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Maize is a machine  RSS feed

 
Emerson White
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Corn yields over time, apparently from the USDA.

It should be noted this is quantity of corn, not quality.
 
                    
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we see basically the same curve in Rice and Wheat.

with a lag time of just a few years, Central and South American Nations, India and China and many SE Asian Nations, also see the same sort of tangential rise... in human population.

it should be noted that this is quantity of lives, not quality of life.

behind monsanto you will find cymmit: http://www.cimmyt.org/



 
Emerson White
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when did combines and seed drills come into common use?
 
Robert Ray
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Do you have a graph that shows fertilizer/herbicide use and yeilds?
 
                    
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I just saw your charts are Bu/ac. yes, corn has risen radically faster in bu/ac that wheat and rice. in terms of total global yields (my bad, should have read closer) we see similar curves. foxes and hares anyone?- toby hemenway was the first person I heard say this- were turning oil into people.

increase in ha production UNFAO:


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major inductrial combine use appeared after WWI, but the machines themselves date back to the late 19c. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Combine_harvester

seed drills may be thousands of years old, chinese & europeans (jethro tull)  used  mechanized ones from the 17c.  Industrial US use began just after WWII.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seed_drill

as far as fertilizer use I got away with citing Perdue.

http://www.hort.purdue.edu/rhodcv/hort640c/nuse/nu00002.htm

that is to say, as second hand data, the figures werent hardily challenged by my sustainable ag and eco ag proffs.

herbicide use... nothing off hand that I can talk to.

 
Emerson White
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The major factor in that increased yield is that the new breeds of corn canuse all the extra nitrogen we have been shoveling on them. It seems to me a very difficult task to replace all that production. Granted people could stand to eat a lot less, but not 1/6th as much. It would be nice if we could figure out a way to feed the oil straight to people, at least then we could skip a step. Given the modern western diet it might even be a health improvement.
 
                    
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C4 pickup on N in corn is pretty amazing. and scary. I am amused by the notion of wall street suits drinking crude for breaky. close that loop!

www.abundancepermaculture.com/include/pdfs/exhumation%20vashon.pdf

this is a (big) pdf that backed my masters presentation. its a few years old, but much of it still sits true.
 
Charlie Michaels
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I think its good we're being honest about the fact that though as unsustainable and degrading as it is, modern methods of corn production, are... pretty productive.

But that's also Monsanto's argument, that we need their corn to "feed the world". That argument is so flawed its ridiculous.

Mollison says that we probably only have like a good 30 years left of the phosphorous supply at this rate of production, so that right there should end these crazy yields. But if it doesn't, one of the other thousand problems of industrial ag will end it.

Remember pesticides have only been in heavy use for less than 50 years, a tiny tiny fraction of human history, 1/5 of US history, and probably 1/100 of the history of North America inhabited by humans.
 
Emerson White
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mrchuck wrote:
I think its good we're being honest about the fact that though as unsustainable and degrading as it is, modern methods of corn production, are... pretty productive.

But that's also Monsanto's argument, that we need their corn to "feed the world". That argument is so flawed its ridiculous.

Mollison says that we probably only have like a good 30 years left of the phosphorous supply at this rate of production, so that right there should end these crazy yields. But if it doesn't, one of the other thousand problems of industrial ag will end it.

Remember pesticides have only been in heavy use for less than 50 years, a tiny tiny fraction of human history, 1/5 of US history, and probably 1/100 of the history of North America inhabited by humans.

We do have lower grade phosphorous supplies that will last for at least 200 years given our current acceleration of use of phosphorous, it'll just cost more to ship it.
 
                    
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Emerson White wrote:
We do have lower grade phosphorous supplies that will last for at least 200 years given our current acceleration of use of phosphorous, it'll just cost more to ship it.


to produce high grade phosphorus, Ive been banging basalt rocks together. and reducing the number of troubling neighbors I have at the same. stack those functions....

 
Emerson White
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GMO's are defacto illegal in France and Italy, presumably that fact is responsible for the trend lines, though commodity price and subsidy data (which I haven't got) as well as cost of production per bushel (which I also haven't got) would help confirm that hypothesis. Again this is purely quantitative analysis, not qualitative.

Edited: to alter tone to be more in line with the spirit of this forum.
 
                      
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well what i meant is that lower soil erosion seed drills was not in place before the great / during dust bowl / storm they were working the land hard and contributed to the dust bowl. ending in about 1936-1940 i am not sure when but no till did increase yields. at least optimizing spacing and lessening top ( fertile)soil erosion .
large combines too help large scale production minimizing the wheel paths

and both help in getting the crop in / out in short time frames like the day before rain this alone could delay planting a week or so to allow the soil to dry

i am not saying this is effective or good since with higher seeding rates require more nitrogen than present  i much prefer the native method of pole beans around corn and squash / vine as ground cover. not as high a yeild but  very co-operaative
 
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