How much yield is lost every year because we don’t apply the knowledge from the past?
Huber, McNeil, Zimmer, and others have reported regularly achieving 400+ bu per acre corn yields during the ’70s and ’80s. What happened? How was that yield potential lost? Why are we going backward? Why haven’t we made more progress?
From my podcast interview with Gary Zimmer:
John: What is something that you believe to be true about modern agriculture that is very different from the mainstream view?
Gary: When I was at Brookside, back in 1976, I visited a farm in northern Illinois that was growing 375-bushel corn, with a public variety of corn from the University of Illinois, on forty-inch rows. You could stick your hand in the ground clear to your elbow. Of course it got my attention.
In the ’90s, in Iowa, there was somebody who grew 400- to 500-bushel corn. That really opened up the doors to say that there’s much more potential.
This is why I find it offensive when people say, “How are we going to feed all these people?”
I say, “Forty percent of our corn goes into making ethanol, and we have the capability to double our yields. And we can do it with a cleaner method of farming.” It’s not that we can’t produce more food. And most people don’t even eat corn and beans. We can do a lot of things if we want to feed people. I think that conventional agriculture, or whatever you want to call it— modern agriculture—is shifting to a biological farming system.