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Extremist policies of organic farming ignore soil science: Former USDA soil scientist |  extremist policies |  Ministry of Agriculture |  Fertilizers

Extremist policies of organic farming ignore soil science: Former USDA soil scientist | extremist policies | Ministry of Agriculture | Fertilizers

Written by Ella Kitlinska and Joshua Philip

Under pressure from environmentalists, some governments have implemented strict restrictions on fertilizers Nitrogen It ignores the time it takes to restore the microbiology of degraded soils, which has led to protests from some scientists and farmers who see the worrying effects of such restrictions.

According to the defender Give Organic Agriculture And former USDA soil scientist Kelly Walker, to keep billions of people around the world fed, a quick shift to a hybrid approach is needed based on any extreme changes based on an arbitrary number. So the soil can go through as many years as it takes to transition from chemical fertilizers to a more organic future.

But unfortunately, there have been ongoing conflicts between some environmentalists with landowners and producers who make a living from agriculture and livestock over the approach and how far to take to move toward the common goal of going organic, Walker told the program. EpochTV in New York.

This battle has been going on for a long time, said Walker, who has worked with groups on both sides of the conflict. There were some people who were willing to meet in the middle and compromise, and they worked out some issues and found solutions. But Walker said some extremist views have emerged recently, “a kind of control over this issue.”

“We cannot feed the world strictly organic matter,” Walker warned, citing one of the first things he learned in graduate school. The expert said that some environmental groups portray chemical fertilizers as toxins or toxins, but this is not the case.

“It’s a matter of how you manage it, how you use it,” he added, so there’s no need to switch 100% to membership. “Nitrogen is nitrogen. And plants recognize it that way.”

It’s a challenge to switch from large factory farms, which operate with small profit margins and need to be very efficient, to organic farming in an instant, Walker said. He added that a largely organic approach can be successful on small farms, but that it must be managed carefully.

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Therefore, to feed billions of people in limited areas, it is necessary to achieve the highest productivity of arable areas. He said that changing overnight to an organic approach in low-carbon, semi-chemically addictive soils wouldn’t work.

“You have to think about things like the residual nitrogen value of the organics. You can’t just switch to that in one year, you have to calculate how much nitrogen you will save with the organics you incorporate in year one and year two.”

“It is essential to have several years of residual value for organic produce” to avoid crop failure, he explained.

“I think fixing soil microbiology is the first step,” he said, explaining that for plants to be available in nutrient-rich soil, healthy communities of microorganisms are required.

“So even if you want to become organic on these large farms, you can’t suddenly cut off the flow, you have to move on.”

Maintaining healthy soil microbiology

There are many ways to test soil, including just measuring PH, or more detailed testing to identify problems (kram-9/Shutterstock)

To restore soil health, healthy microbial communities of bacteria, fungi, algae and other organisms are needed, along with conservation programmes. They are running the restoration, Walker said.

He said that the implementation of these programs requires good planning and experienced professionals. There are experts condition and federation such as the US Department of Agriculture.

Walker also noted the private efforts:[Existem] Many of the farms, who have made a lot of progress in this direction, who are implementing conservation programs, and that’s part of our government’s access to conservation reserves.”

He said that farmers care a lot about soil, and those who have the means invest a lot of money in maintaining it. They do not want to live in a dry area. They don’t want to live in a degraded area.”

The first steps farmers use to increase the organic content of their depleted soils are to add compost or grow alfalfa, which Walker called “green manure.” They then determine how much additional nitrogen a plant needs, given its current microbial health.

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The organic part is decomposed and mineralized by soil microorganisms to make it available to plants. And then, if it’s not enough for the plants, we can introduce more nitrogen, and the plants will be happy, but we don’t kill the soil.”

Agricultural policies need decentralization

Walker said progress is being made in soil conservation. But some groups have now decided to go “to the extreme – we can’t make this shift so quickly”.

If this trend continues on more farms, he said, “we may have crop failures, and we may see dust storms, as we saw in the 1930s, in my opinion.”

“You can’t give a comprehensive treatment to a world, a country or even a region because soils differ in their properties. They differ in proportions of organic matter, soil types, sludge and clay. “We don’t need more regulation, we need more education.”

He added that politics based on ideology, not science, is problematic. “We want to avoid contaminating our water systems, we want to have healthy soils, but you don’t go off with an ideology without knowing what you’re dealing with.”

Walker advises policy makers to consult first with “very talented and knowledgeable people” at American universities and colleges.

We need less central …and we need to work with local agricultural engineering colleges, the USDA, and professionals who know what they’re doing.

“The more centralized we are, the more bureaucratic we get, the less realistic we are in the area. You can’t necessarily assign arbitrary values ​​or references.”

“Many of our farmers are suffocating now. They are facing the costs of gas and everything and they are hanging by a thread. So I find that very worrying.”

It’s clear, Walker said, that “there’s a plan in the works. It’s no coincidence. All these things are linked together. And if we go down this road, I think it might lead to starvation. I think there are people who want that; there are people who want to reduce the population.” the planet in a big way, and I think that’s a very cool way to look at it.

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“This leaves a lot of progress unfinished and introduces a ‘one size fits all’ approach that won’t even be good for the planet.”

Sri Lankan approach

A farmer prepares a rice field for sowing in Byagama, outside Colombo, Sri Lanka, October 21, 2020 (Ishara S. Kodikara/AFP via Getty Images)

Walker, who spent a year teaching in Sri Lanka, said agriculture in Sri Lanka was essentially a big case study of what would happen if farmers had to switch to organic farming immediately. “This is a canary in a coal mine,” he said of the country, which abruptly banned the use of chemical fertilizers in April 2021.

“Make such a quick change – there are big problems with that,” he said. “We all want to help the planet. But if you’re going to make political decisions based on idealism, or the kind of utopia you’re trying to create, you’re going to create big problems.”

Walker said soil experts can work with farmers to try to help them wean the soil from synthetic fertilizers. “But again, I would really like to wonder if we can feed such a large population with only organic items,” he said of the government’s plan.

“If you have the majority of people in Sri Lanka owning five to ten acres, yes, we can probably do that. But most of the time this is just for food, they won’t have enough to export to other countries because of the national budget, maybe you need some supplemental fertilizer [além] of organic matter.

He added, “If we had to lower that in the United States, I think it would be catastrophic. I think we would see famine. I think we would see food shortages.”

He said it takes time to restore essential organic matter and microorganisms in the soil.

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