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- Experts worldwide are working to persuade farmers to reject thousands of years of agricultural tradition in order to save their soil
- Building healthy soil and buffering themselves against climate change — and saving money while doing it — are all possible by practicing what is called conservation agriculture
- Most farmers worldwide still plow their soil and leave it bare in the off-season, that causes the important nutrients to be washed away
July 25, 2017: Ancient civilizations plowed themselves into oblivion, and modern agriculture risks doing it again, geologist David Montgomery says.
In his new book, Montgomery says a growing number of farmers are using techniques that can save their farms from slow death by erosion.
In ‘Growing a Revolution: Bringing Our Soil Back to Life’, Montgomery meets farmers who are building healthy soil and buffering themselves against climate change — and saving money while doing it — by practicing what is called conservation agriculture.
Experts worldwide are working to persuade farmers to reject thousands of years of agricultural tradition in order to save their soil.
Erosion of Civilizations
Montgomery told VOA, while finishing his previous book, Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, “It was very difficult to write the final chapter and not have it sound really depressing.”
Dirt describes how tillage, one of the oldest practices in agriculture, degraded farms and civilizations from Mesopotamia to 1930’s Dust Bowl America.
Farmers till the soil to control weeds and make planting easier, but exposed soil washes away in the rain and blows away in the wind, carrying with it the nutrients plants need to thrive.
And yet, most farmers worldwide still plow their soil and leave it bare in the off-season. Many plant the same crops over and over again. All three practices wear out the soil.
Growing a Revolution picks up where Dirt ends, with the promise of a relatively new kind of farming.
“Conservation agriculture flip[s] all three of those ideas on their head,” he said. “It’s a completely different philosophy to not till, to always have the ground covered with either a commercial crop or a cover crop, and to grow a much more diverse rotation.”
Trouble in tidy fields
Trey Hill of Maryland has not tilled his soybean field in years. The young crop peeks out from below waist-high brown stalks of what remains of last year’s cover crop, a mix of grains, legumes, radishes and more.
“If you don’t like your fields to look like a mess,” Hill said with a laugh, “it has to kind of grow on you. Yet, I have a lot of other owners and peers that are, like, ‘Wow, what you’re doing is really exciting.'”
A short drive away, in a neighbor’s conventionally tilled field, soybeans grow in neat and tidy lines on a clean slate of bare earth.
University of Maryland soil scientist Ray Weil sees signs of trouble. The lower leaves of the soybean plants are splashed with mud from a rainstorm two nights earlier.
“When it rained, that soil went flying,” Weil said. “When the soil goes flying, it goes running down the slope. That’s the first step in soil erosion.”
Just a few millimeters below the surface, he finds soybean roots growing sideways, unable to penetrate a layer of hard earth packed down by the effects of tillage. If it turns dry later in the summer, he said, “they’re going to be crying uncle for water.”
“When no-till started, they called it ‘farming ugly,'” Weil said.
Hill’s “ugly” field is pretty on the inside. The roots of the cover crop he planted last year held onto the soil and its precious nutrients through the winter. Legumes added nitrogen, a key fertilizer. Earthworms feasting on the decomposing plants dig tunnels in the earth. Those pores soak up rainfall like a sponge, and they provide paths for the roots of Hill’s soybeans to grow through.
Cushioning against droughts and downpours, these soils help Hill through the weather extremes that are becoming more frequent with climate change.
And Hill is saving money. Less tilling means paying for less tractor fuel. He buys less fertilizer because his cover crops feed the soil.
“It all means more income to the farmer,” Hill said.
Profits for big and small farms
Conservation agriculture is also working on small farms in the developing world.
“What surprised me was how profitable these techniques can be in both settings,” Montgomery said.
Montgomery visited Ghana, where traditional slash-and-burn farming is degrading the soil, but conservation agriculture is turning fields into food forests. Farmers raised multiple crops on the same field, keeping the ground covered year ’round.
“You would have, say, an overstory of plantains and an understory of peppers and cassava,” he said. “If I’d squinted and didn’t know better, I might have sworn I was in a jungle, but everything around me was food.”
The spread of conservation agriculture has been slow. The transition can take several years. Weeds can cut yields in that time. Equipment designed to work on bare earth may not operate on cover-cropped fields.
Developing world farmers, in particular, often remove the residues of one crop before planting the next, to feed livestock, thatch roofs, or use as cooking fuel.
“There’s lots of uses,” Weil said. “But the residues need to be left in the field, at least most of them, to feed the soil.”
“Lots of barriers to giving it a try,” he added. “But once you get going, it’s cheaper.”
Cheaper, soil-saving and climate-friendly, experts worldwide are helping farmers switch to conservation agriculture and consign the plow to the history books. (VOA)
Singer Rihanna was honoured by Prime Minister Mia Mottley at an event which marked Barbados's new status as a republic, which was attended by Prince Charles. Addressing the pop star by her real name, the PM said: "Robyn Rihanna Fenty tomorrow morning shall have conferred upon her the order of national hero of Barbados."
Rihanna was then summoned from her seat to accept the honor, with the Prime Minister managing to rouse a laugh from the singer when she referenced her 2012 hit 'Diamonds', reports femalefirst.co.uk. She added: "On behalf of a grateful nation, but an even prouder people, we therefore present to you, the designee, for the national hero of Barbados." "And to accept on behalf of a grateful nation - you can come my dear - ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty, may you continue to shine like a diamond and bring honor to your nation." Rihanna, who was born in the St Michael parish of Barbados, found fame in 2005 after being spotted by a record producer and has since gone on to become one of the most successful female artists of all time with sales of over 250 million and recently reached billionaire status through her Fenty beauty brand.
The Prime Minister continued in her speech: "Commanding the imagination of the world through the pursuit of excellence, her creativity, her discipline, and above all else, her extraordinary commitment to the land of her birth. "Having satisfied that, Ambassador Robyn Rihanna Fenty has given service to Barbados which has been exemplified by visionary and pioneering leadership, extraordinary achievement and the attaining of the highest excellence to the Government of Barbados." It comes after a historic move for Barbados, which has become a republic after almost 400 years and welcomes its first president, Sandra Mason, after removing Queen Elizabeth as head of state. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: National hero of Barbados, Robyn Rihanna Fenty, Prince Charles, Barbado, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister, Rihanna)
By Manav Bhatia
It's that time of the year when there are festivities galore and entertaining comes to the fore. Manav Bhatia, Founder Trunkin shares some tablescapes for the season
Christmas Tablescapes: Whether it's cherry red tablecloths or plush green napkin rings, there's something for everyone. Red and green are synonymous with colour themes this time of year.
Red and green are synonymous with colour themes this time of year. | Photo by Libby Penner on Unsplash
Finish it off with Royalty: Jewelled napkin rings are an essential table accessory. Jewelled beads in the centre of a napkin ring surrounded by metal carving can be combined in a variety of forms and sizes and gives a touch of glamour.
Jewelled napkin rings are an essential table accessory. | Photo by Jonathan Borba on Unsplash
Touch of Smoke: Winter is the season when evening decor is especially important for parties, get-togethers, and bonfires. Colours in grey and ivory combine night with the day. Embroidered tablecloths, paired with lit glass votives, adds refinement to the evening.
Embroidered tablecloths, paired with lit glass votives, adds refinement to the evening. | Pxhere
Smearing of Wood: Nature's finish using ferns and drift wood for decor instead of flowers add to the winter feels.
Wall Hangings: Embroidered and beaded hangings add a touch of elegance and are traditional accessories for Christmas. (IANS/ MBI)
(Keywords: Wall Hangings, Wood, Winter, Smoke, Royalty, Christmas, Festivities, Perfect Setting)
Have you ever faced eye redness? Or have witnessed blurry or foggy vision? Or experiencing halos around lights? Or nausea and vomiting are very common for you. You may well be suffering from Glaucoma which needs immediate attention.
Glaucoma is the second most common causes of blindness worldwide, according to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO). Typically, it occurs in people with over the age of 60 however it can occur at any age. It is also estimated that globally 79.6 million people are affected with glaucoma, half of them being Asian population. While in India, around 11.9 million people suffer vision impairment and out of which 1.2 million cases are due to Glaucoma. It is a growing concern for the population in India. Even after these high numbers, the enormous majority remains undiagnosed, and untreated. More than 90 percent of cases of Glaucoma remain undiagnosed.
Glaucoma is the second most common causes of blindness worldwide, according to a report by World Health Organisation (WHO). | Wikimedia Commons
Glaucoma is a condition that damages the nerve of the eye. The increased pressure in the eye, which is known as intraocular pressure, can damage the optic nerve which is responsible for sending images to the brain. If the damage worsens, glaucoma can cause permanent vision loss or even total blindness within a few years. According to WHO, there are different kinds of glaucoma, though, the two most common are, primary open-angle glaucoma (POAG), having a slow and slow and asymptomatic onset, and angle-closure glaucoma (ACG), which is less common, yet more acute. Hence, it is important for everybody over the age of 40 years to have a regular eye check-up.
The eye disorder may be treated with the help of eye drops prescribed by Ophthalmologist. There are various options available to lower intraocular pressure to the desired level. Depending upon the need of the patient, doctor may recommend combinations of eye drops, but it is of utmost importance to use the drops on a regular basis. However, consulting a specialist should be the first priority if diagnosed with glaucoma, but most of the population will first opt for home remedies then will consult chemists' shops for medicines and if the issue is still not resolved then will they think of a specialist. There is a need to modify the mindset of the people and when it comes to sensory organs zero negligence rule should be followed.
The eye disorder may be treated with the help of eye drops prescribed by Ophthalmologist. | Photo by CDC on Unsplash
Awareness is the key to managing Glaucoma better. The need of the hour is to include eye care as part of the health check-up. Timely detection of Glaucoma will lead to proper medication and diagnosis by an Ophthalmologist. Talking about prevention, early detection will help in managing glaucoma before significant damage occurs. Glaucoma can be because of genetics as well hence knowing the family's eye history is important. Regular and moderate exercise may help prevent glaucoma by reducing eye pressure also eye drops can significantly reduce the risk that high pressure will progress to glaucoma.
Also, there are few home remedies that anyone can follow to avoid glaucoma. Consuming healthy food, using eyewear, avoiding head-down position, keeping oral hygienic, and protecting eyes from sunlight are a few of such remedies. One should be mindful of the fact that Glaucoma is irreversible blindness and awareness can help us in fighting it. Depending on the condition an Ophthalmologist may prescribe an oral medication or may suggest therapies. In severe conditions, doctors can also recommend surgeries like Laser therapy, Filtering surgery, Drainage tubes, minimally invasive glaucoma surgery (MIGS). (IANS/ MBI)
Keywords: eye disorder, eye, India, World Health Organisation, blindness , foggy vision, eye redness, Glaucoma, Ophthalmologist