temp range 55-80 degrees F)
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Good advice in the -cides for a realistic approach. Except of course if the land had been used as a chemical dump previously.

As for the GMOs. The only issue that I can see is if you plan to grow the same crops non-GMO and wish to save seed for replanting. Some of your seed may have been pollinated by your neighbor's GMO pollen. Thus your next year's crops will also be GMO. Just because the next field is GMO doesn't mean that your farm is being poisoned.

As for spray drift, most farmers watch that. But if you are concerned, watch when your neighbor sprays to see if you need to discuss a way to control drifting. If you see a runoff problem, a mound & ditch along the property line should take care of that. Or you could make a swale or hugelkultur mound, whatever.

No piece of land will be perfect. When we looked to buy, we choose the piece that we could work with its issues.
 
Cody Barker
Posts: 3
Location: Portland, OR
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I work in forest restoration and am about to begin studying to become a certified pesticide applicator in the state of oregon. that said, using herbicides was and still is something I question heavily and constantly. I do have a lot of experience applying them and I really wanted to share some things that might help you. if it's possible, i would try to contact either the previous landowner or your neighbors to see what herbicides, pesticides and surfactants (surfactants are usually modified vegetable oils with lots of weird ingredients that are designed to help the herbicide adhere to leaves) have been applied within the past 5-10 years. there can be conflicting research on the mobility of certain herbicides through soil and water, but glyphosate (the active ingredient in round-up and perhaps the most commonly used herbicide in the world) in particular is registered by the EPA to be "water-safe" (that doesn't mean I would go drinking out of that water shortly after it's been applied) but it is supposed to mean the chemical bonds very quickly to soil and water particles, rendering it inert and thereby harmless to plants and animals if it doesn't make it onto its target. it's also supposed to have a short half life, though some reports have stated that it can persist in the soil for up to a year (whether or not it's active at that point I'm not sure, I would check with the state fact list or check out the MSDS [material data safety sheet] which has the EPA registered label for any chemical in use. it provides all the important information on how it should be applied, whether its water safe, how "dangerous" it is, and what types of plants it harms, [selective or non-selective like only broadleaves or grasses or legumes, there's a lot of good info in the MSDS.) I recommend this research not to advocate for the use of pesticides, but I think it's important for people to know how they work so that we can make intelligent decisions about their use and like in your case, save time, effort, and worry over what to plant and the safety of your family. if milestone has been used on the land in the past 5 years, I'd be hesitant, as I believe its national law that farmers cant sell their crops on that land for 5 years after applying it because it persists so heavily in the soil, and i think its often used for cattle crops AND it is very effective against legumes. so effective that they probably wont grow at all in that soil until its inert. if something like glyphosate was used on the land, you'll probably be fine planting in it. in my line of work, we can apply glyphosate and triclopyr and almost immediately thereafter plant native plants that will thrive and rehabilitate a damaged ecosystem. whether or not food crops would be wise to plant there im unsure of, but its worth researching. like i said, i'm no expert, i'm just trying to stay informed and knowledgeable so i hope this info helps you make your decision and maybe eases your mind!
 
elle sagenev
Posts: 1268
Location: Zone 5 Wyoming
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14 acres and a cattle operation? Whoo. I can't even imagine such a thing in my state.
 
Cristo Balete
Posts: 428
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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So you know that one cow needs about ten acres? And they are herd animals, so it's better to have several, a small herd.

As much as 20 acres sounds like, It's not that big if your neighbors have large acreages and they are spraying them. Why breathe it? Why have it drifting onto your food?

Their high nitrate fertilizers may have gotten into the ground water. You should have the pond water and the drinking water tested for pesticides and nitrates/nitrites.
 
R Scott
Posts: 3306
Location: Kansas Zone 6a
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Carrying capacity varies wildly across the US and from farm to farm depending on climate and how the farm is cared for..At least initially the land might not support very many cattle, but you can grow into more as you improve fertility. Or you can support a dozen stickers in the summer but nothing in the winter--so plan on that or be prepared to spend the time and money on hay. Don't turn your cattle into pets, you will destroy the pasture or go broke on feed. Lesson learned the hard way.

 
Jake Milner
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I can't believe not a single person spoke up against GMO in this thread. How do you spell POISON?

In our county, a few years ago, a farmer planted crops of GMO corn. It had a dramatic effect on other crops in the area. Because the bees were getting killed by the GMO crops. I personally raised nine kinds of Hell. Speaking out and raising awareness in our town. And guess what? No more GMO crops in our area. If anyone tries to bring one in, its likely that it will get sabotaged. We have zero tolerance for that sort of thing around here. At the very least, and the worst part, is what it does to the bees. People can argue all they want about it. But I have seen the damage. And if you happen to be someone who has a GMO neighbor, don't expect to reap much. At least not without major intervention. The best thing to do is burn down their crop. People need to wake up and stop showing tolerance for evil.
 
2017 Permaculture Design Course at Wheaton Labs
http://richsoil.com/pdc
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