February 3, 2014 Bill Crabtree
Bio-pesticides, Biochar, and Bio-till (no-till)
A recent press release regarding “greener” agricultural technologies does miss the mark regarding the three bio’s, in my view. While I agree that biopesticides will be a big tool of the future, I cannot see biochar ever being more than a researchers delight. The practicality of collecting, processing, moving and applying biochar present hurdles at every step. Not to mention that it relies on the idea that Carbon capture will one day be worth something. The history of the price of carbon is not encouraging in the least. The suggestion of putting a biochar champion up to promote the idea is folly. Time will show this.
Biopesticides, now that’s much more exciting! This week I attended a Bayer talk on Biologics which sounds very similar. With their strong science and medicinal knowledge as a company and their track record of promoting sound ideas for the future, then I suspect this technology has a solid future.
To suggest however that no-till does not have the same growth opportunities as biopesticides is confusing and inaccurate. No-till is the future for all soils with 30 years of proven strong benefits. Particularly in relation to soil water properties, that are still only just being started to be understood.
No-till has taught us just how important soil biology is in soils and indeed it was an important clue to the coming biologics or biopesticides age. The USA and Europe have not yet began to understand how important no-till is with adoption levels at low levels in the US and extremely low levels in Europe.
The other assured green form of agriculture that has gone unspoken in this article is biotech crops. These have a proven track record of reducing pesticide use, increasing farm safety, increased yields, decreased pesticide run-off, increased farmer profitability and high farmer adoption rates. When this technology incorporates human health benefits into the next phase of crops then we will see strong global appreciation for the true green nature of biotech.
The article I refer to can be found at: http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/1710232