Agriculture

Organic farming

  • In theory, healthy plants don't need pesticides. Pests typically attack stressed plants. Barber, 53
  • Weeds don't matter if they are not competing with the primary plant. Make conditions optimal for the plant you want and you might get "weeds" but you won't have a weed problem (they will become the stressed plant) Barber, 57
  • Crop rotation example (no fertilizer needed): Spelt builds deep root systems and creates soil aeration. Clover captures nitrogen from the air and fixes it in the soil and carbon from the process keeps the nitrogen stable so it doesn't run off like chemical fertilizer. Barber, 63
  • Growing a monoculture with fertilizers will win on quantity of yield over an unfertilized organic version of the same grain. But in the organic version, you can plant oat and barley along with your wheat, which yields more overall food yield than the monoculture wheat crop - if you harvest and eat them, which we currently don't. Barber, 367
  • Agroecology methods outperform chemical fertilizers in boosting food production. In Malawi, a shift back to agroecology has doubled and tripled maize yields in some places. Average crop yield increases 80% in 57 developing countries using these methods, and 116% is the average in African projects. Klein, 123
  • Methods for agroecology: integration of trees and shrubs into grazing land, solar-powered drip irrigation to plant roots, intercropping, and green manures Klein, 123

Soil health

  • Weeds will grow where the soil is best suited to them. You can use the weeds to identify soil needs: chicory, Queen Anne's lace, and wild carrot grow where there is low fertility. Milkweed shows low zinc. Wild garlic and yellow flowers mean there is low sulfur. Barber, 57-58, 65
  • Soil management - nutrients, minerals, fertilizer content- create the end taste of the crop Barber, 68
  • Plant flavor can be measured with a refractometer to find Brix, which has enormous impact on food flavor. Commonly used with wine grapes. Barber, 81
  • Biochar: as plants grow, they pull CO2 out of the air, but they release it again when they decay. Instead of letting it decay, heat woody material at low temperature anaerobically until it is carbonized (pyrolysis). Use this material as a fertilizer - dug into the ground, carbon is sequestered. Byproduct is biodiesel. Lovins, 199-200

Animal farming

  • Grazing animals seek varied and nutritious diets. That's why you see them reaching through fencelines. Barber, 61

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