1% of farms operate 70% of world's farmland: The Guardian #soil


Kim Chaffee
 

No mention of biochar, but this concentration of ownership results in monocultures and industrial farming that is destroying soil fertility.
Kim

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/24/farmland-inequality-is-rising-around-the-world-finds-report


Nando Breiter
 

There are multiple ways that industrial farming is unsustainable, but here is one that is seldom mentioned. As we all know, it relies heavily on fossil fuels. The fact that the supply of fossil fuels could be disrupted, particularly suddenly disrupted, exposes a serious vulnerability to our food supply.

The phrase "suddenly disrupted" could mean over several years time or it could happen overnight. Either could cause a severe disruption to food production and distribution. What alternate liquid fuels would be available for tractors and combines and grain trucks, for all the vehicles we use to transport food over thousands of miles? How would we retrofit all that equipment to run on that alternate liquid fuel? How would we suddenly produce and transport those fuels? From what raw material? Biomass? When we have a shortage of fossil fuels and can't grow and transport enough food for ourselves?

What about battery power? Batteries are too heavy to deliver the same levels of power and longevity of charge required for industrial farming without sinking the tractor or combine deep into a soft patch in the field. It takes mass to store sufficient electrons, there is no getting around that. Tractors and combines are run from very early morning to very late at night to get planting and harvesting done during breaks in the weather. Perhaps a solution would be to have multiple charged battery packs that get changed out every 30 minutes or so using a mobile charging station / service vehicle.

John Deere has a proposal to use high voltage, miles-long extension cords on farm equipment to solve the weight, power and charge duration issues with batteries. Besides seeming utterly impractical, particularly for harvesting into the night with a combine, a grain cart and a small fleet of grain trucks all running on (and over) high voltage extension cords in the dark, it could easily take decades to build out the electrical infrastructure in and around agricultural fields that would be necessary.

These 2 ideas together might provide a way forward. A mobile charging station / service vehicle utilizing a safe way to plug itself into the grid at the end of a field (not a high voltage extension cord laying on the ground), rapidly changing out the battery pack every time the tractor or combine arrives after a single pass. How long would it take to develop this out? This is what I wish Elon Musk was working on, rather than trying to send a few people to Mars.

So what should America's "Green New Deal" look like?

I think that the core of the Green New Deal should be that many small scale regenerative farms are supported by government programs, meaning individual farms of perhaps 5 to 10 hectares raising vegetables, fruits, nuts, chickens, turkey, geese, small herds of grass fed livestock. Such an initiative could create meaningful, rewarding work for hundreds of thousands if not millions of people that have been sidelined by the displacement of manufacturing and technology advances. These farms would depend much less on fossil fuels, and could easily be run on small battery powered vehicles with a trailer hitch. Richard Perkins in Sweden, Joel Saletin in Virginia, and a number of others following their lead have developed excellent examples of commercially viable small scale regenerative agriculture that can be as or more profitable growing healthy food while increasing soil carbon levels and providing locally grown food to those near these widely distributed farms.

When politicians talk about "green", the next words out of their mouths are usually some combination of "energy" or "solar" or "wind". I think we need to get it into their heads that the word that follows "green" when they are talking about climate or our security as a society going forward is agriculture.

Green agriculture. Renewable agriculture. Sustainable agriculture. The Green New Deal, to me, would promote sustainable agriculture as its main focus so we don't allow blind capitalism to drive us all over a cliff that could all too easily end in mass starvation.

Does anyone here have meaningful contact with policy makers involved in this initiative in the US? With the incoming administration, now might be a good time to emphasize how important the inclusion of sustainable agriculture is in policy decisions.




CarbonZero Sagl
CP 15
6999 Astano
Switzerland

+41 76 303 4477 cell / WhatsApp
skype: ariamedia




On Thu, Nov 26, 2020 at 5:26 PM Kim Chaffee <kim.chaffee2@...> wrote:
No mention of biochar, but this concentration of ownership results in monocultures and industrial farming that is destroying soil fertility.
Kim

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2020/nov/24/farmland-inequality-is-rising-around-the-world-finds-report






--
Nando Breiter
http://biochar.info
CarbonZero Sagl
Astano, Switzerland