Agriculture

Script image posted August 03, 2014; text on page last updated September 03, 2015

agriculture - script

With agriculture our first focus is to ensure safety of the soil before anything is cultivated for consumer use.  Plants take in a cross spectrum of contaminants from the land, which gets transferred up the food chain.  If unsure about the status of a location, phytoremediation could be used, where certain plants are designated to absorb elements then have tissues tested for composition.  When harmful substances are identified, disposal and element reclamation should be handled under hazmat guidelines and the original location avoided without proper equipment, until proven otherwise. Those involved in the operation maintain records of the area each sample is from, so they can trace back to specific sections.  The process is repeated on a continual basis until subsequent generations test clear.

Guidelines are not complete, in terms of the correct spacing between plots for different foliage, given variations in root structures; in other words the ranges of clearance are to be determined.  Also one must assume the soil will be safe only to the depth of the respective roots, so it is becoming standard practice for gardeners to instead add on top of unfit soil with enough clean quantities to match the maximum depth of an intended crop, so it will not reach the unsafe portion.  Another option is to remove tainted layers then run the treatment process on them in a separate, isolated facility.

Similar methods apply for water sources, utilizing varieties of algae and seaweeds.  Yields from lakes and streams may be deemed inedible on account of runoff from surrounding areas, with portions of oceans also now a concern.  Conditions can be controlled more carefully by maintaining a self-contained water supply for raising fish, as in aquaponics, where the fish generate ingredients for fertilizers as a byproduct, whereas treating large bodies of water is less practical in the short term.

Characteristics of plant types best suited for remediation include speed of turnover, along with versatility in the range of compounds capable to siphon out for removal and testing.  It is also an advantage when portions of the product itself, once confirmed clear, can be used for food preparation or industrial purposes.  Notably hemp is demonstrated to offer such benefits, including applications with housing and transportation.  On the other hand it needs to be noted under most classifications hemp is considered a weed, which if left unchecked provides a habitat for vermin and venomous creatures.  Neighborhoods maintain ordinances to prevent such hazards from affecting occupants.  In general areas where remediation takes place are to be kept off limits, except for licensed workers with protective attire.  Pesticides cannot control all concerns and if anything add to the contamination.  Machinery should be integrated as much as possible and workers’ body parts kept away from the area, unless behind protective barriers and inspected before leaving the site.  Segments of residential areas may be “sectioned off,” made inaccessible while the process is underway.  As for legal restrictions concerning controlled substances derived from a variation of the hemp plant, to produce in this fashion requires pest control throughout the growth cycle, so it is unfair to make this association.  On a side note types of trees and bamboo offer their own advantages, and certain fungi have also demonstrated attributes for cleansing soil, in which case the process is referred to as mycoremediation.

On the other side of the coin – the act of remediation to remove harmful elements will strip needed nutrients and minerals as well.  Growing crops in general can lead to soil loss, which over time will render the land no longer viable at all.  For this reason planning needs to take into account adding organic matter, including compost, along with crop rotation between cycles, for instance involving cover crops / plants which have characteristics of nitrogen fixation.  Seaweeds can be used as fertilizers, yet going forward this likely will call for large scale aquarium / on-site production, so integrity from pollution can be assured.  Rocks & gravel dust, added to increase mineral content, should be tested as well if possible.

References (Last Updated March 21, 2015):

ISRIC – World Soil Information
USGS – Environmental Health
USGS – Contaminants Found in Groundwater
Society for Ecological Restoration
NCBI – Phytoremediation of Heavy Metal Polluted Soils and Water
USDA – Phytoremediation: Using Plants To Clean Up Soils
EPA – Phytoremediation Resource Guide
Urban Omnibus – Field Guide to Phytoremediation
Cornell – Soil Contaminants
Internachi – Soil Contamination Inspection
EHP – Urban Gardening: Managing the Risks of Contaminated Soil
Mother Earth News – Restoring Soil Nutrients
UVM – Benefits of Rotational Grazing
NBC News – America’s Breadbasket Faces Dire Water Crisis
Clean Technica – Researcher Recruits Seaweed to Clean Polluted Waters
Urban Computing and Human Ecology – Erosion Control and Soil Remediation
European Commission – System Uses Bamboo to Treat Wastewater
Science Daily – Could Bamboo Help in Remediation of Waste Sites?
A Bamboo Curtain for Superfund Site
Hemp Cleans
Eco Brooklyn – Hemp to Remediate New York Garden Soil
Herb Museum – Industrial Hemp for Bioremediation
Hemp Industries Association – Facts
Hemp Sisters – Hemp Factsheet
Hemp Technologies Global – Hemp Farming
NCSL – State Industrial Hemp Statutes
Industrial Hemp in the United States – Harvesting, Retting, and Fiber Separation
Commercial Hemp Cultivation in Canada
Information on Harvesting Hemp – Part 1
Innvista – Harvesting Hemp
Gardening With Fish: Three Types Of Aquaponics Systems
Aquaponics Association
Aquaponics Nation
Backyard Aquaponics
USDA – National Agroforestry Center
Welcome to the PLANTS Database – USDA PLANTS
Agroforestry Research Trust
Permaculture Institute
Permaculture News – Why Food Forests?
Permaculture Principles
Temperate Climate Permaculture
Rosalind Creasy – Edible Landscaping Basics
Edible Wild Food
Falling Fruit – Mapping the Urban Harvest
Foraging: Wild Edible Plants & Mushrooms
Plant Identification, Edible Plants, Weed Ecology, Mushrooms, and More
Eat The Weeds
The Seed Library Social Network
Organic Jar – Hemp Seeds
Live Well – Hemp Complete Protein
Fox News – Hemp Super Food
Field and Stream – How to Prevent Snake Bites
REI – Humans vs. Rattlesnakes
Ask the Exterminator – Insect Repellant Clothing
International Organization for Standardization – Harvesting Equipment
Hemp Harvesting and Processing Equipment
EPA – Agriculture Crop Production Harvest
National Ag Safety Database
Northeast Iowa Community College – Webinars
Marshfield Clinic – North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks
EHP – Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides
Pesticide Use Is Linked to Depression in Farmers
Nature.com – A Growing Problem
EPA – Organic Arsenicals
Omics Group – Detection of Glyphosate in Malformed Piglets
Health Effects of Biosolids Applied to Land
Sewage Sludge Victims
Homepage to Reform Sewage Sludge Regulations
EPA – Understanding PCB Risks
Water Quality Information Center – Conservation Effects Assessment Project
NRDC – Toxic Chemicals Sneak Out of Homes via Dirty Laundry
Environmental Education Media Project: Ecosystem Restoration
Division of Ecological Restoration
Contaminated Site Clean-Up Information (CLU-IN)
Superfund – Cleaning up the Nation’s Hazardous Wastes Sites
America’s 28 Most Polluted Places
Deutsche Welle – Soil Pollution is a ‘Severe Problem’ in China
New York Times – One-Fifth of China’s Farmland Is Polluted
Scientific American – Soil Pollution in China Still a State Secret
Yale – The Soil Pollution Crisis in China Presents Daunting Challenge
Most of China’s Coastal Waters Heavily Polluted
60 Percent of China’s Drinking Water Too Polluted to Drink
Excessive Amounts of Lead, Cadmium Found in Brazilian Chocolate
Lead Contamination Around Closed Philadelphia Factory
New York Times – Radioactive Hot Spots in Tokyo Raise Fears
Food Affected by Fukushima Disaster Harms Animals, Even at Low-Levels of Radiation
Radiation Detected In Drinking Water In 13 More US Cities, Cesium-137 In Vermont Milk
Fracking Used to Inject Nuclear Waste Underground for Decades
Radioactive Wild Boar Roaming the Forests of Germany
Radioactive Polonium-210 Found in Tobacco
Source of Lead-210 and Polonium-210 in Tobacco
Tobacco Smoke – Radiation Protection
The Tobacco Industry’s Response to the Polonium-210 Issue
New Species of Metal-Eating Plant Discovered in the Philippines
Banana Peels May Help Filter Pollutants Out of Water
Phytoremediation Characteristics of Weeds and Mushrooms as a Metal Scavenger
Mushroom Cultivation for Remediation
Mycoremediation (Bioremediation with Fungi)
Earth Repair – Mycoremediation
Heavy Metals Accumulate More In Some Mushrooms Than In Others
Foods That Are Most Prone to Radioactive Contamination
Mushrooms That Absorb Radioactive Cesium 137 and Other Radionuclides
Using Fungi to Remediate Radiation at Fukushima
Scientific American – Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues
World Losing Farm Soil Daily to Salt-Induced Degradation
OMAFRA – Soil Erosion – Causes and Effects
ISRIC World Soil Information – Combatting Land Degradation
How It Works – Soil Remineralization
Temperate Climate Permaculture – Remineralizing Our Soils
Organic Matters – Remineralization of Soil
Urban Farm Online –  Improve Your Soil with Homemade Fertilizer
GRACE Communications Foundation – Soil Quality
Linda Zurich – Soil Demineralization and Remineralization
UGA – How to Convert an Inorganic Fertilizer Recommendation to an Organic One
Seaweed and Kelp – How Ocean Plants Help Our Garden Plants
Akvopedia – Spirulina Farming
Spirulina Algae as Fish Food, Fertilizers
Vegan Organic Fertilizers – An Easy Guide
Ecology Global Network – The Most Important Organism?
Plant a Fall Cover Crop to Improve Your Garden Soil
Biological Nitrogen Fixation
The Atlantic – The Amish Farmers Reinventing Organic Agriculture
Japanese Plant Experts Produce 10,000 Lettuce Heads a Day in LED-Lit Indoor Farm
Straw-Bale Gardening Lets You Grow Vegetables Without Soil
How to Build a Straw Bale Garden
Build a $300 Underground Greenhouse for Year-Round Gardening
Two Forever Foods, by Northern Forager
Apocalypse When? Infographic Guide to Doomsday Threats