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friend or foe
Posted: Sat Mar 21, 2009 5:21 am
i read a short article in the land this week about a discovery of a gene in an old variety of chilean wheat which enables the plant to create an acid which makes otherwise locked up phosphorous available to it.they say that creating new varieties with this gene will mean that fertilizer applications can be significantly reduced as this gene makes the plant an expert at- and to use their term-mining the soil for nutrients. My question is broadly how does this relate to peters chapter on acid soils and plants part in the process.do cereal crops with this potential pose a threat to soil health or are they wonderfully efficient?
Posted: Sat Mar 28, 2009 10:27 am
To me it seems that if this plant has evolved over millions of years to succeed in low phosphorus environments it probably has many other characteristics that assist it do so. If it is used in its own right to provide crops in natural farming systems perhaps it would be of great benefit in improving fertility and converting sunlight to a resource we can use directly.
However I see nothing but problems using genetic modification techniques to alter other plants.
Modern biological science suffers from a profound weakness, they are totally ill equipped to deal with living systems. Biology as a branch of modern science developed from a mechanistic, dualistic understanding and essentially based on Cartesian physics. I would like to make a brief quote from the book "Biology Revisioned"
"It is interesting to note here that the concept of a "nonliving" universe was invented for the dualistic worldview of Western science by Descartes and has never, to my knowledge, appeared in any other historic or contemporary culture. It seems to have made sense in the heady excitement about non living mechanisms being invented at that time--an infatuation with our own devices that made us project them onto the whole universe." - Elisabet Sahtouris, Ph.D
Since then physics has understood the limits of this model but not so in biology. Cartesian science takes apart the whole in an effort to explain everything "objectively", the observer is separated from the natural world of the object under study. In living systems this separation is not truly possible.
Biology today still faces the problem that they believe that the parts come first, that they make the whole. As an example they still teach that life evolved out of non life - but they have never been able to show this happen. They believe that structure creates function, they have no way to conceptualize that purpose creates structure.
Biology takes a mechanistic approach and yet, can you show me any mechanical device that has ever spontaneously arisen?
The original Cartesian concept was logically complete because it included God as the inventor. However today science has substituted random events for God. Now I am not trying to be religious here I am simply pointing out that the creation/evolution of any machine starts first with consciousness and purpose - not as a result of random events.
When you look closely at living systems long enough you see that consciousness, awareness and purpose are always present.
I personally believe that life has always existed, it is the consciousness of the universe some may call it God I prefer to call it Living Consciousness. Most likely it came before matter and is in a continual process of creation.
Because our science does not see this purpose/consciousness it has a tendency to focus on the small picture and leads to general failure in living systems. Examples are the over use of antibiotics they originally failed to recognize that bacteria would actively pass on survival characteristic and develop broad spread immunity, we see a similar process happening with GM crops and weedicide resistance being transferred. In agriculture we see the application of chemicals and fertilizer destroying living soil and putting our long term food supplies at risk.
I am not saying that technology or science is bad just that it tends to be short sighted and this often has unintended effects, and in many cases is not in fact even needed.
Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:26 am
thanks for replying novaris. i agree that this plant has the virtue of surviving in low p soils, and therefore has the potential to be a great resource. i geuss i am more specifically asking what its potentiel effect on soil acidity levels may be.in the chapter on acid soils peter says that 'weeds' are able to grow in acid soils -out compete less tolerant( and generally more desirable) plants because they themselves produce an acid that allows them to take up minerals that have become unavailable-just like this chilean wheat. peter also states that these very weeds can correct soil ph if allowed to prosper and then slashed.but. this acid they produce also contributes to soil acidity in depleted soils.i'm hoping that i understand this please can someone clarify this for me if i'm on the wrong track.the difference between the weeds and the wheat is that the wheat will be harvested or eaten and not returned to the soil- therefore potentially making it more exploitative and contributing to soil acidity??our property has an average soil ph of 4.5 so this is a topic of great interest to me. cheers.
Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 10:31 am
What Peter is saying is correct.
For example, dare I say it, but highly acid soils of which yours is, can support limited plants.
Most plants require a pH of between 6.5-7.2....generally.
There is one plant I am aware of that is considered a major weed here in NSW....Pattersons Curse.
It thrives in acid soils.
It can return your soil to normal pH levels of >pH7 in very quick time.
Posted: Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:15 pm
thanks duane. Um hate to be a pain but my original question remains.could anyone offer any insight. I have no doubt that peter is correct i'm very convinced of his teaching i'm just looking for a greater understanding.
Posted: Tue Mar 31, 2009 7:48 am
jenni wrote: i geuss i am more specifically asking what its potentiel effect on soil acidity levels may be.in the chapter on acid soils peter says that 'weeds' are able to grow in acid soils -out compete less tolerant( and generally more desirable) plants because they themselves produce an acid that allows them to take up minerals that have become unavailable-just like this chilean wheat. peter also states that these very weeds can correct soil ph if allowed to prosper and then slashed.but. this acid they produce also contributes to soil acidity in depleted soils
Sorry for the rant jenni, I saw GM and went off like I sometimes do
Is your soil naturally acid or the result of agricultural/industrial processes?
If I understand it correctly Peter considers that the weeds bring up minerals that form cations to neutralize the acid i.e calcium.
These minerals have been leached deeper into the soil leaving the topsoil acid.
So the questions I would ask are: does the wheat plant have deep roots and does it concentrate calcium? I know plants like comfrey do this and Duane mentioned Pattersons Curse which would appear to have the same capabilities.
If the wheat is similar then you would need to consider how much of the calcium is retained after harvest to be returned to the soil. When compared to the weeds.
Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 9:59 am
plants part in the process.do cereal crops with this potential pose a threat to soil health or are they wonderfully efficient?
I guess the take home message for me is that each plant is a potential miner of soil nutrients: some mine some elements more efficiently than others.
An important thing to remember is that plants only require very small amounts
of essential minerals for good growth and health so that the fact, Phosphorus is low in many Australian soils does not mean IT IS NOT THERE only that it is unavailable to plants in that form because it may be 'locked up' because of pH etc etc.,
The fact that science again has an engineering solution to a problem makes me wary.....I would be looking for more natural solutions, of which there are many.
I hope that answers your question Jenni....you may have to be the final judge of which solution you wish to adapt.
Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:08 am
ha ha no worries novaris!! to answer your question abpot the cause of our acid soils. i don't know. our area has been farmed for over 100 yrs so it must have something to do with it.is there a difference? do you need to approach the soil correction any differently?wheat is not deep rooted like comfrey -of which i am a huge fan, and which will be playing a significant role in our farm system-i geuss that if this wheat, like any wheat takes away from the soil and if not fed will hasten soil depletion?i wonder if was used as a green manure crop or cover crop as the americans call it it may be useful.duane, you mentioned pattersons curse. i was almost shocked when i read peters story of his experiment with the pc mulch and the broccolli. wow!! do you know exactly how much mulch he used. i recall it took the ph up to around 9.i wonder if a tea could be brewed from the pc to make the broadacre application easier?or is the actual organic matter needed?
Posted: Wed Apr 01, 2009 10:28 am
you could try brewing a tea from PC...do a trial.
Could be interesting.