Saturday, 5 November 2016

More from wiki Arable land

Half an acre and a cow · More from wiki Arable land

First the citation:

Agricultural land that is not arable according to the FAO definition above includes:

  • Permanent crop - land that produces crops from woody vegetation, e.g. orchardland, vineyards, coffee plantations, rubber plantations, and land producing nut trees;
  • Meadows and pastures - land used as pasture and grazed range, and those natural grasslands and sedge meadows that are used for hay production in some regions.
  • Other non-arable land includes land unsuitable for any agricultural use.

Land that is not arable, in the sense of lacking capability or suitability for cultivation for crop production, has one or more limitations e.g. lack of sufficient fresh water for irrigation, stoniness, steepness, adverse climate, excessive wetness with impracticality of drainage, excessive salts, among others.[9] Although such limitations may preclude cultivation, and some will in some cases preclude any agricultural use, large areas unsuitable for cultivation are agriculturally productive. For example, US NRCS statistics indicate that about 59 percent of US non-federal pasture and unforested rangeland is unsuitable for cultivation, yet such land has value for grazing of livestock.[10] In British Columbia, Canada, 41 percent of the provincial Agricultural Land Reserve area is unsuitable for production of cultivated crops, but is suitable for uncultivated production of forage usable by grazing livestock.[11] Similar examples can be found in many rangeland areas elsewhere.

Land incapable of being cultivated for production of crops can sometimes be converted to arable land. New arable land makes more food, and can reduce starvation. This outcome also makes a country more self-sufficient and politically independent, because food importation is reduced. Making non-arable land arable often involves digging new irrigation canals and new wells, aqueducts, desalination plants, planting trees for shade in the desert, hydroponics, fertilizer, nitrogen fertilizer, pesticides, reverse osmosis water processors, PET film insulation or other insulation against heat and cold, digging ditches and hills for protection against the wind, and greenhouses with internal light and heat for protection against the cold outside and to provide light in cloudy areas. This process is often extremely expensive. An alternative is the Seawater Greenhouse which desalinates water through evaporation and condensation using solar energy as the only energy input. This technology is optimized to grow crops on desert land close to the sea.

Some examples of infertile non-arable land being turned into fertile arable land are:

  • Aran Islands: These islands off the west coast of Ireland, (not to be confused with the Isle of Arran in Scotland's Firth of Clyde), were unsuitable for arable farming because they were too rocky. The people covered the islands with a shallow layer of seaweed and sand from the ocean. This made it arable. Today, crops are grown there.
  • Israel: The construction of desalination plants along Israel's coast allowed agriculture in some areas that were formerly desert. The desalination plants, which remove the salt from ocean water, have created a new source of water for farming, drinking, and washing.
  • Slash and burn agriculture uses nutrients in wood ash, but these expire within a few years.
  • Terra preta, fertile tropical soils created by adding charcoal.

Some examples of fertile arable land being turned into infertile land are:

  • Droughts like the 'dust bowl' of the Great Depression in the U.S. turned farmland into desert.
  • Rainforest deforestation: The fertile tropical forests are converted into infertile desert land. For example, Madagascar's central highland plateau has become virtually totally barren (about ten percent of the country), as a result of slash-and-burn deforestation, an element of shifting cultivation practiced by many natives.
  • Each year, arable land is lost due to desertification and human-induced erosion. Improper irrigation of farm land can wick the sodium, calcium, and magnesium from the soil and water to the surface. This process steadily concentrates salt in the root zone, decreasing productivity for crops that are not salt-tolerant.

Obviously, Chesterton's "half an acre" refers to farmers doing arable land, not shepherds doing exclusively pasturable land or fishers doing the sea.

This means that the OVERALL productivity is far larger than we need to survive, at present.

How do I stand to the means for converting non-arable to arable, enumerated here above?

"Making non-arable land arable often involves ..."

"digging new irrigation canals and new wells,"
Great idea.

Usually a good idea, except when an aqueduct also leads to a place which can be taken, as a city. You know how Naples and Vienne were taken in early Middle Ages or Late Antiquity? Army conquering entered city through the aquaeduct, after (in the case of Vienne) a slave overseeing it had betrayed where they could enter.

"desalination plants,"
One desalination plant which depends on very little upkeep would be to use windmills to take water from Mediterranean to some low place in Sahara, where it could evaporate and give rain.

"planting trees for shade in the desert,"
Great if there is enough water.

I've heard the results are not quite great.

That is why in Middle Ages one had the idea of rotation involving grazing of cows, of which the dung was going to fertilise for next two years.

"nitrogen fertilizer,"
If that means guano, yes, Chile is exporting a lot. And where the world is going, the guano of Chile is likely to last to Doomsday.

You mean birds and beetles, such as ladybirds, right?

I am not a fan of DDT, mostly. Not sure if even ever at all, but let's not be hasty.

"reverse osmosis water processors,"
Sounds OK. Just don't know exactly what it is.

"PET film insulation or other insulation against heat and cold,"
Straw, byproduct from cereal production, used to be so put to use. Strawberries are so named because England and further North (I've seen it myself in Denmark) straw insulation is used to make them grow in the climate.

"digging ditches and hills for protection against the wind,"
Used to be the kid of things serfs of a manor did together? Or, when free farmers lived in villages, the village did together.

"and greenhouses with internal light and heat for protection against the cold outside and to provide light in cloudy areas."
Well, that means electricity, I'd not like to be overdependent. But, as with Chile guano, why not use it while we have it.

Did you notice the excellent article was NOT mentioning tractors? There is a reason. They do not augment the number of men that arable land can physically feed. They only reduce the men needed to work an amount of arable land.

One can add, they depend on petrol, and if petrol were replaced, would depend on electricity, most likely.

Poland has 0.284 hectares per person. That is a bit more than the half acre. But Poland also uses horses rather than tractors. This does NOT starve people there. If anyone has heard people in those countries in the East were starving to death, that was Ukraine and some other land, because the good crops there were stolen to make up for the botched crops elsewhere in Soviet Union just after Revolution. It is called the Holodomor, the holocaust by starvation. Not having tractors, and Poland overall, has nothing to do with it. While Ukraine suffered that onslaught from Stalin, Poland enjoyed a decent man called Pilsudski.

Hans Georg Lundahl
Biblio. Mouffetard
St. Zacharias*

* Sancti Zachariae, Sacerdotis et Prophetae, qui pater exstitit beati Joannis Baptistae, Praecursoris Domini. Item sanctae Elisabeth, ejusdem sanctissimi Praecursoris matris.

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