"When I first started farming, the pesticide use, it wasn't much of a concern. Up until that point, farmers had in lack, for the lack of use of commercial fertilizer, they planted alfalfa or legumes. And that was their nitrogen source. They plowed that under. Then the next year they'd put their wheat in. So crop rotation was a substitute for commercial fertilizer.
     "Okay, then when we come in into the 60s. All of a sudden, commercial fertilizer is available. Okay, now we're planting corn one year, planting corn the next year, planting corn the third year. Okay, now all of a sudden, we've brought in insects. We brought in rootworm. We brought in corn borer. Things we didn't have before because we rotated. Now we need some way to control that, and that's when the chemical companies come in with the insecticides. There again, they come in with things that did the job but they did the job too good. They left residual problems. That stuff was surface applied and if we had a big rain it would carry into the streams. A lot of things were done without knowing what the results would be four, five, ten years down the road.
     "So, organo-phosphates were great for controlling rootworm. Their half-life was so great on those, they lasted too long. And if they last too long and don't break down fast enough, they can cause environmental problems. So you know, there was some things – that was before we had EPA, Environmental Protection Agency. And so there was some things that were done kind of helter-skelter that solved the problem at the time but creates more problems down the road. So, the insecticides was a thing that had to come with the constant corn after corn after corn, beans after beans after beans. And now there's – We've come into the Bt era. We've got technology that we can do gene implants to eliminate the need for these insecticides. And it's a whole other era of production agriculture that's going to be the wave of the future. And it's really changing the way we think and do things."

Paul Underwood – Pesticides & Fertilizers

Close Window

Other Excerpts from Paul Underwood’s Interview:

Cold War on the Farm
One-Room Schools
TV Dinners