Thursday, November 21, 2013

11. The high cost of Common Practice

Problem: The national survey of farming practices will be difficult and costly for little return. Even an expert cannot draw the distinction between rotational grazing, cell grazing, pulse grazing, time controlled grazing, crash grazing , and grazing management to the satisfaction of all.  Practitioners tend to use these terms inter-changedly. Training organisations use different names for their grazing systems. Tillage systems are also subject to multiple naming variations within categories. And the terms “biology” or “biological” are used in various combinations to cover a wide array of processes and product types. Biochar researchers have ‘characterised’ 80 different variations (based on feedstock, soil type, temperature and residence times) that have different functionalities (eg. adding carbon to soil, supressing N2O, suppressing methane emissions, boosting microbiology, etc.) Unless the survey designer and the data collectors understand what they are looking at, the quality of the data suffers. Practical solution: Replace Common Practice with a simple formula:  new activity x individual. Is the activity new for the enterprise? If it is, it is Additional.

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