Category Archives: agroecology

Soil, carbon, gardening and global heating

At first glance the BBC report last year “Climate change being fuelled by soil damage” might appear to be all about big agriculture and nothing else. While is is abundantly clear that the way land is farmed must change gardeners and allotment holders also have a part to play.

The report states that:

“There’s three times more carbon in the soil than in the atmosphere – but that carbon’s being released by deforestation and poor farming.”

“Problems include soils being eroded, compacted by machinery, built over, or harmed by over-watering.”

The Fen Blow is composed of peaty particles lifted into the air on windy days (From the BBC article)

The way we treat soil is crucial for good yields and to preserve that vital top 4 inches (100mm) that feeds us. Every bit of soil left bare to the elements contributes to global heating and soil degradation. By using other ways of growing you not only achieve higher yields without adding commercial fertiliser, but carbon dioxide is locked up.

The move to more sustainable growing is not difficult, it does not require big investments in tools or machinery it just means doing things differently. That might be hard for dedicated allotment growers but the benefits are huge.

It is important to remember that allotments and gardens make up a large area of land in the UK. Allotment holders and gardeners can make a difference, we need to act now and show that we care about the environment that we leave for the future generations.

Regenerative agriculture – regenerative gardening?

There is a lot of talk about regenerative agriculture, particularly in the US, how it improves soils, stores CO2 from the atmosphere, reduces or eliminates the use of pesticides and artificial fertilisers and reduces costs.

What can gardeners take from this? How do we change the way we garden to get the same benefits?

To start:

1. Stop digging soil – use no dig raised beds and apply lots of compost particularly in the autumn.

2. Never leave the soil bare especially over winter as heavy rain compacts soil and washes out nutrients particularly nitrogen. Use cover crops, mulch or compost.

3. Mulch around growing plants with compost.

4. Get to know your garden, learn what works best for you and don’t blindly follow what everybody else does.

5. Remineralise your soil see this page.

Food and climate change

“Food has not been the focus of climate change discussions as much as it should have been. (…)  We can still act and it won’t be too late”  

Barack Obama, 26 May 2017.[1]

If you have ever wondered why food is such an important part of climate change then read this article from Grain. It questions the belief that agriculture accounts for a third of greenhouse gas emission and say it is nearer 50%!

The changing climate is already having an impact on food supplies. We are all vulnerable, wherever we live, which is why we need more sustainable and resilient ways to grow food.