Thursday, June 4, 2009

Studying Small Farms

Univ. of Chicago Professor to Test Efficiency of Small Farms
By Louise Lerner
Fox News

The hamburgers at the dining hall probably contribute more to global warming than the trucks that deliver them.

While you may remember when the greenhouse gas debate turned to food production, you might not recall that one of the seminal studies of livestock farming methods — the one that calculated that eating 20 percent less meat is equivalent to switching from an SUV to a sedan — came out of the University of Chicago in 2006.

Pamela A. Martin, an assistant professor who coauthored the study, is actually a geophysicist by profession, but an interest in climate changes in the past drove her to study the present one.

Since she’s already tackled the largest share of U.S. agriculture — monocropping, like the huge fields of Midwest corn — Martin now has her sights on another potentially revolutionary topic in the field.

It turns out that for all the praise environmentalists have sung about locally grown food, no one has actually done a study that proves local food is more efficient. Read More

Here is how I see this playing out. This geophysicist turned farming expert has already denounced the use of livestock and planting fields with only one crop planted in them. That leads me to conclude that she supports garden type farming. So the idea that this study would come out and suggest small farming isn’t efficient is hard to believe. The other huge problem that I see with this study is that it seems she will assume that all “small” farms are run the same and that all “large” farms are run the same way. Dividing farms into categories strictly based on the number of acres and saying one is better than the other is ridiculous at best.

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