Organic gardener and renowned writer Rick Austin in no fan of Monsanto. The Secret Garden of Survival author recently sat down with The Inquisitr to share his thoughts on the Crop Protection Collaboration program between Monsanto and American Vanguard, and shared some of his best pesticide-free growing tips along the way.
American Vanguard recently announced that its AMVAC Chemical Corporation arm entered into an agreement with Monsanto to co-market Impact and Roundup Ready PLUS. Impact is a corn herbicide. Roundup Ready is one of the top selling products for biotech giant Monsanto. Impact reportedly “compliments” Monsanto’s Roundup WeatherMax and Power Max products. The products allegedly enable better control of broadleaf weeds.
Weeds are good, according to author Rick Austin, and do not need to be controlled by chemical products, or even hand-pulled by backyard gardeners.
Rick Austin Interview
IQ: Why do weeds get such a bad rap?
Rick: The war against weeds makes no sense. The ‘weeds are bad and gotta be pulled’ argument is just plain wrong. The truth of the matter is that weeds are nature’s way of taking soil that is depleted and without ingredients and micro-organisms. Nature hates a vacuum.
IQ: What vital role do weeds actually play in the growing process?
Rick: In the natural course of things, weeds are the first thing to go into an area that has been devastated after a fire or clear-cutting, for example. Weeds live and thrive when no other plants will. A difficult bare patch of soil with an annual crop like corn, needs the benefits of the natural role weeds play. Weeds are stronger and healthier, and try to take the crappy soil and turn it into something that other plants can use in the future. They break up soil that may be too hard or compact. They make the soil better and allow water to get into the ground.
IQ: What happens inside the garden or on the farm, when weeds are permitted to grow at will?
Rick: Then micro-organisms are key to releasing nutrients on the plants. Weeds are pioneer plants and come in first; they will die off and create mulch for succession plants. When people pull weeds, they are doing exactly the opposite of what they need to do to make the soil become more fertile.
IQ: How do weeds and crops interact in the wild environment?
Rick: It is on the edge of forest, where the field meets the forest, where all of the cool stuff is going on. Medicinal herbs often grow there and small plants, and then taller structures like berries and then eventually trees and fruit trees, pines and oaks. In permaculture, or a food forest, weeds are still flowering when everything else has gone. If you pull out the flowering weeds, then there is no reason for predatory wasps to show up. Pests are most attracted to crops without predators, like wasps nearby.
IQ: Is there even a need for chemical pesticides and herbicides?
Rick: Nature doesn’t have pesticides or fertilizers, and we have had berry bushes and fruit trees without any help or intrusion from man for centuries. Turning soil over is another bad idea, because it loses nutrients. Planting in straight rows is also not a good idea. Mechanized farming has been around since about WWII. Chemical companies which made bombs for the war effort grew fast and ultimately found themselves with nothing to do after World War II ended – then along came fertilizer. Chemical companies told farmers that fertilizer would help grow more plants more quickly in the same space, instead of letting nature take its course.
IQ: What do you think about Monsanto’s Roundup Ready and similar products by other commercial agriculture suppliers?
Rick: Monsanto products run counter to nature. They have created a self-fulfilling prophecy and reason for existence. Weeds resistant to Roundup now require the use of even more of the herbicide to kill the weeds. Those chemical are going into plants, soils, and the foods that we eat.
[Image Via: Shutterstock.com]