Ana cultivates algae biofertilizer

by Mark Edwards

Leonardo was right. Our modern society spends 100 times more on space. NASA has a $18.3 billion budget, but the USDA invests practically nothing on soil research. Ancient, as well as current indigenous civilizations worshipped the soil as the foundry of life. Proof of soil veneration comes from the Latin name for man, homo, which is derived from humus, the stuff of life in the soil.

Fertile soils are among the most beautiful resources on our planet. Soils hold more than twice as much carbon as the atmosphere and play a crucial role in carbon cycling, food production, and water and nutrient retention.

Each acre houses many living creatures, including over 900 pounds of earthworms, 2,400 pounds of fungi, 1,500 pounds of bacteria, 133 pounds of protozoa, 890 pounds of arthropods and algae, and possibly some small mammals. An acre of soil may contain over 10,000 species of microorganisms, which contribute to soil and ecologic biodiversity.

Modern industrial agriculture, (MIA) systemically extracts, erodes and brutalizes soil, eventually killing the microbes, which destroys fertility. About five million acres of fertile agricultural lands in the US are lost to production every year due to urban development or degradation. America loses one square mile of farmland every hour, or 9.5 acres per minute. When cropland becomes infertile, farmers often must have to move their family and leave their farm. This chapter explores another algae miracle – restoring life, organics and fertility to worn out and abandoned cropland.

After nutrient cycling, biofertilizers provide the strongest tool single-celled organisms can provide to improve food production. The survival of our children depends on knowledge and respectful behaviors to soils, as well as actions that preserve and protect precious croplands.

Soil ecosystems provide the foundation of human life. Food production depends on fertile land to grow the produce that provides energy, health and vitality. The intensity and scale of modern cropland use and abuse suggest we have much yet to learn and implement to sustainably manage cropland. Soil remains possibly the least understood of nature’s critical ecosystems and are among the most degraded.

Algae biofertilizers, grown and delivered though smartcultures or other methods, recycle nutrients in a manner that enables farmers to leave each field better than they found it in terms of in situ nutrients, organic material, soil structure and erosion resistance. The smartcultures design engages farmers to transform food production from a systemically extractive and pollutive industry to regenerative and clean. Smartcultures also allow substantially more social justice in food production than industrial farming.

Smartcultures, (Sustainable Micro-Algae Regenerative Technologies), reengineer the food production system, beginning at its foundation — soil — with tiny microflora in plant roots that are ingeniously self-regulating and self-regenerative.

In the 11,000 years humans have practiced agriculture, communities survived or starved based on their relationship with their soil. Preserving fertile soils enabled farmers to grow crops to feed their families, communities and societies. Some of the earliest written documents on record are agricultural manuals that organized, preserved and conveyed soil and crop production knowledge.

For the last 60 years, MIA has treated cropland as a disposable commodity. Systemic soil overuse, abuse and abandonment are foolish, wasteful and extremely pollutive. Much of the best cropland has been farmed for years, but millions of those fertile acres will be unavailable to our next generation because they are worn out and abandoned.

New cropland expansion requires more inputs because the new ground is less favorable, flat and fertile. Not only will our next generation be short of fertile cropland, but they will also find some of the critical inputs for fossil food production have become extinct. If a foreign country inflicted the current level of soil degradation and pollution of US ecosystems that we impose on ourselves, our nation would declare war on that country. As we deplete, degrade and discard our soil, we silently erode the foundation of our society.

When our soils and natural resources are no longer able to support food production, our society as we know it will end. Failing sufficient resources for food production, we will have no economy, no viable society and no national security. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt saw the ravages of the soil degradation that led to the US Dust Bowl and said:

“The nation that destroys its soil, destroys itself.”

The FAO that 33% of the world’s cropland has become so degraded, it has been abandoned in the last 40 years, and continues at 29 million acres a year. The U.S. net cropland losses from 1982 to 1992 covered an area the size of New Jersey. Farmers should be stewards of their land, but a recent USDA report shows that about 40% of US cropland is leased. Even worse, 80% of the lessees are non-farming landlords, who show little concern for sustainable practices.

Cropland degradation occurs from several MIA practices. Farmers plant monocultures repeatedly that wear out the soil by extracting the essential nutrients and humus. Genetically modified seeds need more cultivation, water, fertilizer and pesticides – all of which damage soil fertility. Both chemical fertilizers and irrigation increase soil salinity, which builds and eventually becomes fatal for crops.

When fields become unfertile, they must be abandoned because the soil does not support crops. Half the remaining cropland globally is so degraded it takes twice as much fertilizer and three times more irrigation water to achieve normal crop yields. Several Central American countries had to abandon over 75% of their cropland due to erosion. Farmers clear-cut rainforests, then their topsoil vanished.

Nature requires about 500 years to replace 25 millimeters, (1 inch) of lost topsoil. The minimal soil depth for agricultural production is 150 millimeters, (about 6 inches), but most crops need deeper soils. Fertile soil is a nonrenewable, endangered ecosystem that with degradation, systemically diminishes crop yields until the soil becomes unfertile and sterile. Restoration of degraded cropland using current technology may cost $40,000 and acre or more, making the process non-economic.

The Environmental Working Group collaborating with the USDA found that the rich, dark soil in America’s Heartland is being swept away at rates many times higher than official estimates. In some places in Iowa, storms have triggered soil losses that were 12 times greater than the USDA average for the state, which is six tons per acre. A single storm can strip 100 tons of soil per acre from cropland, according to researchers using the new measurement techniques.