Environmental Conservation #5
Soil Classes
4 Vital classes for agriculture and forestry.

Mollisoils – Fertile soils with deep A horizon; best agriculture soils.

Oxisols – Tropical forest soils; iron and aluminum oxides in B horizon; little O horizon; poor agriculture soils.

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Alfisols: well-developed O, A, E, and B horizons; suitable for agriculture if supplemented.

Aridisols – little vertical structure; thin and unsuitable for sustainable agriculture.

Oxisols location
Oxisols are not found in the continental US
Alfisols and world population
Alfisols support about 17% of the world’s population.
Aridsols use
Aridisols are used mainly for range, wildlife and recreation.
Inceptisol cover and suborders
Land use varies considerably with incepitsols – forestry, recreation, and watershed.
The soil Ecosystem
Slow transfer of nutrients and energy
– Tropical forest: few months
– Temperate forest: few years
The Importance of Humus
Partly decomposed organic matter.

High capacity for holding water and nutrients.

Typically found in O horizon.

SOM
Soil organic matter represents a major pool of carbon in the biosphere.

Estimated at roughly twice that in the atmosphere CO2.

Results of Topsoil removal. Sand and gravel rate of soil production.
Depending on the 5 factors – 1 inch of soil development takes 200-2000 years.
World-Wide Soil Degradation Mechanisms for all land-use types.
56% Water Erosion
28% Wind Erosion
12% Chemical Degradation
4% Physical Degradation
Desertification in Kalmykia
Poor agricultural policy and practice led to widespread conversion of the fragile landscape to sandy desert.
Salinization facts
freshest water irrigation contains at least 200 to 500ppm of dissolved salts.

Dry land irrigation is a process of distilling out dissolved salts in irrigated water and leaving it on the land.

Is a form of desertification, since land is rendered useless.

Worldwide an estimated 3.7 million acres of agricultural land is lost annually to salinization and waterlogging.

Soil conservation policies
U.S has the NRCS (Natural resources conservation service)

Promotes soil conservation down to the local farm level. (USDA) NRCS oversees the various land and soil restoration and conservation program.

Most of the $3 billion budget goes to programs to pay landowners for retiring erosion-prone croplands and wetlands.

Food production and distribution
Food produced per acre has increased, but has environmental costs.

Developing countries have gone from food self-sufficiency to food dependence in only the last 40 years.

Dependence is exacerbated by exploitation by developed countries.

Patterns of food production in past 40 years
Additional land into cultivation (forests and wetlands) 25% of US land area. 38% global land area.

Increase use of fertilizers

Increasing use of chemical pesticides

Increase use of irrigation

Substituting new genetic varieties

The Green Revolution
Massive program to address world hunger
-the industrialization of agriculture after WWII

Heavy machinery industrial complexes, and chemical biocides used in WWII were shifted to agriculture.

Massive research programs developed GMO’s, Fertilizers, and pesticides that would increase yields on crops and bolster food production.

Effects of industry on agriculture
50 years ago – 15% of US population lived on farms.

Today – less than 1% live on farms.

Farms are 4x as large.

Green Revolution and the introduction of agriculture technology to developing nations
Food production increased dramatically

We can get food cheaper than in any point in history.

Animal Farming and its Consequences
Loss of 70% of grain crops in U.S.

Stock yards mismanagement of animal manure.

Most widespread source of water pollution.

Sustainable on rural farms and with pastoral herding. (Cost?)

Source of 3% of greenhouse gases.

Future food production needs
40% increase in food production needed over next two decades.

– Convert animal farms to grain farms
– Increase yields – The promise of biotechnology.

Transgenic Crops
Disease resistant
Drought tolerance
Improved nutritional value.
Incorporate human vaccines.
2nd Generation Genomics (Monsanto’s Roundup Ready Maize and Soybeans)
The second generation will have further traits, such as drought resistance, “stacked” on top of herbicides and pesticide resistance.

Farmers will pay extra for these new features.

Problems: Pollen disperses engineered genes to wild counterparts creating “Super Weeds.” Unintended killings such as beneficial insects.

More Genomics problems
Food safety
Profit Driven
Affordability in developing countries.
Seed sterility
Consumer Acceptance
Organic Farming
Limits the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Holistic method of farming that is supposed to work with – rather than against natural systems.

Conservation Agriculture Idea (CA)
Claims to be more environmental friendly than organic because soils are left intact. Can also greatly reduce need for herbicides and pesticides.
Conservation Agriculture Methods
Continuous minimal mechanical soil disturbance.

Permanent organic soil cover

Diversified crop rotations.

Food Security
Assured access for every person to enough nutritious food to sustain an active and healthy life.

Developing countries should strive for food self-sufficiency. Instead heavy in debt countries invest in cash crops and mine their natural resources for the international market.

Nutrition vs Hunger
Hunger – Lack of basic food energy and meeting nutritional needs.

Malnutrition: lack of essential nutrients (amino acids, vitamins and minerals)

Undernourishment: Lack of adequate food energy (calories).

Root cause of Hunger
Poverty. 20% of the people on earth suffer from the effects of hunger and malnutrition.

Children are most at risk.

Famine
Severe shortage of food followed by a significant increase in death rate.
Haiti Exploited
Since 1492.

Spanish plant sugar.
French cut down forests for crops.
French gain 93 million francs in restitution from its former colony – much of it in timber.
Today less than 4% of Haiti’s forests remain.

From 1991 to 2002 food production per capita fell 30 percent.

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