I don't think anyone has asked this before, but are there any good options to screen my land from neighboring fields to minimize pollen and/or general contamination from neighboring GMO corn fields?
My homestead is very long and narrow - 200' wide x 2000' long, running north-south, with corn growing on the (long) west and (short) south edges. The cattle farmer who grows the corn for his milking operation comes through with a grinder and grinds all the organic matter into silage come October. It has occurred to me that pollen from the field will easily blow onto my property, since winds are mostly from the SW and will blow directly from his property to mine. Any good ideas about natural windbreaks (berms, hugels, deciduous trees, brick walls, evergreen bushes, etc) that work well to hold contaminants on his side? I've searched the internet and haven't found much info on this. I would rather not sacrifice production on the edges, and since my land is so narrow, I can't simply afford to give up production in a "buffer" zone, unless it was to use the buffer as road. Is there a mathematical equation I could use to determine where most cross-pollination would occur? Or how high my buffer needs to be? I don't intend to grow any kind of corn, but would bees be out of the question, since they might forage in the corn? I will have lots of ornamentals as well as edible plants, so bee forage on the property will be abundant.
"It is, of course, one of the miracles of science that the germs that used to be in our food have been replaced by poisons." - Wendell Berry
Bees use some corn pollen for their own food. It's not a preferred food. Low protein. They don't directly make honey from it because it doesn't have any nectar. If you raise bees without using chemicals directly in the hive you'll have purer honey than you can buy most places. I'm not sure if there's any place left in the world where bees won't be exposed to some chemicals. I'd be more worried about ag chemicals blowing onto your plants. I would plant something to screen your land from that if possible. Some ag chemicals are applied with airplanes. They can blow pretty far in the wind.
It's a sad situation. I don't mean your place in particular. Just the state of the world.
Your place has a lot of potential. I'd plant some fast growing trees near the property line, especially near where you'll be growing things for food.
I think it would be easier to hold back the tide than to keep the winds from bringing you samples of everything going on at your neighbor's. Math and prevention is not the mindset to go in with. If you have healthy soil and healthy plants and an abundance of fungi holding them together, that healthy ecosystem will devour what blows in on the winds and it will smile. I have a long skinny plot of land, sandwiched in between neighbors who practice the usual pesticide/herbicide/fungicide gardening, but it is not their poison that is encroaching on me, but my healthy ecosystem that is invading theirs.
See, maintaining a sterile, toxic medium in which to grow vegetables and ornamentals requires constant application of those toxics. Skip an application, and all sorts of things are waiting to invade. On my neighbors, they are first colonizers, and as long as they can handle the toxin du jour, they have an unlimited buffet. On my property, invaders are trying to move in to a rough neighborhood, full of potential predators, and they don't do well. You have to realize that permaculture is Nature's straight flush, what millions of years of evolution has created. It's not going to fold to the aces up the sleeve of some chemical farmer. To win, the farmer has to call for a new deck each hand (by sterilizing and plowing the soil) to win over the permaculturalist. He wins when he can bluff with his three aces of pesticide/fungicide/herbicide, bluffing you out before you even fill your hand.
Just call his bluff, pay no attention to his aces, and work on filling your hand: pile up all that biomass and turn it into mounds of fungal hyphae; let the earthworms till your soil until the ground feels like walking on a sponge; let the bee plants go wild and see what happens. I've counted 9 different species of bees and wasps working one small patch of chicory that I had in flower. They know where the welcome sign is.
Once you get your permaculture going, it will be your neighbor who will be on the defensive. He will have to spray to get rid of the volunteer bee plants that keep coming up in his corn. He will have to be on the watch for huitlacoche getting into the rows of corn along your property. And he will wonder why the corn borer is worse the farther he gets from your property.
I totally agree that the permaculture plants will survive and even thrive in the end. I think it's best to limit human exposure to chemicals in food as much as possible. Especially random unknown chemicals. Eating corn that's been sprayed with approved corn chemicals worries me slightly. I wouldn't want to eat vegetables that had unknown or unapproved chemicals on them.
I once had a garden that had a grain sorghum field on one side and soybean field on the other. It got sprayed with the chemicals for both crops.
Grain sorghum/milo is raised a lot like corn. It's sprayed for weeds and insects. It's a lot more drought tolerant. It's not grown here much anymore. I think because the ethanol plants want corn. I think Sorghum for molasses is a much taller, more vigorous plant. They might not use chemicals on it.
I'm told that plants with a thicker cuticle leaf hold up to the sprays better than other plants. In my climate, this would be something like Holly, maybe osage orange. I am planting, and have planted osage orange on the windbreak where the neighbor farmer sprays. So far, so good. Hopefully it responds less unfavorably to the spraying than the stunted little sassafras which is currently on the border.