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"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil, and you're a thousand miles from the corn field."
- Dwight D. Eisenhower
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MOF&G Cover Fall 1997

 

 


  You are here:  PublicationsMaine Organic Farmer & GardenerFall 1997English Editorial   
 Minimize Pesticide Use: Keep Highmoor Open Minimize


Minimize Synthetic Nitrogen Use
Sue Farrell

By Jean English

People in Maine must minimize their use of pesticides. That is state policy, since a bill originating with MOFGA passed during the last legislative session. The law relates to commercial growers, lawn care companies, homeowners … everyone.

The first step in implementing this legislation will be determining just what quantities of pesticides are used in various situations in Maine. The Board of Pesticides Control staff will do this and will report its findings annually.

Ironically, just as the state was finally recognizing that it must take a stance and do what it can to minimize pesticide use, the same state wanted to cut the budget for Highmoor Farm to $20,000! (Not by $20,000, but to $20,000!) Half of Maine must be in a time warp, because reducing pesticide use depends on keeping Highmoor fully functioning. This research station has, as our news article in this issue of The MOF&G points out, shown sweet corn growers how to cut pesticide applications in half while increasing marketable yield by 75 percent. Likewise it has shown strawberry growers how to reduce sprays and improve the quality of their crop. It is now moving apple growers into “Second Stage IPM” in which disease resistant apples are combined with the very latest production and pest management techniques that cut the number of sprays to two to three per year! Currently, an up-to-date, conscientious conventional grower might get by with about nine sprays per year; others use more; some use many more.

As we went to press, the plan to close Highmoor was still active. If the plan is still active when you read this paper, please write to or call your legislators and the Board of Trustees of the University of Maine. Remind them about Maine’s new policy to minimize pesticide use, inform them about Highmoor’s accomplishments, and ask the politicians to keep Highmoor open.

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Minimize Synthetic Nitrogen Use

The popular book Ishmael gives a simplistic view of how population has increased perilously with increases in agricultural production. Eric Sideman, citing recent articles in Scientific American, gives a more scientific explanation of part of the population problem in his column in this issue. This is a pivotal issue for our species – and for many others. I urge you to read Eric’s column, use organic fertilizers or buy food from growers who use them, and do what you can to help curb our population growth. From what I have read, one of the best ways to do this is through education, especially of women.

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Sue Farrell

Sue Farrell, who wrote nutrition columns for The MOF&G and was on MOFGA’s public policy committee, died as a result of cancer in July. We will miss her deeply and offer condolences to her many friends and to her family.

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