Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Display:
ScienceDirect - Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment : Sustainable Traditional Agriculture in the Tai Lake Region of China
Traditional agriculture in China's Tai Lake Region sustained high productivity for more than nine centuries. This article examines the ecological basis for this high long-term productivity in a historical context, with a focus on the role of nutrient limitation. From 1000 AD to the 1950s, agricultural technology remained basically unchanged, as did the yields of rice, wheat and other crops. Still, total grain production and net farm income increased over time, as a result of increased multiple cropping, expanded mulberry/silk production, and the intensified use of organic fertilizers. Without degrading soil resources, continuous intensive farm management supported the nutritional and other needs of the rural population, which grew to nearly ten people per hectare of cultivated land by the 1930s. Ecological limitations to human carrying capacity that seem apparent in the mid 1800s appear to have been overcome since the 1960s by chemical nitrogen subsidy of agroecosystems. Human populations are now nearly twice their traditional maximum, and the region remains one of the world's most productive agricultural regions thanks in part to heavy fertilizer applications that have changed nitrogen from a limiting nutrient to a potential source of pollution. Whether these high inputs and/or other agricultural technologies will continue to sustain food self-sufficiency for the region's farmers remains to be seen. The high long-term productivity of Tai Lake Region agroecosystems make them ideal for study of the ecological basis for sustainable agriculture.

So this agricultural system is running at roughly double its previous, already very high, carrying capacity, thanks to chemical fertilizer. What is the ultimate sustainable capacity of this system? Somewhere between the two, one suspects.

But most of the rest of the world's agriculture has never been as optimized as the Chinese baseline of the 1930s. If the mechanization and the petrochemical inputs diminish, overall productivity could probably be maintained or improved, in most cases, with good agronomical technique, and lots of labour (as the Cuban example would seem to illustrate). Yes, it's mostly a political problem...

I'm fairly optimistic for Europe, where smallholding is still hanging on (by a thread). Not sure how it will work in the USA.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Tue May 10th, 2011 at 08:50:00 AM EST
Europe without Russia and the Ukraine cannot grow enough coarse grains.  Europe, if you people get your act together, with Russia and the Ukraine is viable.  

I think.

The optimistic scenario depends on "right-about turning" Merkel's determination to blow-up the EU in a fit of short-sighted stupidity.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue May 10th, 2011 at 02:24:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:
Europe without Russia and the Ukraine cannot grow enough coarse grains.

What's your source for that?

Eurostat says that for 2005 (latest year with full numbers), the EU 27 countries exported 85m tonnes of cereals to third countries, against imports from third countries of 65m tonnes.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue May 10th, 2011 at 04:09:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Conclusion of an analysis I did a couple of years ago looking at the effects of GW and PO on agricultural production.  

I'll roust through my papers and see if I can find it.

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Tue May 10th, 2011 at 06:53:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can't find it.  

Either my thinking was tossed when I throw away an old computer or the print-out is buried in a box.  (God only knows where.)

She believed in nothing; only her skepticism kept her from being an atheist. -- Jean-Paul Sartre

by ATinNM on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 01:30:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Typical...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Fri May 13th, 2011 at 08:30:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Europe, just as the US and Japan, is living beyond its ecofootprint ~ importing fossil fuels to convert to fertilizer to boost cereal grain production is an input that needs replacing, hence the interest in solid state ammonia production technologies to produce ammonia from renewable power sources.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 14th, 2011 at 12:13:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ATinNM:
Europe, if you people get your act together, with Russia and the Ukraine is viable.

Russia and the Ukraine with Europe:  OK; if they get democracy before they run out of gas.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Sat May 14th, 2011 at 09:59:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... half our productivity without any serious crimping on our capability to support 500,000 or so, because of the massive amounts of food that we are feeding to cows and chickens and pigs. Eating more of that food ourselves and eating meat only once every day or two rather than three or four times a day would turn the trick.

The worry is rather if we scale down to half our productivity and then scale down to half or a quarter of our productivity again as the midwestern heartland shifts to dryland farming and the dryland farming terrain turns to desert.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri May 13th, 2011 at 12:08:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
in the long run. It's already been well broken in. The ecological equilibria are better understood. I think it can probably absorb a fair amount of climate change, as long as smallholding persists.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Fri May 13th, 2011 at 03:30:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eating meat only once every day or two rather than three or four times a day would turn the trick

Sounds good only how would such a trick be accomplished?

by Jace on Sat May 14th, 2011 at 11:00:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As meat becomes more expensive, it'll happen.

The best way to accelerate it is probably to publicize the fact that "cheap" meat is nowhere near so cheap when you count the cost that factory farming dumps onto third parties.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 14th, 2011 at 12:10:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"cheap" meat is nowhere near so cheap when you count the cost that factory farming dumps onto third parties.

And while you are counting, and publicizing the count, might as well note the effect factory farming has had on the iconic American farm family. After all, the diary has been largely about extinctions and threats of extinction.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat May 14th, 2011 at 09:49:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... elimination of family farms. The Meatrix is a good youtube piece to spread around the word, and they make the destruction of family farms point quite effectively:


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat May 14th, 2011 at 10:31:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suspect that as cheap meat gets lower content of quality meat (witness the EU debate on wheter meat glue should have to be declared) and an increased connection with health problems, its status will decline to a point where many might choose a more vegetarian lifestyle to avoid looking as scrap-meat losers.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Sun May 15th, 2011 at 04:54:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
heh, as a vegan i resemble that!

not everybody is cut out to be, so i imagine most people in the future will be 90% vegetarian, with a few going the whole way.

Moroccans make vegetable tajin with a marrowbone for their couscous, chines slice small chunks of animal protein into their rice and veggie-based meals, same with much of asia.

meat eating will be at the periphery of diets, no longer the meat-and-2-veg, or 'giant slab o' porterhouse' approach, (unless you're a shepherd/cowboy with no refrigeration.)

people will be a lot healthier, (or will join the ancestors) especially with the work on the land to raise all the food now whipped out of the earth with copious petrochemicals, and its higher nutritional value.

you can also put up with a lot more political BS if you're healthier!

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun May 15th, 2011 at 05:34:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]

Display:

Occasional Series