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From: Oz <>
Newsgroups: alt.agriculture.misc,alt.sustainable.agriculture,sci.agriculture
Subject: Re: "True cost" of large-scale organic farming
Date: Sat, 13 Sep 1997 07:28:30 +0100

In article <>, "Todd M. Bolton"
<> writes

>If you think the pesticide and herbicide labels
>in the US are over kill I have to assume you do not work with the
>general public.

No. Generally I would say the GP use few chemicals (in the UK). The plot
sizes are very small (often only a few plants) which gives quite good
protection for most people. The domestic packs are very dilute and the
rates designed for 'drench to drip-off', in other words the maximum you
could applt to the plants. probably the only extensive use is for lawn
weedkillers (usually simple hormones) and total weedkillers for paths
and drives (which are a problem with run-off).

Note that the concentrations used in 'spray to run off' are vastly lower
than that used for professionally applied field sprays. It looks
different because of the water volume.

>I am not going to assert that the majority of consumers
>are stupid, however they consistently do extremely stupid things with
>pesticides.  "If a little is good more is better" is the operative
>method of a large percent of the public.

To be fair this is because the approved (domestic) dose is below what
would be used in agriculture. I sometimes think that this is set up this
way deliberately on the assumption that some people will make an error
in measuring.

>They consistently buy material
>that is significantly more powerful than is needed for the problem.

Maybe. What is 'significantly more powerful'?

>Even professional lawn companies apply PREVENTATIVE, no indication of
>grubs, doses of diazinon to lawns.

Preventative treatments have advantages and disadvantages. If you know
for sure you will get the pest (or have it, but small and currently
causing no damage) then a significantly reduced rate (1/2, 1/3 or even
less) will prevent damage at an early stage. Once you have the full-
blown problem you will need the full rate, and maybe have to use two or
more in the end. The net result of a low preventative is a very
significant reduction in the amount you have to apply. For insect pests
this thins the 1st generation out significantly and allows the predators
time to catch up, as well as allowing them food for procreation, which
sees off damage from subsequent generations. In other words if your aim
is to reduce pesticide use (true for all farmers) then it's best to use
it thoughtfully and appreciate the population dynamics of your pest and
their prey. The same applies to your lawn (or the local golf course).

If you don't have the pest, then you have wasted your money. In practice
many pests can be guaranteed in an area every year. In the UK, the govt
(and other organisations) publishes trapping results for many insect
pests (eg virus carrying aphids in autumn) that allow a good assessment
to be made of the risks and the optimum timing of sprays if they are
required. This simultaneously reduces both damage and spray
applications. I am sure the US do the same sort of thing.

>Perhaps the misapplication is not
>due to insufficient warning, but people tend to be more careful of
>materials with the skull and crossbones on them.


'Oz     "Is it better to seem ignorant and learn,
         - or seem wise and stay ignorant?"

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