Title: Toward biological and community integration
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00095678/00001
 Material Information
Title: Toward biological and community integration directions for Michigan's sustainable agriculture
Physical Description: 6, 3 leaves : ill. ; 28 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Harwood, Richard R.
Donor: unknown ( endowment )
Publisher: Michigan State University
Place of Publication: East Lansing, Mich.
Publication Date: January, 1994
Copyright Date: 1994
Subject: Sustainable agriculture -- Michigan   ( lcsh )
Sustainable agriculture -- Political activity -- Michigan   ( lcsh )
Genre: bibliography   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )
Spatial Coverage: United States of America -- Michigan
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
General Note: Typescript.
General Note: "January, 1994."
Statement of Responsibility: Richard R. Harwood.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00095678
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: oclc - 435650317

Full Text

Toward Biological and Community Integration:
Directions for Michigan's Sustainable Agriculture

Richard R. Harwood

C.S. Mott Foundation Chair of Sustainable Agriculture-

Michigan State University

January 1994

An Overview of the Range of Farm Paradigm

Michigan agriculture as it evolves toward sustainability, is changing on multiple

fronts, responding to changing markets, environmental standards and social expectations.

Farm organization and patterns of production can be grouped into types, with characteristics

defined by the paradigm (or pattern) chosen by farm managers.

The five farm systems types gleaned from current literature, group farms by

organizational paradigm. Michigan agriculture is comprised of a mixture of those types.

The types differ in their levels of biological integration and of community interactions, both

social and economic (see Figure 1). Those pattern types merge into each other, but have

commonly accepted identity:

"Industrial" Farms

These are typically large-scale, sometimes vertically integrated enterprises with huge

Capital investment, farmed on an extremely extensive scale. They have few crops or separate

production enterprises. Inputs dominate or control the biology of the system. These are the

farms described so frequently by former Secretary of Agriculture, Earl Butz, during the

1970s and 1980s. They are the outgrowth of the directions of the 60s through 80s of farm

expansion for efficiency of large scale. They produce huge volumes of product for national

and global markets, usually at reasonably low cost. Capital investment in machinery and

chemical replaces labor wherever possible. Such farms are often criticized for their adverse

environmental and social impacts. Scientific efforts to lower their environmental impact

revolve around fine-tuning of inputs, in the future perhaps through "site-specific"

management. They contribute to low market-cost protein and carbohydrate.

"Future Industrial"

Dr. Thomas Urban, Chairman and President of Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.,

has defined a vision for the evolution of a portion of the industrial farm segment toward what

could be called a specialty business model, patterned exclusively after an industrial enterprise

(Urban, 1991). These farms would produce identity-preserved, high-quality product for

national and global markets. At least a portion of such a market segment is seen by Dr.

Urban to be of high quality, low to zero chemical input production to meet market demand.

Biologically Integrated Systems

Under pressure for greater efficiency of production, reduction of cost and for

reduction of environmental loading, many producers are moving toward (or enhancing) the

biological integration of their systems. Use of crop rotations, cover crops, integrated pest

management, landscape diversity and a host of practices contribute to those goals (Harwood,

1984). In Michigan we are developing a strong ecological base for these integrative

directions. The principles of ecological interaction include soil-based, landscape level and

crop and animal species interaction types of relationships. This approach includes the fine-

tuning (selection, timing, amounts, method of application, etc.) of inputs combined with the

"structuring" of biological integration. "Integration" is translated into specific rotation, cover

crop, animal grazing, and landscape diversity types of practices. Community interaction

must be, at a minimum, understanding and acceptance.

Sustainable Agriculture (Flora and Ikerd)

The most current, and broad concept of sustainable agriculture is one that includes a

significant element of "quality of life". This concept was articulated in 1993 by a national

committee appointed to come up with a definition and approach to implementation of the

1990 farm bill mandate. As stated, that quality of life concept includes emphasis on personal

interaction at the family, but particularly at the community level. The broad concept of

sustainable agriculture seems to include the biological integration, cited above, but also a

major element of community interaction through markets, flow of goods and services,

support of local institutions and of local community empowerment and interaction. In a

sense it is a "value-added" approach at the community level, enhancing the non-economic as

well as the economic value to the community of local agriculture. This agriculture serves a

broad range of needs at the local level and is highly important to quality of life.

Holistic agriculture

I have given this name to that portion of agriculture as defined by Wendell Berry,

Wes Jackson and a host of others. The integrative values of the biologically and socially

integrated types are taken to greater extreme,' to the point that land ethic and a social ethic

become the driving forces. Berry's "a sense of place" overrides most other considerations.

Family and community are the key determinants of ultimate success.

State Agriculture as a Composite

All of the above farm paradigm types can be found in Michigan. These occur

because of different land types which permit or discourage large holdings, capital investment

strategies and opportunities, market structure and opportunity, the presence of urban and

rural markets, differences in environmental fragility and a broad range of social, political and

regulatory factors. One could make strong argument that sustainability of agriculture, on a

statewide level, is significantly enhanced by an appropriate balance of these types, each

responding to different conditions and needs (see Figure 2). That balance (in terms of

acreage, total value or other indicators) changes with land type, with proximity to community

and to urban areas. The balance is (and should be) quite different in Vermont than it is in

Michigan or Iowa. It changes over time. In Michigan we are evolving rapidly for a variety

of reasons, toward biological integration. There are strong forces also compelling movement

toward social integration, but directions here are less clear. The relationships and some of

the driving factors are shown in Figure 3.

The Role of Public Institutions in this Change

Institutional role is changing markedly, depending on the sector of attention.

Specialized industrial farms are receiving research attention in terms of input fine-tuning,

site-specific soil management and a range of other technologies. This sector receives major

attention, of course, from the larger agribusiness corporations.

The biologically integrated farms are the focus of the great bulk of agroecology,

integrated pest management and the sustainable agriculture research thrusts. Cover crop use,

crop rotations, management of soil biota for soil quality, manipulating pest-predator

relationships and weed seed bank shifts are at the center of Michigan State University's

program in sustainable agriculture. Integrated farms are the focus of the Michigan

Agricultural Stewardship Association programs. The research on organic agriculture fits in

this category.

There is attention from the Michigan Department of Agriculture and MSU Extension

in advancing local food systems, supporting pick-your-own operations, farmer markets,

community-supported agriculture and other direct-marketing avenues. Overall, however, the

work on community integration is really in its infancy.

MSU is heavily involved in biological research, and is now moving toward

community-level research and toward leadership training and community organization. These

directions seem highly appropriate in moving toward biological and social integration within

the context of Michigan's evolving technological, economic and social environment.

Positioning in Agricultural Paradigm

R. Harwood
December 1993

Agricultural Type

1980's Industrial
(E. Butz)

Future Industrial
(T. Urban)

specialty business model

Biologically Integrated
(R. Harwood)

ecological base

(J. Ikerd)
(C. B. Flora)
quality of life focus
(personal relationships)

horizontal spread
commodity specialization


onomic vertical

I low-chemical
I production

increasing social


vertical integrated

high regulatory control

low cost raw product

global marketplace

high biological integration

low community integration

high community integration


A - -

identity-preserved specialty,
high-quality product
national and global market


national and global


local and regional

Figure 1

(W. Berry)

land ethic




local and

Figure 2

Paradigm Balance in Michigan (composite)
"Sustainable" Agriculture for the late 1990's
R. Harwood, December 1993


1980's Industrial
with strict environmental
regulation) Organic

u ,e "Sustainable"
(community integrated)

Figure 3



biologically integrated,
managed-diversity systems

X CSA's,
I interactive
I systems


Increasing specialty market opportunity
(proximity, specialty channels) and/or
pressure for community integration and
quality of life

R. Harwood
December 1993

Sustainable Farming Types Resulting from

Environmental, Social and Economic Determinants

Literature Cited

Flora, C. B. 1990. Sustainability of Agriculture and Rural Communities. pp.343-359. In:
Francis, C.A., C.B. Flora, L.D. King (eds.) Sustainable Agriculture in Temperate
Zones. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York.

Ikerd, J. E. 1993. Sustainable Agriculture: Farming in harmony with the biosphere. In:
Johnson, L.A. (ed.) Sustainable Agriculture Enhancing the Environmental Quality of
the Tennessee Valley Region Through Alternative Farming Practices. University of
Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. pp. 12-23.

Harwood, R.R. 1985. The integration efficiencies of cropping systems. pp. 64-75. In:
Edens T.C., C. Fridgen and S.L. Battenfield (eds.) Sustainable agriculture and
integrated farming systems. Michigan State University Press, East Lansing, MI.

Urban, T. N. 1991. Agricultural industrialization: It's inevitable. Choices (Fourth
Quarter). pp. 4-6.

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