Only once in a lifetime can we hope for such perfect news! I am an 84 year old environmental activist. 2½ years ago I suffered a moderately severe stroke that left me with some deficits. Yet, I persevere… I am a founding member of the 11 year old Alliance for Sustainable Communities, Lehigh Valley, PA. Among the usual ten or so members on the steering committee, I am the one to usually draw attention to things that are occurring around the world or in our own back yards that reach “Big Picture” status. Typically, noteworthy or extremely important aspects of saving the livability of our planet Earth make it onto the Big Picture list.
Being a permaculturist and an organic gardener, I signed onto a Rodale Institute farm visit day teach-in in Maxtawny, PA. After introductions, the tour involved samplings of research projects in progress. Scientists, including Rodale’s recently appointed lead scientist, Dr. Kristine Nichols, soil microbiologist presented their new findings. About 120 people on the tour sat on long benches on three farm wagons, each pulled by an up to date farm tractor, frequently stopping for talks and Q and A’s. Now, for the good news. These dedicated scientists and volunteers brimmed over with excitement because, as they see it, the systems of regenerative organic agriculture that they have designed and tested, if adopted globally, can “sequester more than 100% of current annual CO2 emissions “. A large piece of the global climate instability problem could be solved. All known relevant steps and intricacies are considered in this astounding claim. Profits from engaging in regenerative organic agriculture are almost three times higher than profits from conventional agriculture over a thirty-year trial done at Rodale Institute. This information is spreading and obstacles to change are melting away.
During the end stop’s Q & A I was able to bring up some added good news based on my own experience. I noted that the billions of tons of CO2 in the atmosphere have put photosynthesis on steroids. This seems to be earth’s response to life threatening CO2 based climate change. As a result, tree growth rings of ½ inch a year have become common, compared to the former 12 years to grow one inch of circumference, only a few years ago. Dr. Kristine Nichols agreed with that assessment. This represents a more than 1000% increase in growth per year. This giant gift from Nature to us humans is happening!
This re-structuring of the global farm system proposed by Rodale comes with a list of essential systemic caveats. For instance, no pesticide or herbicide spraying. Leaving bare ground idle and exposed to the elements for months at a time after each harvest is a no-no. Ground covers like alfalfa, grains and clover, can protect the soil during fallow periods. Soil is the all-important resource matrix for farming. Rodale has adopted a no-till system using newly invented heavy-duty finned no-till rollers that crimp down the old vegetation and insert the seeds in one sweep. No till promotes thriving mycorrhizal fungi. Other practices include the production and use of compost and compost tea, the reintroduction of honey bees, hoofed farm animals and drip irrigation. All of these positive and proven methods feed the optimism for rapid conversion. To stay competitive, all farms will have to convert to regenerative organic agriculture: the great Green Revolution number three! Let us savor, celebrate, spread the word, and shout it out for joy! Such fantastic good news!
H. Joris Rosse
Steering Committee Emeritus Member
The Alliance for Sustainable Communities, Lehigh Valley