15 January 2008
by NPI’s Staff
There is increasing concern that reduced levels of soil fertility, worldwide, have resulted in lower food production (per acre), as well as production of foods lower in minerals, and other nutrients. NPI’s analysis of food production data, and food quality data, confirmed that global soil fertility generally declined over the last five decades. NPI has developed & tested several farming practices that are known to improve soil fertility, and improve the quality of foods produced thereon. To wit:
- Use chemicals only for very extreme crop emergencies, and limit quantities to the minimum amount required.
- In most cases, chemical fertilizers should never be added.
- Quality agricultural lime should be used, as needed, to adjust soil pH to desirable levels.
- Apply quality organic, compost fertilizers to help restore soil microbial activity to promote natural fertility.
- Grow or harvest crops of freshwater microalgae having access to mineral-rich water (so algae can collect minerals), and add algae to compost.
- Use inter-cropping with green manure crops, or legume crops.
- Employ low-till methods, and avoid use of plows.
- Aerate the soil to improve rainwater and/or irrigation water utilization.
- Generally avoid the use of flood-irrigation for crops other than rice.
- Collect and store rainwater, and install drip-irrigation as may be needed.
- Find or raise dung-beetles, and place these beetles on your cropland.
- Form terraces to stop water erosion, and plant trees to stop wind erosion.
The above farming practices were tested on small farms, worldwide, and they provide relatively inexpensive means to improve soil fertility, and increase food quality --- while making foods produced more healthful. Research at the University of California (Davis), and the University of Oregon, have documented that foods grown by organic methods will usually be 58 percent higher in their polyphenolics content. Polyphenolics are known to boost immune response and help lower disease rates for those who sustain high levels of this nutrient in their diets.
Farming techniques, as herein described, are far more economical and protective of the environment than chemical agricultural practices being used in many areas. Foods grown by the modified organic means suggested would provide more healthful diets, and disease rates will usually be reduced for those consuming these foods.
N.B. 1) For certified organic food production, no chemicals are allowed even for use in resolving production emergencies. Non-chemical means are used for insect and/or disease control, and to resolve other production problems.
2) Do not use irrigation water containing salt, because the salt will accumulate and act to reduce crop yields. Also, do not use human waste for compost fertilizer because such waste often contains heavy metals that reduce crop yields.