Bad trade-offs/Negative Externalities in Farming

Starting this thread to at least list down many of the big problems. Someday - and hopefully soon - we’ll start solving them in a way we don’t accrue more debt in biodiversity and commons’ losses.


I was at my farm over the last few days and a crew came in to “clean the undergrowth”. The brushcutter - the tool of choice for this - has brought in a - ahem - revolution across the estates, and in maintenance of roadside overgrowth etc. The default choice is nylon “wires” used continuously get shorn off into microplastics and all of Coorg’s soil likely now has tonnes of that  We often make terrible trade-offs when solving things like drudgery/manual effort, and this is one of those huge ones that’ll show up in a huge way in the soil, in our water and in food over a couple of decades.

This, and the mulch sheets in the plains’ vegetable farms.

Why are we perpetually so short sighted? How do we solve this as scale?

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One bad tradeoff I noticed recently, has been happening for a few years now, but it reached the village near my farm this year :

A few(worryingly more every year) villages are now giving away most of the compost that they could make over that year.

It’s largely because of people who otherwise want to do good things, like add compost to their urban, and peri-urban gardens and farms.

Not only is this an expensive way to revive soils, but it largely depletes the surrounding villages to puts the cities under more food stress.

Pic: One of many trucks carrying village-made compost for farms in and immediately around Bangalore.