An Agroecological Model for the End of the Oil Age

  • Farming in Nature’s image needs to become our design standard
  • Mother Nature is off-grid and relies entirely on the the sun and its derivative energies
  • Farming in Nature’s image takes much more knowledge than conventional agriculture
  • Nature never farms without animals

The title and quotations are copied from a recent essay by Karl North.

It is good.  It was an eye-opener because it introduced me to systems thinking about agriculture.  It’s a super holistic way by a farmer who practices what he writes.

I am grateful to Karl North for providing an introduction to his essay:

This paper is a synthesis of my study of ecosystem science and the science of human society for sixty years, and the results of my efforts for forty years as a farmer to apply what I have learned to the design of agroecosystems.  The single most important analytical principle I derived has been the imperative to see everything in systemic context, both historical and spatial, a principle that is evident in the paper’s premises.

The paper draws on my experience as a writer, which began as a member of a group that studied and educated about the energy descent – a future of radically diminishing energy due to global depletion – and published their writing about local strategies to adapt to that future.  The paper also draws on my design and teaching of an undergraduate course in ecological agriculture for several years.  Also useful has been my training as a teacher of Holistic Management, a decision-making framework created by ecologist Alan Savory. 

The author concludes that, as the oil age wains, industrial agriculture, its associated large-scale farms and distance food economy will be less affordable and will fade away.  This will provide the opportunity to return to small farms that serve a local economy.

As readers will recognise, this is totally in tune with my thinking, as expanded in my recent book: HOW TO FIND OUR WAY INTO THE FUTURE.

I recommend anyone interested in the application of systems thinking to agriculture to follow the link to the paper on Karl North’s website

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