How the Loss of Soil Is Sacrificing America’s Natural Heritage - Yale E360
A new study points to a stunning loss of topsoil in the Corn Belt — the result of farming practices that have depleted this once-fertile ground. Beyond diminished agricultural productivity and more carbon in the atmosphere, it is a catastrophic loss of an irreplaceable resource. [...]
Since World War II, the lost fertility once inherent in those carbon-rich soils has been replaced by chemical fertilizer, without adding carbonaceous material of any kind. It’s an old — and, in big ag circles, forgotten — maxim that good farmers don’t really think about raising crops: they think about improving the soil. But if all you add to soil is water and chemicals — nitrogen fertilizer (anhydrous ammonia) and glyphosate, that ubiquitous pesticide — erosion is all you can expect. We’ve been getting our food the wrong way. Industrial farming is like holding up the grocer at gunpoint for a head of lettuce — “efficient” in the short term, but eventually disastrous.
Illustation : ENZO PÉRÈS-LABOURDETTE / YALE E360