Appreciating Agriculture Category Explained:

Grow plants from seed, and witness a true miracle.

I have chosen articles for this section from writers who agree with me, such as:

”Three hundred years ago, husbandry in this sense was used in industry generally, but after the industrial revolution the term efficiency was used instead.”

Improved feed efficiency in dairy cattle is on the horizon, thanks to genomic progress

Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch scientists are working to bring that cost down by combining genomics and nutrition science in an effort to breed cows that require less food to produce the same volume of milk.

Posted on December 5, 2015 by Michael VandeHaar , Michigan State University AgBioResearch

As the eighth largest dairy-producing state, Michigan is home to more than 400,000 dairy cows spread across farms with herds numbering from thousands to fewer than 100. Feeding such a large number of animals is challenging and expensive. Michigan dairy farmers spend over $730 million each year – about $5 per day per cow – to keep their herds well-nourished and producing enough milk to meet consumer demand.

Michigan State University (MSU) AgBioResearch scientists are working to bring that cost down by combining genomics and nutrition science in an effort to breed cows that require less food to produce the same volume of milk.

Bosch agricultural robot to make farming cleaner and more efficient

Professor Amos Albert, general manager of Deepfield Robotics


Bosch start-up, Deepfield Robotics, has developed a new machine that can analyse and weed crops. The technology, named Bonirob, will make plant breeding more efficient and reduce the environmental impact of crop farming.

Bonirob, which is the size of a compact car, can monitor how well new crop varieties grow, whether they are resistant to pests and how much fertiliser and water they need. Currently, this is a painstaking manual process done by plant scientists in a laboratory.

The Melancholy of Anatomy

"To heal is to make whole, and is not so ideologically definable or so technologically possible or so handily billable. This applies as well to the industries of landscapes: agriculture, forestry, and mining. Once they have been industrialized, these enterprises no longer recognize landscapes as wholes, let alone as the homes of people and other creatures. They regard landscapes as sources of extractable products. They become forms of surface mining. They have “efficiently” shed any other interest or concern."

By Wendell Berry, from Our Only World, out this month from Counterpoint. Berry’s essay “Faustian Economics” appeared in the May 2008 issue of Harper’s Magazine.

We need to acknowledge the formlessness inherent in the analytic science that divides creatures into organs, cells, and ever smaller parts or particles according to its technological capacities.

I recognize the possibility and existence of this knowledge, even its usefulness, but I also recognize the narrowness of its usefulness and the damage it does. I can see that in a sense it is true, but also that its truth is small and far from complete.

In and by all my thoughts and acts, I am opposed to any claim that such knowledge is adequate to the sustenance of human life or the health of the ecosphere.

The Perils of Efficiency

by James Surowiecki November 24, 2008 The Financial Page The New Yorker

This spring, disaster loomed in the global food market. Precipitous increases in the prices of staples like rice (up more than a hundred and fifty per cent in a few months) and maize provoked food riots, toppled governments, and threatened the lives of tens of millions. But the bursting of the commodity bubble eased those pressures, and food prices, while still high, have come well off the astronomical levels they hit in April. For Americans, the drop in commodity prices has put a few more bucks in people’s pockets; in much of the developing world, it may have saved many from actually starving. So did the global financial crisis solve the global food crisis?

Efficiency is the best profit maker control

Is his professionalism in managing his operation, according to Mulder. “Producing efficiently with good technical results means an advantage as production costs goes. When looking at the cost price per kilo end produce, we still see enormous variances between businesses. Because of the increasing...
  Home' Dec 2, 2013

Evolving Ourselves - How Unnatural Selection and Nonrandom Mutation are Changing Life on Earth

Authors: Juan Enriquez and Steve Gullans

Publisher: Penguin Group
Copyright 2015 by Juan Enriquez and Steven Gullans
Pages: 33-34

"Much of what we eat today, often in large quantities, isn't exactly what one could call all-natural. And if you really are what you eat, then we are already quite a different species. Bodies that for hundreds of thousands of years ate 'all-natural' have been challenged to adapt fast to tidal waves of nachos and pizza.

"Dental plaque provides a small window through which to view this massive evolutionary upheaval. Anyone who has been to the dentist knows how tough it is to remove plaque. Bad for you, but good for science. Its toughness makes plaque a great reservoir of data for bioanthropologists. Diet affects plaque, and by comparing the plaque in ancient and modern human teeth, scientists can infer what kinds of things we ate and what lived in our mouths.

DIY Tractor Repair Runs Afoul Of Copyright Law

August 17, 2015


CORNISH: Think of a farmer working the land, self-reliant enough to fix much of the equipment he owns by himself. Well, that farmer's right to do that is in dispute. Tractors are increasingly run by software, and NPR's Laura Sydell reports some farmers are now up against copyright law.

DAVE ALFORD: My name is Dave Alford.

LAURA SYDELL, BYLINE: He's that iconic farmer.

ALFORD: I do farming on the family ranch here. I've been farming for the past 30 years and obviously, my family much before that.

SYDELL: Alford wears a blue baseball cap with a Farm Supply company logo across the top, a plaid shirt, blue jeans and work boots. As Alford and I walk across to see one of his newer tractors, we pass what looks like a graveyard of rusty old ones.

Why do you keep them around?

ALFORD: Just because I'm a farmer.

SYDELL: Farmers like to keep tractors around. (Laughter).

Lang, Mahlon George.  “Economic Efficiency and Policy Comparisons”
American Journal of Agricultural Economics
November 1980

Page 773

It is possible to achieve different economically efficient allocations of resources when different initial endowments of property rights shape market exchange. Under different definitions of property rights affecting factor use, the firm can still achieve overall productive efficiency with respect to the remaining variable factors of production. Each definition will raise or lower private, pecuniary costs of production depending on whether irrigated water is publically subsidized in the first place as, in fact, it is. Thus, given each definition of property rights, productive efficiency would be achievable and consistent with economic efficiency depending on public goals with respect to the output….

Dave Iverson,  “Economic Advice for Forest Managers: Project and Program Planning” 


When resources are used to pursue one end, though, they cannot be used to pursue another. There is a tradeoff. The tradeoff between means is wherein economics has a say. On ends, however, economics must be silent. In environmental disputes, as in many other settings, tradeoffs between ends are moral choices and therefore outside the purview of economics. As recognized by the Council of Environmental Quality, weighing the "merits and drawbacks of the various alternatives need not be displayed in a monetary cost-benefit analysis and should not be when there are important qualitative considerations."(40 CFR 1502.23)

F. E. Trainer, Abandon Affluence
London: 1985
ISBN 0862323118

Page 12

The core problems facing us, however, are not technical problems. For instance, it is often assumed that world hunger requires the development of more efficient agricultural methods or the breeding of higher-yielding crops or the development of ways of farming the seas or at least the spread of existing technology to farmers now using primitive methods. But no technical advances are necessary in order to enable us to feed all the people who are hungry; we could do this now, because more food is already produced than is needed. The problem is that the available food is not distributed according to need. The reasons why millions of people do not get enough of the available food are social and political, not technical.

Grace, Patrick.  "Milk Subsidies: More Than Efficiency at Stake."
The Christian Science Monitor
September 28, 1999

The pricing of mild currently makes milk producers (not farmers) in California and Texas the most "efficient" producers of milk. Producing milk and being a farmer are not the same animal. I am not a farmer, but as a small-business person, I can see that small-farm families cannot compete against giant corporations like Borden Inc. when it comes to producing milk. Giant feedlot operations will never be farms.

Beresford, Tristram.  Limits of Efficiency

Page 13

The original meaning of the verb ‘to husband’ is to administer as a good steward; to manage with thrift and prudence; also to save. This is the sense of Henry Fell’s definition, which I quoted earlier: careful management to secure the greatest good; conservation of resources; a cherishing; thrift; above all, awareness of responsibility and continuity. Three hundred years ago, husbandry in this sense was used in industry generally, but after the industrial revolution the term efficiency was used instead.