Solution lies in amending our agricultural practices

Dear Editor,

Following is a letter I’m in the process of sending to Bill Gates. It is a bit long so I will break it into two parts. 

Doubtful if it will become a weekly habit like Herman’s. He would be a tough act to follow.

Dear Bill Gates,

Last night I watched you on 60 Minutes. You spoke of the urgency of dealing with climate change and how that huge advances in technology are required to solve the problem. 

I believe technology may be responsible for the dilemma in which we now find ourselves. 

Let me explain from a soil health perspective. 

David Montgomery in his book Dirt: the Erosion of Civilization chronicles the decline of agricultural soils over the past 10,000 years. 

Starting with the first piece of technological development, the plow, top soil has been and continues to be eroded. 

Soil organic matter (basically carbon) has declined from around eight per cent to 1 – 2 per cent in many soils around the world. 

That represents a huge amount of carbon.

Unlike you, I see the climate crises, rather than being caused by too much CO2 in the atmosphere, is actually caused by too little CO2 in the soil. 

The solution lies in amending our agricultural practices, rather than focusing on carbon neutral emissions and penalizing people for living. 

A number of authors like, Patrick Moore and Dr. Dyson Freeman suggests in excess of 15 per cent of agriculture production today can be attributed to our higher levels of atmospheric  CO2. 

Green houses raise CO2 to something like 1500 ppm to increase production on a given amount of water. 

In other words, increased CO2 is a good thing. 

Where I live was once under ice a mile thick so  I for one appreciate global warming. 

A more serious problem might be that the sun burns out and we have global cooling. 

Siegfreid Singer and Dennis Avery in their book “Unstoppable Global Warming: Every Fifteen Hundred Years”, see no correlation between global warming and CO2. 

Climate changes due to changes in sun activity approximately every 1500 years. CO2 increases after global warming not because of it. Dr Patrick Moore backs him up. 

So, back to agricultural practices. I understand you may be the largest holder of farmland in the U. S. 

A number of soil health authors like Dr. David Montgomery, in Growing a Revolution; Nicole Masters in “For the Love of Soil”; Dr. Kris Nicols, Dr. Christine Jones, Dr. Eliine Ingrim and others suggest we farmers need to reduce tillage and other soil disturbances like inorganic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides and insecticides. 

Instead, if we feed soil microbes they will provide the minerals plants need for free. 

The levels of minerals and vitamins in our food has declined significantly in the last 50 years, not because of scarcity in the soil, but because modern technology (chemicals) and tillage make them unavailable. 

Nicole Masters, working with Twin Rivers Hutterite colony, reduced their fertilizer bill by 75 per cent in one year while adding some microbes. 

Their yields were comparable to the neighbours. 

As a side benefit their bank account increased by $2 million. 

A few years into their new program they experienced a five-inch rainfall in 26 hours. They were able to drive in the fields the next day while the neighbour’s field was underwater. 

More about healthy soils continued next week.


Pat Rutledge

Monitor, Alta.

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