Regenerative agriculture / agricultural revolution

From what I can ascertain, 76 percent of government funds allocated to USDA in the Farm Bill is for SNAP(what used to be called food stamps).

So…if you’re looking at subsidies to farmers as an issue… that’s not where the big bucks are going… Jus’ sayin’.

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This point was brought up by my microbiology professor, when I took a ‘Sanitary Microbiology’ course 40-some-odd years ago, where we studied, extensively, methods of sewage and potable water treatment. He opined that we could certainly go back to that…using human fecal material as fertilizer… if we were comfortable with a skyrocketing infant mortality rate due to widespread contamination of foodstuffs with human enteric pathogens - bacteria, protozoa, viruses.

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Yeah i have no plans of making my own manure. But animal manure isnt sterile either.

Pathogens, typically microbes (e.g., bacteria, viruses, protozoa, fungi) or parasitic worms, are organisms capable of causing infection or disease in other organisms, including humans, wild and domestic animals, and plants. Several pathogens naturally occur in livestock and poultry manure and under certain circumstances may pose a risk to human health.

If you were trying to explain to someone not from Earth that we grow food in Animal Feces, and we also buy bags of their blood (blood meal), and we also buy their ground up bones (bone meal). And if you want to grow really nice plants you use rotten fish.

Personally i want to eat a fig, a persimmon, a pawpaw and a handful of blackberries and raspberries right before i die and lay down in a nice meadow on my farm. Sounds perfect to me.

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You are correct, animal manures are not sterile - and that’s why most folks are going to be using composted herbivore/ruminant (mostly cow) manure.
Most ruminant gastrointestinal parasites (Cryptosporidium & Giardia being the principal exceptions) pose no threat to humans. Enteropathogenic bacteria, like E.coli O157/H7 and Salmonella, which may occasionally be present in the GI tract of ruminants are a potential disease threat to humans, but do not survive proper composting.

I have no desire to use carnivore/omnivore fecal material - dog, cat, human, etc. - far too many parasites which can make the jump into humans - whether utilizing us as a definitive host, or as an intermediate host… encysting in our muscle and neurologic tissues, waiting for us to die/be killed and consumed by a cat, dog(wolf), pig, etc.

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Chicken manure is fed to cows…and chickens are fed dead cows… and the grains that they eat is fertilized with raw manure.

They used to feed cows dead cows but they banned that after mad cow disease… :crazy_face:

Thats pretty regenerative…gross but thats how we do it here.

like that isnt going to cause a problem eventually. idiots!

@krismoriah & @steveb4

I’m not promoting or defending feeding poultry litter to cattle - it always seemed somewhat repulsive to me, but from a wise use of resources standpoint, I understand it… it’s a waste material which poses some environmental issues so far as disposal is concerned… but ruminants can, by virtue of their rumen microflora, utilize the urea which is the principal Nitrogen compound in poultry manure, to manufacture amino acids and proteins which can then be assimilated by the cow to build muscle, milk, tissues. Those rumen ‘bugs’ (bacteria, protozoa) can split the ammonium groups off of urea and hook them onto carbon chains from dietary carbohydrates and synthesize amino acids and proteins, which are then digested and assimilated by the cow. It’s a wonder!

I’m not sure how much poultry litter is still fed to cattle… usage probably peaked in the 1980s, but it’s been decades since I’ve actually known of anyone feeding it, and then, only to beef cattle - not dairy. I think it’s largely fallen out of favor due to public perception (or misperception, as the case may be).

Cattle feeders weren’t just feeding straight chicken sh!t… poultry litter (feces, bedding - usually rice hulls in this part of the country - and yes, feathers, spilled chicken feed, etc.) would be analyzed for nutrient content and incorporated into a mixed ration in levels sufficient to supply up to 1/3 of total ‘protein’ content. Overfeeding urea can cause issues ranging from feed refusal to death due to excessively high rumen pH.

Now… realize that there have been a total of 233 cases, worldwide, of ‘acquired’ variant Creutzfeld-Jacob disease - the human spongiform encephalopathy that has been associated with BSE(Mad Cow Disease) - since the possible link between the two conditions was proposed, back in 1996. If you listened to the hysterical ‘news’ media, you’d think it was on every street corner… but no… 233 cases around the world in the past 26 years. That’s less than one-third the number of homicides in Chicago in 2021.
No doubt devastating if it’s you or a loved one affected, but hardly a huge threat to mankind.
The ‘acquired’ form of vCJD accounts for well below 1% of total cases diagnosed. The vast majority (85%) are ‘sporadic’… occurring with no known exposure/cause. The other 14% or so of vCJD cases are of the ‘hereditary’ type.

There have been a total of 6 cases of BSE diagnosed in cattle in the USA since 1993. Of that 6, only 1 was of the ‘classical’ type, associated with feeding ruminant-derived protein back to ruminants (and she was born - and probably contracted BSE - in Canada); the other 5 were ‘atypical’ BSE which, at this time, do not appear to be transmitted by an oral consumption route. With prohibition of feeding ‘ruminant-derived protein’ to cattle in place since the late 1990s… the likelihood of additional cases of classical BSE gets smaller as the years go by.

FDA promulgated rules in the late 1990s, in response to the issue of BSE, which all but ended rendering as a practice for dead cattle and non-edible waste(offal, bones, etc.) from cattle over 24 months of age which were going to slaughter. It impacted my job as a pathologist at a veterinary diagnostic laboratory in a major way… carcasses and offal that used to go to the rendering plant now had to be either landfilled or incinerated (the amount of natural gas needed to incinerate a walk-in cooler full of dead cows & horses is incredible!). Rendering company which used to service livestock producers and the two vet diagnostic labs in KY essentially stopped rendering deadstock altogether, so… dead cows/horses/pigs/goats/sheep… have had to be landfilled, buried on-site, or incinerated. And anyone who’s been involved in animal husbandry knows that if you have livestock… at some point, you’re going to have deadstock.

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Human waste is treated at the city’s sewage plant. Most of the waste, or bio-solids, is incinerated and rest is spread over farmland.

A lot of people flush more than human waste down their toilets; you get a lot of industrial stuff there as well such as paints, antifreeze and things like that.

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Apologies for the not-so-clean glass in these pictures…

About 5 years ago, my daughters started a vivarium to keep poison dart frogs. They used a mostly peat moss mix with no added fertilizer for the growing medium and put in a bunch of plants. At first the plants struggled, but grew slowly. Then, as the fungal threads developed more and more, the growth improved.

At this point, there is a rich mycorrhizal colony all through the growing medium and the plants grow like weeds. There are frequently little yellow and white mushrooms popping up and you can actually see them trying to emerge against the glass. No fertilizer has ever been added, although there are the tiny fogs “manure” I guess, but I can’t imagine that adds up to much. Every few months we have to trim the plants back by 2/3 or more.

It seems to me it is a tiny little experiment that shows what happens when the soil is untouched and the microbiome blooms.

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You make a good point here, Lucky P.
I don’t advocate a categorical prohibition of subsidies to farmers. Some farmers get subsidies for wildlife areas. Seems pretty positive to me. I think we can have reasonable discussions about what seems to be a worthwhile subsidy to farmers and others, depending on the task and how it helps society in general. Providing food to starving people is a priority for me, so SNAP isn’t really a problem IMHO. Encouraging the food industry to put really unhealthy things into our food is not a priority. When it continues to damage the soil and the environment for generations, I am opposed to it. The desertification of our landscapes makes starvation more likely in the long run.
John S
PDX OR

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this is a really good way to look at it.

I find this a very interesting topic, so thought I’d bump it with a video I was watching. I know brix is a big deal for all us fruit growers, but I’m curious if anyone has tested the brix in their leaves, etc. and noticed the correlation of higher brix leading to lower insect pressure.

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This isn’t empirical testing, but I have heard many organic gardeners who add lots of seaweed, compost, nutrients etc, and claim that their plants are so healthy that the insects don’t want to eat them. I haven’t yet achieved that.
JOhn S
PDX OR

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Not sure if brix would be the deciding factor.

From what i gather and this is from various readings is that most all plants have defense mechanisms of their own (like our immune systems)… and have the ability to ward off disease and insects. Human intervention is very varied… too much fertilizer, too many toxins, chemicals in soil, not to mention air pollution, watering by chlorinated water, and chemicals in rain water… all of those things and more i think weaken defenses somewhat…

I think the greatest test would be to pick something that is very disease resistant etc… such as Liberty Apple. and plant two of them.

One of them- spray it with everything that the sprayers spray… fertilize it with store bought fruit tree fertilizer…store bought mulch, water it with tap water and do every human intervention that is possible to it.

The other- leave it alone. Just plant it and put some woodchips on it and let the leaves fall as they do naturally. Let predator insects or birds etc do what they do.

I think bugs know when a tree or plant isnt doing well and they attack it…such as a wolf would do to a weaker animal. I think thats what bugs do…they are the wolves of the foliage.

I think they also know when a tree or plant is healthy and there is some kind of natural toxins or something that we dont understand in the leaves that makes them not want it as much. Maybe some kind of pheromone or something.

There is all kinds of stuff going on in the roots as well… i think we have understood that roots communicate and can send help to another tree or attack it.