Thursday, September 19, 2013

Slow soil

I don't know about you, but between threatened government shutdowns, climate change, and underperforming epull tabs, I could use more good news. Today I found some. It might even help something like the poor, beleaguered patch of Anoka Sand plain that's my "back yard," at least if we were actively farming it.
photo of Anoka Sand Plain grass
sand plain yard             © harrington

The Land Stewardship Project's blog, earlier this month, reported on some encouraging "healthy soil" developments coming to us out of North Dakota. In Burleigh County, some farmers are taking the next step in soil conservation. They're using a combination of cover crops, rotational grazing and no-till farming to increase the soil's natural ability to increase it's own fertility. That's definitely restorative development in my book.
photo of storm clouds
       storm clouds                  © harrington
Since we seem to be experiencing more and more highly variable weather, Minnesota is now suffering a "flash drought" (you learn something new every day) and, this year, we've been suffering from "weather whiplash," another new term for me. With extreme weather events (Boulder CO flooding) and greater volatility becoming more common, and the Gulf of Mexico's dead zone getting filled with Minnesota River valley agricultural soil, I'm hoping Minnesota farmers are willing to learn some lessons from their neighbors to the west. To quote Aldo Leopold A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise. (A Sand County Almanac, p.262) Do you think we can begin to act on this concept more and more, or will we, like the farmer in W.D. Ehrhart's poem, be only farmers of dreams?
Thanks for listening. Come again when you can. Rants, raves and reflections served here daily.