notes notes notes

These notes are on various topics or interests. Most of them are related to: soil sciences, sustainable agriculture, plants, fungi, decomposition, gardening, food preservation, history, philosophy, carbon and nutrient cycling, history of science, philosophy of science, water, … I may add, edit or remove items at any time. You have permission to copy this list.

Part I:

Misc reading list and topics:

  • Everglades (history, degradation and restoration)
  • “People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present” by Howard Zinn

Warning : Before doing any large scale water retention projects make sure to consult a soil scientist or civil engineer as retaining walls can fail if not properly designed – if they are uphill from your home or gardens that can be an expensive lesson.

Part II:

Items for further research from The Biochar Solution by Albert Bates or ideas that came to mind while reading:

  • India Farmer Suicides (and American, but no mention of American in TBS)
  • Jarod Diamond’s book “Collapse” (Guns, Germs, Steel is another of his often quoted works, I’ve not read either yet)
  • Easter Island
  • Terra Amata, South France 400,000 yrs ago
  • Santa Catarina, Brazil, terra preta layer above more random layers.
  • Wim Sombroek, Amazonian Dark Earths: Wim Sombroek’s Vision 2009
    • Biomass and Carbon Storage in the Amazonian Ecosystem 1992
  • Amazonian Dark Earth: Origin, Properties, Management Johannes Lehmann 2001
  • Anna Roosevelt, US Archaeologist dated terra preta at Taperinha?
  • Piora Oscillation 3200-2900 BCE, cool and wet period, time of many flood stories
  • Oil fields of Kuwait, torched by Saddam
  • Amish land use and topsoil evaluation (my own tangent)
  • Greening of the southern Sahara 1980s
  • Yeomans keyline plow, Australian P.A. Yeomans
  • no till crimper-roller Rodale Institute
  • William Ruddiman, methane and the Little Ice Age
  • acidity of the ocean is greater than it has been in at any time in the past 65 million years
  • calculating the carbon cycle, Rattan Lal (Ohio St. Uni)
  • sustainable agriculture, permaculture
    • J.I. Rodale, Mokichi Okada, Rudolf Steiner
    • Farmers of Forty Centuries: Permanent Agriculture in China, Korea, Japan, F.H. King 1911
    • Tree Crops, J.R. Smith 1929
    • An Agricultural Testament Sir Alfred Howard 1943
    • The Living Soil, Lady Evelyn B. Balfour 1943
    • The Fundamentals of Ecology Eugene P. and Howard T. Odum, 1959
    • Kenneth Boulding, Charles A.S. Hall (ERoI).
    • Permaculture One Bill Mollison and David Holmgren 198?
    • Permaculture: a Designer’s Manual, Bill Mollison 1988
    • Permaculuture: Principles and Pathways Beyond Sustainability, David Holmgren 2002 (UK 2011)
      • Stuart Hill
      • James Lovelock, Lynn Margulis: Gaia Hypothesis
      • Wendell Berry (publisher?)
      • Melliodora, Hepburn Permaculture Gardens,
      • Holmgren Design Services
      • Bradley Method of bush regeneration
      • Levins, R. and Lewontin, R. the Dialectical Biologist Harvard, 1985
  • Sepp Holzer
    • The Rebel Farmer, 2004
    • Sepp Holzer’s Permaculture, 2011
    • Desert or Paradise 2012
  • Natural Farming, Masanobu Fukuoka
    • The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming, 1978
    • The Natural Way of Farming, 1985
    • The Road Back to Nature, 1987
      • a philosophical text, not too much detail on farming
    • Sowing Seeds in the Desert, 2012
      • some parts are similar to parts in The Road Back to Nature, deja vu all over again…
  • biofuel nitrogen compounds emitted
  • Elaine Ingham (Klebsiella planticola bacterium issue)
  • Allan Savory (wildlife biologist, high-density mob grazing)
  • Terra Preta, William Balée
  • Terra Preta (growth), William I. Woods
  • glomalin
  • pyrolysis, cellulose and lignin broken down into phenols, aromatics, methane and CO2
    • volatile gases
    • wood vinegar
    • char 80% carbon
  • temperature and feedstock dependent, also the pH varies by feedstock and temperature
  • 300°C, 300-500°C (wood vinegar), 500-700°C (90% carbon and higher surface area)
  • heating rate, particle size, moisture content
  • other outputs mentioned: ethanol, dimethyl ether, heat, steam, hot water, CO2, carbon monoxide…
  • biomass smoke contains: benzene, butadiene, dioxin, formaldehyde, styrene and methylene chloride (to name a few), so clearly should be made in a closed system where those things can be captured instead of emitted
  • 1 gram of soot warms atmosphere as much as 1500watt space heater running for a week (what about the kicked up dust from a dark soil if it was amended with biochar? comparable at what percentage? equivalent to percentage of carbon? or?)
  • dust settling on snow and ice, makes it melt much faster
  • Peregrine earthworm, Pontoscolex corethrurus survives even in burnt and parched soils, Amazonian earthworm
  • Bruno Glaser (soil scientist)
  • WorldStove, rocket stove, etc.
  • companies mentioned 2010 (still around?)
    • New England Biochar (Peter Hirst) Adam retorts
    • Biochar Engineering Company
    • Advanced BioRefinery Inc, Canada
    • Alterna Biocarbon. Canada
    • Agri-Therm, Canada
    • Renewable Oil International of Alabama, USoA
    • Black is Green, Maleny, Queensland, Australia
    • eGEN series (John Gelwicks, Redondo Beach, CA, USoA)
    • BEST Energies, Madison, Wisconsin and New South Wales Australia
    • Terra Humana Clean Technology Ltd. (Edward Someus, Hungary)
    • Carbonscape, Blenhiem, New Zealand
    • Cleanfuels, Netherlands
    • Dynamotive, USA, Argentina
    • Pro-Natura, France
    • Eco-Carbone, France
    • Bioenergy LLC, St. Petersburg, Russia
    • Bioware, Brazil
    • Biz-Solutions, Canada (planned 30 pyro plants in SW US, wonder how many are actually going)
    • EnviPower, Lyngby, Denmark
    • R.A. Energy Solutions, Ridgeville, Ohio
    • PyroGen, North Carolina
    • Renewable Oil Corporation, Australia
    • Sustainable Power Systems
    • Eprida, Athens, Georga
    • Quadra Projects
  • Jola people in Casamance, Senegal, Nicholas Métro, Trees and Life project
  • Kinomé (Métro’s organization based in France)
  • horseradish tree, Moringa oleifera, drought tolerant, multipurpose, edible pods in 6-8 months after planting, more vitamin A and beta carotene than carrots, more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach, more vitamin C than oranges, and more potassium than bananas
  • Kafrin area of the Jordan River valley, 5 hectare farm started by Geoff Lawton (of the Permaculture Research Institute of Australia) now discontinued as a formal project, another one with the same name has been started in a different location, meaning much confusion for those who are trying to find out what’s up with the original site. Greening the Desert II the Sequel. looks like it is coming along, providing shade even in such an inhospitable place.
  • Sahara Forest Project (Bellona) Oman
  • Groasis Waterboxx
  • Pioneer Forest Missouri
  • Nathaniel Mulcahy, WorldStove Haiti project
  • earth dumplings (tsuchi dango), seeds mixed with clay, manure and then tossed to reseed areas – good to know I wasn’t the only one to come up with this sort of idea (i thought of peanut butter filled with seeds put into hollowed out acorns and then using a slingshot – clays and manures being a much better approach 😄 )

Part III:

Notes from Dirt, by David Montgomery 2007

  • Darwin’s worm book, 2.5 inches of soil moved by worms in 30 years in an undisturbed field, ruins buried about .5 to 2 inches per century, found rate of soil moved was 10 to 20 tons per acre (already read)
  • isostacy, erosion may wear away what is up but the continents lift to replace what is lost, they float as they are lighter than the rest of the crust, only two inches per foot is lost, ten inches rise to replace
  • soil thickens until it reaches a balance between erosion and the rate at which soil-forming processes transform fresh rock into new dirt
  • cytosine and guanine form in clay-rich solutions (two of the four bases of DNA)
  • Younger Dryas 10,000 - 9,000BC, return to almost glacial conditions
  • Abu Hereyra, early evidence of agriculture
  • the shift to using animals as labor shifted the requirement for people
  • Man and Nature George P. Marsh, 1864
  • Rothamsted, John Lawes, comparison between organic and conventional 150+ years, yields of wheat within 2% of each other, but the soil in the organic plots had more nitrogen and carbon. many other studies
  • Barry Commoner, Washington University, St. Louis, 1974 study comparing 14 farms of similar size, soils, crops
  • Rodale, 30yr study
  • John Reganold, Washington State, comparison between two farms back to 1909, topsoil was six inches thicker on the organic farm. between 1948 and 1985 the conventional farm lost six inches of topsoil
  • conservation and no-till farming, 1960 almost all US fields were plowed. 1991 conservation and no-till farming 33% of Canadian fields, 2001 60%. US fields 25 1991, 33 percent 2001, no-till 18%, 2004 41% overall, no till 23%. still only 5% of cropland in the world is no-till methods
  • USoA 1985, 1990 Food Security Act required farmers to use some type of soil conservation plan to participate in USDA farm subsidies, etc
  • 4 billion metric tons of carbon lost from the US soil in the past 150 yrs, 78 billion tons worldwide. 1/3 of added CO2 in atmosphere from soil
  • soil can take up 1% more carbon per ten years using no-till methods
  • 300 million tons of carbon per year if all soils were no-till plus cover cropped
  • no till doesn’t work well every place. better in sandy or lighter soils, clay still gets compacted and needs deeper tilling
  • not as easily done in poorer countries which don’t have the special seed drills that can go through crop residues. or crop residues are used to feed animals or used for fuel to cook
  • Cenex (division of Land O Lakes) using toxic waste in fertilizers, 1995 case settled, p. 214-215 and an Alcoa division in Oregon converted wastes into fertilizers. eight major companies converted 120 million tons per year into fertilizers (by the late 1990s). it’s enough to make ya sick
  • Patrick Kirch, Tikopia, Mangaia and Easter Island comparison. success on Tikopia was likely because it was small enough that everyone knew everyone else…
  • Iceland was wooded, cleared and now overgrazed by sheep, p 227 picture of rofabard (topsoil)
  • Haiti vs. Cuba p.227-232, at the fall of the USSR Cubans lost 1 meal per day, but have since regained that but are still short of milk and meat (and are probably healthier…)

Part IV:

Agroecology, reference list from wiki:

  • 1928 Klages Crop ecology and ecological crop geography in the agronomic curriculum
  • 1939 Hanson Ecology in agriculture
  • 1956 Azzi Agricultural ecology
  • 1965 Tischler Agrarökologie
  • 1973 Janzen Tropical agroecosystems
  • 1974 Harper The need for a focus on agro-ecosystems
  • 1976 Loucks Emergence of research on agroecosystems
  • 1977 Hernanez Xolocotzi Agroecosistemas de Mexico
  • 1978 Gliessman Agroecosistemas y tecnologia agricola tradicional
  • 1979 Hart Agroecosistemas: conceptos básicos
  • 1979 Cox & Atkins Agricultural ecology: an analysis of world food production systems
  • 1980 Hart Agroecosistemas
  • 1981 Gliessman, Garcia & Amador The ecological basis for the application of traditional agricultural technology in the management of tropical agroecosystems
  • 1982 Montaldo Agroecologia del trópico americano
  • 1983 Altieri Agroecology
  • 1984 Lowrance, Stinner & House Agricultural ecosystems: unifying concepts
  • 1985 Conway Agroecosystems analysis
  • 1987 Altieri Agroecology: the scientific basis of alternative agriculture
  • 1990 Allen, Dusen, Lundy, & Gliessman Integrating social, environmental, and economic issues in sustainable agriculture
  • 1990 Gliessman Agroecology: researching the ecological basis for sustainable agriculture
  • 1990 Carroll, Vandermeer & Rosset Agroecology
  • 1990 Altieri & Hecht Agroecology and small farm development
  • 1991 Caporali Ecologia per l’agricultura
  • 1991 Bawden Systems thinking in agriculture
  • 1993 Coscia Agricultura sostenible
  • 1998 Gliessman Agroecology: ecological processes in sustainable agriculture
  • 2001 Flora Interactions between agroecosystems and rural communities
  • 2001 Gliessman Agroecosystem sustainability
  • 2002 Dalgaard, Porter & Hutchings Agroecology, scaling, and interdisciplinarity
  • 2003 Francis et al. Agroecology: The Ecology of Food Systems
  • 2004 Clements, Shrestra New Dimension in Agroecology
  • 2007 Bland and Bell A Holon Approach to Agroecology
  • 2007 Gliessman Agroecology: The Ecology of Sustainable Food Systems
  • 2007 Warner Agroecology in Action
  • 2009 Wezel, Soldat A quantitative and qualitative historical analysis of the scientific discipline agroecology
  • 2009 Wezel et al. Agroecology as a science, a movement or a practice. A review

Part V: Biosphere II

A project in the Arizona desert, which attempted to demonstrate that people could live in a closed system and sustain themselves. many lessons learned, very interesting ideas and technologies created for such a project with a fairly small amount of money considering what it would have cost the government… the human element was so challenging and critical with such a small group of people. very interesting views on the project in the following books, read them in order as they are all interesting explorations of this very unusual project and group of people.

  • Biosphere 2 : the human experiment John Allen ; edited by Anthony Blake. NY : Viking, ©1991
  • Life under glass : the inside story of Biosphere 2 Abigail Alling and Mark Nelson with Sally Silverstone Oracle, AZ : Biosphere Press, ©1993
  • The human experiment : two years and twenty minutes inside Biosphere 2 Jane Poynter.NY : Thu nder’s Mouth Press, ©2006
  • _Dreaming the biosphere : the theater of all possibilities Rebecca Reider.Albuquerque : Univ. of NM Press, ©2009

Part VI: Interesting Author

Mind, life, and universe : conversations with great scientists of our time / edited by Lynn Margulis and Eduardo Punset. White River Junction, Vt. : Chelsea Green Pub., [2007], ©2007.

Dazzle gradually : reflections on the nature of nature / Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. by Margulis, Lynn, 1938-2011. White River Junction, Vt. : Chelsea Green Pub., [2007], ©2007.

Acquiring genomes : a theory of the origins of species / Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan. by Margulis, Lynn, 1938-2011. New York : Basic Books, [2002], ©2002. Edition: 1st ed.

Five kingdoms : an illustrated guide to the phyla of life on earth / Lynn Margulis, Karlene V. Schwartz. by Margulis, Lynn, 1938-2011. New York, NY : W.H. Freeman, 1999 2nd printing, ©1998. Edition: 3rd ed., 2nd printing.

Environmental evolution : effects of the origin and evolution of life on planet earth / edited by Lynn Margulis and Lorraine Olendzenski. Cambridge, Mass. : MIT Press, [1992], ©1992.

Microcosmos : four billion years of evolution from our microbial ancestors / Lynn Margulis and Dorion Sagan ; foreword by Lewis Thomas. by Margulis, Lynn, 1938-2011. New York : Summit Books, [1986], ©1986.

Part VII: The Food/Nutrition/Diet Thing

The Big Fat Surprise : why butter, meat and cheese belong in a healthy diet / Teicholz, Nina Simon & Schuster, ©2014 (worth posting the entire bibleography)

Part VIII: Philosophy of Science, History of Science, Examples Through Time

Obviously the previous book in this list shows a prime example of how science when poorly done will derail things for a while, but as more becomes known the actual mechanisms for self-correction can still succeed. At least for now we know that we know the wrong things and more studies of the right kind are needed. The saddest points are that: 50 years have been wasted, many billions of dollars have been spent and millions of lives have been damaged.

Part IX: Water, Irrigation, Dams, Diversions, Restoration

I’ve been off on a water system thing lately with the extended drought in California I’m watching things flex and change and at the same time the continual need to balance human activities against what is needed by the ground and the other creatures we share this planet with.

Seems like I am looking at the various tragedies (Salton Sea, Aral Sea, Owens Lake, Mono Lake, etc.) and seeing how various water projects are constructed and the history around some of them. I also am following the dust mitigation effortsas that relates to reclaiming or restoring lands and reducing the impacts humans have had on an area.

A good starting point for Colorado River works:

  • The Yuma Project / Sauder, Robert, University of Nevada Press, ©2009

More on the reading list:

  • Lost Frontier / Sauder, Robert
  • Cadillac Desert / Reisner, Marc
  • The Big Thirst / Fishman, Charles

All were interesting enough.

More recently:

  • Water is for Fighting Over: and Other Myths about Water in the West / Fleck, John, Island Press, Washington DC, ©2016

Plus his blog is worth reading if you are interested in water issues in the Southwest of the USoA and may be helpful to others around the world:

Part IX: Afterwords

The summer and fall have gone by of 2015 and the drought has finally had a bit of a dent put in it. In the water year there were enough repeated small enough storms that most of the water could soak in and recharge the depleted reservoirs of CA.

In 2016 it looks like CA is going to try to put the tunnels under the delta area, which will be a large waste of money. There’s no more water available to put through those pipes. Such a large expense means they’ll have to justify running it as much as possible even when it will likely encourage more salt water intrusion into the bay. Considering what could be done with that much money for the rest of the system for doing projects with stormwater capture, recycling, desalinization, etc. it’s a huge opportunity being lost.

The 2016 - 2017 water year has started with a good series of storms. I hope they continue.

For other readings of interest in agroforestry I’ve enjoyed what I can understand of <– the king of chop and drop?

Also what I’ve found out about Sadhana Project Haiti and elsewhere in India and Africa. I put together a large montage of the Haiti area because it will be interesting to track progress of the project through time. I’m already amazed by what has been done. When you have little to no topsoil… Instead of using just lines of rocks to capture the rain flows and to help keep the topsoil from being washed away they’ve incorporated donated clothing which would otherwise be burned into their rock lines making them hold up even more topsoil and to soak up moisture. A good adaptation of an ancient technique!

I had a good (but also sad) laugh when reading the news about how the CO2 emissions will have delayed the next Ice Age by 100,000 years. The rate of resource depletion, pollution, environmental destruction, etc. going on that it’s unlikely there will be much of a civilization left by then. At times I am more hopeful and optimistic because I do see positive changes (like the CA groundwater laws, even if they will take many years to get going) and the continued work of various permaculturists, and agroecologists and restorative agriculturists, and laws which aim to improve the water, the air and the land. I just hope there is also room for the wild, for the open spaces.

Please continue to support clean air, clean water and clean land in any way you can! If you are a farmer every little bit less of pesticides and fertilizers you can avoid using is that much less damage being done to the ground water, your soils and to the creatures which live around that area (including me 😄 ).

Thank you for caring!

[Note to myself, I should probably break this into separate chunks. Eventually…]