I am dismayed to read that Great Plains MDF is proposing a wheat straw plant in Alberta to make medium-density fibreboard.
There is no soil in western Canada that doesn’t need all of the straw produced to be put back onto the land to prevent the destruction of this precious resource.
When I graduated from Olds College in 1968 we had learned that it was unwise to burn or bale straw unless you have livestock, as even then, the soil organic matter was becoming severely depleted.
Fifty plus years later our soils are in much worse shape with the reduction of organic matter being 40 – 85 per cent from what it was when first broken.
Some tests show organic matter to be less than one per cent when it should be five to 10 per cent to be healthy.
Sustainable farming technology is starting to rectify this problem but the straw regenerates the land, taking 50 to 100 years to make much difference.
The decaying residue has great nutritive value for future crops and you can’t sell the straw and make up the difference by buying extra fertilizer.
This whole proposal is ill-conceived as straw is not a residual agricultural waste.
Claims of reducing greenhouse emissions are false.
Land that is properly covered by straw or grass sequesters carbon _ not the other way around.
If this plant is built it will fail as farmers will realize that they cannot afford this so-called ‘cash crop’ because of the loss of their soil and higher fertilizer costs.
Another point mentioned about not cutting trees to make MDF doesn’t make sense either as there are more trees in western Canada than there were in 1950 and where trees are cut they are replanted.
Trees do not build soil, only grasses and grains do.
Dick L. Staudinger