Low Yield Agriculture vs High Yield Agriculture

Newsletter No. 31 – October 2005 Item 4 

Communicating with producers in different countries and travelling as I am able to do provide the opportunity to see tremendous variations in agriculture in different countries.   Travelling in Bulgaria this month was again a reminder of the importance of agriculture to the local economy.  The collapse of communism resulted in much of the land being returned to the original owners.  In many cases the families had grown, with the land split many ways.   The average ownership is now .3 hectares per producer - tracts of land that are uneconomic.  Farming in most areas has returned to peasant farming producing sufficient for own needs, harvested by hand and carried home by donkey cart.  Crops will have minimal inputs, so output is low.  Cattle, sheep and goats are shepherded on open land and brought home each night.  With low production much of their food is imported.   This situation is not unique to Bulgaria.

A sound agricultural base generates employment and raises the standard of living in rural areas.

Quote: The Green Revolution and the increasing effects of globalisation continue to change the face of agriculture.  The revolution began in 1944 when the Rockefeller Foundation and the Mexican government established the Cooperative Wheat Research and Production Program to improve the agricultural output of the country's farms. Norman Borlaug was instrumental in this program. This produced astounding results, so that Mexico went from having to import half its wheat to self-sufficiency by 1956 and, by 1964, to exporting half a million tons of wheat. This program was continued in India and Pakistan where it is credited with saving over one billion people from starvation. Norman Borlaug won the 1970 Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.
From there, the technologies were exported abroad, finding use in regions all over the world. The success in increasing yields was undisputable. The growth of crop yields was such that agriculture was now able to outstrip population growth — per capita production increased every year following 1950.  end quote

Note: This quote was taken from this Wikipedia link as it was on the date of first publication of this newsletter item.  Wikidpedia web pages are updated regularly and there is considerable further discussions since that date.

The Green Revolution has been successful through the combined use of improved plant varieties, irrigation, chemical fertilisers, herbicides and pesticides, mechanical tractors and other farm implements.  Livestock production has been supported by the improved quality of the crops, the contribution of the pharmaceutical industry, advances in nutrition and improved genetics.   The effect of these high inputs has been to feed an ever increasing population and reduce the cost of that food significantly.

There have been some negatives identified from this rapid development.  Progress is an ever evolving process with systems developed to overcome some of these negative issues associated with modern agriculture.  Examples are:

•    No Till Agriculture to combat soil erosion and improve soil structure
•    Ethanol Production to provide fuel to slowly replace the finite supplies of fossil fuels
•    Biodegraders to turn waste material safely into usable fertilisers
•    Optimum Nutrition to increase production, reproduction and improve feed conversion making better use of the resources and reducing costs of production
•    Optimum Nutrition to reduce the use of antibiotics, growth hormones and minimise metabolic disturbances in high production livestock

Agricultural Cluster

Figure 1: Agricultural Cluster Supporting Infrastructure and Employment

Apply the modern technologies to Ostrich production and as reported last month, Ostrich can make significant contributions towards providing the additional 50% meat forecast as required by 2025.  Apply these technologies to Ostrich and they can be the most feed efficient red meat production animal.  This cannot happen utilising Low Yield Agriculture techniques.

One comment

  1. […] and the wages of unskilled labourers.  The graphic outlining an agriculture cluster is discussed here, illustrates how a strong agriculture economy can benefit many […]

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