Agriculture

Ecology Matters by Duke Vasey

“The challenge is to increase food production by 70 percent over the next 40 years. Many knowledgeable people, like Glickman, believe the challenge can be met, reported “Dairy Herd Network” with attribution to Drovers Cattle Network at cattlenetwork.com.

Glickman asked: “How does agriculture feed all of the people without ripping up the soil and tearing down the forests in a huge land grab?”

Quoted from “Drovers Cattle Network”

Since 1960, the average U.S. farm has increased productivity by six-fold, says Samuel Allen, chairman of Deere & Co., the farm implement company. It’s all about getting more production out of each acre of land.

With GPS technology, it is now possible to guide a tractor down a field without the operator even having to touch the steering wheel, Allen said. It makes for a more precise tillage pattern, with fertilizer and other inputs used only where they need to be.

Moisture probes placed at the root zone of plants can tell when a field needs to be irrigated and when it doesn’t.

Satellite imagery can map the biomass of individual farms, providing a prescriptive approach for the land. Perhaps there is a section of land that doesn’t grow well under wet conditions. With the prospects of a wet year on the horizon, the farm’s advisors can map a strategy for overcoming the problem in that particular area.

End Quote from “Drovers Cattle Network”

I believe that agriculture can keep up with food production and I also believe that it should be a cornerstone of the Immokalee Master Plan; but wait a minute, in his June 20, 2012 guest column: Fred Thomas, Jr., “...on the citizens advisory committee for the county Metropolitan Planning Organization and the boards of the Immokalee Water and Sewer District and the Immokalee Chamber of Commerce” said, “We need new industry in [Immokalee]....”

Why aren’t we thinking outside the box? Why aren’t are we correctly assessing agriculture as one of Collier County’s economic drivers and looking for incentives? If agriculture doesn’t work in Immokalee will it fit somewhere else in the county?

My grandmother had to raise her own meat, wring its fowl neck, pluck off its feathers by the handful and disembowel its innards. All I have to do is pull greasy roasted meat off the carcass. But do we really believe that breakfast comes from one of the local food stores?

A reasonable look at the Immokalee Master Plan would show that the outcome of agriculture will ultimately hinge on government policy. Will the Immokalee Master Plan embrace agriculture’s new technology? Will the plan encourage farming?

Water is another factor. Our water supply is finite and could prove to be a huge impediment to agriculture because we’re already in a water crisis and land owners are pushing for more urbanization. Guess we really do think food can be grown somewhere else! At some point in time, farming won’t be an economic consideration because no one planned for it.

Mr. Thomas alluded to the fact that the North American Free Trade Agreement changed area economics, but that shouldn’t be the reason we can’t plan for agriculture in the Immokalee Master Plan.

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