Advocates of monoculture farming will cite the limitations of machinery as a motivator for continuing the usage of bulky harvesting, spraying, and tilling vehicles on square tracts of land, continuing the process of reckless soil depletion and habitat destruction, with expansive plots of uniform grains becoming the global norm.
Organic polyculture farming is framed as unrealistic: a luddite solution that will increase the demand for agricultural labour and drive up food prices.
However, I come from a generation that’s been promised drones that can deliver internet purchases to my door; one that’s seen automated greenhouses controlled by smartphones, and Japanese hydroponics domes run by a single worker; one that’s watched videos of quadrupedal all-terrain robots from Boston Dynamics.
Is it therefore unreasonable to think that the only limits to the technology we use in farming, are what we are willing to imagine and innovate? The combine was invented in 1834: isn’t it time we did better?
What about a drone that distributes predatory lacewings to control aphids? What about an all-terrain robot that harvests only corn from “three sisters” companion-planted plots, and another that harvests squash? What about tech specialised for accessing and remotely caring for densely-planted, naturalistic agroforestry plots, inaccessible to humans?
I believe a position that is pro-organic and pro-sustainability is not inherently anti-technological. The organic movement has a lot to gain by embracing the liberating possibilities of technological innovation.