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THE WAY OF IGNORANCE and other essays with contributions by Daniel Kemmis and Courtney White

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2004) Agriculture from the Roots Up* ))0)64^))0) Henry David Thoreau wrote someplace that 1000's are hacking on the branches for each one that is outstanding on the root. He intended this as a metaphor, however it applies actually to trendy agriculture and to the technology of contemporary agriculture. because it has turn into an increasing number of industrialized, agriculture more and more has been understood as an firm demonstrated upon the skin of the floor. most folk these days lack even a superficial wisdom of agriculture, and such a lot who do comprehend anything approximately it are paying very little recognition to what's occurring less than the skin. The scientists on the Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, to the contrary, are awesome on the root. Their learn of the foundation and the roots of our agricultural difficulties has produced an intensive feedback, resulting in a proposed resolution that's radical. sixty four^ Their feedback is made radical via one the most important selection: the adoption of the usual atmosphere because the first commonplace of agricultural functionality, having precedence over the normal of productiveness and positively over the delusional and hazardous commercial usual of “efficiency. ” That unmarried swap makes a momentous distinction, one who is ancient and cultural in addition to scientific. by way of the normal of the traditional or the fit atmosphere, we see as though unexpectedly the shortcomings, not just of commercial agriculture yet of agriculture itself, insofar as agriculture has consisted of annual monocultures. To *Written initially as a speech for a Land Institute symposium, “Perennial suggestions to the once a year Problem,” Seattle, November three, 2004. 106 the way in which of lack of know-how these people who're dedicated to agriculture in any of its historic types, such feedback is unavoidably painful. And but we may even see its justice and settle for it, knowing how a lot is at stake. To others, who've based their careers or their companies accurately upon the shortcomings of agriculture as we've it, this feedback will might be be much more painful, and without doubt they're going to withstand with all of the nice energy we all know they've got. on the other hand, this can be a feedback for which the time is ripe. A rational denial of its justice is not any longer attainable. there are numerous purposes for this, however the major one, i believe, is the digital meltdown of the outdated limitations of expert notion in agriculture—a meltdown that i'm hoping foretells an identical destiny for the limits of all professional concept. The justifying assumptions of the commercial agriculture that now we have are in accordance with a reductive technological know-how operating inside of strictly bounded specializations. This agriculture, an agglomeration of specialties, seemed completely rational and salutary as long as it was once assumable that efficiency and productiveness have been sufficient criteria, that husbandry was once correctly reducible to technology and fertility to chemistry, that organisms are basically machines, that agriculture is below no legal responsibility to nature, that it has purely agricultural effects, and that it may be confidently dependent upon “cheap” fossil fuels.

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