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A"' "~e MA ^~e lT' eese i Committee on the Role of Alternative Farming Methods n Modern Production Agriculture Board on Agriculture National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1989

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National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Washington, DC 20418 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. This project was supported by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation; the Rockefeller Brothers Fund; the Cooperative State Research Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under Agreement Number 59-3159-5-37; and the Wallace Genetic Foundation, Inc. Dissemination of the report was assisted by the Joyce Foundation and the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation. The project was addition- ally supported by the National Research Council (NRC) Fund, a pool of private, discretionary, nonfederal funds that is used to support a program of Academy-initiated studies of national issues in which science and technology figure significantly. The NRC Fund consists of contributions from a consortium of private foundations including the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Charles E. Culpeper Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation; the Academy Industry Program, which seeks annual contributions from companies that are concerned with the health of U.S. science and technology and with public policy issues with technological content; and the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering Endowments. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Alternative agriculture / Committee on the Role of Alternative Farming Methods in Modern Production Agriculture, Board on Agriculture, National Research Council. p. cm. Bibliography: p. Includes index. ISBN 0-309-03987-8.ISBN 0-309-03985-1 (pbk.) 1. Agricultural systemsUnited States. 2. Agricultural ecology United States. 3. AgricultureEconomic aspectsUnited States. 4. Agriculture and stateUnited States. 5. Agricultural systems United StatesCase studies. I. National Research Council (U.S.). Committee on the Role of Alternative Farming Methods in Modern Production Agriculture. S441.A46 1989 630'.973dcl9 Copyright (I) 1989 by the National Academy of Sciences 88-26997 CIP No part of this book may be reproduced by any mechanical, photographic, or electronic process, or in the form of a phonographic recording, nor may it be stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, or otherwise copied for public or private use without written permission from the publisher, except for the purposes of official use by the U.S. government. Cover photograph by Larry Lefever from Grant Heilman Printed in the United States of America First Printing, August 1989 Second Printing, May 1990 Third Printing, April 1991 Fourth Printing, October 1993 Fifth Printing, February 1995 Sixth Printing, December 1999

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if Committee on the Role of Alternative Farming Methods n Modern Production Agriculture JOHN PESEK, Chairman, Iowa State University SANDRA BROWN, University of Illinois KATHERINE L. CLANCY, Syracuse University DAVID C. COLEMAN, University of Georgia RICHARD C. FLUCK, University of Florida ROBERT M. GOODMAN, CaIgene, Inc. RICHARD HARWOOD, Winrock International WIELIAM D. HEFFERNAN, University of Missouri GLENN A. HELMERS, University of Nebraska PETER E. HIEDEBRAND, University of Florida WIELIAM LOCKERETZ, Tufts University ROBERT H. MILLER, North Carolina State University DAVID PIMENTEL, CorneD University CALVIN O. QUALSET, University of California, Davis NED S. RAUN, Winrock International HAROLD T. REYNOLDS, University of California, Riverside (retired) MILTON N. SCHROTH, University of California, Berkeley Staff RICHARD WILES, Project Director SUSANNE E. MASON, Senior Project Assistant iii

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Board on Agriculture *WILLIAM L. BROWN, Chairman, Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc. TTHEODORE L. HULLAR, University of California, Davis C. EUGENE ALLEN, University of Minnesota EDWIN H. CLARK IT, The Conservation Foundation ELLIS B. COWLING, North Carolina State University JOSEPH P. FONTENOT, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University ROBERT M. GOODMAN, CaIgene, Inc. TIMOTHY M. HAMMONDS, Food Marketing Institute PAUL W. JOHNSON, Iowa House of Representatives CHARLES C. MUSCOPLAT, Molecular Genetics, Inc. KARL H. NORRIS, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Beltsville, Maryland (retired) CHAMP B. TANNER, University of Wisconsin ROBERT L. THOMPSON, Purdue University JAN VAN SCHIEFGAARDE, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Fort Collins, Colorado CONRAD I. WEISER, Oregon State University CHARLES M. BENBROOK, Executive Director JAMES E. TAVARES, Associate Executive Director CARLA CARLSON, Director of Communications GRACE JONES ROBBINS, Editor *Through June 30, 1988 Chairman as of July 1, 1988 iv -

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Preface The l980s have been a time of change in U.S. agriculture. The financial viability of many farms and rural communities decliner] during the mid- l980s as crop prices and land values fed. More than 200,000 farms went bankrupt. Since 1986, increasing market prices and exports of major farm commodities have improved the farm economy, but this recovery would not have been possible without record levels of government support. The environmental consequences of farming have also become increas- ingly important to policymakers, farmers, and the public. The Environmen- tal Protection Agency has identified agriculture as the largest nonpoint source of water pollution. Pesticides and nitrates from fertilizers and ma- nures have been found in the groundwater of most states. The issue of pesticide and antibiotic residues in food remains unresolved. Soil erosion, salinization, and depletion of aquifers for irrigation are significant problems ~ in some regions. In 1984, the Board on Agriculture appointed a committee to study the science and policies that have influenced the adoption of alternative pro- duction systems designed to control these problems. The committee found that many farmers have taken steps to reduce the costs and adverse environ- mental effects of their operations. Some have improved conventional tech- niques, and others have adopted alternatives. Farmers who have adopted alternatives try to take greater advantage of natural processes ant! beneficial on-farm biological interactions, reduce off- farm input use, and improve the efficiency of their operations. Many farm- ers have tried alternative systems. Some have succeeded; others have failed. It appears, however, that a growing number of farmers and agricultural researchers are seeking innovative ways to reduce costs and protect human health and the environment. For the rest of this century, agricultural producers and policymakers will focus on three goals: (1) keeping U.S. farm exports competitive; (2) cutting production costs; and (3) reducing the environmental consequences of farm- ing. The committee's report examines the scientific and economic viability v

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vi PREFACE of alternative systems that can help farmers and policymakers achieve these goals. Chapter 1 describes the dimensions of U.S. agriculture in the domestic and world economies and its evolution since World War II. The committee discusses changes in input use, including fertilizers, pesticides, antibiotics, and irrigation water. Trade policy, federal commodity price and income support programs, and regulatory and tax policy are discussed, as is their influence on farm practices. Chapter 2 outlines some of the economic and environmental consequences of agricultural practices and federal government policies. The committee de- scribes problems in the farm economy, agricultural pollution of surface water and groundwater, pest resistance to pesticides, aquifer depletion, soil erosion and salinization, and pesticide and antibiotic residues in food. Chapter 3 examines the basic science supporting farming practices widely used in alternative agriculture: crop rotations, alternative crop nutrient sources and management strategies, integrated pest management, biologi- cal pest control, and alternative animal management systems. Much of the evidence presented comes from the agricultural research system. The re- sults of most scientific research, however, have not been sufficiently inte- grated into systems designed to solve on-farm problems. This chapter dis- cusses the need for an interdisciplinary problem-solving research system. Chapter 4 analyzes the economic potential of alternative systems. The committee discusses methods of economic analysis, regional differences in production costs, and the relationship between federal commodity pro- grams and production inefficiencies. Using Midwestern corn and north- western wheat production as examples, the committee examines commod- ity program biases and their influence on the profitability of conventional and alternative systems. Additionally, the economic benefits of integrated pest management, biological pest control, and alternative livestock systems are discussed. The report concludes with 11 case studies describing 14 farms managed with an efficient combination of alternative and conventional practices. Detailed descriptions of the practices and financial performance of five crop and livestock operations, seven fruit and vegetable farms, one western beef operation, and one rice farm are presented. The case studies provide in- sights into the operation of alternative farms in different regions producing different crops by the use of different methods. Each farm is tailored to the limitations and potential of its soil, water, and climate and the local econ- omy. Farmers have a history of adopting new systems. While much work re- mains to be done, the committee believes that farmers, researchers, and policymakers will perceive the benefits of the alternative systems described in this report and will work to make them tomorrow's conventions. JOHN PESEK Chairman

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Acknowledgments Farms across the country face major decisions each growing season: What to plant? How to control pests and weeds? How to maintain or improve soil fertility, deal with erosion, and manage water sources? What production goals to set? What level of expenditure to absorb and debt to incur? In this report, the committee provides technical and policy information that can aid farmers in making these decisions. The committee also makes recom- mendations that will aid policymakers in shaping a strong and efficient agricultural sector. The collection and analysis of the quantities of data in this report could not have been accomplished without the assistance of committee consul- tants Patrick Madden, Edward Schaefer, and Kevin Finneran. The work of Patrick Madden is particularly appreciated. The committee also acknowledges the cooperation of the owners and managers of the farms described in the 11 case studies contained in this report. These individuals were exceptionally generous with their time and with detailed information about their farms. The committee members thank Executive Director Charles M. Benbrook for his continued support and interest in our deliberations. We are particu- larly grateful to past chairman of the Board on Agriculture William L. Brown. His vision of the future of U.S. agriculture and encouragement through aD stages of the study were vital to the successful completion of this project. Finally, we thank Project Director Richard Wiles. His thoughtful analyses and diligent effort were critical to the successful completion of this project. vii

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The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Frank Press is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the supe- rior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the National Acad- emy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Samuel O. Thier is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. viii

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Contents PART ONE EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ................ Findings, 5 Conclusions, 8 Recommendations, 17 The Future of Alternative Farming, 23 1 AGRICULTURE AND THE ECONOMY Trade, 27 Agricultural Industries, 32 The Structure of Agriculture, 54 Regional Distinctions, 57 The Power of Policy, 65 Summary, 85 Z PROBLEMS IN U.S. AGRICULTURE. The Farm Economy, 90 Trade, 93 Natural Resources, 97 Summary, 130 3 RESEARCH AND SCIENCE. Crop Rotation, 138 Plant Nutrients, 141 Livestock, 164 Pest Control in Crops, 175 Summary, 188 IX .. 25 .... 89 ...... 135

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x CONTENTS 4 ECONOMIC EVALUATION OF ALTERNATIVE FARMING SYSTEMS 195 Economic Assessments of Alternative Methods, 196 Alternative Pest Management Strategies, 208 Alternative Animal Disease Prevention Strategies, 224 Studies of Diversification Strategies, 228 Impact of Government Policy, 235 Summary, 241 PART TWO THE CASE STUDIES ~ Crop and Livestock Farming in Ohio: The Spray Brothers 247 ... 253 I! A Mixed Crop and Livestock Farm in Southwest Iowa: The BreDahl Farm 266 3 A Diversified Crop and Livestock Farm in Virginia: The Sabot Hill Farm 275 4 A Mixed Crop and Livestock Farm in Pennsylvania: The Kutztown Farm 286 5 Crop-Livestock Farming in Iowa: The Thompson Farm ..... 308 6 Tree Fruits, Walnuts, and Vegetables in California: The Ferrari Farm 324 7 Florida Fresh-Market Vegetable Production: Integrated Pest Management 336 8 Fresh Grapes in California and Arizona: Stephen Pavich & Sons 350 10 11 9 Integrated Pest Management in Processing Tomatoes in California: The Kitamura Farm ......................... Livestock Farming in Colorado: Coleman Natural Beef Rice Production in California: The Lundberg Family Farms GLOSSARY ....... INDEX ........... 374 388 398 419 427

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TABLES AND FIGURES TABLES ~ - 1 Average Dryland and Irrigated Yields, 52 1-2 Harvested Irrigated Cropland and Pastureland, 1982, 53 1-3 Diversity of U.S. Farming Regions, 59 1-4 Farm Sales for Selected Agricultural Subregions, 1982 (in percent), 60 1-5 Major Agricultural Sources of Gross Farm Income for Selected Agricultural Subregions, 1982, 61 ]-6 Average Value of Land and Buildings in Selected Agricultural x ,j Subregions, 1982 (in dollars), 64 1-7 Commodity Base Acres Enrolled in CRP Through July 1987, 80 1-8 Regional Distribution of Acres Enrolled in CRP Through February 1988, 80 Farm Financial Conditions by Farm Size, Region, and Commodity, 94 Agriculture (Including Feedlots) as a Nonpoint Source of Water Pollution by State or Territory, 99 Pesticide Detections Reported in Iowa Drinking Water Survey (in percent), 102 2-4 Pesticide Concentrations From Finished (Treated) Public Drinking Water Supplies Derived From Surface Waters (in micrograms/ liter), 103 Number of Pesticides Detected in Treated Drinking Water Samples in Iowa, 104 2-6 Priority Pesticides in EPA's National Survey of Pesticides in Groundwater (in thousands of pounds), 106 2-7 Confirmed Pesticide Detections in Groundwater Due to Normal Agricultural Use, 107 2-S Pesticides Detected in Underground Drinking Water Supplies in Iowa and Minnesota, 109 2-9 Acreage Irrigated in Areas With Declining Groundwater Supplies, 1980-1984, 113 2-10 Irrigated Acreage of Surplus Crops in Areas of Groundwater Decline, 1982 (in thousands), Il4 2-11 Cropland Affected by Conservation Compliance, Il8 3-1 Nitrogen Fixation of Legume Species as Affected by Soil Temperature and Time Under Greenhouse Conditions, 148 3-2 Reported Quantities of Dinitrogen Fixed by Various Legume Species, 149 3-3 Nitrogen Losses in Manure Affected by Application Method, 151

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xli TABLES AND FIGURES 3-4 Nitrogen Losses in Manure Affected by Handling and Storage, 151 3-5 Approximate Nutrient Content of Several Manures, 153 3-6 U.S. IPM Use in 12 Major Crops, 1986, 178 4- ~ Regional per Bushel and per Acre Production Cost Estimates and Yields, 1986, 200 4-2 Regional per Acre Yield and Selected per Bushel Production Cost Estimates for Corn, Soybeans, and Hard Red Winter Wheat, 1986, 201 4-3 Cost of Production for Dryland Wheat in Southwest Kansas, 1986, 204 Major Inputs Resulting in Higher per Acre Costs: High-Cost Farms Versus Low-Cost Farms, Selected Studies, 205 4-5 Fertilizer, Pesticide, and Total Variable Costs for Minnesota Corn and Soybeans (in dollars), 206 4-6 National Average Cost of Production for Selected Inputs, 1986, 206 4-7 Percentage Differences in Yields, Crop Values, Pesticide Applications, and Pest Control Costs for {PM Users Compared With Nonusers, 210 4-S Selected Examples of Biological Controls, 221 4-9 Comparative Performance of Pasture With Hutch, Partial Confinement, and Total Confinement Swine Production Systems, 227 4-10 Effect of Previous Crop on Corn Yield, 232 4-11 Estimated Fertilizer and Pesticide Use for Conventional Management and PALS, 234 4-12 Costs of Conventional and Alternative Rotations per Acre of Rotation per Year, 235 4-13 Gross Returns, Variable Costs, and Net Returns (dolIars/acre of rotation/year) Under Conventional and PAT S Management, High and Tow Yielding Conditions, and Market and Target Prices, 1986, 236 4-14 Average Annual Target Prices as a Percentage of Total Economic Costs, 238 4-15 Reduction of Deficiency Payments and Corn Acreage Base Following Change From Continuous Corn to C-O-M-M Rotation on 1,000-Acre Farm, 239 4-16 Returns per Acre by Nitrogen Fertilizer Application Rates, Rotation, and Government Program Participation, 240 4-4

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TABLES AND FIGURES FIGURES 1-1 Food and fiber sector of the U.S. GNP, 26 1-2 GNP by sector, 1985, 28 1-3 Value of selectecl agricultural exports, 29 1-4 U.S. agricultural export trends and foreign trade balances, 30 1-5 Value of U.S. agricultural exports by commodity, 31 .. X 11 1-6 Volume of U.S. agricultural exports by commodity, 31 1-7 Agricultural exports, imports, and trade balance, 32 1-S Agricultural productivity measured by output per unit of labor, 33 |-9 Distribution of foot! and fiber system employment in the national economy, 34 1 - 10 Cropland harvested since 1945, 35 '-11 Consumer prices for food versus all other consumer goods, 36 1-1Z Index of retail price for a market basket of farm foods and the value receiver! by farmers, 36 1-13 Marketing share of consumer expenditures, farm value, and consumer expenditures for farm foods, 37 1-14 What a dollar spent on food pair! for in 1987, 38 1-15 National average cost of pesticides and fertilizers, seed, and fuel as a percentage of total variable costs and total variable and fixed costs by major crop, 1986, 39 1 - 16 Total consumption of primary plant nutrients, 41 1-17 Nitrogen application rates per acre on major crops, 41 1-~8 Total use of nitrogen fertilizer on major crops, 42 1 - 19 Herbicide, insecticide, and fungicide use estimates, 45 1-20 Number of herbicides, insecticides, and fungicides registered under FIFRA, 1973-1987, 46 1-21 Herbicide use estimates on corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat, 47 1-Z2 Insecticide use estimates on corn, cotton, soybeans, and wheat, 48 1-23 U.S. antibiotic production and use in animal feed, 49 1-24 Irrigated agricultural land, 51 1-25 Percentage of cattle sales by size of operation (in 1969 dollars), 56 1-26 Percentage of hog and pig sales by size of operation (in 1969 clolIars), 56 1-27 Characteristics of nine farming regions, 58 1-28 Net outlays for U.S. farm programs and net cash farm income (in billions of dollars), 66 1-29 Net farm income and direct government payments to farmers, 67 1-30 Hypothetical cost of production for a wheat farm, 71

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xlv TABLES AND FIGURES 1-31 Market price, target price, and percentage of corn growers participating in the corn commodity program, 72 1-32 Market price, target price, and percentage of sorghum growers participating in the sorghum commodity program, 72 1-33 Market price, target price, and percentage of wheat growers participating in the wheat commodity program, 73 1-34 Market price, target price, and percentage of rice growers participating in the rice commodity program, 73 1-35 Wheat produced at less than the target price per bushel, 1981, 74 1-36 Corn produced at less than the target price per bushel, 1981, 75 1-37 U.S. crop acreage in conserving uses compared with excess production capacity, 81 2-1 Gross farm income and production expenses, 91 Z-2 input prices, crop prices, and agricultural exports, 92 2-3 Farm debt-to-asset and net-cash-income-to-total-farm-debt ratio, 95 2-4 Volume of U.S. agricultural exports, 95 2-5 Value of U.S. agricultural exports, 96 Z-6 Value of supplementary commodity imports, 96 2-7 Average producer subsidy equivalents for grains, livestock, dairy, oilseeds, and sugar, 97 2-8 Agricultural counties with nitrate nitrogen (NO3N) in groundwater, 110 2-9 Counties with potential for groundwater contamination from nitrogen fertilizers, 111 2-10 Counties with potential for groundwater contamination from agricultural chemicals, 112 3-1 The relative availability of 12 essential plant nutrients in well- drained mineral soils in temperate regions in relation to soil pH, 155 3-2 Ridge tillage advantages in alternative production systems, 163

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ALTER~T~E AGRICULTURE

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