I’ve worked with farmers groups as a volunteer since around 1994. In 2000, I dropped most of my information technology (IT) work and focused on my environmental and agriculture work. This work has given me a special perspective on various issues, and insights that enabled me to eventually connect my information technology work with my environmental and agriculture work. That connection is the concept a abundance, a phenomenon that continually asserts itself in these fields.


  1. Posted February 25, 2009 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Working as an independent soil and crop advisor Is a rewarding cultural experience. It flushes out remarkable differences between paradigms of sciences and good old common sense. An example here is the methods of lab chemistry used to decipher soil fertility and make recommendations for fertilizers applied to crops. The Base Saturation and CEC / pH models satisfy very well the cash flows of fertilizer and crop protection companies, all the while requiring a steady increase in outside purchases of soil and crop protocols for the farmer, without really focusing on building soils. How many people realize that this ‘modern’ testing system, now so popular, was not originally conceived for agriculture at all but borrowed from the mining industry! This, combined with Justice von Leibig’s self admitted flaw in understanding plant nutrition at the turn of the 20th century that allowed profit motivated science to flourish at the expense of commonsense food production, has diverted us from the primary question. “How do plants really grow”?
    Since when does science ever tell a plant how to do it’s best? Are we treating the soil report or the actual field of crops or livestock? are we treating symptoms rather than root causes? Are basic soil testing methods in agriculture the primary decision making tools that allowed SRI to thrive? Certainly not. Clearly SRI sought to understand life as experienced by the rice plant. That is one reason I believe Fr. Laulaunie was so originally successful. He allowed the rice to speak for itself. Weeds, diseases, insects and crop performance are all expressions of soil limitations, whether it be biology, structure or chemistry of elements. It is probably safe to say that really successful farmers of any practice have a good grasp of how nature works regardless of soil tests. M

  2. Roberto Verzola
    Posted February 26, 2009 at 10:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mark,

    We have our own method of testing the soil. We suggest to the rice farmers we work with to get as many varieties of rice seeds as they can, and, in one season, to plant each variety on a 2 to 5 sqm plot. In effect, the soil is tested by looking for the best seed variety-soil combination. None of this N-P-K racket. Regards,

  3. Posted March 7, 2009 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Hi Obet,
    I know where I want to live… closer to what i had a taste of while I was in rural Phils.
    ..Things are getting unnecessarily complicated in this country. Especially in regards to food production.
    The recent election once again proves that it’s not the candidate running the show. Look who was appointed as secretary of agriculture, ( Mr. ‘King Corn’)
    Now watch as American soils really get the mined out look.
    I have on my desk a huge pile of almost worthless soil reports from so many labs .. its discouraging to have my students and clients wave these “Leaves of the paradigm tree” in my face, pleading for some sense to come of it. Almost NONE practice anything close to your described rice matching the soil test. Its a practice after my own heart is all but lost from this country long ago. Almost every one big and small have given a ‘Holiness’ to the lab reports and after many years of following the recommendations still don’t question the crop failure connections that persist..
    One recent past president made the comment ” I thought soil was just something to hold the plant up with”. This attitude is still about normal with even some of the ‘organic’ growers who pursue a label rather than true nutrition.
    Plants were choosing their ideal habitat long before we came and will likely do so long after we are gone…The lab tests make interesting evidence for a civilization that has deified science, rather than define it as “the study of what is”. Mark

  4. Roberto Verzola
    Posted March 7, 2009 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi Mark,

    I browsed your site and liked it a lot. Yes, Obama’s secretary of agriculture is a huge disappointment, especially from one who once went on a hunger strike for 30 straight days against the commercialization of GM corn seed in the Philippines. Keep up the good work. Regards,


  5. Posted August 21, 2009 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    US organic standards fail to provide nontoxic solutions to late blight devastation!!!
    Overdoses of elemental copper (NOP allowed), recommended as only effective allopathic protection for Phytopthora Infestans ( refer to Irish Potato Famine).. have in some cases actually killed the potato crop before the blight finished it off. Indeed.. soils that were fed biologically activated mineral mixes and foliar sprayed with azotobacter right next door remain unscathed. The recently ‘dumped’ organic use of aerobic compost teas had in the past been able to defend organic potato crops quite well from a wide variety of ailments.
    The ‘organic tomato and potato fields’, now overloaded with copper will not soon recover the decades lasting poison which effectively also eliminates beneficial soil fungi, ‘ the group of unpaid workers’ that are most responsible for Calcium and Phosphorus availability to all crops.
    Maybe this is the real meaning of “blue chip stocks”. Regrettable there are many far less toxic ways to address disease outbreaks with intensified nutrition and more biologically friendly materials than copper. National Organic Practices (NOP), may stand for stand for “Not Obvious Poison” Some of the most promising plant defense formulas will have to get in line with plenty of money in hand to get 3rd party approval for their introductions.
    The term ‘Organic’ needs to be amended to state the soil and crop demonstrate superior nutrition. Makes me desire a simpler life than to defend an institutionalized label. Growing ones own food and feeding my family is much more rewarding.
    In Phils there a great movement to improve the quality of agriculture by promoting Organic and SRI practices. I pray it never becomes the institutionalized version that has occurred here in the US which focusses on what you can’t do rather than promoting the best practices by the attraction of success.

  6. Carmelo D Verdan
    Posted May 30, 2010 at 8:46 pm | Permalink

    Hi sir Obet, our group is advocating No poison technology in agriculture. It is ZeePAgBIOS. our main concern is to eradicate the use of poison (chemical) our farmers put in the soil for so long. It is high time for Philippines Agriculture which is concentrated mainly on the use of NPK to make use also of microbes and micronutrient so we can harvest more and our soil much more fertile.Concentrate in teaching the Biological and Nutritional Farming to our Farmers.For further information you can email me at my ym add or celnr +63 929 3193198.or Ka Maning Cortes at cel nr. +63 906 9104249..

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