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Home > Green News > Editorials > HOT Green Business Ideas

No-TellAgriculture vs. Roundup-Inspired Superweeds

No-till agriculture is a powerful antidote to no-tell agriculture. Your voice can make a difference.

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No-till agriculture is an environmentally friendly technique that all but eliminates plowing to curb erosion and the harmful runoff of fertilizers and pesticides.

Superweeds, on the other hand, are rather similar to the supergerms human health care is facing with the over-use of antibiotics. Just as the heavy use of antibiotics contributed to the rise of drug-resistant supergerms, American farmers' near-ubiquitous use of the weedkiller Roundup has led to the rapid growth of tenacious new superweeds.

Does it really take stories in the New York Times to get attention for California agricultural problems? Hmmmm....

No-tell Agriculture

Yes, that was a deliberate slip of the finger... :-)

No-tell agriculture and "no-till agriculture" are about the power of our voice in our communities. Giant corporations are acting very much like schoolyard bullies -- but the scope of their bullying action is no longer a child or two, but whole continents and economies and ecosystems.

Some communities have taken steps to protect agricultural belts around their cities. Camarillo, CA is one of those cities. Some states have enacted clean air acts and enforce them regionally -- like California's Air Quality Districts.

But invasive plants, and superweeds have not yet gotten the attention of the people. Alternative agricultural methods will start on smaller farms because they are controlled by independent thinking, small business people. Large corporate farms are governed from boardrooms, and they like policy and procedure manuals that don't change -- makes it easier to manage the money flow that way.

But as most thinking people know -- urban or rural -- nature isn't that predictable. And evolution of insects and weeds are predictably adaptive to routine "solutions". They change even when we don't.

Some of the alternative agricultural methods that need to be introduced to corporate farms include:

  • No-till planting in which seeds or seedlings are inserted into small slits in the soil, to prevent soil erosion and weed infestation.

  • Integrated pest management in which non-toxic, non-petroleum based insect control measures are used to reduce air and water pollution.

  • Low-water demand crop selection to reduce high irrigation loads in sensitive ecosystems that are desert-like.

  • Mulch with the use of perennial species to reduce tillage, which reduces the need for petroleum-based fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and other chemicals. Mulch enriches the nutrition and bacterial health of living soil. Perennial species reduce the need for tilling the soil, and reduce both cost of replanting, and soil erosion.

  • Native plants foster local, native wildlife such as pollinators, herbivores, and biodiversity that maintain a living system in the soil, at the surface and even in the air. Native wildlife work hard to maintain an ecosystem with pollinating services, spreading native seeds, controlling invasive populations and insect overpopulation...and providing a living food web.

  • Crop diversification and rotation. Soil is a living structure, and over-simplification with mono-culture agricultural fields drains the soil of specific major- and micro-nutrients. That lack of balanced nutrition makes its way into our food supply and people and animals become malnourished because of the lack of complex nutrition in their daily food. That's junk food.

  • Field-grown stock are healthier than feedlot stock -- whether the agricultural harvest is cattle, turkeys, chicken or fish. Diseases fester and spread in high density communities -- in animals and in our own human populations. It is up to us to limit our demand for too much of anything -- including food. And it is up to farmers (corporate and otherwise) to limit the density of their food production systems.

There are many more basic tenets of sustainable agriculture that foster good health, good communities, clean air and water ... and healthful conditions for the farmers themselves.

Your voice, and your choices matter. Both as a consumer and as an investor in agriculture.

You can buy organic, local, almost-organic, low-water species, and even buy less. You can fight obesity by reducing your caloric intake. You can invest your retirement funds in sustainable business opportunities. You can grow some of your own food to stay in touch with quality taste and raw food nutrients.

Urban agriculture is an option to replace a small portion of our food needs. And it teaches us a LOT about the agricultural system upon which we all depend. We can then talk the talk with farmers and food processors. We will KNOW the options. We can ADVOCATE for quality.

Carolyn



Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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