Why long-term sustainability trumps cheap input production methods

Here’s why I spent half my life upside down. I fell into the cheap-input philosophy easily and took years to see and understand the flaws.

R P Doc Cooke

January 10, 2017

1 Min Read
Why long-term sustainability trumps cheap input production methods

I spent close to 50% of my adult life on the wrong agriculture boat.

There were a number of reasons for this being the case. The number one reason likely was World War II or maybe Harry Truman. When Truman assumed the presidency in March 1945 he had never heard of the Manhattan Project.

Four and a half months later the two big caps popped and the Japanese warlords decided to throw in the towel. They hollered "calf rope" and our government and much of the technical world went to peddling acidified nitrogen, phosphorus and potash (NP&K) from ammunitions production into agriculture in a big way.

Hybrid corn would out-produce open-pollinated varieties with chemical fertilization plus water. Everyone seemed to forget about organic matter and soil health. The new fertilizer was cheap, fuel was cheap, equipment was affordable, and water could be found in underground aquifers and pumped.

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About the Author(s)

R P Doc Cooke

Beef Producer

R. P. "Doc" Cooke, DVM, is a mostly retired veterinarian from Sparta, Tennessee. Doc has been in the cattle business since the late 1970s and figures he's driven 800,000 miles, mostly at night, while practicing food animal medicine and surgery in five counties in the Upper Cumberland area of middle Tennessee. He says all those miles schooled him well in "man-made mistakes" and that his age and experiences have allowed him to be mentored by the area’s most fruitful and unfruitful "old timers." Doc believes these relationships provided him unfair advantages in thought and the opportunity to steal others’ ideas and tweak them to fit his operations. Today most of his veterinary work is telephone consultation with graziers in five or six states. He also writes and hosts ranching schools. He is a big believer in having fun while ranching but is serious about business and other producers’ questions. Doc’s operation, 499 Cattle Company, now has an annual stocking rate of about 500 pounds beef per acre of pasture and he grazes 12 months each year with no hay or farm equipment and less than two pounds of daily supplement. You can reach him by cell phone at (931) 256-0928 or at [email protected]

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