Fred Kirschenmann: Designing a Resilient Agriculture for the 21st Century

One of the many speakers at this year’s Quivera Conference was Fred Kirschenmann. He spoke about the issues with today’s practices in farming, what has worked in the past, and how we can integrate these methods into our modern farming. Here are some of his ideas.

Fred began his speech by talking about how humans have survived through the years we have been here. The hunter-gatherer era of human existence was the most energy efficient, being a 20:1 gain in kilo-calories. The next era is the neo-caloric era. This is the time period we are currently in. The neo-caloric era began when humans began to built communities and civilizations. We began farming, when we settled in, and began using up our resources. For us to continue this lifestyle we needed to import minerals and products into our gardens to supplement them. This consumes far more energy than the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, being a 10:1 gain in kilo-calories.

above: hunter-gatherers

Fred also stated that the civilizations that could predict what may be in the future, and could prepare for it, were far more likely to survive. It is predicted that the prices of the precious minerals we import into our gardens will rise by more than 5 times in the next future. Fred also said nature has never overuse the land to the point where it is incapable of holding life, so it needs to be supported by external sources. Nature always restores itself. Fred’s main idea was we need to slow down and let nature restore itself.

For soil restoring tips and answers see this  article:


One thought on “Fred Kirschenmann: Designing a Resilient Agriculture for the 21st Century

  1. Hunter – you begin well, but do not progress much beyond an introduction to what Fred’s thesis was. You need to expand and make clear the idea that the dependence on external inputs like fossil fuels for our agriculture will be our un-doing.

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