Smarter Farming

monomaniaI was delighted recently to get a note from a University of Michigan student who had read my article on monoculture, reposted from here, at the United Nations University website, Our World.  The student, Nils Johnson, and his three colleagues put together a clever and very useful series of interviews, and even took my theme for their title.  (I wrote “Monomania is a serious disorder, characterized by, according to my dictionary, ‘excessive concentration on a single object or idea.’ In the case of much of American farming, that single object is the production of as much corn as possible at the greatest possible return on investment.”)

Here’s their introduction:  “Hello and welcome to tonight’s 20/20 exclusive report, Monomania.  Tonight’s episode features scientists and activists from around the globe discussing traditional and modern agricultural practices, and common themes of controversy surrounding such practice.  As the world population continues to grow, high demands for food have encouraged agriculturalists to seek practices that produce large quantities of food with reliable harvests.  The demand for uniformity has led many farmers to turn to monoculture:  cultivation dominated by a single crop.  Our reporters spoke with an array of experts in the field in an attempt to discuss sustainability of monoculture practices, their alternatives, and how modern farming will change in the future.”

Their report echoes the story in the superb Dirt! The Movie.  There’s more material on how to use our agricultural land much more productively at an old post I did for the FPA:  Smart Farming.  (I’ve also got a few of the same lines of inquiry in “A Lighter Footprint: Climate Change and Sustainable Development,” Ch. 7 of my book.)

But click here to read the fine report from these very promising students at Michigan.  Great job!


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