Renewable Revolution

Energy => Renewables => Topic started by: AGelbert on March 30, 2014, 12:36:02 am

Title: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on March 30, 2014, 12:36:02 am
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on April 04, 2014, 12:22:37 am

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming: NO DIG ABUNDANCE!
Post by: AGelbert on April 04, 2014, 12:32:25 am
Title: Vermont WON'T BE BOUGHT!
Post by: AGelbert on April 16, 2014, 10:23:25 pm

( (

The Vermont Senate today voted 28-2 ( to approve legislation that would require foods produced using genetic engineering (GE) to be labeled in Vermont. Minor changes made by the Senate must still be approved by the state House, which previously approved the measure (107-37). Pending the governor’s signature, the law would take effect July 1, 2016.

 “This is a major victory for the food movement,” said Rebecca Spector, who heads state labeling efforts at Center for Food Safety. “Vermont will be the first state to enact a law to protect consumers’ right to know what is in their food without requiring other states to do so prior to implementation. Nationwide GE labeling is not a question of if; it’s only a question of when. And the answer is soon.”

Unlike other state labeling laws, the Vermont labeling bill (H. 112) is the first bill which will go into effect regardless of actions by other states. Previous GE labeling bills have required that a certain number of states enact similar legislation before they would take effect.

Once signed into law, Vermont’s mandatory labeling policy will likely set the stage for more states to introduce and adopt no strings attached labeling laws.

Center for Food Safety helped draft the legislation in consultation with state representatives and has been at the center of the fight to inform consumers about GE foods for over a decade. Center for Food Safety provided legal testimony before the Vermont Legislature in 2005 and has maintained an active presence in the state, providing resources and expert legal and scientific advice to the citizens and lawmakers of Vermont.

Sixty-four nations including China, South Africa and all countries in the European Union currently require GE foods to be labeled. Rep. DeFazio (D-OR) and Sen. Boxer (D-CA) recently introduced federal legislation that would require nationwide labeling of GE products. That bill has 65 cosponsors.

“Unfortunately, chemical giants like Monsanto and Dow Chemical will not accept the will of the people,” said Colin O’Neil, director of government affairs at Center for Food Safety. “Vermont’s initiative has spurred agrichemical industry lobbyists to push legislation at the national level that would eliminate states’ rights to protect their consumers. We vow to fight them every step of the way and call out industry efforts to keep consumers in the dark.”(
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: Surly1 on April 20, 2014, 07:59:01 am
Hooray for Vermont.

Meanwhile, rust never sleeps, and Monsanto and Syngenta's hirelings are well on the case:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on April 24, 2014, 01:37:00 pm
UB said, "good news is always welcome". Amen, Bro! (

Especially in the light of how rare it is these days.  :( 
Title: Edible Weeds
Post by: AGelbert on June 21, 2014, 12:39:02 am
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on June 28, 2014, 07:27:55 pm

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on November 26, 2014, 09:57:38 pm

You may be interested  ;D in this free book about colonial behavior available online. I am listening to it on librovox. I just heard an interesting anecdote describing a robbery that occurred at Benjamin Franklin's residence! The chapter (Chapter 12) Is on apparel so the author introduced it as an example of what fairly well off people had in their houses in those days. Of course that was over a century after 1620 but it covers that period in detail as well. The colonists, when they first arrived, actually lived in CAVES for a while!

Their cats and dogs were probably quite happy there (caves provide geothermal heat insulation and enabled them to survive for a few winters until they built dwellings).

You won't find too many history books that admit the early colonists were CAVE MEN  ;D. But nevertheless, it is a historical fact. (
Chapter 1 of "Home Life in Colonial Days" has the details.  (

You can download the book that includes DETAILED accounts of how they grew, processed and cooked their food and manufactured all their clothing, houses, machines, etc. in a sustainable fashion free here:

Home Life in Colonial Days
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 01, 2014, 06:40:45 pm
Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser Expose the Real Cost  ( of Our Food (

Cole Mellino | December 1, 2014 11:09 am

Farm labor today remains one of the most difficult and underpaid jobs in America, despite the advances made for farmworkers by groups like United Farm Workers. There’s a brilliant new movie, Food Chains, that documents the plight of the modern farmworker and farmworker justice movement that has formed in response to this crisis.

The movie, produced by actress and activist Eva Longoria and Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation and producer of Food Inc., follows the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which has formed the Fair Food Program to ask large retailers to pay just a penny more per pound of tomatoes and to refuse to buy tomatoes from farms with human rights violations.

“The real power today is with big fast food chains, big food service companies, and the huge supermarket chains. Pennies more on purchases of fresh fruits and vegetables could eliminate this problem and get rid of this misery,” said Schlosser.

Alice Waters, chef and farm-to-table pioneer, calls this movie, “viscerally moving … [it] shows a true lens into the lives of the very people who pick our food.” More and more people are thinking about how their food was grown. Now they need to think about who grew and picked it.

“I still believe agriculture is the backbone of America and when you have an industry as big as agriculture you
 have to pay attention to the labor force,” Longoria said in the film. “People often look at farmworker issues as an immigration issue but it’s more than an immigration issue, it’s a human rights issue.”
Food Chains  ( - trailer

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 01, 2014, 07:24:30 pm
The DARK SIDE of Food  (

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 06, 2014, 03:49:01 pm
12/05/2014 04:37 PM     

Big Food Backs Move Toward Sustainable Agriculture  8) News

While Big Food companies are against GMO labels on food, they seem to be moving forward on other issues as members of the Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture - General Mills, Kellogg's, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola, PepsiCo and Cargill are among the members.

 The Alliance consists of 66 grower organizations; agribusinesses; food, beverage, restaurant and retail companies; conservation groups; universities and public sector partners, they say   ( , all committed to "sustainable outcomes for commodity crops such as corn, soybeans, wheat, cotton, rice and potatoes." (

 Their "Field to Market" initiative is engaging the entire agricultural supply chain to "address the collective environmental challenges we face and responsibly manage our planet's natural resources," says Rod Snyder, President.

The goal is to improve agricultural practices for 20% of US  commodity crop production on 50 million acres by 2020.

 Williams Farm in Mississippi grows corn, soy and cotton on 40% of the land, and preserves habitat for bobwhites and waterfowl:

Farm Members pledge to:

•reduce soil erosion to tolerable levels or below on all US  cropland

•improve productivity on farms to preserve wildlife habitat

•improve regional water quality by reducing sediment, phosphorus, nitrogen, and pesticide loads from farms

•improve regional water availability through efficient irrigation and conservation.

•increase energy efficiency in crop production

•reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farms per unit of output

The Alliance has a calculator that estimates farm performance on land use & conservation, carbon in the soil, water quality and consumption, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. The next step is to work with The Sustainability Consortium on  a way to measure and report on the sustainability of US agriculture. 

Read our article, Radical Agriculture Overhaul Would Enhance Global Ecosystems.

Learn more about Field to Market:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 08, 2014, 06:23:05 pm
Big Mac hurting  ( as customers get pickier  (  (

Associated Press

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 03, 2015, 10:43:45 pm
Many golden tidbits of information!  ;D
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 23, 2015, 10:15:40 pm
This is a VERY smart man. Pay attention to his logic. It is sound.   (

No Fossil Fuels Folks  ;D

 In Holyoke, Massachusetts this fellow is growing watercress, figs and all kinds of produce in his "bio shelter"- a totally unheated hoop house.

 He used reclaimed insulation and has a solar powered aquaponic system set up.

 Even in the wicked chill - 7 degrees below Fahrenheit - his bioshelter never went below 29 degrees F.

 He's thinking about growing citrus now - in Massachusetts.

 Look how far a little courage and determination will get you!

 --Bibi Farber
- See more at:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on March 12, 2015, 03:31:04 pm
Look Out Cotton, These 3 Fruits Are Shaking Up the Textile Industry
Lorraine Chow | March 12, 2015 1:47 pm

The U.S. is the second largest cotton producer in the world behind China. According to the Organic Consumers Association, about 75 percent of the cotton and cottonseed in the U.S. is genetically modified. Photo credit: Shutterstock

From fabric, to food, to feed, cotton has thousands of uses. Its ubiquitous presence, however, is entrenched with a long, brutal history that tremendously affects our world today. The Organic Consumers Association said that cotton is the most toxic crop in the world, using more than 25 percent of all the insecticides in the world and 12 percent of all the pesticides. The World Wildlife Fund says it takes 20,000 liters of water to produce one kilogram of cotton, the equivalent of a single T-shirt and a pair of jeans.

About half of all textiles are made from this environmentally unsustainable source, which is why the cotton industry could use a little competition. The good thing is there are plenty of eco-friendly choices to add to your wardrobe. In an article last week in The Guardian, three surprising fruit fabrics are featured that could not only contend with the cotton industry, but also uses up parts of the plant that would normally be left to rot.


1. Pineapples leaves:
We usually think of pineapples as a healthy snack or even a pizza topping, but Ananas Anam is using pineapple leaves to make a sustainable and cheaper alternative to leather called Piñatex, The Guardian reported. With a Cradle-to-Cradle approach, the textile company enlists pineapple farming communities to extract fibers from leaves in an extraction process called decortication. The resulting biomass from decortication can also be converted into organic fertilizer or biogas as an extra source of income to the communities.

Pineapple waste can also be useful for the food industry. In a study published in the journal Food and Bioproducts Processing, researchers found the enzyme bromelain (used to tenderize meat, baking and brewing) can be extracted from all parts of the pineapple, especially from the peel and the crown. As Food Navigator reported, the researchers said that bromelain extraction from pineapple waste would not only add revenue through increased bromelain supply, it would also reduce the impact of waste disposal.

Found in abundance in the Philippines, piña fabric is already used in traditional Filipino clothing for its fine and lightweight qualities. It’s ideal for warmer climates, and as Ecosalon wrote, the “glossy surface of the material also eliminates the need for toxic treating agents, since it acts as a protective layer for the fabric in itself.”

There’s plenty of supply for the luscious fabric. The Philippine Information Agency announced that the country’s 59,000 hectares of pineapple plantations can yield 55,483 tons of pineapple fiber, adding that this agricultural waste can be alternative materials for apparel, home textiles, upholsteries, non-woven and industrial fabrics.

Watch here to find out how pineapple fabric is hand made:

Agelbert NOTE:
I dug up this U-tube video on machine decortication of Pineapple leaves (and other plant fibers too) for your enjoyment:  ;D

2. Coconut husks: Approximately 50 billion coconuts fall from trees annually but the husks and shells are typically tossed. But a coconut is a terrible thing to waste—its milk, meat, shell and even its fibrous outer layer can have a second life. Also known as coir, this versatile coconut fabric can be turned into many things, from common items such as door mats and brush bristles, as well as not-so-common items.

Specialty weavers Belton Industries spins this sturdy, biodegradable fabric into logs and fencing for landscaping and erosion control. Its absorbent nature is also being applied for for oil spills on land and water, as well as aiding re-vegetation along stream beds and on river embankments. Coir pith, a waste byproduct from coir production, can be used for mulching, soil treatment and a hydroponic growth medium, as Made How pointed out.

Essentium Materials, a bio-composites company, is producing automotive trunk liners, load floors (battery pack covers in electric cars) and living wall planters out of coconut husks and recycled plastics. The researchers said that replacing synthetic polyester fibers with coconut husk fibers will reduce petroleum consumption by 2-4 million barrels and carbon dioxide emissions by 450,000 tons annually.

In terms of clothing, cocona fabric is made of coconut husks that have been recycled into activated carbon. When incorporated into fibers and fabrics, the result is a garment that dries fast, absorbs odor, stays cool and offers UV protection, which makes it ideal for sports wear.

This Tog 24 men’s fleece jacket is made of 55 percent polyester and 45 percent cocona. Photo credit: Shutterstock/TOG24

3. Banana stems: Another versatile fabric comes from banana plant stalks, a part of the plant that’s usually dumped or burned once the fruit is cut off, causing pollution. As The Guardian wrote, approximately one billion tons of banana plant stems are wasted each year, even though “it would only take 37 kilograms (about 81.571 pounds) of stems to produce a kilogram (about 2 pounds) of fiber.”

The fabric is already used in Japan and Southeast Asia, as the course outer layers of the stem can be used for baskets or table cloths and the fine inner layers can be used for delicate kimonos. According to eco-textile company Offset Warehouse, “Banana plants often do not require pesticides or fertilizers when grown in the tropics. Being a waste product of the food industry, these stalks that were once often just thrown away are being used as a new valuable resource with very little extra cultivated acreage being required.”

In India, paper manufacturing firm Eco Green Unit the NGO Chaitanya Mandal are buying banana stems directly from banana farmers to manufacture paper, The Indian Express reported. “Earlier the farmers had to pay Rs 3,000 (about $50) per acre to get their fields cleared,” Dileep Kulkarni of Chaitanya Mandal told the publication. “Now, if they decide to supply banana stem to the processing units they would not only save on that amount but instead they would be paid well for it.” (

This thick basket weave banana fabric can be used for tailored jackets and skirts, as well as cushions, throws and blankets. Photo Credit: Offset Warehouse

As a side note, if you are looking for cotton clothing, look for organic varieties that are grown without toxic, synthetic chemicals. Seek out natural dyes to further reduce the amount of chemicals dumped into our ecosystem.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on April 08, 2015, 10:30:56 pm

Getting to know the soil 

 This is an excerpt from a feature film which uncovers the source of all the food we eat and the nutrients we need: soil.

 Soil is more alive than you might think it is. It's "times-square" in the soil all the time, for when you look at it under a microscope, you see a plethora of living bacteria and tiny creatures which work to sustain the plants we need to survive.

 In order to plant good food, you simply need good soil
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on April 25, 2015, 06:44:30 pm

What Do We Want To See? 

 The vision behind the Transition Town movement is that every community can engage its collective creativity to unleash an extraordinary and historic transition to a future beyond fossil fuels; a future that is more vibrant, abundant and resilient; one that is ultimately preferable to the present.

 What does that look like? What do the people who are active in the Transition Network really envision for the future of their towns, if the transition they are working to create becomes reality?

 They all envision something much more humane. Cities that are much quieter, much cleaner, much slower, more people working closer to home. They talk about strong bonds around food, knowing your local farmer, growing your own food. Everything is much more decentralized. Alternative energy supplies the grid. The whole economy is much more local and society is more equitable. Quality of life skyrockets.

 The Transition approach is very much a study of permaculture in itself. It asks not: How can we make sure people take action the way we know they ought to and grow food, start composting, install solar panels, etc?" No, it asks: what is already going on in this town and how can we maximize the interchange and benefit of all the commerce and activity already in motion - regardless of people's views, politics, awareness of energy issues and so on?

 Ben Brangwyn, co founder of the Transition Network says he believes "When we look back, having reached that transition point, we will say: How on earth could we ever have conceived of living any other way?"

 --Bibi Farber

 For more information on the Transition Town Movement, visit
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on May 24, 2015, 03:36:12 pm

 A quick reminder that the rest of the world grows hemp, and profits from an amazing array of uses.

 What are the uses for industrial hemp? Clothing, nutritious food and beverages, paper, building supplies, plastics, fuel, ropes -- hemp is even used in cleaning up soil contamination. This is just the beginning!

 Hear Roger Johnson, who was the Agricultural Commissioner of North Dakota until 2009, explain that the US "ought to be in this business" to say the least. He feels it is almost criminal that the US does not take advantage of this extremely profitable crop.

 Dr. Andrew Weil says: "If Americans ate more hemp, it would help correct the imbalance of essential fatty acids. I think we'd see a reduction of inflammatory diseases, lowering heart attack risk, cancer risk...the omega 3's are necessary for proper brain function."

 There is so much potential for profit, and we are missing all of it. There are thousands of uses for hemp and the time has come for the U.S. government to legalize the growing of hemp so that we may benefit economically from this truly amazing plant.

 --Bibi Farber
- See more at:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on May 30, 2015, 02:42:48 pm

Soil testing, for over a century, has WRONGLY used a chemical analysis approach instead of a biological health approach. :o The reason they went that way is because chemical analysis is SIMPLER and favors MONOCULTURE and INDUSTRIAL FARMING destructive soil management. IOW, PROFIT OVER PLANET agricultural practices ARE RUINING THE SOIL. AND THE SCIENCE HAS BEEN TAILORED TO FAVOR THAT DESTRUCTIVE MODUS OPERANDI.   (

Instead of using a host of acids the soil NEVER ACTUALLY SEES to test soil, WATER should be used and ORGANIC ACIDS should be measured. WHY? Because THAT is what the soil microbes ACTUALLY interact with to aid plants in growing.

IOW, the LIFE of the microbes is the LIFE of the soil and the KEY to soil productivity, sustainability AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, the sine qua non for restoring degraded soil. USABLE carbon, phosphates and potassium (K) have also been measured incorrectly.

In 1935 they were on the right track. But the industrialized monoculture agriculture of profit over planet twisted soil testing methods which overruled the soil LIFE approach.  >:( As an example of how faulty the tests are, since 1965 HALF the biologically available nitrogen has been ABSENT from the soil tests.

They had to try to mimic natural systems in the lab. They didn't.  ( The abysmal stupidity of that approach is that INORGANIC minerals were being measured as "assets"  for the soil  ( when plants cannot do SQUAT with inorganic minerals when a depleted soil microbe population cannot turn them into ORGANIC minerals.   ( 

Cover crops (land without a crop for sale but grown with some type of plant - not bare soil - in order to enhance microbial life proven to restore the soil) are a BIG DEAL in soil restoration. This has been proven by the proper soil testing science as detailed in the video.

Here is the PROPER way to measure soil health:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on August 10, 2015, 03:01:35 pm
NASA Astronauts Grow Vegetables in Space for First Time

Lorraine Chow | August 10, 2015 12:56 pm

Goodbye freeze-dried space food. NASA’s astronauts aboard the International Space Station are taking a giant leap with its menu: fresh-grown vegetables.

Expedition 44 crew members, including astronaut Scott Kelly who’s on a special year-long mission in space, will be dining on a crop of “Outredgeous” red romaine lettuce from the Veggie plant growth system that’s sitting on the station itself.

Called the Veg-01, the experiment aims to “study the in-orbit function and performance of the plant growth facility and its rooting ‘pillows,’ which contain the seeds,” according to a NASA press release.

The Veggie unit, which is expandable and collapsible, contains a light bank that features a flat panel red, blue and green LEDs for plant growth and crew observation (which explains why the plants are glowing pink in some photos). Half of the harvest, which was plucked 33 days after it was initially planted, will be eaten. The other half will be packaged and frozen on the station until it can be sent to Earth for analysis.

Agelbert Comment: The importance of this is not that they can travel to mars or establish space colonies. What is REALLY important is that LED photon frequencies have been fine tuned (for over 5 years now) so they can grow plants indoors.

That means that with a Renewable Energy source like PV, CSP, wind, tide, etc. plus efficient battery storage, we can DOUBLE (or more) our plant food production by growing underground or in multistory farms. 

These farms will be able to grow plants all year and, in some cases, 24 hours a day. They will have climate control to deal with our increasingly hostile climate due to global warming visiting us from the stupidity of burning fossil fuels. As the video ( points out at the end, hot sandy deserts can now grow plants underground in order to eventually avoid the need to import vegetables.  (

Also, tuned LEDs will enable humans to get vitamin D in low to no sunlight conditions like winter near the poles.   (

Google "LED tuned for plant growth" for more information.  8)
"Technical knowledge of Carrying Capacity will not save us; only a massive increase in Caring Capacity will." -- A. G. Gelbert

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on September 18, 2015, 02:09:06 am
Biodynamics Farmiing

The first person in the modern era to speak out for "organic" agriculture was Rudolph Steiner.

 But he went a lot further than just saying no chemicals.

 Steiner had deep respect for the soil, plants, nature and the accumulated wisdom of ancient people.

 These are extended interviews taken from the film "The Challenge of Rudolf Steiner" -
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on September 19, 2015, 01:28:59 am

New Farms Of The City  ( ( 

 Bryant Terry, the eco chef, food justice activist and author speaks about the importance of a welcome trend: growing food in the urban environment.

 "I've seen amazing examples where people have taken their own front yards and backyards and created these edible landscapes in which they are growing these varieties of fruits and vegetables, fresh herbs and even raising chickens in urban environments...a farm can be as close as the library down the street and not 100 miles away from us."

 Imagine all the vacant lots in all of our cities that can be full of organic produce that need not be trucked in...

 --Bibi Farber

 This video was produced by, a national educational initiative designed to open a meaningful conversation about food and sustainability.
- See more at:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on September 20, 2015, 03:40:20 pm Newswire

09/20/2015 10:19 AM ET   
Agratech Farms - Water Conservation With Hydroponic Farming

The world at large is running low in essential resources and since water is one of them, saving it is a primary issue that has become quite a challenge nowadays. 

September 4th, 2015 - As one of the largest commercial hydroponic operators, Agratech Farms aims to become the largest in the world.

Recently it has begun reviewing ways to conserve water through hydroponic farming. This method of farming is purely dependent on water laded with nutrients and relative traditional farming methods and it already consumes 90% less water.  ( Agratech intends to further reduce the consumption of water in its hydroponic farming facilities.

The world at large is running low in essential resources; with water being one of them, saving it has become a challenge globally. In order to contribute to this cause, Agratech Farms constantly analyzes its existing technologies to find a way to better manage the consumption of water. Today 70% of the world's water is used in traditional agriculture.

The fundamental use of water in growing plants hydroponically, also uses coconut shell fibers and Styrofoam to hold the plants at the correct angle. Under which, the roots float in the water that quenches both their thirst and provides the essential nutrients.

A spokesperson from Agratech says, "If managed more efficiently, we can actually conserve 90% water in hydroponics farming. We intend to play our part in the conservation of water, as that is the essence of this method of farming. Not to mention Agratech's underlying goal is to contribute in every way we can to the environment."

"We also grow high-quality hydroponic produce 'Daily Fresh'. Using the latest water saving and hydroponic techniques we have developed sustainable hydroponic farms that promote our "green" agriculture initiative."

With Agratech's vision to develop and educate the next generation with relevant hydroponic farming and agricultural knowledge, Head Quartered in Dubai UAE; Agratech have also introduced hydroponic investments for private, commercial and industry buyers and also established firm bases of operation in Hong Kong, the Capital of Romania, Madrid in Spain, and now Lisbon in Portugal.

The spokesperson continued,
"Many of the mentioned countries lack arable land and climactic requirements needed for the mass production of food. Agratech's Vision is to provide self sufficiency in agriculture to these regions all the while obtaining an even higher conservation rate of water."

Our technology allows us to grow 365 days a year in any climate using state of the art technology that regulates the climate inside our closed High Tech greenhouse, a series of sensors, coolers and heaters allows uniformed production all year round.  (

About Agratech

Agratech aims to be one of the largest operators of hydroponic farming facilities in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and Europe from their strategic base in the United Arab Emirates.

It strives to improve the world's food security imbalances with technologically advanced farming techniques coupled with clean and ethical farming practices that produce fresh, healthy fruit and vegetables.

Equipped with the vision to educate, teach and develop the next generation throughout the globe with relevant farming and agricultural knowledge, they also continue their local-to-local philosophy to ensure job creation and economic safety throughout the region.

Dedicated to balance being a successful business as well as a socially responsible one, they aim to construct over 100 hectares of hydroponic farm land by 2020, but also to donate produce to the United Nations and World Health Organization.

For more information please contact:

Bogdan Ureche Development Manager
 Agratech Farms

Agelbert NOTE: Why do I think this really will help  (i. e. a small portion of) humanity in  a massively polluted, CO2 warmed world on a N.T.H.E. trajectory?  ???

Because of THIS:
"Increasing CO2 levels would only be beneficial inside of highly controlled, enclosed spaces like greenhouses." -- Doug Bostrom

Greenhouses on the North Slope. Due to the increased CO2 concentration and greening towards the poles, these technofixes (for the privileged few) will help deep pocketed Alaskans hold out in a world of multiple species extinctions. Who knows? They MIGHT even avoid N.T.H.E.!

See below: Future Success Story of Remnant, though somewhat brain damaged from pollution caused DNA degradation, Homo saps in Alaska:  (


Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 04, 2015, 10:34:45 pm

London's first underground farm opens in WW2 air raid shelter

Pea shoots, radishes, mustard, coriander, celery, parsley and rocket are all being grown about 100 feet down under London SUSTAINABLY  (

Michel Roux Jr in the underground farm Photo: Paul Grover

By Sarah Knapton, Science Editor

4:07PM BST 29 Jun 2015

London’s first underground farm has begun growing herbs in a disused Second World War bunker.
Growing Underground, the capital’s only subterranean farm, will start trading to restaurateurs in Covent Garden within weeks.

The farm, in old World War II tunnels beneath the Northern Line at Clapham, is the brainchild of West Country entrepreneurs Richard Ballard and Steven Dring, in partnership with Michel Roux Jr, the Michelin-starred chef.

The first phase of the farm, which includes a sophisticated lighting and irrigation system, is in the final stages of preparation for commercial supply.

Phase one crops include pea shoots, several varieties of radish, mustard, coriander, Red Amaranth, celery, parsley and rocket.

“Our first shoots will be delivered to the surface in the next few weeks”, said co-founder Richard Ballard. “After eighteen months of research, development, growing trials – and tribulations – we’re about to start supplying into the market.”


Michel Roux Jr added: “I’m looking forward to creating my first dish using produce from the world’s first underground urban farm, less than two miles as the crow flies from the heart of London.
“It’s great to be involved in this ambitious project, for which we have equally ambitious growth plans.

“Above all, it’s fantastic to be able to source produce that is so fresh in the heart of Britain’s largest city.”

• Travel Underground to the farm VIDEO:
You’ll have to dig deep to discover what’s growing down on this farm (

Growing Underground: London's subterranean farm (

The crops are grown in a sealed clean-room environment with a specially designed ventilation system, advanced lighting and a sophisticated irrigation that enables the farm to produce crops at very low energy.

The farm’s mission is to deliver fresh produce with zero effect on the environment and all energy is sourced from green suppliers.


Growing Underground’s first commercial client will be County Supplies London, supplying restaurants via Covent Garden market.

The tunnels were used during World War II as a bomb shelter for London residents and designed to accommodate 8,000 people sheltering during air raids.

The Mayor of London, who supported the original idea for the farm through his London Leaders business start-up programme, also welcomed the launch.

The Mayor Boris Johnson said: “This is a fine example of the dynamic startups that are helping London lead the world in green business innovation. I want even more entrepreneurs to help create these brilliant concepts that are delivering thousands of jobs and boosting London's green economy to almost £30 billion a year. I wish Growing Underground every success.”

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 15, 2015, 01:48:20 am
Organic Pest Control
Great tips! (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 20, 2015, 06:52:40 pm

Look Ma! No fossil fuel based chemical fertilizers, pesticides or plowing and harversting machinery.

LOOK Ma! No nitrogen run off and no contribution to dead zones in the ocean!

LOOK MA! No fossil fuel powered vehicles transporting veggies a thousand miles or more from farm to buyer!   (


Great article at link with Aquaponics and Nitrogen Cycle graphics at link:
Inside the Nation’s Largest Organic Vertical Farm (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on November 02, 2015, 11:37:31 pm

Avoid Fertilizers, Pesticides and Lawn Mowers  (

One concept of permaculture is to maximize the natural symbiosis of living and growing things so as to make use of what nature has already provided to get the job done.

A chicken tractor ( is a portable cage that lets your chickens help you in 3 ways:

 1. They weed your grass, producing eggs high in Omega 3
 2. They fertilize your soil
 3. They eat insects

Put 'em in there and they get to work. After a while, roll it to the next location.

Avoid fertilizers, pesticides and lawn mowers all at once! (

 --Bibi Farber

This video was produced by WD4 LSW
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 02, 2015, 03:35:48 pm
Solar Powered ‘Farm from a Box’: Everything You Need to Run an Off-Grid Farm (

Lorraine Chow | December 2, 2015 9:26 am

Shipping containers already make great micro-homes, but one California-based company is using shipping containers to create micro-farms. Farm from a Box is a complete, small-scale farming toolkit that includes everything you might need to produce your own food.

Each box comes in 10-, 20- and 40-foot units and is pre-installed with a photovoltaic system comprising of 10 high-efficiency solar modules, off-grid inverters, a transformer and distribution box and deep-cycle batteries for energy storage. The array is backed up by a 3,000-watt generator.

Farm from a Box is a modified shipping container with a built-in WiFi, irrigation system, solar panels, weather tracking devices, batteries and more. It also contains seedlings, farming equipment and a training program to provide communities with the tools the need to feed themselves. Photo credit: Farm from a Box

It’s also equipped with high-efficiency LED lighting, secured storage, a mobile charging area, Wi-Fi and a remote monitoring solution. Oh, and seeds and farming tools of course.

Each unit is capable of producing crops for one hectare of land (2.47 acres), the company says.

“Farm from a Box is the ‘Swiss-Army knife’ of sustainable farming,”
Brandi DeCarli, Farm from a Box co-founder, said in September.

While Farm from a Box seems ideal for many communities worldwide, it could be a food security solution for areas without reliable access to electricity or water.

“Based on extensive field research, we found that rural communities often lack the resources and infrastructure needed to access nutritious food,” DeCarli said. “We developed a toolkit that contains all of the core components needed to grow your own food, on a two acre plot of land, without the need for an existing grid. Imagine the good it can do by growing local, organic food for a school, or helping jumpstart food production after a disaster. ‘Farm from a Box’ enables and empowers communities to provide for themselves.”

Thinking outside the “box,” the farm also comes with a training program that covers ecological farming practices, technology use, maintenance and basic business and entrepreneurship. A fully operational pilot project is planned for deployment at a local women’s cooperative in the Rift Valley in Ethiopia later this year to help shape and refine the training and implementation program.

A prototype installation called the “Adam” has been running at Santa Rosa Junior College in Sonoma, California since September.

Launching of the Sonoma unit at Santa Rosa Junior College’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Department. Photo credit: Farm from a Box

The boxes are fully customizable and Fast Company reports that each unit costs between $25,000-$45,000, depending on its technology specs.

Last month, Farm from a Box announced a partnership with SMA America, a noted solar product manufacturer.

“SMA is proud to partner with a company whose goal is to bring independence to communities around the globe by providing the tools they need to sustain themselves, both nutritionally and financially,” said Marko Wittich, SMA executive vice president of sales for the Americas region. “Farm from a Box isn’t charity; it empowers and strengthens communities with sustainable solutions, powered by renewable energy.”
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 14, 2015, 08:28:11 pm
Talking Louisiana Oysters

Posted On December 14, 2015 by Ryan Ono
Dr. John Supan
Ah, Louisiana. Famous for seafood dishes including shrimp étouffée, oyster po’boys and blackened redfish.  Although some of you reading may now be thinking of lunch, there are some great stories behind the recipes, and the efforts people make to secure your meal’s ingredients now and in the future.

One of those people is Dr. John Supan, the Louisiana Sea Grant Oyster Research Laboratory Director who oversees a new oyster hatchery on Grand Isle that provides the larvae, or “seed”, for shellfish farmers and oyster reef rehabilitation efforts.  We recently asked him some questions about how this hatchery helps ensure coastal areas are resilient not only for Louisiana’s culinary history, but also for the regional ecosystem.

Oysters provide a number of services to the natural environment. They improve water quality by filtering water as they feed, help prevent coastal erosion, and also provide habitat for fish and other species. However, oysters and the people that grow them face a number of threats.

Ocean acidification endangers oyster production around the country, and the shellfish aquaculture industry is leading the charge to raise awareness of this threat.  A result of a combination of carbon pollution and nitrogen runoff pollution from urban and rural areas, acidification causes oyster larvae shells to weaken, decreasing their survival.

Also, newly released data show between 4 and 8.3 billion oysters are estimated to have been lost as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in 2010. These impacts, combined with ongoing impacts such as drought, floods, coastal development and hurricanes, make for a tough road for oysters.  The good news is that there are things we can do to protect oysters and the people that grow them, and we talked to John to learn more:

Ocean Conservancy: How did you get started with oysters, and what do you enjoy about it?

Dr. John Supan: During my master’s degree pursuit in the late 1970’s, I worked at a pilot oyster hatchery at the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory in Biloxi, MS.  There, I learned about breeding, rearing and maintaining oysters.  I also learned to build things, plumbing and wiring systems to support growing aquatic organisms which appeals to my “blue collar” background.  I most enjoy the daily sense of accomplishment—seeing things growing due to your work, as opposed to staring at a computer screen.

OC: Earlier this year, the oyster hatchery you direct was rebuilt and reopened.  Can you explain why this occurred, what’s new and what is its purpose?

JS: It’s been said that every storm cloud has a silver lining.  Hurricane Katrina wiped out our old facility, and due to the recent availability of funds, I began designing a new hatchery that could address the 26 years of problems I encountered while running a hatchery on Grand Isle.  Molluscan shellfish hatcheries and the larvae they raise are very vulnerable to poor water quality, so the new hatchery included features to address this.

The old hatchery was operated seasonally (May-September) because it was outdoors under a shed or building, so we could not heat and maintain hatchery seawater temperature.  That stymied algae and shellfish larval growth, increasing the likelihood of problems, so moving hatchery operations indoors with seawater heating was a major improvement.

The new hatchery has many new facility upgrades.  It’s now an elevated concrete and steel building that exceeds hurricane building codes.  We can better filter and treat incoming seawater.  Another new hatchery feature is a back-up power generator which is useful if power is unavailable, especially after hurricanes.  All these improvements will radically reduce our post-storm recovery response times from months to days.

The purpose of the building is dictated by its source of funding. The hatchery is part of a $17 million Louisiana Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) project of the BP oil spill.  It will be used for replenishing public oyster grounds and providing oyster larvae and seed for private oyster culture.

OC: Ocean acidification is a big concern particularly for Pacific Northwest shellfish.  How did it become a concern for you in the Gulf region?

JS: Acidification may not only be caused by carbon dioxide impact on our oceans, but also by riverine or storm water runoff in our estuaries.  Over the years, I have seen oyster larvae failures at Grand Isle and attributed it to unfavorable conditions with our ambient water. Researchers working with Whiskey Creek Oyster Hatchery in Oregon have seen similar larvae failures due to their more acidic water.  They discovered a simple solution to save their oysters: pumping a saturated solution of soda ash (an antacid) into the hatchery’s seawater lines to raise the pH to 8.25, which is ideal for oysters.  Learning from Whiskey Creek’s experience, we are using soda ash to do the same.

OC: What is your future hope for this hatchery, and oysters in Louisiana from an aquaculture and wild ecosystem perspective?

JS: It is important that we have a viable oyster fishery in Louisiana to help support our coastal economy, ecological services, and our culture and cuisine.  Wild oyster production is naturally cyclical, but hatcheries can help augment wild production by providing larvae for public and private oyster seed production.

Hatcheries can also support private oyster culture by improving survival, shell growth, meat yield, and overall production, which traditionally accounts for nearly 80% of the oysters harvested in Louisiana. (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 15, 2015, 06:00:39 pm

$300 Underground Greenhouse Grows Your Food Year-Round  (

Lorraine Chow | December 15, 2015 11:27 am

Excellent article plus videos!


Agelbert Comment: This is the type of common sense that should be fostered by the government at ALL levels. This type of greenhouse should be exempt from all town ordinances and NOT require approval or some permit.

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 22, 2015, 08:05:57 pm

Food and Empowerment (

37 different crops are growing on a 2-acre farm within Rouge Park, Detroit.

A coalition group called the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network
 is hard at work both growing the food- and planting the seeds for social change.

"We're not interested in plans where the corporate sector comes in and uses the majority of the population as workers. We're concerned about control and ownership. We want to model not only the growing techniques but model the kind of social and political economic dynamic that we think are appropriate for a city like Detroit"  says Malik Yakini, chairman of the network.

 In this video, he gives a tour of D-Town Farm, one of Detroit's biggest urban farms. The mission: to offer fresh produce, and build food security in Detroit's black community.

 --Bibi Farber

 This video was produced by Democracy Now.
- See more at:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 09, 2016, 02:18:42 pm
Two Indoor Farm Startups Stand Up to Alaska’s Short Growing Season

Lorraine Chow | January 5, 2016 10:09 am

How do you turn Alaska’s icy tundras into lush, year-round farms? Two forward-thinking startups just might have found the solution: growing indoors.

Alaska Natural Organics and Vertical Harvest Hydroponics are two separate Anchorage-based indoor farm startups standing up to Alaska’s short growing seasons by using hydroponics. With this soil- and pesticide-free farming technique, plants are grown in nutrient-rich water under blue and red LED lights that mimic sunlight.

Vertical Harvest Hydroponics repurposes old shipping containers to grow food year-round and provide fresh greens to Alaskans. Photo credit: Vertical Harvest Hydroponics

Alaska Natural Organics—the state’s first commercial vertical farm—is growing fresh greens in tall stacks inside an old dairy warehouse in Anchorage. Meanwhile, Vertical Harvest Hydroponics designs and builds customizable “Containerized Growing Systems,” which are self-contained hydroponic farms inside a transportable, 40-foot shipping container.

While their farming approaches are very different, the two companies have similar ambitions. Each fills Alaska’s fresh food gap by cutting the distance that food has to travel to Anchorage’s plates, all while providing healthy, nutritious food options to residents.

Due to weather constraints on the growing season, Alaska imports approximately 95 percent of its food. Its produce comes from farms in California or Mexico—fruits and vegetables are picked before ripening so it doesn’t spoil during its many weeks of transport, The New York Times reported.

Consequently, fresh produce is usually much pricier for Alaskans. “I’ve seen $10 heads of lettuce in stores, so I think the economics of this project will work,” Danny Consenstein, head of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s farm service agency in Alaska, told Alaska Dispatch News.
CGS (containerized Growing Systems) video

The Vertical Harvest units, which cost around $100,000 each, come with heating systems, shelves and electricity to support LED growing lights, co-founder Linda Janes told Alaska Dispatch News.

In all, the units are capable of producing 1,800 plants at a time in mineral-rich water without soil, Janes said. So far, the company has sold two units in Anchorage.

Alaska Natural Organics has also marked its first deliveries, with roughly 100 basil plants delivered to a handful of Alaskan grocery stores in the first week of December 2015, the Associated Press reported.

According to KTVA Alaska, when operations at Alaska Natural Organics are finally running at full capacity, the 5,000-square-foot organic farm will be able to house 20,000 plants.

Alaska Natural Organics founder and owner Jason Smith told KTVA Alaska that he plans to expand his company into rural areas across the state where fresh vegetables are even harder to come by.

“If I could say, 10 years from now, I played a role in helping to stabilize the food system in Alaska, that’s something I’d be very proud of,” Smith said.

Local grocers, restaurants and food companies have already expressed excitement about the prospects of Smith’s year-round greens, according to the Associated Press.

Susie Winford of Alaska Coastal Catering catered two events in November 2015 using small heads of organic lettuce from Smith. They were harvested only an hour before they were delivered and had no dirt to clean off since they were hydroponically grown.

“[The] only complaint we had from a client was that it was too pretty to eat,” ;D Winford said.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 10, 2016, 09:25:56 pm
Syntropy Gives Us Hope For a Better Future  (

"WE don't have poor soils, We have IMPROPER farming practices".  (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 11, 2016, 02:13:35 pm
14 Edible Plants You Can Grow Indoors  (

Elizabeth King, Pound Place | January 11, 2016 11:01 am

Many of us dream of having our own vegetable patch, but it can be challenging to find the ideal space—and that’s assuming you have a garden at all. If you don’t then you’re in luck, you don’t need a large outdoor plot to grow all your ideal crops, for many edible plants all you need is a sunny spot inside.  (

The idea of growing an indoor farm, full of healthy food you can spoil yourself with over summer may sound too good to be true. But with a little love and care, whether you live in a house or a flat, you can grow a variety of fresh vegetables, fruit and even edible flowers ready for your next dinner party—guaranteed to impress.

But the benefits don’t stop there, growing your own greenery will give the satisfaction of harvesting your own foodstuff, save you money and added health benefits making your five a day a walk in the park. You might even start replacing that takeaway pizza with home-grown vegetables packed with vitamins and minerals.

You can grow almost any plants indoors with a loving hand,
best growth occurs in areas that receive plenty of sunlight, such as windowsills. But for those of you who just don’t have a sunny spot to make the most of, grow lights can allow you to cultivate your edible plants in even the darkest of corners.

Although growing conditions vary from plant to plant, a few general rules should be followed. If you’re starting completely from scratch, sowing seeds on moistened soil, covered with plastic wrap and kept in a warm area will get your plants off to the best possible start. Also ensuring all pots and containers have drainage holes or a layer of grit to prevent root rot and overwatering will make sure your plants stay strong and healthy.

For more on edible plants you can grow indoors–including sowing and harvesting times—check out our helpful infographic below.





Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 11, 2016, 06:42:29 pm
Reinventing the Greenhouse

by Kris De Decker, originally published by Low-Tech Magazine   | Jan 5, 2016 
A Chinese greenhouse. Picture: Chris Buhler, Indoor Garden HQ.

The modern glass greenhouse requires massive inputs of energy to grow crops out of season. That's because each square metre of glass, even if it's triple glazed, loses ten times as much heat as a wall.

However, growing fruits and vegetables out of season can also happen in a sustainable way, using the energy from the sun. Contrary to its fully glazed counterpart, a passive solar greenhouse is designed to retain as much warmth as possible.

Research shows that it's possible to grow warmth-loving crops all year round with solar energy alone, even if it's freezing outside. The solar greenhouse is especially successful in China, where many thousands of these structures have been built during the last decades.

The quest to produce warm-loving crops in temperate regions initially didn't involve any glass at all. In Northwestern Europe, Mediterranean crops were planted close to specially built "fruit walls" with high thermal mass, creating a microclimate that could be 8 to 12°C (14 to 22°F) warmer than an unaltered climate.

Later, greenhouses built against these fruit walls further improved yields from solar energy alone. It was only at the very end of the nineteenth century that the greenhouse turned into a fully glazed and artificially heated building where heat is lost almost instantaneously -- the complete opposite of the technology it evolved from.

During the oil crises of the 1970s, there was a renewed interest in the passive solar greenhouse. [7] However, the attention quickly faded when energy prices came down again, and the all-glass greenhouse remained the horticultural workhorse of the Northwestern world. The Chinese, on the other hand, built 800,000 hectare of passive solar greenhouses during the last three decades -- that's 80 times the surface area of the largest glasshouse industry in the world, that of the Netherlands.

The Chinese Greenhouse

The Chinese passive solar greenhouse has three walls of brick or clay. Only the southern side of the building consists of transparant material (usually plastic foil) through which the sun can shine. During the day the greenhouse captures heat from the sun in the thermal mass of the walls, which is released at night.

At sunset, an insulating sheet -- made of straw, pressed grass or canvas -- is rolled out over the plastic, increasing the isolating capacity of the structure. The walls also block the cold, northern winds, which would otherwise speed up the heat loss of the greenhouse.

Chinese style greenhouse

Chinese greenhouses. Picture: HortTechnology.
(at link

Being the opposite of the energy-intensive glass greenhouse, the Chinese passive solar greenhouse is heated all-year round with solar energy alone, even when the outdoor temperature drops below freezing point. The indoor temperature of the structure can be up to 25°C (45°F) higher than the outdoor temperature.

The incentive policy of the Chinese government has made the solar greenhouse a cornerstone of food production in central and northern China. One fifth of the total area of greenhouses in China is now a solar greenhouse. By 2020, they are expected to take up at least 1.5 million hectares. [1]

Improving the Chinese Greenhouse

The first Chinese-style greenhouse was built in 1978. However, the technology only took off during the 1980s, following the arrival of transparent plastic foil. Not only is foil cheaper than glass, it is also lighter and doesn’t require a strong carrying capacity, which makes the construction of the structure much cheaper. Since then, the design has continuously been improved upon. The structure became deeper and taller, allowing sunlight to be distributed better and ensuring that temperature fluctuations are decreased.

A: The original design from the 1980s with a glass canopy. B: An improved design from the mid-1980s, with plastic foil, a night curtain, and better insulated walls. This design is the most widespread. C: An improved design from 1995. The walls are thinner because they are insulated with modern materials. Automatic handling of the night curtain. D: The most recent design from 2007, which has a double roof for extra insulation.

In addition, cultivators are increasingly opting for modern insulation materials instead of using rammed earth or air cavities for the insulation of the walls, which saves space and/or improves the heat absorption characteristics of the structure. Synthetic insulation blankets, which are better suited for dealing with moisture, are also seeing increased use. The old-fashioned straw mats become heavier and insulate less when they become wet.

In some of the more recent greenhouses, the insulation blankets are rolled up and down automatically, and more sophisticated ventilation systems are used. Some greenhouses have a double roof or reflecting insulation installed. In addition, the plastic foil used for the greenhouses — obviously the least sustainable component of the system — is continuously being improved, resulting in a longer lifespan.

Performance of the Chinese Greenhouse

The performance of the Chinese greenhouse depends on its design, the latitude, and the local climate. A recent study observed three types of greenhouses in Shenyang, the capital of the Liaoning province. The city is at 41.8°N and is one of the most northern areas where the Chinese-style greenhouse is built (between latitudes 32°N and 43°N).

The research was conducted from the beginning of November to the end of March, the period during which the outside temperature drops below freezing. The average temperature in the coldest month is between -15°C and -18°C (5 to -0.4°F). [1]

Air cavities in a ruined solar greenhouse. Picture: Chris Buhler, Indoor Garden HQ.

The three greenhouses studied all have the same shape and dimensions (60 x 12.6 x 5.5 m), but the walls, the plastic foil, and the transparent layer vary. The simplest construction has walls of rammed earth and an inside layer of brick to increase the structures’ stability. The covering is a thin plastic film that is covered at night with a straw blanket.

The two other greenhouses have a northern wall of brick with extruded polystyrene foam as insulating material, whereby the width of the wall can be cut in half. They are also covered with a thicker PVC plastic foil. The best greenhouse adds to this a reflective coating on the insulation blanket, further reducing heat loss at night.

A Chinese greenhouse. Picture: Chris Buhler, Indoor Garden HQ.

The night curtain of a solar greenhouse: Energy Farms.

In the simplest greenhouse the temperatures dropped below the freezing point from early December until mid-January. Without extra heating, this greenhouse cannot grow any produce at this latitude. Only the most sophisticated greenhouse – with its reflecting insulation layer – succeeded in keeping the inside temperature above freezing at all times, using only solar energy.

What’s more, the temperature stayed above 10°C most of the time, which is the minimum temperature for the cultivation of warm season plants, like tomatoes and cucumbers. Of course, passive solar greenhouses in more southern locations would require less sophisticated insulation techniques to be operated without additional heating.

Solar Greenhouses in Northern Climates

If we go further north, similar solar passive greenhouses would require extra heating during the coldest months of the year, no matter how well they are insulated. Note that the farther north the greenhouse is located, the greater its slope will be. The slope of the roof is angled to be perpendicular to the sun's rays when it's lowest on the horizon.

In 2005, a Chinese-style greenhouse was tested in Manitoba, Canada, at a latitude of 50°N. A greenhouse that is 30 x 7 meters with a well-insulated northern wall (3.6 RSI glass fibre) and an insulation blanket (1.2 RSI cotton) was observed from January to April. During the coldest month (February) the outside temperature varied between +4.5°C and -29°C (40 to -20°F). While the interior temperature was on average 18°C (32.4°F) higher than the exterior, it turned out to be impossible to cultivate plants without extra heating during the winter. [2]

Cucumbers in a Chinese solar greenhouse. Picture: Energy Farms.


Strawberries in a Chinese solar greenhouse. Picture: wikipedia commons.

Nevertheless, energy savings can be huge in comparison to a glass greenhouse. To keep the temperature above ten degrees at all times, the heating system of the Canadian structure must deliver a maximum of 17 W/m2, or 3.6kW for the building. [2] In comparison, a glass greenhouse of equal proportions at the same interior and exterior temperatures would require a maximum capacity of 125 to 155 kW.

Note that these results can't be applied to all locations at 50°N. The Canadian research shows that solar output has a greater impact on the inside temperature of the structure than does the outside temperature. The correlation between inside temperature and sunlight is almost four times greater than the correlation between inside temperature and outside temperature. [2] For example, while Brussels lies at the same latitude as Manitoba, the latter has on average 1.5 times more sun.

Thermal capacity can be further improved by placing black painted water storage tanks against the north wall inside the structure. These capture extra solar energy during the day and release it during the night. A different method to improve the heat retention of a greenhouse is by earth berming the north, east and west walls. Yet another solution to improve insulation is the underground or "pit greenhouse". [8] However, this greenhouse receives less sunlight and is prone to flooding.

More Space Needed

The passive greenhouse could save a lot of energy, but a price would have to be paid: the profits generated by the Chinese greenhouse are two to three times lower per square meter than those of its fully glazed counterpart. In the more efficient Chinese greenhouses, an average 30 kg of tomatoes and 30 kg of cucumbers can be grown per square meter (numbers from 2005), while the average production in a glass greenhouses is about 60 kg of tomatoes and 100 kg cucumbers (numbers from 2003). [3] [4].

A Chinese solar greenhouse. Picture: Energy Farms.

A passive greenhouse industry would thus take up two to three times as much space to produce the same amount of food. This could be viewed as a problem, but of course what really eats space in agriculture is meat production. A more diverse and attractive supply of vegetables and fruits could make it more viable to reduce meat consumption, so land use shouldn't be a problem.

Compost Heated Greenhouses

Another issue with a solar powered greenhouse is the lack of a CO2-source. In modern greenhouses, operators aim to have a CO2-level at least three times the level outdoors to increase crop yield. This CO2 is produced as a byproduct of the fossil fuel based heating systems inside the greenhouses. However, when no fossil fuels are used, another source of CO2 has to be found. This is not only an issue for solar greenhouses. It's also one of the main reasons why geothermal energy and electric heat pumps are not advancing in the modern glasshouse industry.

In Chinese solar greenhouses, this issue is sometimes solved by the combined raising of produce and animals. Pigs, chickens, and fish all produce CO2 that can be absorbed by the plants, while the plants produce oxygen (and green waste) for the animals. The animals and their manure also contribute to the heating of the structure. Research of such integrated greenhouse systems has shown that the combined production of vegetables, meat, milk, and eggs raises yields quite substantially. [5]

Detail of a compost-heated greenhouse: Source: Pelaf.

Justin Walker, an American now living in Siberia, is building an integrated system using horses, goats and sheep in a monastery in Siberia. Considering the harsh climate, the structure is partly built below-ground, while its protruding parts are earth-bermed. Above the barn area is a hayloft that provides further winter insulation as well as ventilation in the summer when it is empty. His compost heat recovery system produces hot water that is piped through radiant floor heating zones in the floor of the greenhouse. The CO2 is supplied by the animals. [6]

Heating and CO2-production can also be done without housing animals in the greenhouse. Their manure suffices. As we have seen in the previous article, the use of horse manure for heating small-scale greenhouses dates back several centuries in Europe, and in China it was practised already 2.000 years ago. Since the 1980s, several compost heated greenhouse have been built in the USA. These have shown that a greenhouse can be entirely heated by compost if it is well-insulated, and that the method drastically enriches the CO2-levels in the soil and in the greenhouse air. To add to this, the compost also serves to increase soil fertility. [6]

Kris De Decker  (


[1] Energy performance optimization of typical chinese solar greenhouses by means of dynamic simulation (PDF), Alessandro Deiana et al., International conference of agricultural engineering, 2014, Zurich.

[2] Winter performance of a solar energy greenhouse in southern Manitoba (PDF), Canadian Biosystems Engineering. 2006.

[3] The solar greenhouse: state of the art in energy saving and sustainable energy supply. G. Bot et al., 2005

[4] Structure, function, application, and ecological benefit of a single-slope, energy-efficient solar greenhouse in China. HortTechnology, June 2010

[5] Integrated energy self-served animal and plant complementary ecosystem in China, in "Integrated energy systems in China -- the cold northwestern region experience", FAO, 1994

[6] The Compost-Powered Water Heater: How to heat your greenhouse, pool, or buildings with only compost, Gaelan Brown, 2014

[7] See for example "The Solar Greenhouse Book" (PDF), published by Rodale Press in 1978

[8] The Earth Sheltered Solar Greenhouse Book, Mike Oehler, 2007
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 19, 2016, 11:13:51 pm
Plant Families  (   (

Cooperate with Nature

 "Create natural cycles, then nature will work for you" says permaculture pioneer Sepp Holzer.

 This video explores his famous permaculture farm, Krameterhof, 1,500 feet above sea level between the pine tree monocultures of Austria. He has successfully used groundbreaking techniques such as using ponds as reflectors to increase solar gain for passive solar heating of structures. He pioneered the use of Hugelkultur and natural branch development - that is not pruning, to allow fruit trees to survive high altitudes and harsh winters.

 One plant helps the other in a symbiotic, ongoing collaboration of nature. For example plants with different root depths can co-exist and benefit each other.

 "You have to listen and observe-- that's the most important thing." says Holzer.

 --Bibi Farber

 This is a clip from a film by Malcolm St. Julian Bonn and Heidi Snel.
- See more at:

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 19, 2016, 08:01:18 pm
Nestled between Nepal and Bhutan is the small Indian state called Sikkim, where about 650,000 live.

02/19/2016 02:30 PM News

Sikkim, India: 100% Organic Agriculture  (


The dramatic Himalayan landscape includes India's highest mountain and alpine meadows with thousands of wildflower species. Called one of the world's last utopias by legendary Buddhist guru Padmasambhava, it is living up to that reputation as India's first completely Organic state.

All of Sikkim's farmland is certified organic as of 2015, achieving "a model of development which also protects nature," says Prime Minister Modi. 

After 12 years, the Sikkim Organic Mission is in place, with no use of pesticides, chemical fertilizers or GMOs, and committed to preserving its rare ecosystems and biodiversity.

Chief Minister Pawan Chamling began the process in 2003, with his declaration that Sikkim would be India's first organic state. Since he's been re-elected five times he's been able to see it through.

First, all sales of pesticides and synthetic fertilizers were banned, and farmers were taught how to transition to organic practices. Now, "Organic Tourism" has taken off with visitors staying at farming resorts. 

At this year's Sikkim Organic Festival, held January 18, Prime Minister Modi said this organic effort would now spread across the country.

Indian farmers have been devastated since GMOs were approved, with thousands committing suicide. 

Next door, Bhutan is also going 100% organic by 2020, as part of its "Gross National Happiness" standard instead of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The tiny island of Niue in the South Pacific has made the same commitment to organic agriculture.

Organic Worldwide

As of 2014 (most recent data), the world's organic industry reached $80 billion in sales and 108 million acres farmed, steadily increasing from $15.2 billion and 27 million acres in 1999.

The US remains the largest organic market by far with a 43% share ($39 billion in sales), growing 11% in 2014. Next comes Germany ($8.8 billion), France ($5.4 billion) and China ($4.1 billion), according to Organic Monitor. 

There are roughly 2.3 million organic farmers in 172 countries, the majority in India (650,000), Uganda (190,550) and Mexico (169,700). 

Australia has the most organic acreage at 42.5 million acres hectares, but 97% of it is used for grazing. Argentina ranks second with 7.7 million acres, followed by the US with 5.4 million acres.

Learn more about Sikkim's organic mission:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on March 14, 2016, 09:56:26 pm

Hat tip to TamaraHeikalo for pointing it out me.  (

The Inga Agroforesty System - a SUSTAINABLE REPLACEMENT to Slash and Burn. The Inga Oranic Farming effect also ELIMINATES the need for fossil fuel based Pesticides! (


Don Reuben with his corn crop produced in Inga alleys
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on March 15, 2016, 07:03:04 pm

Iceland is home to the biggest banana plantation in Northern Europe. (All Photos: Kasper Friis) (

Iceland home to N. Europe's largest banana plantation  (   (

Around 1950, Garðyrkjuskóli ríkisins in Iceland planted their first banana plants as an experiment. Only 177 miles from the Arctic Circle, the plantation at the Icelandic National Gardening School, is the biggest banana plantation in Northern Europe; fed by an abundance of volcanic hot springs, the heat from them is what makes this quite impossible idea possible.

After the initial trials in the 50s, the experiment stopped, as it had been proven that bananas could grow in greenhouses in Iceland, although not in an economically advantageous way. The school nevertheless decided to continue to keep their plants, for the fun of it.  ;D

The school has several large greenhouses. Alongside the bananas they grow coffee, cocoa, avocado and other plants normally found in the Southern hemisphere. Bananas are the biggest group here with around 100 plants; the rest are grown in pairs.

Winter temperatures in the area regularly go below the freezing point and summer temperatures top out around 60 degrees Fahrenheit, so even in a greenhouse, it can become a little chilly for plants that love heat and sun. But with the warmth from the volcanic springs, temperatures are kept at a steady 70 degrees year round .

Of course, being so close to the Arctic circle does mean a shorter growing season (normally bananas develop their clusters year-round.) Somehow, even though the sun is only out four hours a day in the winter months, these bananas have survived in their volcanically heated home. These cold-weather bananas are harvested from April to June. Beyond bananas, the area is home to more conventional greenhouse crops, like tomatoes.

Publication date: 3/9/2016

Agelbert NOTE:
In the tropics, I tried my hand at growing bananas once. They are easy to grow. You plant what is called a bud (hijo - son in Spanish). It grows in a few months and you get a nice bunch of bananas, usually too many to eat before they get over ripe. So, you harvest about half when they are green and eat them peeled and boiled in salty water (like a boiled potato - they are quite good).

You do this gradually.

When your bananas get to the ripe stage, you just eat them as desert with or without ice cream  ;D. At that point you harvest the rest of them on the plant stalk.

You then peel and freeze the ones you can't eat right away. The frozen ones will be mushy when thawed so they are good only for pudding, fruit milk shakes or banana bread.

If some that you did not freeze or eat got too ripe, you can make an oven type sweet desert or fried fritters from them (which are also sweet and crunchy).

Returning to the banana plant, you then chop the stalk off the plant and dig it up.

The root system is small and short so it is easy to dig up. That is why banana plantations lose most of their plants in a hurricane. Banana plant stalks cannot handle high winds.

Once you have the root base in hand, you slice off the buds -  there may me three or four.

Each bud will give you a new plant.

Those tiny seeds you see inside a banana will never give you a banana plant. Snark alert  ;): Lord Lucifer must have put them there to make fools out of homo saps.

They reproduce from buds, period (test on Monday  (

That said, there are some plantain (a banana like fruit, two or three times longer and twice as thick as the average banana, cooked after peeling by boiling or frying in slices if green (tostones - yummy!  ;D) or baking/broiling as a sweet desert if ripe) species that do reproduce from seed as well as budding. The seeds are every bit as tiny as those banana seeds that refuse to germinate. Plantain seeds never went bananas.   (

Unlike bananas, plantains can keep you as well fed as having a steady supply of potatoes. Unlike potatoes, you can stagger the plantings and continuously you get plantains all year (as long as you are in the tropics).

That system works for bananas too. Now you know more than you ever wanted to know about the cultivation of bananas and plantains.  (

One more thing. There is plant called "plantain" that has nothing whatsoever to do with bananas or the plantains I spoke about just now. It's a medicinal plant of some kind and also an ornamental. Please do not confuse the two. Lord Lucifer wouldn't like it.  ;)
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on May 03, 2016, 07:16:40 pm
Less Space, Less Cost, Less Water and Fuel Use   (

Home Town Farms is on a mission to get local food growing in unconventional ways in cities all over the US. It's a replicable template for urban, indoor vertical farming. They have a streamlined format for growing the produce -- and setting up a retail environment. Consumers can buy on location where the food is grown.

Move over, Whole Foods: THIS is the store we've been waiting for! The savings over conventional methods are impressive: These crops need 70% less land, 85% less water, 80% less fertilizer and 90% less fuel to get to market.  (

The food itself is will cost about half  :o  ( what conventionally grown organic food costs.

These farms are not dependent on existing ground soil and can be set up on open parking lots, rooftops, open land or any unused space.

This exciting concept may establish itself as a standard in food production going forward...imagine, we can now grow organic, inexpensive, safe a downtown parking lot! --Bibi Farber - See more at:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on May 27, 2016, 05:24:54 pm
I know of a county in Wisconsin that is getting most of its natural gas from cow manure.

If you use cow or pig manure for methane production, then it is no longer useful as fertilizer. ( You've burned out the energy content.  You can't have your **** and eat it too.  :icon_mrgreen:


I took a tour of one of our three poo-poo treatment plants a couple of years ago.  Settled out product was conveyed to one of five methane digesters which are huge concrete tanks several stories tall.  Methane is produced for a few weeks and then the residue is trucked to eastern Washington for use as fertilizer.  It makes wheat grow very well.

On any given day the methane is sold to the gas company or it is burned to generate electricity and sold to the electric company to offset the plant electric bill.  The methane extracted is only enough to provide one fifth of the power the plant actually uses.

This plant receives its raw material from a mixed flow of storm drain and sewage waters.  The area served does not have a separate storm drain system though there are some street drains with fish painted next to them that claim to drain directly into Lake Washington.  The relevant fact is that product to produce methane arrives quite dilute.  This may explain some of the poor efficiency.

I am going to look into how much methane is produced by a single pig's poop on an annual basis but don't let that stop anyone from posting what they know about the process first.

I do know an elephant produces enough methane to keep a range burner on because they process their fodder very inefficiently.  They are not ruminants.  Elephant poop is apparently important to distribute nutrients in their local environment and because they don't get all the energy they could from their feed elephants are consequently always full of ****.  The Republican mascot is well chosen.

My point is that like the blood of patriots the waste product of methane digestion is useful as fertilizer.

But how many therms can a pig toot?

The problem here is the generally accepted notion of "carrying capacity" that is riddled with false assumptions on the nature of energy transfer mechanisms in autotrophs (photosynthetic sunlight eaters).

From the simplistic application of Hess's Law to the cherry picking of the fossil fuel funded Charles Halls of this world, we get an amazing array of studious peer reviewed bullshit about "carrying capacity", caloric intake requirements and required nutrients.

The fact is, K-Dog, that nitrogen fixation and other plant health and growth (NOT the same thing!) processes are complex. The thermodynamics of soil microbes is not well understood because off their enzyme mediated energy transfer systems.

The reductionist and moronic 20th century Big Ag assumptions that all you needed to grow a healthy crop are phosphates, potassium and nitrogen are based on FALSE assumptions about autotroph energy (AND HEALTH) requirements.

NOBODY has quantified ERoEI in soil microbes, of which there are several MILLION per cubic INCH (including thousands of DIFFERENT SPECIES). When they do, we can begin to understand carrying capacity. Until then, assumptions about energy from fertilizer are not based on the important, and sine qua non, thermodynamic mechanisms of the soil microbes.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on May 29, 2016, 05:23:16 pm
Our recent discussion of methane digesters led me here. (

The Shocking Carbon Footprint of Compost

Most people think of composting as a very "green" thing to do, but few realize that composting actually generates a significant amount of the potent greenhouse gases (GHG), methane and nitrous oxide.  Under current landfill regulations, requirements to exclude water minimizes the breakdown of organic matter and requirements to capture and burn methane mean that even that option has a better carbon footprint than composting (thanks to Fred Krieger for pointing out this advance in the landfill arena).  The even better option is anaerobic digestion which I will describe at the end of this post.

These Emissions Are Not A Scientific Surprise

To a microbiologist, it is not surprising that these gases would be generated during composting. Methane and nitrous oxide are formed by certain microbes when there is not enough oxygen available (anaerobic conditions). In the middle of a large-scale compost pile there are micro-sites without oxygen. This occurs even in a pile turned frequently for aeration. This is particularly true during the "hot" phase of the composting process which kills pathogens and weed seeds. During the period of very high oxygen demand, some parts of the pile will run short and the anaerobic organisms will make methane and nitrous oxide.

An Example


The graph above is based on one typical study of GHG emissions during composting (Hao et al 2001).  This was from active composting of cattle manure - a common procedure in which the pile is aerated by turning it frequently using a tractor (its fossil CO2 emissions are shown in green above.)

The first column represents how much carbon or nitrogen was emitted in various forms per metric ton (Mton) of manure. We can't even see the 0.19 kg nitrous oxide-N at this scale. Methane is 8.1 kg C and the fuel is 4.4 kg C.

The second column shows how much the emissions contribute to a net increase in greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (Carbon dioxide is "carbon neutral" because it was recently pulled out of the atmosphere by a plant - thus no net GHG contribution.  Methane and nitrous oxide are multiplied by 21 and 310 respectfully because of their higher radiative forcing potential).

The third column shows the GHG contribution per metric ton of finished compost (after 21% loss of mass - much as water).  The total "carbon footprint" of the compost is now 233.4 kg CO2-C/Mton.  For those more familiar with English units and expression as CO2 this would be 2167 lbs CO2/Ton.

How Much Compost Is Typically Used?

When compost is used in farming, it is normally applied in large quantities.  According to the University of California, Davis cost and return studies, a typical organic crop would receive between 2 and 10 tons of compost per acre.  Thus a mid-range use of 5 tons/acre would represent a carbon footprint of 10,833 pounds (CO2 equivalents).  This is without including the fuel footprint of hauling the compost to the field and spreading it.

How Big Is That Footprint?

To put this in perspective, the carbon footprint of this amount of compost used on one acre of a crop would be equal to the various other carbon footprints described below:
The carbon footprint of manufacturing 2,580 pounds of synthetic urea-nitrogen fertilizer (at 4.2 lbs/CO2 per lb)
The "embedded carbon footprint" of that urea for fertilizing 12.9 acres of corn at 200 lbs/acre
The complete carbon footprint of producing 5.7 acres of conventional corn (including fertilizer, crop protection chemicals, seed, fuel, nitrous oxide emissions from soil...)
The carbon footprint of burning the gas to drive a typical car 13,982 miles (at 25 mpg).
The carbon footprint of all it takes to produce 985 pounds of beef
The carbon footprint of growing, handling and transporting 9,641 pounds of bananas from Costa Rica to Germany
In other words, the footprint of the applied compost is shockingly large.  It is certainly not a practice one would want to see on a large scale.

Waste Is A Terrible Thing To Waste

Why bring this up?  Because there is a superior use for manures and other organic waste streams.  When waste is processed in an anaerobic digester,  most of the carbon in the is intentionally converted to methane, and then the methane is burned as a form of renewable energy.  The emissions are carbon neutral and the energy generated offsets fossil carbon use.  As with compost, the remaining fiber that is left after digestion can still be used for soil improvement or other uses.

Anaerobic digesters require a substantial, initial capital investment and are non-trivial to operate, but they are clearly the best way to deal with most organic waste streams.  They also pay for themselves over time.  Modern municipal water treatment facilities tend to have these digesters as do some large-scale dairies and CAFOs (confined animal feed operations).

The largest onion processor in California (Gills Onions) installed a digester for its substantial stream of trimmings.  Gills eliminated a troublesome odor and disposal issue, they now offset much of their energy demand, and they are ahead financially after paying back the initial investment. This is a great example of how "doing the right thing" from a greenhouse gas perspective can also be a sound, bottom-line option.

You are welcome to comment here and/or to email me at  For notifications of future posts you can follow me on twitter ( @grapedoc )

References on GHG emissions during composting:

•Hao, X., Chang, C., Larney, J., Travis, G. 2001. Greenhouse gas emissions during cattle feedlot manure composting. Journal of Environmental Quality 30:376-386.    •Osada, T., Kuroda, K., Yonaga, M. 2000 Determination of nitrous oxide, methane, and ammonia emissions from swine waste composting process.  Journal of material cycles and waste management 1:51-56    •Hellebrand, H.1998. Emission of nitrous oxide and other trace gases during composting of grass and green waste. Agric. Engng Res. 69:365-375     •Sommer, S., Holler, H.2000. Emission of greenhouse gases during composting of deep litter from pig production – effect of straw content. The Journal of Agricultural Science 134_327-335    •Hao, X., Chang, C., Larney, F. 2004. Carbon, nitrogen balances and greenhouse gas emission during cattle feedlot manure composting.  Journal of Environmental Quality 33:37-44    •Jackel, U., Thummes, K, Kampfer, P. 2005. Thermophilic methane production and oxidation in compost. FEMS Microbiology Ecology 52:175-184. (looking for microbes which might help reduce the methane emissions from composting)     •Hellmann, B., Zelles, L., Palojarvi,A, Bai, Q. 1997.  Emission of climate-relevant trace gases and succession of microbial communities during open-windrow composting.  Applied and Environmental Microbiol 63:1011-1018

What I got from this is that composting, a process most of us think of as being pretty green, has a big carbon footprint. The author makes the case that methane digesters are carbon neutral and a far superior way to deal with the carbon waste stream.

Palloy said, as I understood him, that methane digesters produce a lot of CO2.

So, from a carbon emissions standpoint, what is the trade-off on these practices? I'd like to know.

I suppose one has compare composting and methane digesting to the carbon footprint of the dominant agricultural practices of the day, which we all know, have a huge carbon footprint. It gets a little complicated to get to the real facts.

Help, anyone? JD? Palloy? AGelbert?

I take absolutely everything Palloy says with a grain of salt. Palloy is, after all, that fine fellow that said Greece had a "valuable" resource with all that COAL they have, back when people were talking about Greece getting carved up by the oligarchic neoliberal greedballs. The last time I checked, coal is a terribly polluting substance that emits a lot of CO2, among other pollutants. So, to even bring it up as an "energy resource" evidences a deliberate lack of perspective on the real costs for we-the-people of pollutants from energy sources.

Eddie, where I am going with this is that we MUST engage in apples to apples comparisons here when we talk of Methane digesters. As you probably know already, methane harvesters don't just use animal feces as the input; they can use other waste material from crops and food waste that is generally used in composting. The fertilizer residue from a methane harvesting operation is perfectly usable as high quality fertilizer. So, there is a synergy going on between methane harvesting and composting. It does not have to be an either/or situation.

Back to Palloy's perspective free point ("methane digesters produce a lot of CO2"  ::)) about methane and CO2".

Eddie, as you said, "The author makes the case that methane digesters are carbon neutral and a far superior way to deal with the carbon waste stream".

In order to understand where the author is coming from, you must look at the same land use situation involving crops and animals WITHOUT a methane harvesting operation.

THAT is the apples to apples comparison required that fossil fuelers cleverly avoid like the plague.  When you DO NOT harvest that truly NATURAL (as opposed to Fracked gas methane product) gas, it goes up into the atmosphere unburned as a GHG (greenhouse gas) and stays there for about a month or so before it degrades. During that month or so, it is over 80 times as powerful as a GHG as the CO2 and water vapor that would BE THERE in its place if it had been collected and then burned for energy at ground level.

The fossil fuelers will calmly bean count every f u c k i n g BTU of fossil fuel energy you use in farming and animal husbandry to, OF COURSE, LOWER the ERoEI of Renewable Energy products like ethanol. Never mind the MUCH GREATER energy inputs required to make the world's 5% of ethanol obtained at oil refineries... Oh, but to them, ethanol is ethanol. Just look at Hess's Law and we can all go back to sleep. LOL!

Back to CH4 (methane), IF you do NOTHING on your farm or with your herd's feces, you are ADDING to global warming. SO, when you set up a methane harvesting operation, you are SUBTRACTING from the GHG carbon footprint of your farm.

This is just CFS (common F'n Sense)!

As to getting to the "Carbon Neutral" or "Carbon Negative" point we all need to get to, the hairsplitters defending the fossil fuel industry will drive us all bananas with bean counting about the FOSSIL FUEL BASED energy to make every screw, panel, tank and pipe in the methane digester to try to talk their way around the FACT that CH4  from those harvesters requires NO FLARING and is therefore CLEAN and CHEAPER than CH4 from oil and gas operations.

Simply put, the fossil fuel industry CANNOT COMPETE on a dollar for dollar AND ERoEI basis with truly NATURAL gas. SO, they make up a lot of studiously sounding bullshit bean counting stuff to snow people into believing the reverse.

Eddie, apples to apples carbon footprint calculations aimed to justify a "carbon neutral" award to CH4+ fertilizer equipment (you can compost without capturing the CH4 but it makes more ERoEI sense to compost AND capture the CH4 while you compost) requires that you a priori state that you will have X amount of animals, Y amount of crops and Z amount of machinery.

Once you have that, you have to compute what amount of  CH4 and CO2 would be emitted by all the life forms down to the microbial level on your land if you, your animals and your machinery were not there.

THAT is your baseline for Carbon Neutral. It is possible that, if your spread is mostly grassland, that it would be Carbon Negative, as the autotrophs there would actually be sucking more GHG(s) out of the atmosphere than the microbes and other life forms there are putting into it.

THEN, with all your stuff in position, you do the math. You CAN give the fossil fueler bean counters the finger by NOT using gasoline for your machines. E85 or Renewable Energy based ethanol would be throw a wrench in their claims that you NEED a lot of fossil fuels to do your stuff.

Methane digester plastic parts CAN be made from carbohydrate based, rather than hydrocarbon based, feed stock. That would also help towards your goal.

I realize all this detail is boring.   (

But I add it here because I am weary of seeing so many context and perspective free statements tossed around by supporters of the unsustainable dirty energy status quo every single time real world Renewable Energy, carbon neutral, cost competitive THREATS to the fossil fuel industry products, like methane digesters, are discussed. 

The bottom line for methane digesters/harvesters is that, all things being equal, they LOWER your carbon footprint massively because you will eventually BURN the CH4 that would have floated into the atmosphere.

And if every farm in this country did that, the Fracking industry would go BELLY UP.     (
ANY argument from the fossil fuelers (whether they claim to support Renewable Energy or not) about methane digesters "not being cost effective for energy production or environmentally friendly"  trotted out as a excuse to avoid putting in these Renewable energy, pollution free CH4 capturing devices is total, unadulterated bullshit.

I'll dig up some info on truly NATURAL gas collecting devices (like the ones the Germans are using) to justify the points I have just made.  8)

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on May 29, 2016, 08:36:24 pm
Methane Capture and Use

Because methane can be captured from landfills, it can be burned to produce electricity, heat buildings, or power garbage trucks. Capturing methane before it gets into the atmosphere also helps reduce the effects of climate change.

Methane can also be captured from farm digesters, which are big tanks that contain manure and other waste from barns that house livestock such as cows and pigs.


Putting waste to good use. More than 500 landfill–to–energy projects are currently operating in the United States, and another 500 landfills are good candidates for turning their methane into an energy resource, which would produce enough electricity to power nearly 688,000 homes across the nation.

Top producer. In 2009, Germany produced enough electricity from biogas to power 3.5 million homes.

A world first! Sweden has been operating a biogas-powered train since 2005. It shuttles passengers between two cities that are 75 miles apart. (

There is a HUGE difference between Renewable Energy based methane and the highly polluting fossil fuel industry produced methane. Renewable Energy BIOGAS based methane IS, when all the carbon cycle math is done, Carbon Neutral.

Methanogenesis: The Biological Production of Methane Gas

Half of all species on Earth are microbial, and many of these organisms inhabit anaerobic environments such as in soil, freshwater and ocean sediment, and the digestive tracts of eukaryotes. Studying anaerobic prokaryotes represents a technical challenge. However, the payoff is great: their genomes contain a high proportion of unknown genes that belie exotic biochemistry, and they produce unusual secondary metabolites that could be used for human benefit.

Currently, European countries (Switzerland, Germany) use renewable methane extensively, and are projected to steadily increase their use of biologically-produced methane in order to phase out consumption of fossil methane derived from geological sources.

The Buan Lab is interested in the physiology of strict anaerobes in order to understand how these organisms grow, what role they play in the environment and in the human microbiome, and in the unique or unusual metabolites and enzymes they produce.

We use methane-producing archaea (methanogens) as a model system to understand biological methane production. methanogens are strict anaerobic archaea that obtain all their energy for growth and reproduction by reducing fermentation endproducts like acetate, H2 CO2, formate, methanol, methylamines, and methylsulfides to methane gas.

Methanogens are the dominant archaea in anaerobic sediment where sulfide concentrations are low, and are also dominant archaea in the rumen of cattle, in the termite hidgut, and in the human digestive tract.

Methanogens produce 2 gigatons of methane gas annually, representing 4% of the global carbon cycle. Methane produced by methanogens can be harvested and used as a heat and energy source.

Large dairy farms and wastewater treatment plants commonly harvest methane produced in anaerobic digesters and offset nearly all of their heat and energy needs using renewable methane. (

Yes, we know there are a lot of termites doing their thing out there and capturing their methane is not very cost effective.

HOWEVER, city dumps and animal feces based methane harvesters ARE COST COMPETITIVE with fossil methane.

One gigaton equals one billion tons.

The conversion calculator below gives you a figure in hundreds of cubic feet. You must multiply that by 100 to get cubic feet, then divide the product by one million.

One gigaton of methane equals 3,848,417,954 million cubic feet. That's HALF of what those microbes produce worldwide each year. We CAN harvest that efficiently.

In 2015, approximately 29,000,000 million cubic feet of fossil fuel methane was produced in the USA. (

As those who can add and subtract can plainly see ;D, Natural Processes are quite capable of supplying Renewable Energy NATURAL methane without the "help" of our "dear loyal servants" in the fossil fuel Industry.

You can see why the fossil fuel industry is not in any hurry to have methane digesters adopted on a worldwide scale in every city dump and farm animal location.


Below is an example of fossil methane that CAN be captured WITHOUT flaring and other assorted pollution piggery the oil and gas corporations love to engage in.

The Germans are capturing methane from abandoned coal mines.

Production of Coal Bed Methane in Germany - Springer 
by O Langefeld - ‎2013 - ‎Related articlesProduction of Coal Bed Methane in Germany ... Abandoned Mine Methane (AMM) and Coal Mine Methane (CMM) projects are now prevalent in several sites in ... Energy Harvesting · Geoengineering, Foundations, Hydraulics · Hydrogeology ... (

Finally, as you can read about below,
the Germans have figured out a way to strip methane collected from digesters from producing ANY CO2 whatsoever.

The fossil fuel industry is probably trying to jump on this with both claws, of course   ( The problem for them is that Fracked gas wells LEAK methane into the atmosphere, along with FLARING about one third by volume of toxic and carcinogenic poisonous gases just to get their methane.

Also, every single hole drilled into the ocean bottom that has produced oil and gas LEAKS methane.     (

Truly NATURAL gas from methane harvesting is the only practical use of this new German technology.

German researchers crack the code for carbon-free methane to hydrogen conversion

12/07/2015 under News, Renewable Energy

German researchers have “****” the code for breaking down methane from natural gas without creating carbon dioxide, and in the process dealt a blow to climate change. Gizmag reports scientists at the Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies (IASS) and the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) have created a process that lets them extract the energy content from methane, in the form of hydrogen, without emitting any CO2.

The process, known as “methane cracking,” separates the hydrogen and carbon elements found in methane by subjecting them to temperatures of more than 1,382 degrees Fahrenheit and avoids previously problematic carbon emissions via a unique design. (

Apart from capturing the methane at unused fossil fuel drill sites and abandoned coal beds to capture it before it leaks into the atmosphere,  we need fossil methane like a hole in the head. (

Eddie, this is relevant to the methane harvesting operation. STEP ONE in all farming operations, even those that are more about animal husbandry, is environmentally friendly soil microbes. We HAVE TO HAVE THEM if we are to have a carbon neutral or carbon negative civilization. The fossil fuel and chemical industries have been busy killing soil microbes sine qua non for sustainable soil for over a century. This is stupid.


Soil testing, for over a century, has WRONGLY used a chemical analysis approach instead of a biological health approach. :o The reason they went that way is because chemical analysis is SIMPLER and favors MONOCULTURE and INDUSTRIAL FARMING destructive soil management. IOW, PROFIT OVER PLANET agricultural practices ARE RUINING THE SOIL. AND THE SCIENCE HAS BEEN TAILORED TO FAVOR THAT DESTRUCTIVE MODUS OPERANDI.   (

Instead of using a host of acids the soil NEVER ACTUALLY SEES to test soil, WATER should be used and ORGANIC ACIDS should be measured. WHY? Because THAT is what the soil microbes ACTUALLY interact with to aid plants in growing.

IOW, the LIFE of the microbes is the LIFE of the soil and the KEY to soil productivity, sustainability AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, the sine qua non for restoring degraded soil. USABLE carbon, phosphates and potassium (K) have also been measured incorrectly.

In 1935 they were on the right track. But the industrialized monoculture agriculture of profit over planet twisted soil testing methods which overruled the soil LIFE approach.  >:( As an example of how faulty the tests are, since 1965 HALF the biologically available nitrogen has been ABSENT from the soil tests.

They had to try to mimic natural systems in the lab. They didn't.  ( The abysmal stupidity of that approach is that INORGANIC minerals were being measured as "assets"  for the soil  ( when plants cannot do SQUAT with inorganic minerals when a depleted soil microbe population cannot turn them into ORGANIC minerals.    

Cover crops (land without a crop for sale but grown with some type of plant - not bare soil - in order to enhance microbial life proven to restore the soil) are a BIG DEAL in soil restoration. This has been proven by the proper soil testing science as detailed in the video.

Here is the PROPER way to measure soil health:
( (
[embed=640,380]<iframe width="640" height="390" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>[/embed]
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on June 18, 2016, 08:25:27 pm
Agelbert NOTE: Finally! Somebody realized how cost effective and environmentally friendly feeding duckweed to fish is! Excellent!

Duckweed is the tiniest angiosperm known to science. It is the fastest growing macroscopic plant there is. It can double its mass in a couple of days and is a nearly perfect photosynthetic machine that, because it floats, spends very little energy on woody roots or stalks. This mean that the low lignin, high starch content makes it great, not just for food, but also as ethanol biofuel feed stock, far more cost effective than corn.
These Brooklynites are on a ROLL!
(  They are going SMART, SUSTAINABLE bonkers with DUCKWEED  ( (plus some supplemental feed) fed tilapia aquaponics to grow tuned LED lighted and fish poop fertilized veggies in low to no water demand (it's almost 100% recycled!) for New Yorkers!

Aquaponic Farms in Brooklyn Killing It   (

Lorraine Chow | June 17, 2016 1:16 pm

Aquaponics is an emerging urban farming trend that’s ideal for big cities since it’s relatively low-maintenance and can be set up just about anywhere, from rooftops to formerly abandoned lots and buildings.

And Brooklyn is now home to not one, but three aquaponic farms: Verticulture, Edenworks and OKO farms.

Aquaponics, simply, is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Fish waste becomes a nutritious fertilizer for the plants growing in a soil-free, recirculating water system. In turn, the plants help purify the water for the fish. This agricultural method has plenty of sustainable attributes. Because the water recirculates, it uses 90 percent less water compared to conventional farming methods and eliminates the need for pesticides and other synthetic chemicals.

“The only input into an aquaponics system is food which the fish consume, resulting in a completely organic system,” Oko Farms points out. “As the fish grow and the system ages, the number and variety of crops you can grow also increase so long as you maintain a neutral pH, maintain high oxygen levels, and honor temperature requirements for both fish and plants.”

Oko Farms is located on a formerly vacant lot in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood and, at 2,500 square feet, is the largest outdoor aquaponics farm in New York City. The farm raises edible fish (tilapia, catfish) and ornamental fish (koi and goldfish) and cultivate vegetables, herbs and flowers, co-founder and farm manager Yemi Amu told the GRACE Communications Foundation. The fish are raised at a ratio of 1 fish per 5 gallons of water and eat a combination of commercial pellets and duckweed cultivated on the farm.

For dwellers living in the trendy NYC borough, getting fresh local food is as easy as looking up. Edenworks is a such sky-high farm operating off the roof of a East Williamsburg metalworking shop, as TechCrunch reported.

The farm utilizes vertical farming methods—in which tomatoes, arugula, basil and more leafy greens grow in stacked tiers. (picture at article link)

The plants are nourished from the nutrient-rich waste food created by tilapia and freshwater prawns swimming nearby in 250-gallon water tanks.

What’s unique about Edenworks is its “LEGO, or Ikea-like” infrastructure that’s prefabricated and can be flat packed and shipped to site, according to TechCrunch.

Edenworks will be moving to Long Island City to launch a full-scale commercial growing system, and Green said he’s in talks with a number of international institutional clients who are looking to install their own modular greenhouses.


We can deploy in New York and we can deploy in Saudi Arabia,” Green said.   (

At an old Pfizer manufacturing plant in Bedstuy, Verticulture is raising food such as kale, micro basil and Brooklyn-born tilapia and looking to tap into the Big Apple’s $600 million in unmet demand for local produce.

According to The Verge, the startup is producing about 30 to 40 pounds of basil a week thanks to the help of 150-180 tilapia.

The venture is currently in pilot mode and has been experimenting with blue, red, and white LED lights which consume less energy than fluorescent lights and help the plants grow faster, The Verge explained.

The goal of the project is to make aquaponics a sustainable and profitable way to provide local produce to cities all over the world, as co-founder Miles Crettien told The Verge.

“I believe strongly in the ecological design,” he said. “We can build this anywhere. We can build it in the desert. We can build it in Antarctica.”

Crettien told Edible Brooklyn that the harvest is being sold to retailers such as Foragers, Brooklyn Kitchen, Fresh Direct and Farmigo.

And those party hounds in Brooklyn are figuring out ways to party on their roofs UNDER solar panels!  (

Brooklyn SolarWorks PV Canopy ( (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on June 19, 2016, 06:13:31 pm
700-year-old West African soil technique could help mitigate climate change

June 16, 2016

A farming technique practised for centuries by villagers in West Africa, which converts nutrient-poor rainforest soil into fertile farmland, could be the answer to mitigating climate change and revolutionising farming across Africa.

A global study, led by the University of Sussex, which included anthropologists and soil scientists from Cornell, Accra, and Aarhus Universities and the Institute of Development Studies, has for the first-time identified and analysed rich fertile soils found in Liberia and Ghana.

They discovered that the ancient West African method of adding charcoal and kitchen waste to highly weathered, nutrient poor tropical soils can transform the land into enduringly fertile, carbon-rich black soils which the researchers dub 'African Dark Earths'.

From analysing 150 sites in northwest Liberia and 27 sites in Ghana researchers found that these highly fertile soils contain 200-300 percent more organic carbon than other soils and are capable of supporting far more intensive farming.

Professor James Fairhead, from the University of Sussex, who initiated the study, said: "Mimicking this ancient method has the potential to transform the lives of thousands of people living in some of the most poverty and hunger stricken regions in Africa.

"More work needs to be done but this simple, effective farming practice could be an answer to major global challenges such as developing 'climate smart' agricultural systems which can feed growing populations and adapt to climate change."

Similar soils created by Amazonian people in pre-Columbian eras have recently been discovered in South America - but the techniques people used to create these soils are unknown. Moreover, the activities which led to the creation of these anthropogenic soils were largely disrupted after the European conquest. (

Encouragingly researchers in the West Africa study were able to live within communities as they created their fertile soils. This enabled them to learn the techniques used by the women from the indigenous communities who disposed of ash, bones and other organic waste to create the African Dark Earths.

Dr Dawit Solomon, the lead author from Cornell University, said: "What is most surprising is that in both Africa and in Amazonia, these two isolated indigenous communities living far apart in distance and time were able to achieve something that the modern-day agricultural management practices could not achieve until now.

"The discovery of this indigenous climate smart soil-management practice is extremely timely. This valuable strategy to improve soil fertility while also contributing to climate-change mitigation and adaptation in Africa could become an important component of the global climate-smart agricultural management strategy to achieve food security."

The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, entitled "Indigenous African soil enrichment as a climate-smart sustainable agriculture alternative", has been published in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and Environment can be found  here. (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 10, 2016, 07:23:35 pm
Does Composting Remove Toxins? (

Bad Turns To Good in the Compost Pile   (

 Geoff Lawton, one of Australia's premier permaculture experts, explains how it is that fruits, vegetables and plant waste that has been sprayed with a toxin will still come out perfectly clean on the other end of the compost cycle.

 "All the life- potentially 50 million genus of bacteria and 50 million genus of fungi lock up the toxins to the carbon molecule - and it becomes inert."

 So 100 million entities, potentially, are hard at work in the compost pile to make small amounts of toxin... just disappear!

 Learn about this marvel of earth's healing ability in this video!

 --Bibi Farber

This video was created by and
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 10, 2016, 07:36:40 pm

Geoff Lawton - Soils (FULL MOVIE) (   (

Published on Jul 30, 2016 - Geoff Lawton presents his outstanding movie, "Soils", helping you to have a better understanding of soil creation and maintenance, making soil healthier and optimal.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 10, 2016, 07:58:59 pm
Does Composting Remove Toxins? (

Bad Turns To Good in the Compost Pile   (

Geoff Lawton, one of Australia's premier permaculture experts, explains how it is that fruits, vegetables and plant waste that has been sprayed with a toxin will still come out perfectly clean on the other end of the compost cycle.

 "All the life- potentially 50 million genus of bacteria and 50 million genus of fungi lock up the toxins to the carbon molecule - and it becomes inert."

 So 100 million entities, potentially, are hard at work in the compost pile to make small amounts of toxin... just disappear!

 Learn about this marvel of earth's healing ability in this video!

 --Bibi Farber

This video was created by and (

I don't believe this is completely true, actually. If cows and horses eat hay grown with the typical herbicides used in meadows these days, it takes at least five years for it to leach out of their manure. That's why I had to give up on my plan to use manure from horse farms to build soil on the stead.

No disrespect intended, Doctor, but I think Geoff Lawton knows a bit more about this than you. In the 2 minute video which I hope you watched,  ;), he specifically said that this was conditional on the amount of toxins present (he referenced pesticide sprayed vegetable residue being added to a compost pile). Obviously, if the percentage is high, it would not be effective in removing all the toxins. So, you are partially right. But Geoff is totally right. Some time ago I learned that horse manure is much poorer than cow or chicken manure for composting. I hope you are aware of that. I suggest you watch the full soils movie. It will help you expand your knowledge on this subject. 8)

Proverbs 18  (NIV) 1 An unfriendly person pursues selfish ends and against all sound judgment starts quarrels. 2 Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions.

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 10, 2016, 09:50:54 pm
Proverbs 17:

9 Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

10 A single rebuke does more for a person of understanding than a hundred lashes on the back of a fool.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 11, 2016, 06:05:06 pm

Market seen for Vermont food that’s going to waste

Oct. 10, 2016, 1:17 pm by Mike Polhamus

Vermont farms produce 14 million pounds of unused food every year, according to a recent report by a Morrisville-based nonprofit called Salvation Farms.

The report also found that most of that food gets harvested and discarded; only about 16 percent remains on farms to be tilled under the earth or fed to livestock.

Salvation Farms
A Lamoille Community Food Share client helps Theresa Snow, at center, and Laurel Ferland of Salvation Farms unload potatoes from a Black River Produce truck. Courtesy photo (at article link)

Several groups of Vermont volunteers already handpick around 600,000 pounds of produce annually from selected farmers’ fields after harvest and recover what’s edible from the remnants, most of which suffer from blemishes and other aesthetic deficiencies that don’t affect the food’s nutritional value.

Salvation Farms Executive Director Theresa Snow said the report gives her confidence that a market might exist for this produce, and she’s trying to scale her organization’s efforts up to a point where Vermont institutions make use of it. Snow said the study was undertaken to find out whether the amount of Vermont agricultural produce that goes to waste is enough to affect the state’s food supply.

Snow said it’s important to recognize that it’s not Vermont’s farmers who are causing the food to go to waste, but rather market forces beyond their control that make imperfect foods too costly to use.

Snow’s organization exists to increase the resilience of Vermont’s food system through better management of agricultural surpluses like those the report describes.

The practice of salvaging leftovers after a harvest is known as gleaning  ( , and it’s not a new idea, said Rachel Carter, communications director at Vermont Food to Plate.

People have gleaned farmers’ fields for thousands of years, Carter said.

“It’s actually a really old practice that Salvation Farms has been spearheading to bring back to Vermont,” she said.

The food is entirely safe, but unmarketable, Carter said.

Carter’s organization is helping Snow figure out a way to expand gleaning in Vermont from a volunteer effort to a sustainable business, she said.
Of the more than 14 million pounds of Vermont produce that goes unused each year, she said, 68 percent has been harvested already.

“As discouraging as this loss may be, the 68 percent of harvested food that does not get sold or donated represents a potential untapped market opportunity,”
Carter said in an email. “The Farm to Plate Network … will examine the areas of market opportunity for surplus and seconds, namely institutions and processors, and begin to problem solve around the key factors limiting the amount of surplus and seconds making it from farm to plate: price, volume, labor, and logistics.”

There’s no downside for farmers, said Evan Harlow, a manager at Westminster’s Harlow Farm. Volunteers from the Vermont Foodbank glean from Harlow Farm fields after harvest, Harlow said, and they’ve done so since he found out about the service five years ago.

“We just show them what field to go to,” Harlow said. Volunteers bring knives, bags and trucks to get the produce and haul it away.

“There’s a little bit less organic material we’re tilling back into the soil, but it’s negligible,” Harlow said. “I don’t really think there’s any downside to it.”  (

Industrial food production is extremely profitable and generally efficient, Snow said, but it’s also very wasteful, and gleaning recovers only a portion of what goes unused.

Across the country, she said, 60 billion tons of food gets wasted every year, with only 16 percent of that number representing produce and other agricultural products.

The 14 million pounds of unused Vermont produce every year, Snow said, “seems like a lot, but I think it seems like a lot because we don’t think about our food system.

“The amount the average person participates in wasting foods is more significant than what’s left on farms,” she said. “We’re wasting food all the way along the food supply chain.”

Although her efforts will capture only a small part of that food, it’s still important to the vulnerable and disadvantaged people who currently benefit from much of Vermont’s gleaned produce. If she succeeds, the 14 million pounds of produce Vermont farmers don’t use each year could also benefit the state, Snow said.

“Vermont institutions spend $11 million each year sourcing fresh food from outside Vermont,” Snow said. “Meanwhile, 14 million pounds of Vermont fresh foods … is sitting unused on farms.” ] (

Snow said she hopes to sell what farmers reject to institutions like nursing homes, veterans’ homes, schools and prisons. She said that along the way it’s important not to compete with farmers’ development of markets, since that could hurt the viability of the entire venture.

Salvation Farms’  ( goal of increasing the resilience of Vermont’s food system comes into play here, she said. Even though gleaning doesn’t typically profit farmers, the money it saves would otherwise go to exploitative industrial farms around the globe, she said, “and we don’t invest it in the local economy or local communities.”

“That’s why an independent, strong food system ultimately builds stronger communities,” she said.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 13, 2016, 07:46:22 pm
What to look for when you're buying land for permaculture

Sami Grover (@samigrover)
Design / Resilience
 October 12, 2016

Some of the most popular posts I write feature people who have purchased land and transformed it into small-scale farms and permaculture small holdings. From chicken tractors to food forests, these stories tend to focus on what people have done once they have purchased the land.

But what about while you're still looking? ???

Permaculture legend Geoff Lawton  ( has just put out another video, this time looking at the question of what to look for when you're on the hunt for suitable land. Points to look out for, says Geoff, include water holding capacity in the landscape, access routes, and how contours or other geographical features may impact maintenance. It's hardly a comprehensive guide, but it provides a useful starting point. And I get the sense it's probably a teaser for a longer, full length video. I would keep an eye on Geoff's website for future updates.

The other big topic, of course, which isn't discussed in this short video is finance. Every time I post about an idyllic smallholding, usually I receive comments from aggrieved would-be farmers complaining about ex-hedge funders who are now living the good life. So it would be interesting to see guidance, not just on what types of land to buy, but alternative financing models like the Slow Money movement. Similarly, I would imagine location—distance to any day jobs, likely markets for produce sales etc—would also be a major factor. (Don't forget that rural living brings a heavy transportation footprint!)

Still, this is a useful addition to the arsenal. I'd love to hear from folks on other things to look out for when thinking of buying land.

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 14, 2016, 01:51:26 pm
No disrespect intended, Doctor, but I think Geoff Lawton knows a bit more about this than you. In the 2 minute video which I hope you watched,  ;), he specifically said that this was conditional on the amount of toxins present (he referenced pesticide sprayed vegetable residue being added to a compost pile). Obviously, if the percentage is high, it would not be effective in removing all the toxins. So, you are partially right. But Geoff is totally right. Some time ago I learned that horse manure is much poorer than cow or chicken manure for composting. I hope you are aware of that. I suggest you watch the full soils movie. It will help you expand your knowledge on this subject. 8) (
Nasturium officinale
Watercress is one of the most sensitive crops when it comes to toxins.  If you can grow watercress in your compost, you should have no trouble growing anything else with it.  If a small batch of watercress dies when apply some compost/tea, you probably want to let it mature longer before using it.

( ( 

Smart people will listen to you. But there are always those with over inflated egos who do not take correction gracefully.

Proverbs 17:

9 Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.

10 A single rebuke does more for a person of understanding than a hundred lashes on the back of a fool.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 14, 2016, 01:54:06 pm
As a non-expert armchair theorist, I still believe the best purification method for compost is through solar ovens to bake the compost and break up any complex polymers that might be biologically harmful into smaller constituent parts, which then can be reassembled into new molecules by the given organism that ingests them.  Adjusting the temperature and how long you bake would make it possible to only break down as far as necessary and still have good precursors to work with and not have to synthesize everything from scratch.

Most if not all pesticides would be rendered harmless this way.  About the only harmful things that would remain are heavy metals that got into the process in some way, mercury, lead etc.


(   (

Sunflowers are a proven way to leach the soil of heavy metals. They have done it in inner city lots now used to grow veggies in Detroit. For heavy metal polluted stagnant water bodies like ponds and lakes, Lemna minor (duckweed) has also been successfully used.  8)
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on November 20, 2016, 01:16:44 pm
Liquid Gold: Why Flushing a Toilet Is a Colossal Waste  (  (

It’s not just a misuse of water; nitrogen and phosphorus are also squandered in the process.
By Jaimie Seaton
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 04, 2016, 04:09:34 pm

We Can Now Grow Food Anywhere  (

 The High Density Vertical Growth (HDVG) system seems like space age farming. The crops grow on something that looks like large plastic panels used to store shoes vertically in a closet.

 They're indoors a controlled environment, moving on an overhead conveyor system that is designed to provide maximum sunlight and precisely correct nutrients to each plant.

 Glen Kertz, CEO of Valcent Products explains that this system only uses 1/20th the amount of water needed for conventional agriculture.

 "We do intensive agriculture that is renewable and sustainable in an urban environment... this system can work in the desert in Las Vegas, rooftops in New York, it can be in a building or a basement."

 His company operates year round production. No pests and no weeds-- so it's easy to skip the fertilizers and pesticides.

 They can even grow potatoes, beets and carrots in these futuristic sheets of rotating vegetables! And indeed, they can grow them anywhere...

 --Bibi Farber
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 07, 2016, 07:43:53 pm
Organic Pest Control

Strike The Balance 

 80% of the bugs in your garden are good bugs. They are beneficial because they eat other harmful bugs, like the ones eating your crops.

 Scott Myer, the editor of Organic Gardening Magazine explains in this video that you don't need to panic when you see pests. They are not all doing harm.

 Some simple products he shows us to target specific pests are peppermint oil and garlic oil. Learn about his great secret for grub control. Great tip: you can use a synthetic fabric called a row cover -- they're light enough to rest on the plants and allow light, water and even fertilizer to get through.

 Why not attract more birds to eat the bugs? Just offer them a bird bath! You can also plant more flowers to attract the good bugs.

 Of course using chemical pesticides does nothing but harm everything in it's path- along with the bugs it's successfully killing.

 As the study of permaculture teaches us -- it's all about observing and helping our growing environments achieve optimum balance and symbiosis. So maybe you don't have a bug problem - but perhaps you have a bird shortage?

 -- Bibi Farber

 This video was produced by
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 11, 2016, 07:20:31 pm

Call for new dairy model in Vermont sparks debate

Dec. 9, 2016, 5:51 pm by Mike Polhamus 11 Comments


The letter calls for the state to “support and facilitate the necessary statewide transition to regenerative and organic dairy production,” although several signers said that wouldn’t necessarily involve every farm practicing fully organic methods.

Rather, they say, they seek to model a program after what’s been done with organic products, where some set of higher standards differentiates Vermont’s milk and commands a premium.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on December 29, 2016, 01:18:31 pm
Urban Rooftop Farm Sells Shares ;D

Here's a rooftop garden that's feeding about 10 families.

They are called Community Growers in Milwaukee, WI. They are operating as a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) meaning they sell shares of the harvest on a subscription basis throughout the growing season. They even sell to the local health food store across the street.

Owner Erik Lindberg is on a mission: To grow organic vegetables and fruits in an urban environment, to promote local food production as an alternative to agri-business and corporate food distribution, to innovate new and better methods for urban farming, to provide leadership in urban farming and inspire others to grow their own food, to provide successful models of local business, to advise and coach other aspiring urban farmers, to install additional urban farms and gardens, and to green his city wherever he can.

Water is an issue because of the additional heat on the roof, and the lettuce may wilt early. But the rooftop tomatoes came up a week before all the land grown tomatoes! It's all a learning process.

Most important: this was previously useless space, now growing food.  (   (

 --Bibi Farber
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 09, 2017, 05:29:56 pm
"Drive-ins are more dangerous than drive-by shootings."

America's inner cities are "food deserts"

Food is the problem and food is the solution
If I picked a video of the year, this would be it.

 A simple solution to many, many problems.

 Los Angeles owns 26 square miles of vacant lots . That's the equivalent of 20 Central Parks.

 So what are they doing with them?

 Nothing - but they will "cite" you if you try to grow anything useful or beautiful on them.

 Take aways:

 "If kids grow kale, they eat kale."

 "Growing your own food is like printing your own money."

 So basic. So sane.  (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 10, 2017, 08:48:38 pm
Regenerative Agriculture Can Help Solve Many of Our Problems


Around the world, farmers are waking up to the many adverse effects of industrialized agriculture. While chemicals and machines have allowed farms to expand and increase production, there's growing awareness about how these strategies harm the soil, ecology and, ultimately, human health.

As a result, a growing number of farmers are transitioning over to more sustainable and regenerative methods that do not rely so heavily on chemical and technological means. While regenerative strategies may appear "novel" to born-and-raised city slickers, it's really more of a revival of ancestral knowledge. In the video above, Dr. Joel Gruver demonstrates sustainable agriculture techniques taking place at Allison Farm, the largest organic research farm in Illinois.

Regenerative agriculture — which includes strategies such as crop rotation, diversification, cover crops, no-till, agroforestry and integrated herd management — can help rehabilitate land turned to desert, improve water management and protect water quality. It also eliminates the need for toxic fertilizers and other agricultural chemicals, and reduces greenhouse gas emissions like carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide.15 Importantly, by improving soil quality, regenerative farmers can produce more nutrient-dense foods.

You can also consider attending a Regeneration International event of webinar. Regeneration International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving soil fertility and biodiversity through regenerative agriculture techniques. Click below for a list of upcoming events.

Lengthy article:

Industrial Farming Threatens Food Security in the US

January 10, 2017 | 72,055 views
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 17, 2017, 06:36:03 pm
World’s Last Intact Forests Are Becoming Increasingly Fragmented
by Susan Minnemeyer Susan Minnemeyer, Peter Potapov and Lars Laestadius - January 17, 2017
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 17, 2017, 04:44:17 pm
Argentina’s Rising Grains Production Strands Vessels in River Traffic

February 16, 2017 by Reuters

Ships used to carry grains for export are seen next to a dredging boat (L) on the Parana river near Rosario, Argentina, January 31, 2017. Picture taken January 31, 2017. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci (at article link)
Reuters By Hugh Bronstein

ROSARIO, Argentina, Feb 16 (Reuters) – When a boat carrying soy oil destined for India ran aground on the Parana River near Buenos Aires in late January, ships loaded with most of Argentina’s grains exports were blocked for hours.

It was the latest accident on one of the world’s great food highways, which is straining to carry rising volumes of Argentine agricultural products embarking on the first leg of the journey from the fields of the Pampas to the feeding troughs of cattle, pigs and chickens worldwide.

Increasing congestion on the Parana, which carries 80 percent of Argentina’s grains exports, could hamper President Mauricio Macri’s efforts to expand farm output and pull the country out of recession.

Macri wants Argentina to grow 25 percent more grains to boost rural income and has cut export taxes to attract more investment in the sector. But to haul all that grain to market, Macri needs the log jams on the river to end.

The government is studying how to accommodate the growing flotilla plying the waterway without driving up shipping costs – which could cancel out the benefits of the export tax cut to farmers and agricultural businesses.

“The entire river system is at its current limit,” said Koen Robijns, Argentine operations manager for Jan De Nul, the privately-owned, Luxemburg-based company that operates the Parana and is responsible for dredging.

The grounding in January made commerce grind to a halt, Robijns said in an interview aboard one of the company’s dredging vessels near Argentina’s main grains hub of Rosario, some 300 kilometers northwest of Buenos Aires.

“Every ship behind it, all the way up to Rosario, had to stop or slow down for more than an hour,” he said.

Efforts to develop the waterway to carry more of Argentina’s burgeoning exports, however, could be delayed by negotiations between the channel’s operator and the traders that ship grain along it.

Jan De Nul favors dredging the channel deeper. The firm declined to provide an estimate on how much that would cost, but the shippers say the bill would be billions of dollars. That would likely mean an increase in the toll, currently $3 per net tonne, which the shippers would pass on by paying the farmers less for their grains.

The world’s largest bulk grains traders Bunge, Cargill, Louis Dreyfus Company and ADM – who together ship much of the grain exported via the Parana – would prefer the less expensive option of widening the river at trouble spots, said two industry groups representing the shippers and traders using the waterway.

The industry groups declined to give an estimate on how much cheaper it would be to widen rather than deepen the river.

“Rather than dredging deeper, we need wider curves in places where vessels have run aground,” said Guillermo Wade, a spokesman for the Rosario-based maritime chamber.

Macri’s government says it aims to cut the cost of exporting grains by 30 percent, including lowering tolls on waterways. But the government has not said yet which option it favors, and is unlikely to do so until a report on the project is completed.

Bunge, Cargill and Louis Dreyfus declined to comment. ADM, in a statement, said it “supports the expansion of the Parana River and Paraguay-Parana waterway to meet the growth needs of the entire region.”

The company did not specify how the river should be expanded.


Argentina is the world’s top exporter of soymeal feed for animals  :o, key to global meat production and meeting the protein needs of a global population growing toward 9 billion. The South American country is also the world’s third-largest supplier of corn and soybeans and the seventh largest supplier of wheat.

Macri’s government expects farm output of 130 million tonnes this season, up from 123 million before he took office. Macri is targeting 150 million tonnes by the end of his first term in late 2019.

Groundings are becoming more common as exporters, under pressure to haul as much grain as possible, often overload vessels. There were 15 groundings on the waterway last year, up from 12 in 2015 and nine the previous year, according to port data.

The January accident took place in the Mitre section of the Parana, just north of the capital city Buenos Aires.

Theresa Success

The same vessel, the Theresa Success, ran aground near Rosario several days earlier. That time, it took longer for tug boats to pry the vessel loose, but traffic was able to move around the blockage as the river was wider there.

Baltzer, the vessel’s Rosario-based shipping agency, declined to comment on the groundings.

Other incidents have seen ships stuck for days while floating cranes arrive to unload cargo until vessels are light enough to float.


Jan De Nul has had the Parana concession since 1995. The contract ends in 2021, and the company wants to renew it.

The toll it charges for plying the waterway is negotiated by Jan De Nul, the port terminal owners and the government.

The Parana’s shipping canal is maintained at 34 feet from the ocean to the port of San Martin, 35 kilometers north of Rosario, said Pieter Jan De Nul, an area manager for the company and son of its owner.

The firm could easily dredge to 36 feet, he said.

The additional two feet of depth would allow larger vessels carrying several thousand tonnes more cargo to load in Rosario before heading out to sea, he said. Larger cargoes would reduce shipping costs.

Currently, traders have to load part of their cargo in Rosario and then stop to add more in deep-water Atlantic ports before heading into international waters. That means additional port and loading costs, as well as longer shipping times.

The privately-owned Rosario Grains Exchange favors deepening, because larger ships could load and therefore fewer vessels would be needed to carry the rising volume of grains.

“Everyone wins with the deepening of the Parana River,” analysts for the exchange said in a report.

Deputy Transport Secretary Jorge Metz said the service on the river needs to improve, as delays can cost shippers $40,000 to $50,000 a day, a cost that is eventually passed on to farmers.

Decades of underinvestment in roads and rail have made transportation one of the biggest costs faced by growers, said Martin Fraguio, executive director of the Maizar corn industry chamber.

“Argentina has the possibility of increasing its farm production enormously,” he said. “We need the Parana to be as competitive as possible, as soon as possible.” (Additional reporting by Caroline Stauffer; editing by Simon Webb and Brian Thevenot)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 21, 2017, 07:54:10 pm
What You Didn't Know About Soil...But Should     (

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on May 05, 2017, 02:00:33 pm

In the years 2000 to 2008, worldwide consumption of biodegradable plastics based on starch, sugar, and cellulose – so far the three most important raw materials – has increased by 600%.[32] The NNFCC predicted global annual capacity would grow more than six-fold to 2.1 million tonnes by 2013.[30] BCC Research forecasts the global market for biodegradable polymers to grow at a compound average growth rate of more than 17 percent through 2012. Even so, bioplastics will encompass a small niche of the overall plastic market, which is forecast to reach 500 billion pounds (220 million tonnes) globally by 2010.[33] (

Agelbert NOTE:The "NICHE" that bioplastics are occupying will grow to destroy the fossil fuel based plastics plastic poisons simply because bioplastics are sustainable AND cheaper now.


At one time bioplastics were too expensive for consideration as a replacement for petroleum-based plastics.The lower temperatures needed to process bioplastics and the more stable supply of biomass combined with the increasing cost of crude oil make bioplastics price [34] more competitive with regular plastics.( (


Biodegradable bioplastics are used for disposable items, such as packaging and catering items (crockery, cutlery, pots, bowls, straws). They are also often used for bags, trays, containers for fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat, bottles for soft drinks and dairy products, and blister foils for fruit and vegetables.

Nondisposable applications include mobile phone casings, carpet fibres, and car interiors, fuel line and plastic pipe applications, and new electroactive bioplastics are being developed that can be used to carry electrical current.[5] In these areas, the goal is not biodegradability, but to create items from sustainable resources.

Medical implants made of PLA, which dissolve in the body, save patients a second operation. Compostable mulch films for agriculture, already often produced from starch polymers, do not have to be collected after use and can be left on the fields.[6] (

Bioplastic Car Parts

In constructing the Prius, Toyota used a new range of plant-derived ecological bioplastics, made out of cellulose derived from wood or grass instead of petroleum. The two principal crops used are kenaf and ramie. Kenaf is a member of the hibiscus family, a relative to cotton and okra; ramie, commonly known as China grass, is a member of the nettle family and one of the strongest natural fibres, with a density and absorbency comparable to flax.
Toyota says this is a particularly timely breakthrough for plant-based eco-plastics because 2009 is the United Nations’ International Year of Natural Fibres, which spotlights kenaf and ramie among others.[56] (

Prius bioplastic parts

Polylactic acid (PLA) plastics can replace petrochemical-based mass plastics (e.g. PET, PS or PE)

Global PLA market by application, 2012 – 2020, (Kilo Tons)  (

Mulch film made of polylactic acid (PLA)-blend bio-flex

Polylactic acid (PLA) is a transparent plastic produced from corn[12] or dextrose. It not only resembles conventional petrochemical-based mass plastics (like PET, PS or PE) in its characteristics, but it can also be processed on standard equipment that already exists for the production of some conventional plastics. PLA and PLA blends generally come in the form of granulates with various properties, and are used in the plastic processing industry for the production of films, fibers, plastic containers, cups and bottles.

A pen made with bioplastics (Polylactide, PLA) 

Tea bags made from PLA

Packaging air pillow made of PLA-blend bio-flex

A bioplastic shampoo bottle made of PLA-blend bio-flex (

Biopolymer BHP can replace petroplastic polypropylene

Poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB)

The biopolymer poly-3-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) is a polyester produced by certain bacteria processing glucose, corn starch[13] or wastewater.[14] Its characteristics are similar to those of the petroplastic polypropylene. The South American sugar industry, for example, has decided to expand PHB production to an industrial scale. PHB is distinguished primarily by its physical characteristics. It produces transparent film at a melting point higher than 130 degrees Celsius, and is biodegradable without residue.

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA)

Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are linear polyesters produced in nature by bacterial fermentation of sugar or lipids. They are produced by the bacteria to store carbon and energy. In industrial production, the polyester is extracted and purified from the bacteria by optimizing the conditions for the fermentation of sugar. More than 150 different monomers can be combined within this family to give materials with extremely different properties. PHA is more ductile and less elastic than other plastics, and it is also biodegradable. These plastics are being widely used in the medical industry. (

How to tell if plastic was made from fossil fuels or plants: Fossil fuel derived plastic has NO carbon-14!

Biobased – ASTM D6866

The ASTM D6866 method has been developed to certify the biologically derived content of bioplastics. Cosmic rays colliding with the atmosphere mean that some of the carbon is the radioactive isotope carbon-14. CO2 from the atmosphere is used by plants in photosynthesis, so new plant material will contain both carbon-14 and carbon-12. Under the right conditions, and over geological timescales, the remains of living organisms can be transformed into fossil fuels. After ~100,000 years all the carbon-14 present in the original organic material will have undergone radioactive decay leaving only carbon-12. A product made from biomass will have a relatively high level of carbon-14, while a product made from petrochemicals will have no carbon-14. The percentage of renewable carbon in a material (solid or liquid) can be measured with an accelerator mass spectrometer.[41][42] (

Plastic made from plants is NOT a guarantee of biodegradability

There is an important difference between biodegradability and biobased content. A bioplastic such as high density polyethylene (HDPE)[43] can be 100% biobased (i.e. contain 100% renewable carbon), yet be non-biodegradable. These bioplastics such as HDPE nonetheless play an important role in greenhouse gas abatement, particularly when they are combusted for energy production. The biobased component of these bioplastics is considered carbon-neutral since their origin is from biomass. (

Agelbert NOTE:[/b] As I've said before, products from corn for plastics or biofuel are a bad deal. At the end of the wikipeda bioplastics article, a "study" from scientists in 2010 cautions against corn based bioplastics because they are so polluting from the pesticide and CO2 releasing properties  ( if petrochemical fuels and plastics weren't measurably MORE polluting... ??? ).

Sure. That's why BIG OIL wants us to keep using that corn for ethanol and bioplastics!  ;) It's never going to be competitive! Corn uses pesticides and plowing. The plastics made from the corn starch will have pesticide residue. Growing corn is an excellent way to ruin top soil and is second only to fossil fuels (because it uses so much of them) in biosphere damage. :P  >:(

This is stupid when, duckweed, hemp, sugar cane, switchgrass, Kenaf , a member of the hibiscus family, a relative to cotton and okra and  Ramie, commonly known as China grass, a member of the nettle family and one of the strongest natural fibres, with a density and absorbency comparable to flax are all available, easier to grow WITHOUT PESTICIDES and provide a much higher EROEI. (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on July 03, 2017, 08:45:08 pm
German Nonprofit Creates New Open Source License for Seeds  (

Friday, June 30, 2017

By Nithin Coca, Shareable | Interview


Why is having a special license with definable rights so important to protecting seeds and promoting diversity in global agriculture?

Our license is quite radical. It says that if a seed is licensed, this seed, and all further developments and modifications [of that seed] fall under this license. So this means you start a chain of contracts -- if the person who has got the seed is giving further developments of this seed to a third person, he becomes a licenser, which means he or she is licensing a new variety

In theory, this can be indefinite. There is no way back to private domain. [Our license] does not allow any seed company to take the seed, use it for breeding, and put a patent on it. You can work with us, you can earn your money with it, but you have no exclusivity.

This is important because we are living in a time of not only privatization of genetic resources, but the monopolization of genetic resources. Big companies, they are interested in producing few varieties and extending and distributing these varieties for large acreages -- the larger the acreage, the larger their return through royalties.

But what we need is diversity in production, diversity in genetic resources, and we need diversity in breeders. It is a danger if you are depending on a few companies -- because they tend towards uniformity, their energy for creating innovation is decreasing because competition is getting less and less. They are also producing variety that do not respond to the needs we have. For example, these big seed companies do not provide what is needed for adaptation to climate change.

Monsanto and Bayer, for example, you will have a concentration of a company which has dominating position in producing pesticides and herbicides, and dominating the seed sector -- they will link these two businesses together. They will produce seeds that correspondent with sales of agrochemicals. But in agriculture we need less pesticides, more agroecology. We need genetic resources and plants that fight pest and diseases by resistance, not by chemicals.

Can you tell me a bit about what it means if a farmer uses an open-source seed rather than a private, or corporate alternative?

License, first all of all says, there is no limitation to the use of this seed by the farmer. The only limitation is to refrain from privatization. Commercial seeds have become extremely costly, but the other point which is more important, the characteristics of a variety are not fully meeting the needs farmers have today.

And this applies, in particular, to small farmers in the world who are not able to pay the high costs of seeds for seeds from the big companies, or who may not need the varieties which are offered.

Full interview:    (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on August 01, 2017, 07:28:47 pm
The Future of Food

Have they really patented nature? ???

For 200 years, congress and the patent office did not allow for the patenting of life, for any part of nature. Food crops were deliberately excluded from patenting on moral grounds. In 1978 a patent on a genetically engineered microbe did go through for the first time-- because the corporation (General Electric) took it all the way to the Supreme Court after it was denied by the patent office. It passed by a majority of one vote.

This opened the floodgates for genetic engineering. Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety explains that companies like Monsanto now have the power to own and control the species of the earth. They have patented genes- and this means they legally "own" for example, the animals being modified. They own the patents on seeds which of course means that they control the food.

This video puts a spotlight on all the surrounding issues- for ex:, the government has a seed bank, that is kept for the purpose of insuring the continuation of all our plant species. Whatever seeds are not patented- Monsanto goes in and patents them! Then they can control that crop in perpetuity. Now Monsanto has spent 8 billion dollars buying up the seed companies.

Much to learn here-- and much to fight for. Nothing less than the future of our food.... and the genes of ALL plant and animal species, including, yes, humans...

--Bibi Farber
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on August 04, 2017, 06:51:15 pm

Why Sunflowers  (  ( So Green for the Garden  (

Jonathon Engels

August 4, 2017 

Sunflowers are not the typical crop that newbie gardeners think of growing, but this might be a mistake. ( The fact of the matter is that sunflowers are really easy to care for, and they can also lend a notable hand in the garden. Then, of course, there are all those sunflower seeds that make a delicious snack and quickly nullify the need to ever buy sunflower seeds (to sow) again.

Since long before chemical fertilizers and GMO seeds, sunflowers have been a part of agriculture, dating back to at least 3000 BC, and they have been used for all sorts of handy stuff: seeds, oil, medicine, fiber, as well as beauty. Amazingly, sunflowers can sprout up to six feet high in a matter of three months, and seeds are usually harvestable around the same time, possibly extending on to four months.

Besides being a valuable crop in and of themselves, the Helianthus — or sunflower — family is also used to help out the garden as a whole.


Any time a productive plant requires little to no inputs and virtually no care, it’s got to make it into the garden somehow. Sunflowers are prairie plants, which has made them very tough, not greatly affected by pests or by drought. They grow in just about any type of soil, and they can survive in both acidic and mildly alkaline pH levels. Once they get themselves established, they are likely there for the long haul, so gardeners won’t be using resources to get (and keep) those sunflowers up. Now that is green gardening.


Living Fences

Many people choose to grow living fences. This is sometimes done with cane berries or nitrogen-fixing trees, but sunflowers are another viable option. The great thing about living fences is that they don’t require milled, often virgin wood and steel production. They are just plants, providing more beauty for the garden while defining borders and providing protection.


Just remember not to completely block the sun from the other crops. Putting tall sunflowers on the south side of the garden might not be a great idea. Otherwise, planting them about six inches apart will supply a living fence around the garden or even between beds.

Free Garden Stake  ;D

Another popular sunflower function is acting as a free garden stake for climbing vines, such as cucumbers and tomatoes. Unfortunately, sunflowers and green beans — the original garden stake dweller — are known to not be so great of friends. Regardless, sunflowers, like corn, are tall and spindly, so they make great garden stakes for other plants, and they don’t require any extra material. In fact, they can just be composted after the harvest. On the flip side, lettuce likes to grow in the shade of the towering sunflowers.

Natural Repellent

Beloved (and recently departed) permaculturist, Toby Hemenway, authored a great book — Gaia’s Garden — in which he recommended using Helianthus maximaliani, or Maximilian sunflower, as a deer repellent. Otherwise, despite being beautiful animals and welcomed by many into their yards, deer will gladly ransack a garden and strip it down to nearly nothing.

Pest Distraction

More than a repellent, sunflowers are often grown for the quality of distracting pests, specifically aphids, away from other, more tender crops, like tomatoes.

APHIDS These small (1/6-inch) pear-shaped, soft bodied insects cluster in tight groups on juicy new growth. Aphids may be green, black, brown, gray, red, pink, or yellow. (

Ants ( , which feed on the aphid-produced honeydew, will encourage and protect aphid colonies to live on sunflowers. It’s one of nature’s outstanding things. No pesticides required. (

Beneficial Attraction


Sunflowers are also a new green option because they are particularly attractive to bees and other beneficial, pollen-collecting insects and hummingbirds.


As most of us are aware by now, the bees need all the help they can get, so if planting sunflowers did nothing more than that, it’d be worth it. Of course, we know that they do much, much more.

Lady Bug Convention (

Soil Cleansing

Sunflowers are noted as being allelopathic (, which means that they emit a chemical that prevents other plants from propagating nearby. In the garden, potatoes and beans are particularly susceptible, so be aware of that. But, this is what makes them so good for garden borders, as they’ll block weeds from growing in. Sunflowers also aid phytoremediation, which is a process that cleans contaminated soils. It’s even been used as an effective soil cleaner in really damaged sites like Chernobyl and post-Katrina New Orleans.

Of course, many people grow sunflowers for the simple fact that they are stunning, massive flowers that brighten up the scene. Whatever your reason, get them in the garden after the last spring frost and expect to harvest into the fall. Lots of people, especially in areas with long frost-free seasons, will plant a new crop every two weeks to have continuous blooms in the fall. Ain’t it grand when being green just works out so well.   (

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on August 21, 2017, 03:27:35 pm

Solar Plants Are Cropping Up On Farms  (  

August 19th, 2017 by Guest Contributor

Originally published on Nexus Media.
By Jeremy Deaton

If the United States wants to kick its coal habit, it will need to install a lot more solar power. That raises an important question: Where should all those panels reside?  (

They could always go live on a farm upstate.

Full article: (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on October 15, 2017, 04:18:05 pm
Agelbert NOTE: Yes, a large part of US wine country is toast due to fires. But that does not detract from the value of Biodynamic Farming.

Biodynamic Certification is a Step Aboves Organic in food quality

Story at-a-glance

Food quality is determined by how it was grown. Certified organic food helps you avoid pesticides. But even organic foods may be lacking in important nutrients if grown in nutrient-poor soils

Biodynamic farming is a spiritual-ethical-ecological approach to agriculture initially developed by Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. It’s an approach that can provide far superior harvests while simultaneously healing the Earth

The Biodynamic view is that a farm is a living organism — self-contained, self-sustaining, following the cycles of nature, and able to create its own health and vitality out of the living dynamics of the farm

The organic standard is the base of the Demeter standard, which then goes much further, taking into account the core idea of the farm as a closed system; solutions to disease, pest and weed control comes out of the farm system itself

Demeter is a global Biodynamic certification agency. Formed in 1928 in Germany, it’s the oldest ecological certification organization in the world. In Germany, 10 percent of the organic farmland is Biodynamic

Full article with eye opening historical information:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on November 02, 2017, 01:57:50 pm
A great cause – Restoring local grain production in America

Posted on November 1, 2017 by Ken

Rice is a grain, a staple for billions and the staff of life. True.

And it only grows in Asia and in tropical climates. False.   (

The amazing - and untold history - of African rice.


This is one of the most fascinating and promising local sustainable food projects I’ve ever seen. Please help take it to the next level. (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on November 08, 2017, 12:57:55 pm

Farming without glyphosate — how would that ( work?  (

November 2017


EU member states have again put off a decision on renewing the controversial weed killer glyphosate. Could Europe really be close to banning glyphosate — and what would a possible ban mean for farmers and consumers?

Full article:

Agelbert NOTE: What articles like the above do not seem to GET is that the question is ACTUALLY, "WHY don't farmers accept that farming WITH glyphosate is NOT WORKING?"!

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on November 09, 2017, 02:01:58 pm


November 8, 2017  |  By Laurie Guevara-Stone


Almost 30 years ago, seven organic farmers from the U.S. Midwest, unhappy with the state of American agriculture, decided to band together and form a cooperative to continue farming sustainably.

Today, the Organic Valley agricultural cooperative, headquartered in La Farge, Wisconsin, is made up of over 2,000 farmers in 36 states. And the cooperative just became part of a unique community-solar partnership that will allow it to become the largest food company in the world to source 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy.

Full article:

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 21, 2018, 02:34:26 pm

Incredible farm in Michigan becomes the world’s second ‘Living Building’ 🌼



A beautiful, 15-acre farmhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan has been officially recognized as the world’s second Living Building by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI).

Full article: 🌿
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on March 03, 2018, 01:33:29 pm
How Do Farmers Identify the Most Fertile 🌱 Soil? ???

Agricultural organizations around the world are coming to the realization that a pair of cotton underpants can tell farmers a lot about the quality of their soil. From the United Kingdom to California, farmers are trying out this unconventional method, burying undies in their fields and digging them up a couple of months later. Healthy soil teeming with microbes and bacteria will devour the cotton, leaving behind only the waistband. In lifeless soil, the unearthed undies come out intact.

Underwear goes underground:

Evan Wiig, executive director of the California Farmers’ Guild, explained that “cotton is an organic material and breaks down naturally, just like anything else you’d put in your compost pile.”

Soil conditions on beef and sheep farms directly influence how well grass and forage crops grow. In turn, this affects the quality of the feed that they produce. Better feed leads to more robust animals.

Scottish farmer Iain Green has been burying underwear on his 2,800-acre farm since September 2017 and says that the results have provided valuable insights.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on March 07, 2018, 01:13:59 pm
Which Countries Are the World’s Top Food Exporters?

The Netherlands is a small, densely-populated country with more than 1,300 inhabitants per square mile (500 inhabitants per square km). More than half of the nation’s land area is used for agriculture and horticulture, mostly in the form of high-tech greenhouse complexes that allow the Dutch to be global leaders in exports of tomatoes, potatoes, and onions.  In terms of value, the Netherlands 🌻 🌼 🌷 🌱 is the world's second-largest exporter of food, trailing only the United States, a country which has 270 times the landmass.

More food, less water:

Since 2000, Dutch farmers have reduced their dependence on water for key crops by as much as 90 percent, and they have almost completely eliminated the use of chemical pesticides.  (

Since 2009, Dutch poultry and livestock producers have decreased their use of antibiotics by as much as 60 percent. 🌟

The Dutch use “precision farming” 🌿 to get the most out of their fields. For example, the global average yield of potatoes is about nine tons per acre. The Dutch produce more than 20 tons per acre.  ( (

Greenhouse expansion project Fa.Van Nobelen, BV, The Netherlands - lots of pictures and info!  ( (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on March 07, 2018, 02:58:43 pm
Very cool. I knew the Netherlands had a lot of agriculture, but had no real idea exactly how advanced they'd gotten. I'm impressed.

Yes, it is truly amazing what they have done. This appears to be the only way forward in our overheated planet for those fortunate enough to live near the poles.

Meanwhile, Trump 🦀 and Fossil Fuel Fascist friends 🐉🦕🦖 are doing everything they can, whether they know it or not, to destroy all hope for future generations:

Trump touts report US is set to become world’s top oil producer

BY JOHN BOWDEN - 03/06/18 08:42 AM EST 
Trump touts report US is set to become world’s top oil producer

President Trump on Tuesday celebrated a report from the International Energy Agency which claims the U.S. will become the world's leading oil producer by 2023.

full article: (

Some brave people🕊 are fighting ( this insanity in the courts. I wish them well. Trump 🦀 will do all he can to destroy them.

Court denies Trump admin’s plea to stop kids’ climate lawsuit

BY TIMOTHY CAMA - 03/07/18 02:11 PM EST 
Court denies Trump admin’s plea to stop kids’ climate lawsuit  (

A federal appeals court Wednesday rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to dismiss a lawsuit filed by a group of kids who want to force the government to do more to fight climate change.

full article: (


Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on May 19, 2018, 07:29:35 pm
Next World TV

Sand to soil Innovation in China

Reducing desert land

China is developing technology that turns deserts into productive land.  (

One quarter of China is covered by dry, desert-like land and one third of its citizens are effected.

Reversing the growth of desertification.

China is bringing this technology to Africa too.  (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on June 20, 2018, 09:59:21 pm
Next World TV

Common Sense Solutions - Starting Now

Green Jobs Revolution in Chicago

Real Jobs, Real Food= Revolution! (

With a introduction by environmental advocate and civil rights activist Van Jones, this is a particularly inspiring example of revolutionizing systems that have failed.

Growing Home is a non- profit organization in Chicago that trains low income, previously homeless or incarcerated Chicagoans in the business of organic agriculture.

What can be more important than bringing real jobs and real food to neighborhoods that for decades have been bereft of both?

"A garden can turn a neighborhood where people don't have any jobs into small business owners." says Della Moran, market manager of Growing Home.

There are 80,000 vacant lots in Chicago. Orrin Williams, Employment Training Coordinator muses: " Acres of vacant land... acres of potential."

Until recently, Growing Home had been selling their organic produce only to Chicago's elite at the city's premier farmers market, high end restaurants, and a CSA program. Now the revolution is really starting: there is a market ON the South Side, FOR the South Side.

Now we're talking!  (

--Bibi Farber
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on July 22, 2018, 01:01:45 pm
Agelbert NOTE: The second half of this video deals with some facts about healthy soils everytone should know. In the earlier part of the video I learned that children DO NOT have certain enzymes in the liver, that human adults DO have, that are extremely important.

"There’s no specific testing done for children,” he says. “There’s absolutely no published scientific evidence to show any level of safety. On the other hand, studies show there is no lower level that is safe for children.

Children, when we talk about the unborn, the newborn and grown children up to puberty, they do not have the detoxification enzymes in their livers that we have as adults. Particularly for young children, that means they have no way of detoxifying even the smallest amount of a pesticide or a chemical.

The evidence shows that even small amounts, when children are exposed in the womb, through breastfeeding or at a young age, it severely affects the way they develop. It affects the nervous system, the hormone system and the reproductive system.

When you look at the science, there are so many areas that can be negatively affected by these small amounts. Unfortunately, a lot of these effects last a lifetime. And also, we know some are intergenerational. Those children's grandchildren will be affected."

Read more:
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on November 25, 2018, 12:09:07 pm

How Do We Go Beyond Purely Theoretical Sustainable Architecture? TU’s Solution: Go Out & Build It. (

November 25th, 2018 by The Beam

This article was published in The Beam #6 — Subscribe now for more on the topic.

What can architects, and especially architecture students, do to respond to global issues such as informal urbanization, carbon emissions, or refugee settlement conditions? From sketches to real-work implementation, CODE architecture students design but also construct themselves climate-oriented, resource-saving and affordable projects in Bolivia, Iraq, Chile, and Europe. Their strategy — make the most of a space’s natural properties, culture, and climate; in other words: find local solutions to global issues. Professor Ralf Pasel, head of CODE Institute (, just came back from the latest project in Bolivia.


“Our challenge is really to develop strategies that promotes climate orientated buildings that do not rely on high tech, standardized and costly processes.”

Hi Ralf, thank you for taking the time to answer our questions. Can you first introduce us to CODE?

CODE — CONstruction & Design is an institute at the Technical University of Berlin, which spans a bridge between theoretical education and practical work. What it actually does is combine three things: teaching, research, and practice. The projects are proper professional works but they are also case studies throughout which students research issues such as carbon emissions. Then…we build them.

What comes into consideration before you decided “let’s build an agriculture school in Bolivia”?

First of all, we set quite strict criteria, which means that we have a sort of CODE X through which we choose projects. We try to be very careful about not being competitive to avoid any market or monetary dimension. The most important are the social and the environmental relevance; they are the driving forces behind these projects.

How is it possible to implement environment friendly designs in poor areas? Does it not require expensive technologies that make these projects difficult to reproduce locally?

Not really, our challenge is really to develop strategies that promotes climate orientated buildings that do not rely on high tech, standardized and costly processes. Our challenge really is to think in term of design rather than techniques, consider what is already offered by the location, orientation, and climate rather than what we need to bring or to buy.

How did you apply this idea to your project in Bolivia?


For the project in Bolivia, which was to build an agriculture school in the Cordillera, we were at more than 3,000 meters above the sea level, with a difference of temperature between day and night time of almost 30 degrees, and winds blowing in all different directions because of the surrounding mountains. So we asked ourselves ‘how can we deal with these such extreme thermic conditions?’ Well, for instance, the school was built with a closed facade, only windows to internal patios so that we can harvest the heat gain in the evening. We also built a double ventilated roof to make sure the heat does not accumulate in the daytime. Then, there should be no need for radiators or ventilators anymore. We also benefit from an incredible solar radiation, so we oriented the roof to make sure the solar panels get the most of it, and we implemented dry toilets to reduce the use of water and generate compost for the agriculture school.

Does your project address environmental issues or does it simply adjust to its environment?

I would rather say that it is an ‘environment induced project’ because the design is made in such a way that it uses the potential of nature and climate. So rather than fighting extreme weather conditions we just try to ‘sail the boat’. We analyze the impact of sun to orientate the solar panel roof or the direction of the wind to create efficient ventilation systems. We can do that by learning to read the direction of the wind on the grass or by looking at the flight of the birds to see the different thermic winds.

Further to the environmental impacts, which other positive impacts did you achieve?

What we do is that we very quickly integrate local partners in the process. For instance, we worked with a women bricklayers cooperative, helping them set up their business and provided them with proper security uniforms. We focused on material and tools that do not require being dependent on suppliers so that they can reuse these techniques for their own houses. Meanwhile, this same women’s cooperative trained the next group of students coming to Bolivia, so we have a sort of circular education movement. We also involve local universities or the students of the agriculture school to come to help and learn about sustainable construction methods.


What’s next on your plate?

At the moment we are trying to transfer the experience we had in South America into the European context. Because of the refugee situation in Germany we need a lot of social housing projects. We are currently developing two projects for these ‘urban newcomers’ through the initiative Home Not Shelter.

Interview by Caroline Sorbier.

Subscribe to The Beam for more on the topic.

Read more from The Beam. (

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on January 08, 2019, 05:53:15 pm
giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper) is BIG! (

Bamboo: Malawi’s Unexpected Tool for Climate Change Resilience 🌍

by Caroline Gagné Caroline Gagné and Moushumi Chaudhury - January 03, 2019


Why Giant Bamboo? (

Bamboo is fast-growing, so it provides a rapidly renewable source of fuelwood and timber. While hardwood trees can take 30 years to mature and must be replanted post-harvest, giant bamboo matures in only a handful of years and can be harvested every year for its entire lifecycle.

AfriBam’s giant bamboo (Dendrocalamus asper) nursery in central Malawi. Photo by Caroline Gagné/WRI

In the case of Blumrick’s non-invasive giant bamboo, the lifecycle is around 80 years. Planting and harvesting bamboo for fuel can help limit the depletion of Malawi’s tree cover and natural forests. Giant woody bamboos can also sequester carbon, helping to curb climate change. They’re one of several trees and plants that can generate benefits for people while also restoring land. 🎋 👍     

Full article with more pictures: (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 07, 2019, 01:46:33 pm


By Lorraine Chow Feb. 06, 2019 01:23PM EST

Associated article: (
Michoacan-based Biofase  (, located in the heart of Mexico's avocado industry, is transforming the dense seeds into disposable drinking straws and cutlery that are said to be 100 percent biodegradable. ( (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 26, 2019, 01:17:46 pm
Learn about super prepping dude Jonathan Richards, that carved his place out of the wilderness. I learned about him on Radio Echoshock.


Jonathan isn’t a big fan of buying packages of “survival” seeds. Most folks do not know how to grow them, or when the narrow time of planting is. I always keep some extra seeds, and try to harvest more each year from vegetables that are “heritage”. The “hybrid” plants sold by most seed companies can give a better yield, but their seeds may not produce good veggies the next year. Hybrids do not breed true, their seeds are unreliable. Seeds from heritage plants are more reliable.

Jonathan Richards’ survivalacres blog has been influential for me and many others. He also has posts at

Read more or listen to podcast with multi-decade food and survival real world experience expert Jonathan Richards:

Posted on February 6, 2019, by Radio Ecoshock

(  Climate Food Shock (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 26, 2019, 02:54:09 pm

Macho Man is GREAT!

He reminds me of super prepping dude Jonathan Richards, that carved out his place out of the wilderness. I learned about him on Radio Echoshock.

Macho Man  is meant to be the idealized example of the Doomer Prepper.  Similarly, his Doomstead is also an idealized example.  In reality of course, few Doomers could have such a perfect setup in such a perfect location.  However, there are a few examples of people who have come close, and I suspect Jonathan Richards is one of them.

In a sense, Macho Man is a combination of the two Doomers from my "How I Survived Collapse" nevel, Kenny & Karl.  He's not as young as Kenny or as old as Karl, put him in his 30s-50s, and in great shape of course.  His Doomstead is the virtual image of Karls, although it is more traditional and he doesn't have the Doomstead carved into the Maountainside like Karl did.  The Doomstead isn't as remote as Karl's, he's actually part of a small community in his neighborhood of family farmers and the people who work for the Park Service, which is what supports the town of Palookaville, along with retired folks who are mostly ex-loggers who worked in the area.  The Tourist money from the vacationers and the Social Security and Pension checks of the retirees is what support the ancillary employment in Palookaville while BAU is still ongoing.

Macho Man himself clearly has some source of income, he's not as filthy rich as I made Karl.  His land he inherited from his father, who was a Logger, it is free & clear.  He earned his Nest Egg to start building on it past the small cabin his dad built by working for 15 years as an OTR Trucker, living in his Freightliner.  He now earns money from the Doomstead selling his Organic Meat products to some high end restaurants in the two Big Shities in either direction up the Interstate, where he delivers these products by order every couple of months.  He also collects waste from these places to use for composting, mulch and pig feed.  The cows are all grass fed, of course.  He also makes money from his lumber milling bizness and from Ganja he has a license to grow hydroponically in his hydroponics facility.  Besides that he is an expert carpenter and wood carver, and does custom cabinetry work to order as well.  No particle board or plywood for Macho Man, only good solid hardwoods are used in his cabinets.  It's expensive stuff of course, but coveted by the 1% and he marks it up a minimum of 100%.  He's also an expert welder and machinist and mechanic, and restores old cars in his shop as well.  So he is doing very well here these days financially, enough to buy his tractors and all the other stuff for CASH, no credit or debt for Macho Man!

Anyhow, I am having a lot of fun fleshing out this narrative and doing the artwork for it.  I unfortunately was blessed by god to be a cripple now, and doing this stuff IRL is impossible for me now.  But now I live in the world of my imagination, and I am blessed also with the abilities necessary to do this sort of design work.  It's all self-taught of course, I never took a course in CAD or landscape architecture, I don't have a Credential. But I don't need one, because I am not interested in making money, just in educating people about the oncoming Collapse of Industrial Civilization.

There is much more still to come on this, although probably not at the feverish pace I pulled this one off at.  I have been doing CAD work for the last 3 days straight when I am not sleeping or doing the Cooking Zone shows.

You have to fill up your day somehow you know, or you go stir crazy with cabin fever.


( (

Same here on CAD. I do a lot of 3D in my spare time. I have rebuilt my home piece by 3D piece from the cement slab to the metal frame and outriggers to the belly board and floor insulation, water lines and plumbing to the wall and window framing, wall insulation and wiring layout to the roof trusses and ridge vent. Inside the home I've done some furniture and even the Stonyfield milk container on the kitchen table! :D


Here's a 3D idealized bike cart I came up with:

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 26, 2019, 03:02:39 pm
Same here on CAD. I do a lot of 3D in my spare time. I have rebuilt my home piece by 3D piece from the cement slab to the metal frame and outriggers to the belly board and floor insulation, water lines and plumbing to the wall and window framing, wall insulation and wiring layout to the roof trusses and ridge vent. Inside the home I've done some furniture and even the Stonyfield milk container on the kitchen table! :D

That's nice work AG!  You're better at it than me!

If you wanna contribute a design to add to the model, feel free.  You can send me the Sketchup file, I'll incorporate it.


Thanks bro. (

I'll see what I can come up with. I'm going to read back on this thread a bit to see what I have missed in your planning. Then I'll try to come up with something that you can use and pass it on to you.  8)
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 26, 2019, 06:47:03 pm
I just read all the posts. 🧐 I think I have some equipment that Macho Man needs. 🤔

A must is the Solar Oven, of course! ( It WILL get food up to 300 degrees F in subfreezing temperatures, as long as the sky is clear. Just angle it directly at the sun. I have adjusting pegs on it for that. The only high tech part of the Solar Oven is the reflective film. While we still have civilization, it's cheap and easy to get (stock up!). The rest is some carriage bolts, wing nuts, screws, plywood, some two by fours and lots of food quality cardboard for insulation. NO, the carboard will not catch fire. Don't believe anybody that tells you it will.

To do routine maintenance here and there, Macho Man, who isn't gettin' any younger, needs to be able to reach high places in more comfort than a ladder provides, especially if he is carrying heavy tools or wood. ( What he needs is a homemade lift platform. It can be made mostly of wood, though it requires a small electric motor and a strong long metal threaded rod of about an inch in diameter and a secured nut on the threaded rod. The lift platform makes it easy for Macho Man to rake snow off his roof.

It can also be used to trim tree branches or possibly top a tree. I've made a few designs. Some go higher than others and some are all metal.

This is a low tech (no fancy hydraulics) and (just about) zero maintenance piece of equipment. 👍 You just need to keep it out of the weather and keep the threaded rod from rusting with a bit of grease. Animal fat works in a pinch.

Below is a screenshot of them. Some have the "up" and the "down" position on them displayed. The extra area on the wood platform is a "no step" area. It's there just so the thing covers the base when down, but you could just as well not build the "no step" area in the platform, as I did on the all metal scissor lifts. Also, you can put wheels on them, like I did for the Solar Oven, for ease of moving them around.

If you want one, just tell me which one you want. I've numbered them. The horse and barn are from the 3D Warehouse.


Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 26, 2019, 11:04:04 pm
I just read all the posts. 🧐 I think I have some equipment that Macho Man needs. 🤔

A must is the Solar Oven, of course! ( It WILL get food up to 300 degrees F in subfreezing temperatures, as long as the sky is clear. Just angle it directly at the sun. I have adjusting pegs on it for that. The only high tech part of the Solar Oven is the reflective film. While we still have civilization, it's cheap and easy to get (stock up!). The rest is some carriage bolts, wing nuts, screws, plywood, some two by fours and lots of food quality cardboard for insulation. NO, the carboard will not catch fire. Don't believe anybody that tells you it will.

To do routine maintenance here and there, Macho Man, who isn't gettin' any younger, needs to be able to reach high places in more comfort than a ladder provides, especially if he is carrying heavy tools or wood. ( What he needs is a homemade lift platform. It can be made mostly of wood, though it requires a small electric motor and a strong long metal threaded rod of about an inch in diameter and a secured nut on the threaded rod. The lift platform makes it easy for Macho Man to rake snow off his roof.

It can also be used to trim tree branches or possibly top a tree. I've made a few designs. Some go higher than others and some are all metal.

This is a low tech (no fancy hydraulics) and (just about) zero maintenance piece of equipment. 👍 You just need to keep it out of the weather and keep the threaded rod from rusting with a bit of grease. Animal fat works in a pinch.

Below is a screenshot of them. Some have the "up" and the "down" position on them displayed. The extra area on the wood platform is a "no step" area. It's there just so the thing covers the base when down, but you could just as well not build the "no step" area in the platform, as I did on the all metal scissor lifts. Also, you can put wheels on them, like I did for the Solar Oven, for ease of moving them around.

If you want one, just tell me which one you want. I've numbered them. The horse and barn are from the 3D Warehouse.


A lift platform would be good.  I can put Macho Man on one to work on his Wind Turbine.  Just make sure it goes up high enough, the Turbine is about 40' high I think.

I can put the Solar Oven next to the Smoker in the Outdoor Kitchen.  That still needs a BBQ also.


I'll e-mail you the solar oven Sketchup file.

I need to go back to the 3D workshop and make a scissors lift that can go 40' high, if you are talking about the elevation of the base of the platform. A man standing on the multi-scissors one I designed  has his feet 12 feet from the ground. Forty feet is way up there and the scissor joints will need some added frame reinforcement guides to keep from wiggling or falling over. That's why the power companies use bucket hydraulic arm lifts to get up to the power lines. I'll get back to you when I figure out how to do that without hydraulics.

To be clear, do you want the base to be 40' high or do you want the shoulders of the man on the lift to be 40' high at the highest point? (

To be clear, do you want the base to be 40' high or do you want the shoulders of the man on the lift to be 40' high at the highest point? (

He should have his waistline at the height of the turbine.  That way he can lift up or down to remove it or replace it.

You can estimate the height of the turbine from the pics, but I will get an exact figure on that when I finish my current project, which is getting all the gear together for the Musher Banquet Adventure.


The Turbine Motor is at 33' 1 3/16" off ground level.


Okay. Figuring that there are about 3.5' to the platform base from the man's waist, I guess you want the scissors platform base to be 30' high, right?

That sounds like it will work.


Okay. I'll work on it. I'll see if I can find a nice BBQ for you too.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 28, 2019, 12:36:44 pm
Okay RE, I've got the super duper scisssors lift you ordered all built! ( I used the same barn plus a height marker to give the proper perspective. Below are several views that show how it works, how to secure it and how to lug it around.

These 3D files are in "groups". You can "explode" the groups to move the parts around if part of the mechanism seems obsccure. Grouping them makes it easier to move a mechanism with lots of parts around. After "exploding" a group. it is a good idea to "make group" them before closing the file.

You can do the same with the solar Oven I e-mailed you to see how all the parts fit, if you ever have the inclination to take it apart. 🤔

If  the following graphics meet with your satisfaction, I'll e-mail the group of the 30' Scissors lift in the down position and the one in the up position separately. I will also send you the caster dolly gizmos I came up with for the platform separately. Enjoy! (









Okay RE, I've got the super duper scisssors lift you ordered all built!

Not to be too critical AG, but those scissor legs look mighty skinny to keep that platform stable at 30'.


That's the all metal version. You are looking at steel, bro. It does get a bit unstable after the cross members exceed the 45 degree angle, hence the warnings I provided. 8) The cross members that are about 16 feet long or so can be purchased of sufficiently thick gauge steel to do the job. Wood won't work for the height you want because a 16' long piece of wood would REALLY have to be THICK, never mind how HEAVY it would be.

At any rate, this lift could easily be rated for 500 pounds on the platform. Rememder, this is not a building. It is not meant to have anything but the absolute minimum structure you need to get up there and do a few hours worth of work, period. The idea is to have an affordable lift platform, not some super safe (i.e. EXPENSIVE!) industrial quality reinforced platform.

Now, if you want a 1,000 pound or more rating, YEAH, you would need I-beam type steel cross members.

If Macho Man has enough cash on hand, he can just buy a modified verison of one of these:





Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on February 28, 2019, 02:49:11 pm
OK AG, I'm sold.  Send me the files and I'll see about incorporating them.  It may have to wait until my new SuperComputer arrives.  This one is at it's limit with files.


Comin' at ya. 💐 (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on April 22, 2019, 09:34:15 pm


If you know Garden Pool, then you know we love 🦆 Duckweed 🌞! This amazing plant is important to our system and now we would like to teach you how to grow duckweed for yourself.

We have also introduced another floating pond plant, Azolla. We want to teach you to grow it. (

In this class you will learn a few easy and affordable methods for beginners in duckweed and azolla growing.

֍ The basics of duckweed and azolla. What is so special about these tiny plants and the difference between them.

֍ How to grow duckweed and azolla to suit your needs

֍ How to take care of your duckweed and azolla in the off-season

How to Grow Duckweed and Azolla Video
Class: How to Grow Duckweed and Azolla
Recorded LIVE
When: June 14th, 2014
Where: The Garden Pool in Mesa, AZ
Length: 40 minutes
This class was recorded live in a classroom setting. To be a part of our classes in person, join our meetup group.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on April 23, 2019, 05:52:06 pm
A Hydrocarbon Hellspawn said this about CH4
It is one of the more useful molecules out there in the long run,

Sure, from YOUR rather narrow definition of "useful" (It's a hydrocarbon!). 

But in the BIOSPHERE that we all depend on, THE most useful molecule in the hydrocarbon pantheon is this one:

Ethylene: The Ripening Hormone

Ethylene causes fruit to ripen and plants to die on schedule so they can  be recycled into the biosphere. In short it is key to the life cycle of all earthlings. Now THAT is REALLY useful! So you see, I DO recognize that there is ONE hydrocarbon that we really need AS LONG AS WE DON'T BURN IT! (

C2H4 (Ethylene)

A bowl (see below) of some products produced by ethylene, that fossil fuelers, and other LIVING BEINGS, NEED  (

My favorite HYDROCARBON! (

What!? You mean to tell me Agelbert, the quixotic crusader against fossil fuel folly in all its poisonous and biosphere trashing forms has some hydrocarbon love?  (

YEP! (   

Back when I was trying to get through pre-med in the daytime, while I worked as a computer analyst in the FAA at night (I was promoted from air traffic control to Automation), I took Botany, one of many biology courses the curriculum required. 

Botany was a lot of fun. I learned how they keep grapes from having seeds in them (Gibberrelins) and all sorts of interesting facts about plant biochemistry. But the story of the orange grove fruit warehouses in Florida in the early 20th century was one I liked especially because it is a great example of the scientific method in action. Read on. 8)

The vast orange groves in Florida around 1910 had giant warehouses where picked fruit would be stored while they reached the proper stage of ripeness before shipping them to markets. The oranges are picked nearly full size and still green. They are tough at that stage and not easily bruised by the picking process.


The crop is stored in heated warehouses to finish the ripening process. The oranges, as they ripen, obtain their pretty orange color. The fruit expands somewhat and becomes more fragile but, since they already have them packed in bags or crates ready for shipping, they get to markets pretty well unscathed.


Well, around 1910, the orange growers were sold on electrification of their orange ripening warehouses. They had hitherto used kerosene heaters which sometimes caused a warehouse to burn down and they liked the idea of controlling the temperature within a few degrees to fine tune the ripening process. Boy, were they in for an unpleasant surprise!  :P 

They spent small fortunes in electrifying the warehouses with lights and elecric space heaters. The picking season came and they happily picked the crop and stored it in the new and improved hot shot electric heater warehouses. They waited for the oranges to ripen, fill out and turn orange in color. And waited. And waited. Those silly, stubborn oranges refused to ripen! They stayed hard and green. (

A bright bulb among the growers, all of whom had ALWAYS believed (wrongly) that HEAT is what makes fruit ripen, stated that there must have been something besides heat in those old kerosene heaters that made the fruit ripen.

They got a team of scientists to do some experiments with green oranges with and without kerosene heaters at various temperatures and the oranges exposed to the kerosene heaters DID ripen as they always had before irrespective of temperature. Next they identified all the products of combustion of the long chained hydrocarbon called kerosene.

We all know when you burn (oxidize) a hydrocarbon, you get CO2 + H2O. But that is ONLY if you have COMPLETE combustion.

A kerosene heater, as many family tragedies can attest to, puts out lots of INCOMPLETE combustion products like CO (carbon monoxide) that will kill you quickly and quietly.

But there is another product of incomplete combustion that burning kerosene puts out. It's called Ethylene. (

This tiny molecule is a miracle of plant biochemistry. The scientists determined that ethylene was making the oranges ripen! ( So the growers had to put the kerosene heaters back in.

Well, they got electric lights out of the deal and plant science took a giant step forward so everything worked out for the best. (

The obvious follow up question is, where does the ethylene, now defined as a plant ripening hormone, come from when the oranges ripen on the tree?  ??? From the orange, as long as it is connected to the tree when it turns color. AFTER the fruit is sufficently ripe (i.e. the orange gets its orange color), the tree is not required for ethylene production.

Henceforth, whether on the tree or off it, the orange itself keeps putting out ethylene until it rots in preparation for the orange seeds to grow.  Pretty neat, huh? (

This was a revolutionary development in botany in general and fruit growing in particular. The study of plant hormones grew explosively from that point and many mysteries were (and still are being) solved about how these miraculous photosynthetic life forms function.

What is so amazing to me is that such a simple molecule can do so much. Have you ever put bananas on top of a bowl of fruit containing apples in the bottom? Sure, everyone has.

Have you noticed how fast those bananas get overripe when they are on top of apples? YEP, ripe apples are one of the highest ethylene producers out there! :o Those bananas produce much less, but when the added apple ethylene whacks them, here come the brown spots!  :P

Unless you are going to eat the above bananas TODAY, this is a No No! The bananas will ripen too fast! Set them a few feet away and they will keep longer.  ;)

So now you know that, if you have a well ventilated area and happen to have brought some green bananas from the store that you are worried about "going bad" before ripening or just refusing to turn yellow, as sometimes happens, a small hurricane kerosene lamp placed in the vicinity of the bananas will ripen them. You can impress your spouse with your botany smarts.  ;D


Behold, the humble ethylene molecule, my favorite hydrocaron.
Ethylene (IUPAC name: ethene) is a hydrocarbon with the formula C2H4 or H2C=CH2. It is a colorless flammable gas with a faint "sweet and musky" odor when pure.[3] It is the simplest alkene (a hydrocarbon with carbon-carbon double bonds), and the simplest unsaturated hydrocarbon after acetylene (C2H2).

Ethylene is widely used in chemical industry, and its worldwide production (over 109 million tonnes in 2006) exceeds that of any other organic compound.[4][5] Ethylene is also an important natural plant hormone, used in agriculture to force the ripening of fruits.[6] (

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on April 25, 2019, 07:56:49 pm
April 25th, 2019 by Steve Hanley

“No Plow” Conservation Agriculture Movement Gaining In Popularity (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on August 09, 2019, 05:45:43 pm
Make Nexus Hot News part of your morning: click here ( to subscribe.

August 9, 2019 (

The Future of Farming, Potential Filibuster Farewell, & more (
Title: Wisconsin-based brand “Organic Valley” is now the largest food company world-wide to run on 100% ren
Post by: AGelbert on September 05, 2019, 05:29:43 pm
September 4, 2019


Wisconsin-based brand “Organic Valley” is now the largest food company world-wide to run on 100 percent renewable energy. (

The company completed three solar installations in August that will generate nearly 13 megawatts of power and are part of a larger 32 megawatt portfolio of solar projects called Butter Solar Portfolio owned by Canadian company BluEarth Renewables. Upper Midwest Municipal Energy Group has agreed to buy the power from the projects, which will be used by ten communities in Wisconsin, Minnesota and Iowa, potentially reducing their power costs. Organic Valley’s CEO said the company is now aiming to assist their 2,000 farmers with other sustainable initiatives. (Wisconsin Public Radio (

Read more Renewable Energy NEWS: (
Title: You Thought It Was Impossible to Grow Oranges in the Snow?
Post by: AGelbert on September 14, 2019, 08:34:12 pm
Documentary — Nebraska Retiree Uses Earth’s Heat to Grow Oranges in Snow

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

September 14, 2019


Tropical fruits can be grown in subzero climates with geothermal energy

The only heat source for geothermal greenhouses is the Earth’s heat, which is 52 degrees at 8 feet deep

Energy costs to run a geothermal greenhouse are less than a dollar a day

Harmful herbicides and pesticides can be avoided with geothermal greenhouses

Geothermal greenhouse produce is marketable at local farmer's markets

The crops can be more profitable because there are few transportation costs involved

Finch's geothermal energy-based farming has been fruitful, pun intended  ;D. The greenhouse includes 20 citrus trees with 13 varieties of fruits, along with cacti, orchids, nine varieties of grapes, figs, avocados, ivy, tomatoes, garden plants and flowers.6 One 24-year-old tree will grow to be 100 years old or more, says Finch.7

Each tree is capable of producing as much as 125 pounds of fruit every year which Finch sells at local farmers markets.8 The year-round growing and low transportation costs help the marketability of the products says Finch –– and "locally grown" can be just as much of a sales point as "organic." Finch sells Valencia oranges, the fruit from which most juice comes. The temperatures are so salutatory, you could probably grow bananas too, he muses.9

Yet the energy costs associated with running the geothermal greenhouse are surprisingly low –– less than a dollar a day. A geothermal greenhouse Finch designed for a local high school in Alliance has used an average of 96 cents a day in energy costs for the last several years.10

Full article: (
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: Surly1 on September 15, 2019, 10:10:00 am
Truly remarkable.
Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on September 15, 2019, 03:23:07 pm
Full article: (
Truly remarkable.

( What impressed me most what the fact the trench has to be at least 54 feet long. I guess the thermal mass in the trench is not self sustaining with a shorter trench. I may never have a chance to put that knowledge in practice, but perhaps someone that reads this will. (

I would love to be able to grow bananas and oranges and avocados and even mangos here in Vermont, but I probably will never have the opportunity. I know Amory Lovins successfully grew Bananas in the mountains of Colorado (his ( still does 👍).
I grew Bananas in Puerto Rico and had an Avocado and Mango tree. Bananas are easy to grow in the tropics and are generally impervious to bugs. Birds can get to them, but only when they are so ripe they are falling off the plant. You need to harvest them before that point is reached. The plants don't get much higher than 12 feet or so.

Mango and Avocado trees get way too big (over 30 feet) for a trench, so a dwarf hybrid would have to be the only type you could grow in a covered trench. Avocado and Mango trees must grow for at least 7 years or so before you can get fruit.

Avocado trees are peculiar because they are both male and female (at different times of the day to prevent cross-pollination on the same tree). Usually you need another Avocado tree nearby for proper flower fertlization. Mango trees don't have that problem, but hybrids revert to more stringy fruit (harder to eat) versions rather easily. You need to have similar hybrid trees near each other to keep the fruit true to the hybrid brand.

Mangos are not like apples, which have a uniform pulp texture across most varieties. Mango texture can vary widely from easy to eat to a fruit dense with stringy "dental tape floss" like fibers all the way to the seed. The versions we get in Vermont are low fiber, peach easy to eat, but pretty bland in taste. I suspect they are picked when they not fully ripe so they aren't damaged in shipping. There is nothing like eating a mango, or any other fruit, for that matter, when it has fully ripened on the tree. 😋
Title: Regenerative Agriculture - Part 1
Post by: AGelbert on November 06, 2019, 06:40:18 pm
Regenerative Agriculture - Part 1
15,322 views•Sep 1, 2019

Just Have a Think
34.6K subscribers

Carbon Dioxide levels in our atmosphere continue to climb, as does our global atmospheric temperature. Despite greater awareness of the issues, and huge strides forward by the renewable energy industry, we are not having any effect on the overall problem. But some people think we're looking in the wrong place for the solution and that all we need to do is take some lessons from the way nature has always used it's resources to regulate heat across our blue planet.

Walter Jehne ✨ - The Soil Carbon Sponge, Climate Solutions and Healthy Water Cycles
17,465 views•Apr 29, 2018

Biodiversity for a Livable Climate
Biodiversity for a Livable Climate presents
A talk by Walter Jehne
Australian climate scientist and soil microbiologist
Director of Healthy Soils Australia
Introduction by Didi Pershouse

April 26, 2018
Harvard University, Haller Hall
Category Nonprofits & Activism
#regenerativeagriculture   #climatecrisis     #actnow
People & Blogs
Title: Regenerative Agriculture - Part 2
Post by: AGelbert on November 06, 2019, 06:53:35 pm
Regenerative Agriculture - Part 2
12,318 views•Sep 1, 2019

Just Have a Think
34.6K subscribers

Regenerative Agriculture has been around for a very long time. The trouble is it's just not the way most modern farming techniques are taught or practiced. Walter Jehne is an Australian microbiologist who argues that with a few very simple changes to the way we manage our land, all of which are just taking a lead from nature, the answer to reducing our global atmospheric temperature could be as easy as A-B-C...
Title: Yes, Indoor Agriculture Can Feed the World
Post by: AGelbert on November 21, 2019, 11:58:42 am
Yes, Indoor Agriculture Can Feed the World

And for many food crops, it already does

Source: Rabbobank World Vegetable Map 2018

By Micki Seibel (six minute read) (  (

Title: Re: Sustainable Farming
Post by: AGelbert on November 21, 2019, 12:41:09 pm
Agelbert NOTE: This article is from 2017, but it shows that the great progress happening around the world in growing crops sustainably is not "hopium". ( (

What’s happening around the world?

The US is a relatively small producer of greenhouse vegetables. In fact, the US represents only about 0.2% of the global greenhouse vegetable market, with the rest of the world producing over $300B of vegetables in greenhouses year-round.


read more:

By Allison Kopf May 19, 2017 · 5 min read (

Indoor farming is a way for farmers to protect crops against the risk of weather, while using less resources and producing more 🎋🎍 per square foot. (

Title: Regreening
Post by: AGelbert on November 30, 2019, 07:54:43 pm
BLACK BEAR NEWS - Paris Agreement Breached - Regreening
218 views•Nov 30, 2019

Black Bear News
2.49K subscribers

#FridayGasStrike #ExtinctionRebellion #ClimateStrike
#GretaThunberg #ClimateChange #CompassionateDegrowth

The breach of the Paris Agreement

Twitter @BlackBearNews1

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Category People & Blogs
Title: Why Ploughing Is Such A Bad Idea
Post by: AGelbert on December 03, 2019, 08:12:41 pm
Tractor ploughing the fields. From That’sFarming.

Why Ploughing Is Such A Bad Idea
By Daan (

Feb 20, 2019 · 8 min read

Part of the series “Quest for Drawdown”. For anyone who has walked around farming areas, you’ll be aware that ploughing is an integral part of agriculture as we know it — widespread throughout many countries. However, what you might not know is that it has a very big negative impact on biodiversity and global warming.

There are many different processes involved in modern-day conventional agriculture. Ploughing (which comes in many forms) is a process whereby the top layer of soil is overturned — like flipping a pancake [1]. Tilling is another process, similar to ploughing, whereby soil is cut and broken into smaller pieces; like pulling a comb through the soil [1]. What these two processes have in common is that they both break up and disturb the soil causing a lot of disruption and problems — let me explain…

Firstly, when ploughing and tilling through the fields, the plants in the top layer of the fields rot and decompose, producing and releasing carbon dioxide and methane in the process [2]. Also, fields that are not tilled (so-called “zero tilled” fields) contain sub-soil fungi and plants with roots that extend deep and allow carbon sequestration (absorbing CO2 from atmosphere) [3]. Hence, by not ploughing or tilling, the potential for carbon sequestering (uptake of CO2 from atmosphere) is unleashed. Within the EU under current conventional farming methods, 5% of total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions come from agricultural soils [4] (just soils, no animals!). That’s more than aviation and shipping combined [5],[6].

Difference between tilled and no-till ecosystems. From United States Department of Agriculture, USDA.

Secondly, by disturbing the top layer of soil small pores present in the soil structure that are responsible for the uptake of water are destroyed. In fact, tilling or ploughing a field often results in soil compaction [7]; which reduces overall soil porosity. This leads to reduced water holding capacity and an overall less hospitable environment for all life in the soil [7]. As a result, the farmer has to water more and there is an increased risk of flooding during heavy rains [8], [9].

Thus, thirdly the natural microbiome of the soil is compromised by the disruption and then subsequent compaction caused by tilling or ploughing. Soil, much like our guts, relies for its “health” on the biodiversity of naturally occurring organisms including bacteria, fungi, worms, and insects that are to be found there [10],[11]. All of these different organisms contribute to the stability and porosity of the soil structure, as well as to the richness of the soil in the forms of the organic matter broken down from plant and animal material. Mineral materials are also made more bio-available by these organisms to the plants grown as crops [10],[11]. Furthermore, these organisms form the bottom of the food chain for bigger animals such as voles and birds [12]; which in turn form a pyramid of biodiversity further outside the fields, and into the trees and hedgerows and beyond. All major disruptions to the soil mean major disruptions to the home of all these vitally important organisms [13].

The soil food web nourishes the crops that grow in fields. From USDA.

Fourthly, any soil contains a large amount of seeds buried in the soil, like a giant seed bank. When buried, these remain dormant [14]. However, when tilling or ploughing these seeds are brought to the surface and are allowed to germinate, [15],[16]. As a result, more weeds are present and the farmer has to apply extra herbicides.

Fifth, breaking up the soil leaves it more exposed to wind and rain erosion [17]. During a single rainstorm 2,000 tons of topsoil slipped into the river Wye, in England [18]. Once lost, this soil cannot be recovered. Furthermore, rain erosion causes runoff of farming additives, such as fertilisers, pesticides, and herbicides. These are carried along with the soil and enter waterways, streams, rivers, and eventually seas and oceans ultimately causing dead zones (places where the aquatic habitat is altered in such a way that it becomes inhospitable to most life forms) [19], [20]. There are currently 500 dead zones in the world, compared to 50 in 1950 [20].

[img width=840*TpOIIhtH8EibGCY2utNHNQ.jpeg[/img]http://
Oceanic deadzone. From AquaViews.

Last but not least, dragging a one and half tonne piece of steel equipment [21] through soil is actually quite a big effort, and requires a lot of energy. That energy comes in the form of diesel, burnt to power the tractor — thus adding to the GHG emissions of regular farming.

To see the global picture, roughly 30% of global land area has been acutely degraded, with over 3.2 billion people already affected [22]. Every year we additionally lose an area the size of Greece of fertile soil [23], [24]. For the economists amongst us, that amounts to an annual loss of 10% of global GDP (which is more than what it costs to prevent it) 👀 [23].

This human-induced loss of natural resources paves the way for hunger and conflict [22]. To plough, or not to plough, plays a crucial role in that downward spiral [24].

Degraded land. From Eric van den Elsen 2014, Ecologic.

Why is that so? (

Now you may wonder, why is that so? Why would farmers use techniques that have so many downsides? One reason is that in conventional thinking farmers have to deal with two main struggles: the weather and weeds. In order to get rid of weeds, three common options exist: ploughing (which makes the weeds decompose), herbicides and shading the weeds to death [18]. In some cases where farmers have abandoned tilling, such as in the US, the amount of herbicides used (such as glyphosate) has increased [18] (although this is not necessary). In other cases there are initial investments that need to be made, such as purchasing a “cross-slot-drill” [25], a machine that can sow seeds into the ground without ploughing or tilling.

Additionally, when switching to no plough/no till farming, in the first few years there can be a decreased yield of crops, leading some farmers to return to old practises [26]. However, after these initial years yield in many cases is actually higher than in conventional farming [26],[25],[27].

Beyond that, the topic of no-till/no-plough farming is relatively unresearched [25],[2]. Another important factor is that many farmers have quite a lot of debt, [28], [29], and are stuck between this high debt and ever higher demand for low consumer prices [30]. This means that farmers will be reluctant to try anything new that might not absolutely guarantee them from day one the profits they are used to [30].

What are the alternatives (

There are a plethora of alternative approaches that involve no-till, and many of these have been shown to be more profitable than conventional methods [31], [32] . These include adapted forms of no-till organic farming, direct soil drilling, restorative agriculture[33], agroforestry (syntropy) [34], permaculture, using perennial crops [35] etc. There is such a vast abundance of possibilities that I will not cover them in this article, however, I will talk about them in the future. What must be noted is that all of these methods are dependent and adaptable to the type of crops chosen, the soil type, and the local climate.

For what remains, we need to rethink the way we do agriculture and give farmers the attention and help they deserve in the face of our current ecological crisis. In the end, it affects all of us; the food that we eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.


[1] “Agriculture: What is the difference between tilling and plowing? — Quora.” [Online]. Available:

[2] S. Mangalassery, S. Sjögersten, D. L. Sparkes, C. J. Sturrock, J. Craigon, and S. J. Mooney, “To what extent can zero tillage lead to a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from temperate soils?,” Sci. Rep., vol. 4, p. 4586, Apr. 2014.

[3] “The importance of soil organic matter.” [Online]. Available:

[4] “Archive:Agriculture — greenhouse gas emission statistics — Statistics Explained.” [Online]. Available:

[5] “Facts &amp; figures aviation.” [Online]. Available:

[6] “Reducing emissions from the shipping sector | Climate Action.” [Online]. Available:

[7] “Soil compaction | UMN Extension.” [Online]. Available:

[8] “Frequent tillage and its impact on soil quality | Integrated Crop Management.” [Online]. Available:

[9] “Improving Water Retention with Cover Crops | No-till on the Plains | Agriculture Production Systems Modeling Nature.” [Online]. Available:

[10] “Earths natural internet.”,

[11] “Healthy Soil Microbes, Healthy People — The Atlantic.” [Online]. Available:

[12] “Soil Food Web | NRCS Soils.” [Online]. Available:

[13] “Crop cultivation and wild animals.” [Online]. Available:

[14] “Wikipedia Soil Seed Bank.” [Online]. Available:

[15] “Tilling is one chore you might be able to skip — FineGardening.” [Online]. Available:

[16] “Cultivating Vs. Tilling — The Difference &amp; Why You Should Cultivate.” [Online]. Available:

[17] “Heavy Rain, Soil Erosion and Nutrient Losses | Integrated Crop Management.” [Online]. Available:

[18] “Kill the Plough, Save Our Soils.” [Online]. Available:

[19] “Managing Runoff to Reduce the Dead Zone | GEOG 3: The Future of Food.” [Online]. Available:

[20] “Oceans suffocating as huge dead zones quadruple since 1950, scientists warn.” [Online]. Available:

[21] “Mounted Reversible Plough • MASS.” [Online]. Available:

[22] “Land degradation threatens human wellbeing, major report warns | Environment | The Guardian.” [Online]. Available:

[23] “Media Release: Worsening Worldwide Land Degradation Now ‘Critical’, Undermining Well-Being of 3.2 Billion People | IPBES.” [Online]. Available:‘critical’-undermining-well-being-32.

[24] “Third of Earth’s soil is acutely degraded due to agriculture | Environment | The Guardian.” [Online]. Available:

[25] “Farmers are abandoning traditional ploughing — BBC News.” [Online]. Available:

[26] “Better soil quality and yield by no longer ploughing maize soil — WUR.” [Online]. Available:

[27] “Does ploughing actually damage soils and crops? — BBC News.” [Online]. Available:

[28] “‘Bad debt’ on the rise in farming and agriculture sector — NEWS — Farmers Guardian.” [Online]. Available:

[29] “What Every New Farmer Should Know About Farm Debt — Upstart University.” [Online]. Available:

[30] “De boer moet uit de spagaat: ‘Schulden en steeds goedkoper produceren zet de boeren klem’ | De Volkskrant.” [Online]. Available:

[31] “Wayback Machine.” [Online]. Available:

[32] D. L. Beck, J. L. Miller, and M. P. Hagny, “Successful No-Till on the Central and Northern Plains.”

[33] “Wikipedia Regenerative Agriculture.”,

[34] “Differences between organic and syntropic farming — Agenda Gotsch.” [Online]. Available:

[35] “Perennial Crops | Drawdown.” [Online]. Available:

Climate Change - Environment - Agriculture - Global Warming - Ecology


The Quest for Drawdown — I intend to write for as long as necessary to halt the current sixth mass extinction and achieve climate drawdown.


Title: Second of 2 articles by Organic Consumers Association on what the GND could mean for the local food
Post by: AGelbert on December 16, 2019, 06:36:15 pm

Clearly, there’s an extreme disconnect between our public policy, on the one hand, and what would be good for consumers, family farmers and the ecosystem, on the other hand.

( Three Steps For Building A Million-Person Food Citizen Force

By Anthony Flaccavento, Organic Consumers Association

December 15, 2019 | ORGANIZE!

Americans cherish the “family farm.” Most are also happy to be able to buy local foods at farmers markets, grocers or their favorite restaurants. In the marketplace, consumers are sending the message that they want more sustainable and organic food, sales of which exceeded $50 billion last year. And the vast majority of people in our nation believe that climate change is real, and that urgent action needs to be taken.

While there is some variability depending upon one’s political affiliation, Democrats and Republicans alike hold these views. If this is what we... -more- (
Title: Cuba’s Urban 🎍 Farming Shows Way to Avoid Hunger​
Post by: AGelbert on January 06, 2020, 04:01:17 pm

November 12, 2019 

By Paul Brown  (

A verdant and productive urban garden in Havana. Susanne Bollinger / Wikimedia Commons

Cuba’s Urban 🎍 Farming Shows Way to Avoid Hunger​ (