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The looming agricultural crises
Posted: 08 September 2012 03:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 08 September 2012 03:23 PM

One thing that baffles me is the fact that we know fertilizers are no more effective in the long run as organic farming. By rotating crops organic farming allows the natural decomposition of different organic materials into nutrients and the land can be constantly used, where “fertilized” land may produce large crops for a few seasons but then needs to lay “fallow” for several seasons before it can be used again.

This is all well and good for farming both in the pre-industrial era and even today in some barely inhabited areas, but with the World population doubling in the near future not only will we have fewer acres to farm (even with a high crop yield there will only be a limited amount of life sustainable food available) where will the trade off be: living space or farms? Will we build 100+ story apts. as the mega cities grow? And what happens to the ice calves when even the ice cows melt? We can’t leave GW out of the equation. I really hate to sound like chicken little here but unless the Malthusian theory kicks in or we find ways to farm the sea our species will be sol.
Cap’t Jack

The point I was trying to make is that artificial fertilization is NOT more productive than organic farming by crop rotation. The problem lies in single crop farming. True, fertilized land may yield large crops for a few seasons, but then must lay fallow, unproductive.

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Posted: 09 September 2012 01:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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I think that there can be values to using synthetic soil additives.  The soil in many areas is deficient in some material such as minerals, nitroghen. or potassium, or may have too high a pH.  While crop rotation and use of natrural fertilizers such as manure can supply some of the plant needs, they often can’t supply enough.  For example, in California very low rainfall requires irrigation with hard water which raises the pH so acidifying is needed.  I believe just the reverse is the case in very high rainfall areas which need alkalizing additives.  Also in California, there’s no way they can get enough animal waste to supply sufficient nitrogen. 

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Posted: 09 September 2012 01:52 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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The point I was trying to make is that artificial fertilization is NOT more productive than organic farming by crop rotation. The problem lies in single crop farming. True, fertilized land may yield large crops for a few seasons, but then must lay fallow, unproductive.

Yes, and this one crop production, plus the drought helped to create the dust bowl in the Mid West during the 30’s. In essence, you have to put back in what you take out. Indians figured this out as they began to settle in one area for a time. Corn leeches out nitrogen within two yields ( I experimented with this system and the results were exactly the same) whereas legumes replace nitrogen taken out by the corn. So, why not save space and plant them together, staggering the germination, ex. corn first, then when a foot high plant the beans at the base to twine around the corn and plant the squashes near both to ripen last. I also added fish to as fertilizer (carp from the streams) but a natural fertilizer will do if you want to use the same spot for more than a couple of years. This method saves planting space and guarantees a high yield. Using this method you don’t have to fallow your field. The method used by the farmers in the Middle Ages (three field system) allowed for a shorter fallow period by grazing animals on it to create a natrual fertilizer. The animals just pooped on it. We have feed lots today for the mega farmers so this doesn’t happen on a massive scale, but it could and it might be a more efficient way to produce food, even though everyone might blanche at the thought of eating the three sisters (corn, beans and squash). I like it, succotash!


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 10 September 2012 01:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Occam. - 08 September 2012 01:53 PM

You may be right, but the glaciers there regularly calve ice bergs that float away and slowly melt in the ocean so they could at least capture them.

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Occam

Have you heard of someone capturing an iceberg, before?

I’ve heard that an iceberg, and low-grade iron rivets sunk the unsinkable Titanic.  I imagine that, in the past, they harvested ice in the North from stable, large patches of ice, like from ice in Canada, not from floating ice.

I suppose that harvested ice could be used on arable land, or for potable water, but could the shipping costs be cheaper than desalinated water?  I don’t know.

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Posted: 10 September 2012 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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This was an actual program that was considered, where they would drive long steel I beams into the ice, run cables from them to tug boats and pull it to the destination.  Apparently it was put aside because the water cost would be greater than that of what was locally available, however, as global warming continues and water is no longer as easy to pump in to highly populated areas, I’d guess that it will be considered again.

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Posted: 11 September 2012 09:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 06 September 2012 06:09 PM

Can you make it taste like a medium well T bone DM? If so then I’m your man! Spoon me up some if that algae and krill.

With the right prep techniques and flavoring agents, probably.  Just look at Bristol-Meyers Squibb.  Say what you want about them, but they know how to cook a steak.

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“In the end nature is horrific and teaches us nothing.” -Mutual of Omicron

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