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E-M:/ Michigan grains and nitrogen



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Enviro-Mich message from Lowell Prag <lprag@mail.msen.com>
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Hello Barbara,

Your point below in your post, is well taken that grains can be grown
without petro-chemical fertilizers but in Michigan, I would venture to say
that over 90% of the farmers use them and this in conjunction with using
the farms to produce ethanol to run our cars, is not the wisest path to
solving our problems.

The instances in Michigan where you don't use petrol-chemical fertilizers,
requires extensive use of legume cover crops in crop rotation with the
grains, to replace the nitrogen which is used in the grain growth and the
heavy utilization of compost which also contains naturally occurring
nitrogen. That is an organic farming approach which is presently practiced
only on a very small percent of Michigan farms.

Lowell Prag

On Thu, 23 Jan 2003, Barbara Jean Madsen wrote:

> Lowell,
> 
> 	Even with all the wars, droughts, etc., there is still more than
> enough food in the world to feed all the people--it is simply not
> distributed to all the people.  That it the only claim I made.  How
> feasible it will be to wean Americans from their massively meat-heavy
> diet, or to get wealthy countries to distribute food to poor countries, or
> how to effect other methods of spreading the food around, are other
> questions altogether, and probably not appropriate for Enviro-Mich.
> 
> 	I did not address any of the questions you raise about energy
> costs of using grain for ethanol production, though I should note here
> that your claim of needing to use "Petro-chemical fertilizers to get the
> nitrogen" is also untrue.  People grew grains for centuries without
> petrochemicals, and can still do so.
> 
> 	--Barb
> 
> 
> 
>  On Thu, 23 Jan 2003, Lowell Prag wrote:
> 
> > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > Enviro-Mich message from Lowell Prag <lprag@mail.msen.com>
> > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > On Wed, 22 Jan 2003, Barbara Jean Madsen wrote:
> >
> > ... see below ...
> >
> > Hello Barbara,
> >
> > I don't entirely agree with your analysis of my opposition
> > to using Michigan farm lands for ethanol production.
> >
> > There are a couple of problems:
> >
> > Our meat consumption is much, much higher than third world countries, and
> > that is not going to change. Hence, for each serving of meat an individual
> > eats, I would estimate that at least four people could have been fed if
> > the grain to get that meat, was eaten.
> >
> > Also, global warming, drought, civil wars, drug wars, AIDS, poverty, etc.
> > are all contributing to greatly reduced food production in many parts of
> > the world. In this regards, there is a real shortage of food.
> >
> > More to the point, ethanol production from grain, has many hidden factors
> > which also contribute to the energy problem, other than just removing the
> > grain from the food supply.
> >
> > i.e: after you add up all the energy factors to get the grain and then
> > convert it to ethanol, are you really any further ahead in solving the
> > energy problems?
> >
> > For example, add up the nitrogen required to grow the grain, the energy
> > needed in produce the petrol-chemical fertilizers to get the nitrogen,
> > the energy required for the conversion to ethanol, the transport and
> > storage costs, etc.
> >
> > On the other hand, if all the organic by-products like chaff, straw,
> > manure, etc. were used instead on our farms in Michigan, to get methane
> > via anaerobic composting, we have a net energy gain instead of a net
> > energy loss.
> >
> > I think that type of argument should be presented, opposing
> > the use of our Michigan farm lands for ethanol production.
> >
> > Lowell Prag
> >
> > On Wed, 22 Jan 2003, Barbara Jean Madsen wrote:
> >
> > > Lowell,
> > >
> > > 	Actually, the world produces more than enough food to feed
> > > everyone; the problem is in the use and distribution of food.  Enough food
> > > is wasted in the U.S. every day to feed some whole countries, and vast
> > > amounts of grain are used to feed animals instead of people.
> > >
> > > 	This myth about "not enough food" is frequently used by biotech
> > > companies to argue for production of genetically engineered crops that
> > > will supposedly produce more food (even though they also require more
> > > fertilizer and/or are simply too expensive for poor farmers to afford).
> > >
> > > 	--Barb Madsen
> > >
> > >
> > > On Wed, 22 Jan 2003, Lowell Prag wrote:
> > >
> > > > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > > > Enviro-Mich message from Lowell Prag <lprag@mail.msen.com>
> > > > -------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > > >
> > > > This topic has come up before.
> > > >
> > > > There is a certain insanity in using farm land to
> > > > produce fuel, when half the world is still starving.
> > > >
> > > > Lowell Prag
> > > >
> > > > On Wed, 22 Jan 2003 HAMILTREEF@aol.com wrote:
> > > >
> > > > > Local ethanol-production plant is in early talk stages
> > > > >
> > > > > OLIVE TOWNSHIP -- An agricultural township between Holland and Grand Haven
> > > > > soon could become a site for the production of ethanol, a fuel made of corn
> > > > > and other agricultural byproducts.
> > > > >
> > > > > http://www.mlive.com/news/grpress/index.ssf?/xml/story.ssf/html_standard.xsl?/
> > > > >
> > > > > base/news-1/1043250430206380.xml
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > >
> > > >
> > > >
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> >
> >
> >
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> > ENVIRO-MICH:  Internet List and Forum for Michigan Environmental
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