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Sunday March 17th 2019Tim Candler9

 

     Happy Saint Patrick's Day, pity one of his miracles was to cause the snakes in Ireland to become extinct. But fair warning, it could be a Mop Top year for Potato. Other than its wonderful name not completely certain what the Mop Top virus does to Potato, but one of the signs of it's presence is when you cut open the tuber there's a gooey, brownish, nastiness inside the tuber. The vector for Mop Top is a subterranean Slime Mold. Slime Mold prefer moist conditions, so there's a whole thing about how wet the soil might be and how warm it might be when Potato tubers start to form. Nor is Mop Top the only virus vectored by Slime Molds, and frankly if you get too involved with the abundance of virus pests that damage Potato you might as well just hang up your shovel. Invariably the best solution is crop rotation and well sourced Seed Potato. Trouble is with something like Mop Top, one part or other of its life cycle can stay dormant in your soil for twenty odd years, so we're talking a long time between Potato crops, a bit of an anathema for Industrial Farming, one they react to by constantly tinkering with Potato Hybrids, good plant sanitation practices, inorganic fertilizers and when panic at the possibility of losing a crop sets in there's a reliance upon chemicals. Who knows, maybe it's endlessly sustainable, maybe it's not.

 

Past

      I think it was 2015 that NASA released an analysis of the amount of ground given over to lawns in the USA. The area of lawn according to their calculation was roughly the size of Texas. The NASA study was about the impact of lawns on the environment and water resources. It suggested that lawns can act as a carbon sink, but mowing the lawns with mowing machines reduced the amount of carbon a maintained lawn sequestered by 35%. And the study went on to have a look at the amount of water in the drier regions of the USA that was sprinkled onto  lawns by obsessed home owners and pointed out that over all lawn maintenance put a heavy burden on water resources which in some parts of the USA reached between 50-70% of total water use. Yes indeed, my generation is the Sabretooth Cat of our living generations, we are knife tooth, the name Smilodon suits us perfectly as we shrug it all off so long as the mowing machine works nothing changes for us, and it's down to younger generations to develop the fresh eyed Of Woodland characteristics that enabled Silvestris kittens to see potential in the change of circumstance. It's been estimated that between 1975 and 2015 the world lost one third of arable land to a variety of degradations. Ill treated soil loses it's living creatures, it dies and when it's reduced to it's bare mineral components it becomes dust and ashes, too easily washed away or blown into sterile drifts.

 

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