Receiving news of the extensive research undertaken by Mark Measures and the forthcoming workshop led the writer to remember Winin Pereira and Rashneh Pardiwala who recognised the importance of good soil structure.
Winin Pereira’s paper Energy & Lifestyles was originally prepared for the Traditional Science Congress, held at Varanasi in October 1998 (updated November 1998).It noted some causes of soil acidification adding that sustainable farming requires that all crop ‘wastes’ be returned to the soil. If this is not done, soil erosion will increase, the soil’s nutrients will be mined and the land will require additional synthetic fertilizer. However, the soil organic matter, soil biota, and water-holding capacity cannot be replaced by applying fertilizers. This may result in serious degradation of fertile farm land which will ultimately make the land barren. soil erosion and water runoff, which would ultimately reduce the overall productivity of the land forest clearing erosion flooding (water runoff)
From Western Science to Liberation Technology he notes that Warli farmers tried synthetic fertilizers.out but soon abandoned them. They said that the fertilizers damaged the soil and that larger amounts were required each year. In consequence, they use very little, and then not every year. use of Sesbania bispinosa, and later ref to rui (Calotropis gigantea) leaves as a green manure. The leaves have very small percentages of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus they use it widely and it is evidently effective in improving crop productivity.
A couple of years later another colleague, Rashneh Pardiwala, completed her doctoral research with distinction at Edinburgh. Professor Grace wrote: “She has worked on the loss of carbon dioxide from heather-moorland soils, using a site near Edinburgh which is fairly typical of the peaty spoils which are widespread in northern Britain. The context of her work is the impact of climate warning on the flux of CO2 from the soil to the atmosphere (11.10.00).
And today soil-related references in an article from the Shenzhen Daily caught my eye
When landscape designer Wang Xin, with a degree in landscape botany, realized he could no longer stand being an office drone, he left his job, rented two plantation sheds in the suburbs and started farming from scratch. After a rough start he has learned valuable lessons going back to his university and visiting colleagues in Tochigi Prefecture, Japan, to study the most modern organic farming techniques. In July he prepared all-natural organic matter to enrich the soil. his fertilizing formula has been perfected through years of research in collaboration with Beijing University of Agriculture to simulate the formation of the fertile dark forest soil in Northeast China, known for its high crop productivity.
Logically, the true foundation of organic farming lies in soil content: if the soil is right — if it is a living organism with a complex organic structure — the outcome is safe and tasty food farmed without the need for fertilizing chemicals, according to Wang. But that is not the only objective. Wang hopes to build a production model that rehabilitates the soil itself. On regular plantations, the soil can degrade within a matter of years after being over-exploited. “For organic farming to become truly sustainable, revitalizing the soil is key. I am certain that in three to four years, the soil that I have been reviving will only be healthier,” he said.
The strawberries from his organic plantation in the southern outskirts of Beijing are believed by his clients to be “the best in China.”
As part of Mark Measures’ Churchill Study Fellowship (Soil Management for Sustainable Production and Environmental Protection), he travelled to the US and Europe in 2017-18, visiting researchers, advisers and farmers. His final report (January 2019):”Soil Management for Sustainable Food Production and Environmental Protection” can be downloaded here (pdf).
In the next post, farmers, growers and advisers are invited to his one day workshop