Permaculture Farm  and  Recycling 

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NOTES from The Agriculture Land Base In Alberta  1981


Geno, B.J., and L.M.  Geno 1976 Food Production In The Canadian Environment. Perceptions Vol 3. Science Council Of Canada, Ottawa. 71 pages

Feedlots are increasingly being used for livestock production throughout North America. Feedlots use smaller areas of land than grazing. The recent increase in secondary food production systems such as feedlots, egg factories, and other large scale, concentrated food production facilities has given rise to concerns about possible pollution problems associated with animal wastes(Geno and Geno 1976).Feedlot animal production consumes large amounts of fossil fuel energy, encourages environmental disruption, consumes large amounts of grain suitable for human consumption, may produce nutritionally damaging foods(as a result of using antibiotics and growth stimulants), and threatens the quality of water through runoff and inadequate waste disposal (Geno and Geno).


Summer Fallow

 Summer fallow has traditional been used to conserve moisture, regenerate fertility, and control weeds(Rennie [1978]a,McDole ans Vira 1980)Some people believe that in some areas summerfallow is wastefull and damaging to the soil and that summerfallow must be eliminated as much as possible.(Bently 1978).

 Research has shown that excessive tillage associated with the practice of summerfallowing has resulted in up to a 50% decrease in soil organic matter, a serious waste of soil nitrogen, deterioration in soil structure and a lower efficiency in crop use of available water  (Rennie 1978).

Approximately half of  the organic matter of prairie soils has been lost in the past 70 years, resulting in the loss of essential plant nutrients and minor elements(Rennie1978)Loss of this organic matter has also led to deterioration in soil structure, resulting in crusting and baking of the soil(Rennie1978)

 no tillage or minium tillage agriculture practises could also to help control  erosion(Phillips 1980)

The federal grain quota system presenty influences the amount of land left in summerfallow(Penny1980)


Erosion and comments

Agriculture  topsoil is being lost in the United States eight times faster than it is being formed (Biswas and Biswas 1978)

Some farmers in Alberta have reported that on some parts of their fields  they have only one-half the top soil they had 20 years ago(Lindwall 1977)

Agriculture has become highly energy-intensive, since these technological advances have been based on a high consumption of fossil fuels. For example it has been estimated that that doubling the crop yield requires a ten-fold increase in fertilizers, pesticides and horsepower (Presidents  Science Advisory Committee 1967)

The quest for higher yields may have been self-defeating in certain respects.There is a clear indication from Manitoba that technological inputs have not been sufficient to mask soil deterioration (Rennie 1978)

Risser (1978) states that some crops in the United States are raised more on chemicals than on soil.

Decline in  fertillity in prairie soils was recognized in Alberta in 1920s (Swindlehurst 1967)


Crop Rotation

Crop  rotations suitable for the prairies should be developed.Bentley(1978) states that the single most important problem in prairie agricultureis to find some kind of legume that will fit into our cropping pattern, as a means of returning nitrogen in  the soil.

High priority should be given to developing a practical fertility-maintaining, energy-conserving cropping system that will reduce agriculture problems(Bently 1978)

bentley(1978) states that low quality land means higher food costs.--the returns per unit of human effort  of any production are axiomatically less from land of marginal quality than for land of high quality.

(Dunanski 19760 THE LOSS OF ONE ACRE OF LAND IN THE BEST AREAS REQUIRES TWICE AS MUCH LAND  and on the order of four to eight times as much management and energy input in marginally areas to compansate for the loss.

my Comments

The above comments I have found interesting and  I wonder how much they have affected crop growing since they were published.  Brian