Occasionally, at least. I have had several friends point me to the report about intensive farming being better for the environment than previous methods, starting with Greg Vincent's story on AgWeb.
“The bottom line is modern agriculture has effectively saved a lot of land from conversion and that is a pretty sizable amount of greenhouse gas emissions,” Lobell says. “If you divide the total amount of resources that have gone into those improvements by the amount of carbon savings, it works out to about $5.00/ton of CO2. That is actually less than what carbon is trading for in Europe and other markets.” [More](I take mild issue with his use of the word "stalls" in the lede. I would suggest "slows" as more accurate.)
The actual report, is tough slogging, and the abstract is no trivial paragraph either, but worth the effort for a couple of reasons (which I mention this week on USFR).
First, I cannot resist pointing out touting this report as supportive to modern ag necessarily requires a confirmation of AGW. If there is no man-made contribution to climate, or if global warming is a hoax, this report means nothing. Using this report as ammunition in the lamentable battle between agrarian and industrial operation is bogus while denying climate change.
Second, if you wade through the abstruse language some familiar scientific verbiage struck me. The same land-use modeling techniques used to smack ethanol mandates is what provides the carbon offset for intensive agriculture.
Our results demonstrate the importance of land use change emissions over direct emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from agricultural systems, and suggest that the climatic impacts of historical agricultural intensification were preferable to those of a system with lower inputs that instead expanded crop- land to meet global demand for food. Enhancing crop yields is not incompatible with a reduction of agricultural inputs in many circumstances, however. To the contrary, careful and efficient management of nutrients and water by precision farming, in- corporation of crop residues, and less intensive tillage are critical practices in pursuit of sustainable and increased agricultural out- put (3, 4, 6, 37).† Furthermore, it has been shown in several con- texts that yield gains alone do not necessarily preclude expansion of cropland, suggesting that intensification must be coupled with conservation and development efforts (5, 8, 38–41). Nonetheless, for mitigating agriculture’s future contributions to climate change, continuing improvement of crop yields is paramount. [More]So here is another logical consistency problem for corn farmers. Can we cite this type of evidence as support for our methodology and then turn around and declare similar modeling techniques as invalid for ethanol opponents?
The answer of course, is probably. But it makes no sense.
(I was also mildly jolted by the use of 1961 as the age of "old-time" ag. I was there - and we thought we were cutting edge. Sigh.)