King Orchards Tart Cherry Juice

Tart Cherry Juice from King Orchards  

 Tart is Smart (tm)
 Tart Cherry Juice
home FAQ nutrition order contact about
home > scientific farming > organic farming

Would Organic Farming Unleash A Billion Cattle On U.S. Wildlands?

Dennis T. Avery

CHURCHVILLE, VA - The grasslands of America, before Columbus, supported about 60 million huge bison and 100 million small antelope. Today, America’s grasslands feed about 100 million medium-sized cattle.

What if U.S. lands had to support ten times that many cattle? What kind of destruction would that wreak on our soils, our streams, and our wildlands?

Greenpeace, the Sierra Club and other U.S. environmental groups have long demanded that America shift to organic farming, giving up"man-made chemicals" that they say harm wildlife. The New York Times and Hollywood stars enthusiastically endorse organic food. Congress and government regulators are forcing U.S. farmers in the organic direction by restricting safety-proven pesticides, fertilizers, and farming systems.

Unfortunately, our city-wise society may not have thought this countryside question all the way through.

Nitrogen is the key chemical in farming. If we don' replace the nitrogen crop plants take from our soils as they grow, our fields will become barren, as they did during the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s. (That's when the nitrogen, built up in Great Plains soils by eons of bison manure, began to run out.)

To keep their soils fertile, today's American farmers apply about 11 million tons of "chemical" nitrogen per year. This is pure nitrogen, taken literally from the air (which is 78 percent N) through an industrial process. Worldwide, high-yield farmers apply about 80 million tons of chemical N per year.

But the first and foremost rule of organic is "no chemical fertilizer." The organic movement was founded in the 1930s on the precept that chemical fertilizer poisons the soil. Organic farmers are allowed to use only organic nitrogen, mainly from cattle manure and "green manure crops" like rye and clover.

Now comes University of Manitoba's Vaclav Smil, a top expert on crops and fertilizer. His latest book "Enriching the Earth," (2002, MIT Press) focuses on nitrogen and food production. Smil says 100 years of experience prove that chemical N keeps soil healthy, especially in high-yield farming where plenty of stalks, stems and other organic matter go back on the fields. He notes that plants can't even use organic nitrogen; they must wait until the N decomposes into its pure mineral form.

Smil says a traditional 19th century European farm had to use half its land to produce nitrogen (clover, pasture grasses and field beans) for crop growth instead of food to feed people! Without chemical nitrogen, Smil estimates our crops would need the manure from another 7-8 billion cattle. (The world now has about 1.3 billion cattle.) Where would we grow the feed for those cattle? It would probably take at least two acres of forage land per animal, and some rangelands are so dry it takes 30 acres to feed one cow.

The United States, a big agricultural producer and a heavy use of nitrogen fertilizer, would need to accept nearly one billion additional cattle. That means at least another two billion acres of U.S. land for forage crops. Two billion acres is equal to all the land in America except Alaska, and Alaska can't support cattle anyway.

We'd have no room left for forests, wild meadows, cities, highways, or food crops.

The huge herd of munching manure-makers, turned out to graze, would produce massive overgrazing and soil erosion. Much of their manure would wash into the streams. Lakes would fill in with algae blooms and sediment. Marine life would be destroyed.

If we kept a billion cows in feedlots, we could control the munching and manure, but the environmental movement is almost as opposed to confinement livestock systems as to chemical fertilizer. And we still wouldn't have enough land to grow their forage.

Unless we want a flimsy excuse to eliminate several billion humans, why would we set up this unreasoned and impossible organic goal?

We know we can't eat without crops, and the crops can't grow without nitrogen. We know that pure nitrogen keeps soil healthy. The Organic Trade Association has publicly admitted it has no evidence that organic food is safer or more nutritious, just more expensive.

Chemical nitrogen isn't even man-made. It's natural. It's an element, one of the building blocks of the universe. Growing enough organic food for Hollywood starlets and Park Avenue hostesses won't cost us much wildlife habitat. But if the rest of us demand to be equally vain and foolish, we'll destroy the very ecology that surrounds us.

King Orchards
We are Cherry Growers
about us
our markets
our commitment
cherry harvest
family farming
scientific farming

Cherry Products
order tart cherry juice
order dried tart cherries
shipping information
All About Cherries
History and Descriptions
types of cherries
cherry facts
cherry history

Fun With Cherries
and... Great Taste

King Orchards
4620 N. M-88
Central Lake MI 49622

contact us
privacy policy

home FAQ nutrition order contact about
 King Orchards Copyright 2003 Apple Journal
updated- February 14th, 2003
 Apple Journal
Common Sense, Health and Diet
Tens of thousands of us suffer from chronic and often debilitating pain. Many strategies and products have emerged promising relief. Sorting through the claims and counter-claims is not easy.

We recommend that you become informed and excercise discretion when reading promises of miracle cures. As always, consulting closely with your physician is essential in any pain management program.

John, Betsy, Rose and Jim King
King Orchards • 4620 N. M-88 • Central Lake MI 49622 • 1-877-937-5464