Monday, February 4, 2013

Soils underlie a great deal of our lives and lifestyle.

Without soil we wouldn't eat (and no smart comments from aquaponic people).  Billions of people get fed because soil provides the nutrients and space for food to be grown. As time goes by there are more and more people moving away from rural areas and into the urban fringe. Farmers are abandoning their land in increasing numbers as water scarcity and the cost of fertilisers increase.
Who is going to keep growing food for the bilions of people on the planet and how can we keep doing it if we don't look after the soil properly?

Soil scientists are looking at these questions and hoping that through technology and a certain amount of common sense that increasing numbers of people can be fed on ever decreasing viable farmland. Coupled with a peak phosphorus event sometime in the next decades, there will need to be a lot of changes in the way soils are treated and improved. Some of the solutions lie in going back to traditional farming, such as no-till and use of cover crops. Some solutions lie in the use of technology to increase precision agriculture, using  satellite imagery to determine what areas in paddocks need a particular nutrient or water. Precision farming allows farmers to only use mininal amounts of fertilisers when they are needed and gives the farmer more time to do other things.

There are many techniques to grow food and provide for the people on the planet but we need to stop making so many people and stop wasting so much food.

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