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This may interest some

Posted by kimmsr 4a/5b-MI (My Page) on
Sat, Sep 21, 13 at 6:32

This article may be of interest to some here.

Here is a link that might be useful: Weed sprays and soil


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RE: This may interest some

  • Posted by TXEB 9a (My Page) on
    Sat, Sep 21, 13 at 10:02

It's a thought provoking news article.

I have little doubt that the use of glyphosate, or any herbicide, has some impact on soil health. In the case of glyphosate, it's not yet clear to me what that impact is over the long-term if used repeatedly, especially at higher use rates now associated with growing glyphosate-resistant transgenic crops. That said, the world has already seen the natural mutation of targeted weeds species to develop glyphosate resistance. I doubt that will be seen over the long-term as beneficial.

Glyphosate has to be one of the most studied herbicides of the last 50 years. At what have been traditional applications and use rates there have been no credible indications of adverse soil impact, or translocation from soil to non-targeted plants when used as intended. I suspect, however, that the picture may still be a bit hazy on the impact when that near-term use rate triples. Clearly more controlled research is urgently needed.

Monsanto, and others, need to proceed and argue with caution. We've learned in the past the problems that can occur with natural selection when an insecticide is used singularly and repeatedly. We've seen some very good products come under significant restriction when problems emerged from excessive use. Glyphosate has been a tremendous tool when used as traditionally conceived. But like all good tools if misused it can probably do more damage than good. If substantially increased glyphosate use is found to be creating ecological problems, be it in soil health or in broad spread natural mutations in response to increased use, it too may become severely restricted. Then where will be the future potential benefit of herbicide resistant crops?

The issue I have with the NYT article linked above is that while it raises valid concern, and points to some important questions, it is based largely on anecdotal information, and provides no answers. The concern raised is significant and just. The proper action, however, is to follow-up and do the work to get answers, not jump to conclusions.


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RE: This may interest some

I imagine if the writers had to hoe enough cotton, they might reflect a bit.


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RE: This may interest some

I did not read that the authors of the article "jump to conclusions" but wrote about peoples concerns and are calling for more research to be done about what has been observed.


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RE: This may interest some

The author, Stephanie Strom, wrote a fairly balanced report. She is, however, not the one I would be concerned about jumping to conclusions.


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RE: This may interest some

Unlike many (too many) non-agriculture writers that cover agriculture, she tends to do a good job.

She does a decent job to cover the "whys" of both sides of the issue rather than filling articles full of rants and quotes from people/organizations which are questionable-to-alarmist.

She's a huge labeling advocate, btw.


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RE: This may interest some

I'll have to read that when I have a few minutes, but in the meantime I just wanted to make a comment on journalism. I can't tell you how many times I've seen local, state and even national news stories (AP, etc.) about science or technology events and issues that seem to completely miss asking hugely important questions or obtaining basic facts. I would not be surprised if it was because they simply don't understand science (or journalism) that well.

Fortunately the NYT is still out there doing actual quality journalism.


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RE: This may interest some

I read this a week ago, and I was concerned about the following:

"Then there is the feel of the soil.

Dirt in two fields around Alton where biotech corn was being grown was hard and compact. Prying corn stalks from the soil with a shovel was difficult, and when the plants finally came up, their roots were trapped in a chunk of dirt. Once freed, the roots spread out flat like a fan and were studded with only a few nodules, which are critical to the exchange of nutrients.

In comparison, conventional corn in adjacent fields could be tugged from the ground by hand, and dirt with the consistency of wet coffee grounds fell off the corn plants’ knobby roots."

Without further analysis in the article, I would be surprised if other factors (till/no-till?) didn't account for more of the difference in the soil.

It just struck me as a very shallow comparison - maybe further discussion was edited out, I don't know.

Overall I was very interested in the article but found the treatment disappointing. Not very journalistically rigorous, and like TXEB said, mainly anecdotal.


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Ah, it is unfortunate that so many are so quick to "kill the messenger" rather than try to understand what the message is. This person is writing something that goes against what I believe therefore they must be made to look inept.


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Oh good grief! Nobody attacked the messenger or anyone else. The article generally got favorable marks for reporting. But it is a news article that leads to nothing conclusive.


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RE: This may interest some

  • Posted by pt03 2b Southern Manitob (My Page) on
    Sun, Sep 29, 13 at 7:37

As soon as I got to this line;

"During heavy rains in the summer, the runoff from his neighbor’s farm soaked his fields with glyphosate-laden water.",

I wondered if the person actually had the water tested, and if so, what were the concentrations of glyphosate. Without actual data, what's the point.

Lloyd

spelling correction

This post was edited by pt03 on Sun, Sep 29, 13 at 11:35


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RE: This may interest some

Kimm,

You don't know what I believe and your assumptions are unfounded.

I would be happy to believe that glyphosate use damages the soil. This article gave me little to no basis for that belief, and left me unclear about what mechanisms in particular would lead to a difference in soil compaction based on glyphosate use.

I am quite aware from reading your postings over the last several years that you value anecdotal over scientific evidence. That's fine, I'm sure your years of experience give you the basis for that.

I prefer quite strongly for journalism to provide a framework of evidence (anecdotal is fine if backed up by science) that gives me the background to draw my own conclusions.


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RE: This may interest some

Walking into 2 fields comparing soil tilth means very little without an actual knowledge of how they're cared for.

Tilling can cause the claimed "positive" aspects of the 2nd soil...in fact, very little besides huge amounts of organic matter or tilling would cause it. Also, being able to gently remove a corn stalk from the ground without much effort is generally considered a negative aspect in a corn stand. Lodging under high winds is a lot easier without a good anchor in the ground.

What should be looked at in this case is gyphosate's influence on soil aggregation in same-managed fields in same-managed soil types if you want a real picture of possible influence.

What's being inferred by the "look at my soil" guy is that glyphosate is causing hardpands, strong aggregation, and a change of soil type (color, texture, etc). That's most likely a soil management and organic matter input issue, not a glyphosate issue. In fact, if we're to believe some of the OM studies linking glyphosate to lower bacterial + fungal presence, the fields with glyphosate would have more unused and slowly broken down OM still remaining in the soil after a number of years thanks to a slower break-down time into humus.


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...also, being a little picky...they used "nodules" for corn incorrectly in the article.

I know what they mean...because I've worked with research corn + farmers...and they're talking about "root nodes"/"root nodules"/"brace roots" (brace roots, correctly) which help anchoring, but I think the author is confusing them a bit with root nodules which help nutrient uptake/creation in legume plants. Many farmers call them root nodes/nodules, though.


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I found this article by the same ...messenger... to be more logical and explicit. Conspicuously so - I continue to suspect the original article might have been heavily edited for length, because it is lacking some of the finer points she includes here. (Explanation of term 'traited', for example.)

Here is a link that might be useful: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/01/science/earth/a-disease-cuts-corn-yields.html


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RE: This may interest some

The corn market the past many years are causing too many farmers (by choice) to avoid rotations. Glad this was brought up in the article.

Corn is an ATM machine in a field at this point as long as proper rains show up.

Corn/corn/soy/wheat or corn/soy used to be popular rotations, but there's been a lot of corn/corn/corn/corn/etc. going on for too long thanks to the market + incentives in the market...especially on rented/leased land (which there is a whole lot more of the past 10+ years).

Corn produces a lot more returned residue to the soil, but that's not always a positive when it comes to pest and disease pressure, especially on continuous no/low-till (which a lot of GMO is).

There's no laws forcing a farmer to rotate or manage much aside from run-off (both airborne and water run-off), but there's a bit too many crossing their fingers and pushing corn to it's limit for the sake of profit at the risk of massive loss.


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