Soil and CO2

This is by far the best explanation of soil sequestration (storage) of CO2 in soil that I have seen. I cannot understand why farmers, gardeners and governments are not jumping on this as a way to help to drastically reduce atmospheric CO2.

Get the PDF here

Why can’t we imagine how the land feels?

This article in The Guardian raises issues that explain why the world is in the state it is. If we see the planet only as a resource to be ruthlessly exploited then we will kill ourselves and every other living organism. What we have forgotten is that everything we need we need to survive comes from the Earth.

This is particularly true of soil. If it as only seen a substrate to provide support for engineered plants that rely chemical inputs to survive then we are doomed.

The loss of soil to erosion and resulting prediction that there is only 40 years of topsoil left should be a resounding wake up call. Yet there is no panic, there are no demonstrations in the streets, there is no understanding of what it means.

Ocado invest £17m in ‘vertical farming’

An article in The Guardian today says that Ocado have bought into a ‘vertical farming.’ They are already claiming that it is pesticide free and sustainable.

This is nothing new, the idea has been around for years and was once known as hydroponics where plants are grown in soil less systems. The roots can be contained in blocks of inert media like rock wool or just dangle into water filled troughs.

The ‘vertical farm’ uses trays of plants with lighting above them. The lights used to be energy hungry, but the advent of LEDs has reduced the energy requirement. That is probably where the sustainability claim originates.

What the investors will not tell you is that plants need nutrients to grow, In conventional growing nutrients come from soil. In hydroponics they have to be dissolved in water.

The basic plant food is NPK, nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. These can only be supplied by using artificial fertilizer manufactured in chemical plants. Phosphorus is mined and there are many reports of the devastation this has caused. There is also grave concern about how shortages of phosphorus “could leave us all hungry” 

Artificial fertilizers require huge amounts of energy and raw material from around the world which cannot, by any stretch of the imagination be considered as sustainable.

Soil contains many micronutrients that are impossible to synthesize in an artificial form. Some hydroponic enthusiasts will tell you they include micronutrients in their mixes, but it is not as simple as adding a few more chemicals.

The only place to grow food is in well managed soil. Making artificial food factories might look attractive, especially to investors, but it is not the way forward and looks like another quick techno fix to a complex issue. So, why do it? As Ocado say, they are looking for big returns.

 

New compost bins almost ready

Work on the new three bay New Zealand compost bin is progressing slowly. The first two bays are in place. All of the timber is reclaimed, the back is made of sample oak flooring panels the local B&Q were throwing out. The rest is either from dismantled pallets or has been found lying around the garden.

With four days of heavy rain forecast there will be no further work this week.

Local authority weed killer spraying

I have never understood why local councils, including our own, think they have the right to spay weed killer onto the border of private property. It is about time it was banned throughout the UK.

Let’s make this a national campaign.
“Greenock gardener Stuart Graham’s campaign to get his local authority bosses to ban the use of Roundup, which contains glyphosate, has attracted international attention.

Now he hopes he may persuade the local authority to go a step further as he continues his fight.”