(NaturalNews) Of the three big fertilizers used in agriculture(nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus), two are minerals that must bemined. Potassium ("potash") is a mineral that is mined, processed,and then spread on fields as fertilizer in most modern, industrialfarming. Potash is of paramount importance to the cereal grainsthat make up most of the world`s current base foods. Using currentindustrial farming methods, the available supply of "easy" potashis going to run out soon. |
When that happens, a huge portion of ouragriculture will collapse. Cereal grains require between 45 and 60 pounds of potash per ton ofhay (equivalent). 1 Currently, in industrialized farming, most of this is added in rawform as fertilizers (muriate of potash). In organic farming, theyare added through manures and from composts made up of the unusedcrop fibers.
Two of the primary reasons that most forage crops are not grownorganically is because of "mono-cropping" (growing only one crop onan acreage) and contractual obligations the farm makes to seedsuppliers. Usually the two reasons go hand-in-hand with seedsuppliers like Monsanto requiring growers to sign contracts forseveral years of seed purchasing and crop output at a time. This mono-cropping depletes the soil of vital nutrients withoutreplenishment and is only possible if those nutrients are replacedartificially. The trouble is, we`re using a lot of energy (oil) to gather thoseminerals and then still more energy to distribute them to farmersfor use.
The minerals that were easy to get to and very close tothe agricultural heartlands are getting harder and harder to findor are entirely gone. So these minerals come from further field,requiring much more energy to transport and use. According to data from the U.S. Geological Survey, phosphate hasbeen on the decline in America for some time. Extraction peaked inthe late 1970s and has been dropping ever since, with currentlevels matching pre-1970 numbers and continuing to decline.
In thepast decade, in fact, the U.S. has been importing phosphorus. 2 Studies are showing that by tilling under the unused biomass fromcrops rather than burning, harvesting for other purposes (usuallyto be burned as fuel), or leaving fallow over the winter, thenutrients can be returned to the soil for greater availability uponreplanting. This is especially true where cover crops are employedto "hold the soil" during the winter months.
3 Yet this practice is becoming less and less common as the farmerswho practice industrial agriculture nearly always leave theirfields bare during winter months and then "replenish" them withartificial fertilizers in the spring. This wasteful method of farming might be profitable for some Big Aggrowers, but it is destructive, wasteful, and unsustainable. It is up to us, as consumers, to demand more sustainable methodsfrom our agriculture while we can still do so. As resources becomemore and more scarce, costs for food will rise and those who growour food may find themselves unable to do so. This will cascadequickly unless we stop it now.
Forcing the issue through laws and regulations is not likely towork (if it could ever be done). Only by "voting with our forks,"can we, as consumers, truly make a difference. By growing our ownfood, buying local foods grown sustainably, and keeping much of ourmoney out of Big Agriculture`s hands, we can take back our dinnertables and stop the pending food crisis and starvation that aresure to come if things do not change soon. Resources: 1 - Maintaining Phosphorus & Potassium Levels , Penn State Univ.
2 - U.S. Minerals Databrowser: Phosphate , The Oil Drum 3 - Crop rotation and tillage effects on phosphorus distribution in thecentral Great Plains by R.A. Bowman, A. D. Halvorson, Soil Science Society of America , 1997 V61 No5.
4 - Take Notice of the Sustainability Factor and the Disposable Economyof the World, Part III by Aaron Turpen, NaturalNews 5 - The Sustainability Factor: What Sustainability Means and Why YouNeed to Know by Aaron Turpen About the author Aaron Turpen is a professional writer living in Wyoming in the USA.His blogs cover organic/sustainable living and environmentalconsiderations ( AaronsEnvironMental.com ) and the science debunking mainstream medical and provingalternatives ( HiddenHealthScience.com ).
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