New Model Farm Update

New Model Farm Update

After a year of writing this column, it is timely to revisit and update the conceptualization of the new model farm. What have we added to our bag of tools and how can we deploy this throughout the globe?

1 Forest management and optimization will now be fully and economically integrated into farm management because cellulose and lignin harvesting is now becoming possible. Wood chips can be sold at the farm gate rather than presenting a disposal cost or simply been burned. This can be applied from the Arctic tree line to the Amazon Jungle. The lignin is a direct source of gasoline and diesel fuels, while the cellulose is becoming a source of ethanol.

2 Shallow wet lands can become growing pads of cattails again over a range that includes at least the boreal forests and the southern jungles. This crop easily produces around thirty dry tons per acre (150 tons wet) of starch rich root material that again is a good feedstock for ethanol as well as producing product for human consumption.

3 The advent of the first two promotes the optimization of both tree based products and wetland products not easily exploited otherwise.

4 Many additional forms of animal and fish husbandry can also be easily implemented with this expansion of boots on the ground. As simple as bison in the eastern woodlands combined with tight management of venison becomes a very good agrobusiness. And we have barely begun to find ways to produce fish in wetlands.

In fact the energy demands of agriculture alone will drive this agricultural revolution. That we can supply the fuel for long haul travel is a natural outcome of this and a secure method to provide sustainable supply.

I for one never imagined that the boreal forest would ever have any commercial value for agriculture. Now we can imagine cattails and wood chips and even a little moose and caribou husbandry on top of various fish production scenarios. And let us not forget beaver husbandry with which I was intimately involved back in the early eighties.

5 Biochar production from plant wastes and corn in particular because of its sheer volume will be applied to soils globally. This will mange nutrient availability and sustain soil fertility, as well as reconstituting all soils as fertile terra pretas. The only remaining restraint will be the availability of water.

Again I never imagined that it might be possible to manufacture soil. Yet this appears possible. You can take a patch of desert sand and create seed hills of sand mixed with biochar. You then plant corn and legumes and squash in the seed hill and add sufficient water. Use the corn stover to produce more biochar and repeat. Five years of this will establish the soil and another generation will have a splendid bulked out humus rich soil inches thick. This can be all be done without any tools other than a hoe, a shovel and a basket.

6 Cheap nanosolar power will permit atmospheric water harvesting. This opens the door for the recovery of deserts everywhere.

In time, the restoration of the deserts will increase the temperature of the northern hemisphere and produce a much more temperate climate. The arctic will be open for navigation. Global agricultural productivity will respond by rising as these global terraforming efforts go to completion.

In fact it is now possible to imagine every acre of land between the Arctic circles feeling the hand of human husbandry. Even wild woods set aside for conservation can benefit from the harvesting of debris to manage forest fire destruction. It should thus be clear that the earth can sustain and feed populations massively larger than we have ever thought possible. Ten billion is a gimme and only a hundred billion seems rather extreme.

But what is our footprint? With terra preta, most nutrients are readily recycled and even built up in the soils. The expansion of such soils is strictly a function of water production into every available nook and cranny possible. Energy is produced by solar conversion and sustainable harvesting methods. We can have all we want.

Our only limit is in fact the land surface of the earth and its maximum production capacity. With a gross surface area approaching 150,000,000 square kilometers of which we can easily disregard a third, we have access to 100,000,000 square kilometers or ten billion hectares. If we assume that a hectare can support a family, a population of around fifty billion is not too far fetched. By then we should be finding other limits.

The possibility of a zero footprint is now very real. Therefore this population is possible and space colonies become possible two seconds after we invent a continuous one G thruster allowing us to move freely. We now know how to live there, without importing anything once established.

And as I have posted earlier, the probability is no longer zero that the ancestral races of mankind have already done this around fifteen thousands of years ago. I now have way too much conforming evidence. We are merely the smucks left with the nasty job of completing the terraforming process. I suspect that I will have to grind out a book on this subject to properly make the case. To me it is now rather obvious. I just need to organize a publisher.

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