Thursday, 22 June 2017

Perennial crops and fungi on the Great Plains (online)


A research collaboration in Kansas aims to restore fungi historically tied with native tall grass prairie, in hopes of making farming viable for the long-term. Rather than planting annual crops that require chemicals and intensive working, the Land Institute aims to develop perennial cousins of staple crops that will regrow year after year from more extensive root systems associated with soil fungi. These fungi form a mutually beneficial system with plants and act as an extension of the plants’ own root systems. Such perennial crops could lead to economic benefits for agricultural producers in the Great Plains region. These perennial crops, like Kernza used to make bread, ice cream and beer, should be more productive in soil infused with fungi native to tallgrass prairie.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Why soil matters (video)

Stop Treating Our Soil Like Dirt!

This TED talk explains the global importance of soil and soil care.

The secrets of healthy soil (video)

Dirty Secrets of Healthy Soil

Want to now what lives in your soil? Then watch this great TED talk.



Microbes create soil organic matter (#journal)

Direct evidence for microbial-derived soil organic matter formation and its ecophysiological controls  

Soil organic matter (SOM) and the carbon and nutrients therein drive fundamental submicron- to global-scale biogeochemical processes and influence carbon-climate feedbacks. Consensus is emerging that microbial materials are an important constituent of stable SOM, and new conceptual and quantitative SOM models are rapidly incorporating this view. However, direct evidence demonstrating that microbial residues account for the chemistry, stability and abundance of SOM is still lacking. Further, emerging models emphasize the stabilization of microbial-derived SOM by abiotic mechanisms, while the effects of microbial physiology on microbial residue production remain unclear. Here we provide the first direct evidence that soil microbes produce chemically diverse, stable SOM. We show that SOM accumulation is driven by distinct microbial communities more so than clay mineralogy, where microbial-derived SOM accumulation is greatest in soils with higher fungal abundances and more efficient microbial biomass production.

Cover crops should be polycultures (online)

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Livelihoods on US permaculture farms (#journal)

Livelihoods and production diversity on U.S. permaculture farms

We visited 36 permaculture farms in the United States and gathered multidimensional data on the distribution of labor and income, along with sociodemographic information and farm characteristics. Using developed a preliminary typology of U.S. permaculture farms. Farms were predominantly small in scale, with a high proportion of young farmers, new farmers, and new farms, when compared with national figures. Diversity of farm-based income was high for enterprises and across seasons. Cluster analysis based on sources of income produced a preliminary typology with five categories: small mixed annual and perennial cropping, integrated production, a mix of production and services, animal base , and service base. Our research suggests that permaculture farms are using a familiar set of strategies, including non-production enterprises, in order to develop and maintain diversified agroecosystems.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Fractal planting for optimal harvests (online)

Fractal planting patterns yield optimal harvests, without central control

Bali's famous rice terraces, when seen from above, look like colorful mosaics because some farmers plant synchronously, while others plant at different times. The resulting fractal patterns are rare for man-made systems and lead to optimal harvests without global planning. The Balinese rice fields could serve as an example that under certain conditions it is possible to reach sustainable situations that lead to maximum payoff for all parties, wherein every individual makes free and independent decisions.

Bali's famous rice terraces, when seen from above, look like colorful mosaics because some farmers plant synchronously, while others plant at different times. The resulting fractal patterns are rare for man-made systems and lead to optimal harvests without global planning.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-06-fractal-patterns-yeild-optimal-harvests.html#jCp
Bali's famous rice terraces, when seen from above, look like colorful mosaics because some farmers plant synchronously, while others plant at different times. The resulting fractal patterns are rare for man-made systems and lead to optimal harvests without global planning.

Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-06-fractal-patterns-yeild-optimal-harvests.html#jCp