Don't Mess With Mother Nature

Imagine a headline like this one in these "farmers" are the greatest thing since sliced bread era:  "Our Fertilized World - If we don't watch out, agriculture could destroy our planet."  Appearing in the May edition of the venerable old National Geographic, this has to be the truth!

The article does go onto rescue the maligned farmer by pointing out innovative ways we can grow all the food we need with fewer chemicals.  Say what???  What has happened over time is this.  Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for soil to grow the crops that feed our families.  With the billions of people we must feed by the year 2050, farms will need lots more of the nitrogen than the over the top amount we now use than occurs naturally in the soil.  Excess nitrogen produced in countless factories in the amount of a hundred million tons applied worldwide every year, fuels bountiful harvests but suffocates rivers and wildlife with the inevitable run-off.

So, what can be done?  Experiments are taking a page out of old fashion
common sense such as that of Wendell Berry.  Like that of a canary in a mine
shaft, Berry's ideas have been buried under the sea of criticism that he is
old fashioned to believe that we must obey mother nature, work with her and
treat our soil as if it was the life affirming partner in our lives that it
is.  Try crop rotation or experiments such as those in Wisconsin where
strips of alfalfa are grown between corn and soybeans to minimize run-off.
Or, try a sea of chickens on a Pennsylvania farm that provide their own
version of fertilizer (viva la cluck) where mobile coops are relocated daily
for even distribution so that it won't drain into the Chesapeake Bay.  

With much more detail, the article describes the solutions.  Many of these
solutions locally based.  Most are in the experimental stage and must be
implemented in the true sense of thinking local but also globally on a grand
scale of production.  

What suffices to say is that we are running into an interesting wall with technology.  As the article points out, innovations that save us will come not just from technology and science but from solutions born in local places by farmers and fields in "every corner of the world." That is good news as good old fashion human beings using common sense meets technology.