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 12, 2018):

ISRIC – World Soil Information
USGS – Environmental Health
USGS – Contaminants Found in Groundwater
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
Soil Contaminants – Cornell
Soil Contamination Inspection – Internachi
Urban Gardening: Managing the Risks of Contaminated Soil – EHP
Benefits of Rotational Grazing – UVMg
America’s Breadbasket Faces Dire Water Crisis – NBC News
– Seaweed: The New Trend in Water Purification – UConn Today
Urban Computing and Human Ecology – Erosion Control and Soil Remediation
European Commission – System Uses Bamboo to Treat Wastewater
Could Bamboo Help in Remediation of Waste Sites? – Science Daily
Hemp Industries Association – Facts
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
Aquaponics Association
Aquaponics Nation
USDA – National Agroforestry Center
Welcome to the PLANTS Database – USDA Plants
Agroforestry Research Trust
Permaculture Institute
Permaculture News – Why Food Forests?
Temperate Climate Permaculture
Falling Fruit – Mapping the Urban Harvest
Plant Identification, Edible Plants, Weed Ecology, Mushrooms, and More
– Common Non-Edible Plants – Eat the Weeds
Hemp Super Food – Fox News
Field and Stream – How to Prevent Snake Bites
International Organization for Standardization – Harvesting Equipment
Agriculture Crop Production Harvest – EPA
National Ag Safety Database
Health and Safety Resources – Farmworker Justice
White Papers – UFW
Marshfield Clinic – North American Guidelines for Children’s Agricultural Tasks
Residential Proximity to Agricultural Pesticides – EHP
A Growing Problem – Nature Research
Organic Arsenicals – EPA
Detection of Glyphosate in Malformed Piglets – Omics Group
Health Effects of Biosolids Applied to Land
– Risk of Intestinal Parasitic Infections in People with Different Exposures to Wastewater and Fecal Sludge in Kampala, Uganda: A Cross-Sectional Study
– Kim Jong Un May Have Caused a Parasitic Worm Epidemic in North Korea By Making Farmers Spread Human Feces on Their Crops – Newsweek
Sewage Sludge Victims
Homepage to Reform Sewage Sludge Regulations
Understanding PCB Risks – EPA
Water Quality Information Center – Conservation Effects Assessment Project
Toxic Chemicals Sneak Out of Homes via Dirty Laundry – NRDC
Environmental Education Media Project: Ecosystem Restoration
Division of Ecological Restoration – Mass
Contaminated Site Clean-Up Information – CLU-IN
Superfund – Cleaning up the Nation’s Hazardous Wastes Sites – EPA
America’s 28 Most Polluted Places
Soil Pollution is a ‘Severe Problem’ in China – Deutsche Welle
One-Fifth of China’s Farmland Is Polluted – New York Times
Soil Pollution in China Still a State Secret – Scientific American
The Soil Pollution Crisis in China Presents Daunting Challenge – Yale
– China Says More Than Half of its Groundwater is Polluted – The Guardian
– Lead and Cadmium Found in Some Chocolate Bought in Brazil – ACS
– Yards Pose Health Risk to Kids, Moms Near Factory Site – USA Today
Injection Wells: The Poison Beneath Us – ProPublica
Radioactive Hot Spots in Tokyo Raise Fears – New York Times
Food Affected by Fukushima Disaster Harms Animals, Even at Low-Levels of Radiation – AAAS
Radiation Detected In Drinking Water In 13 More US Cities, Cesium-137 In Vermont Milk – Forbes
Radioactive Leaks Found at 75% of US Nuke Sites – CBS News
Radioactive Wild Boar Roaming the Forests of Germany – Telegraph
At Chernobyl, Radioactive Danger Lurks in the Trees – Scientific American
– Test Reveals Radioactive Chernobyl Residue in Milk From Belarus – US News
Source of Lead-210 and Polonium-210 in Tobacco – Science Mag
Tobacco Smoke – Radiation Protection – EPA
The Tobacco Industry’s Response to the Polonium-210 Issue – NIH
Are You Smoking Pesticides With Your Pot? – Alternet
New Species of Metal-Eating Plant Discovered in the Philippines – Science Daily
Banana Peels May Help Filter Pollutants Out of Water – Live Science
– Mushroom as a Product and Their Role in Mycoremediation – NIH
Mycoremediation – Earth Repair
Heavy Metals Accumulate More In Some Mushrooms Than In Others – Science Daily
Using Fungi to Remediate Radiation at Fukushima
Only 60 Years of Farming Left If Soil Degradation Continues – Scientific American
Soil Erosion – Causes and Effects – OMAFRA
World Soil Information – Combatting Land Degradation – ISRIC
– A Study on the Mineral Depletion of the Foods Available To Us as a Nation Over the Period 1940 to 1991 – NIH
Temperate Climate Permaculture – Remineralizing Our Soils
Organic Matters – Remineralization of Soil
Soil Quality – Grace Communications Foundation
How to Convert an Inorganic Fertilizer Recommendation to an Organic One – UGA
Akvopedia – Spirulina Farming
The Most Important Organism? – Ecology Global Network
About Cover Crops – USDA
Biological Nitrogen Fixation – Nature Education
Japanese Plant Experts Produce 10,000 Lettuce Heads a Day in LED-Lit Indoor Farm
How to Build a Straw Bale Garden – Modern Farmer