Interesting discussion regarding new ways to plant and fertilize:
The most popular fuel-reducing strategy involves a radically new way of planting seeds. Instead of breaking up the ground with a plow to plant seeds, no-till farming leaves the remains of last year’s crop on the surface. Drills punch through this mat of vegetation and insert seeds into the ground.
Ditching the plow can cut fuel consumption by as much as half, bringing substantial savings. It also reduces the need for expensive fertilizer. Specialized machinery can inject fertilizer along with the seeds, putting just enough right where developing crops need it most.
Those savings help explain why farmers have been moving to no-till, and why even more will as the cost of oil rises. But the side benefit of this shift will be alleviating a problem that’s been plaguing humanity for thousands of years.
Plowing removes plant cover, and bare fields erode 10 to 100 times faster than shielded soil, far faster than nature can make more. Overplowing has stripped whole regions bare and helped bring down past civilizations. Parts of Syria that were extensively farmed in Roman times are now bare, rocky slopes, for instance, and in southern Greece you can still find ancient agricultural tools scattered on hillsides that can no longer support cultivation.
Three Cheers for Expensive Oil
DAVID R. MONTGOMERY
WSJ, October 15, 2012
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