Sustainability: Religion or Science

Discussion in 'Organic Lawn Care' started by Smallaxe, Dec 27, 2011.

  1. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Are there any good examples of Sustainable soils and how they are able to become more fertile deeper into the profile as time goes by?

    What is called for in science is the soil profile at an adequate depth, measured fertility at specified depths, before, during and after the long term trials...

    Sustainablility relies upon the theory that soils can be made 'richer' all by themselves, in a closed system... Gaia makes it happen?... :)
    We dream and speculate about 'sustainability' but we can't figure out how OM leaves the soil faster than dried blowing cornstalks can replace it...
    This ignorant infidel would like to see solid examples of how the educated elite have put a self-sustaining agricultural project together...

    We can either talk about organic lawncare and soil building or the science of neglecting the soils and saying it's good... :)
  2. Skipster

    Skipster LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,075

    Where do you get the time to come up with all thes e questions? You need a hobby :)

    In all seriousness, this is a good discussion to have. The meaning of "sustainability" isn't well defined and this nebulous subject is being used against us. Environmental groups assign the word "sustainable" to whatever they like and declare things they don't like "unsustainable" without regard to any definition of the word.

    This bleeds over to regulation and legislation. Since you're in WI, maybe you'll recall testimony from two of my good friends (John Stier and Wayne Kussow, both profs at UW-Madison) at the WI legislature in the late 90s. The legislature asked Wayne to testify about phosphorus pollution in water. He showed that tree leaf litter from Madison proper was responsible for depositing 10 times more P into lakes and streams than all the P that was sold in fertilizer (both Ag and lawn) in all of WI. His suggestion was for Madison to offer leaf pickup at each address in the city 8 times per week during leaf drop. The senator questioning him said his idea was ridiculous and too expensive. Kussow asked if the point was to save money or reduce P runoff. The senator said he didn't care if it reduced P runoff -- they just needed something they could get re-elected on.

    But, back to sustainability. We still don't have a decent definition. Is it "sustainable" to use milorganite? Milorganite (and other biosolids) are high in Al, Fe, Pb, Cu, Zn, Cd, and Hg. These are particularly dangerous to drinking water supplies and pets (which is why I won't use Milorganite). But, some people call biosolids "sustainable." They also have low analyses (6-2-0, etc), which means that you need more material to apply a particular amount of nutrient. This means more bags (made from petroleum products), more fuel to ship a unit of nutrient, and more fuel to apply a unit of nutrient. Because organic and biosolid fertilizers carry their N primarily as WIN, you also need microbial activity to mineralize that N and make it available, which means more CO2 is released into the atmosphere.

    So, organic ferts are good ("sustainable"), but they put heavy metals into drinking water ("unsustainable"), require increased burning of fossil fuels to use them ("unsustainable"), and make more CO2 ("unsustainable").

    You've touched on a lot of areas here that are well understood (although you may not understand them). But, we first have to define and understand this "sustainability" before we try to acheive it.

    At this point, no evidence has been presented in the scientific literature that indicates that conventional practices (when followed properly) damage the ecosystem over time. Thus, conventional practices are quite "sustainable," whatever that means ....
  3. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    ::sigh:: [​IMG]
  4. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 10,082

    Not only is that not PC to talk about in Wisco, but the DNR hassles people for taking leaves out of the lakes at all... If it has been rotted for years and floats into your beach front, they call it "Parent Material" and you have to let it fill up the shoreline to the top of the water level, because it is good for the fishes...
    We can find some educated psuedo-intellectual to say that, "Removing leaves placed there by "Mother Nature" is Unsustainable." ...

    Most 'religions' have there own definitions of terms as well. If the high priestly order says blood sacrifice of human virgins is good, then it is good... If the high priestly order says coffee mugs are 'sustainable' and styrofoam is unstustainable, then it is so...
    What bothers me most is that when the discussion presents a logical absurdity, then faithful followers start bashing, becuz you can't touch god's elect, right or wrong...

    It is a good thing that the real God isn't as stupid, as the ones we create in our minds... :)

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