Market-driven Monoculture

Curtis argues for small scale mini monocultures for productive urban farming, do you buy the argument? I call these intensive farming and market-driven monocultures because they’re all about consumerism and the ease of harvest and driving produce to market efficiently, yet at potentially some expense to environmental sustainability and diversity depending on the inputs and outputs.

An expense that appears inevitable in modern society, yet how do we quantify that? How many urban farming plots like Curtis’ could a local ecosystem tolerate before diversity suffered or does it actually increase diversity? Where is the balance? Are these it? Can these systems be made even more environmentally friendly while still maintaining the productivity? He certainly sounds like he’s tried.

If you look at Zaytuna Farm you also see these mini monocultures with diverse row cropping. Are these kinds of systems the best we can come up with for intensive farming?

Same applies to Richard Perkins, planting six varieties meeting more market demand for lettuce mixes.

It makes me wonder what a diversity audit in an urban farming setting might look like.

Are these farmers making a Zone 1 argument and that makes it acceptable in an urban farming environment because it’s close to where the produce will be consumed and can be tended to with little resources like Curtis’ bicycle?

Still, a part of me likens these kinds prosumer arguments to that of Lyle Landly from The Simpsons, with Lisa and Marge questioning the motive.

Is the real answer Barts; “Sorry environmentalists, the mob has spoken?”

Diverse aboveground biomass for the soil organic carbon win

Now this is interesting:

“the rhizosphere priming effect was positively correlated with aboveground plant biomass, but surprisingly not with root biomass

  1. Grow diverse aboveground biomass
  2. Chop and drop
  3. Mulcho profit!

In a meta-analysis of 31 studies, researches show that the rhizosphere enhances soil organic carbon mineralization by 59%[*].

That woody species are best, then grass, then crops.

[Me: *So long as it’s fed from the above ground biomass litter.]

Sounds like C:Nhoosing Your Mulch? Think of the Fungi to me, and photosynthesise as much as you can be!

Don’t forget plant and mulch diversity in this mix, as Plant litter diversity increases microbial abundance, fungal diversity, and carbon and nitrogen cycling.

Another interesting study today suggests that soil fungal community is mainly influenced by plant community composition, distance between communities, and rainfall.

So go diverse and you can’t really lose.

Diverse ecosystems in connected communities.

Plant Species Diversity Improves Soil Ecosystems. [Rant]

Plant species diversity doesn’t improve soil

The above quote was left as a reply to a comment I’d left on a big ag research and education industry video talking about cover crops ages ago. It still irks me that these people are so ignorant.

Today I read the following study on plant species diversity’s impact on soil ecosystems, albeit in a conservation and restoration context that ends up restoring degraded agricultural lands these people create:

Restoring and managing for more diverse plant communities can improve recovery of belowground biology and functioning in predictable ways. Specifically, we found greater accumulation of roots, more predictable recovery of soil microorganisms (bacteria and fungal biomass), more rapid improvement in soil structure (less compaction), and less nitrogen available for loss from the system  in prairie restored and managed for high plant diversity (>30 species) relative to the low diversity (<10 species) grassland plantings.  Thus, the hypothesis that biodiversity promotes ecosystem functioning is relevant to large-scale conservation and restoration practices on the landscape.

Restoration and management for plant diversity enhances the rate of belowground ecosystem recovery