Sunday, June 10, 2012

Paving farms

On our way to Bob Stewarts farm in Yorkville, Illinois, we see many newly "developed" areas with huge houses (sometimes referred to as McMansions in the US) with generous compounds. This on some very good agriculture land.  Bob tells us that he sold some land for that development and that he buys more land down in Farmer City, far away from the urban sprawl. It reminds me of the discussion in Brazil, where the expansion of soy beans is blamed from de-forestation, not because the soy beans are grown in the rain forest, but because soy production pushes cattle breeders from expensive fertile land into the cheap Amazon land. Ultimately, land resources are limited, and when we pave fertile land, some other land will be needed for farming. Also, most big cities are located in rich farm areas - which is why they became big in the first place, unless they were trading towns - and one acre of good land, may need to be replaced by three or four acres of less good land.

 During the past 30 years, much of America’s most fertile farmland has been lost to wasteful development. The National Resources Inventory   The NRI, conducted by the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in cooperation with Iowa State University’s Center for Survey Statistics and Methodology, is a survey of the nation’s non-federal lands that tells the story of farmland loss by the numbers. The most recent NRI, covering the 25-year period between 1982 and 2007, reveals that more than 23 million acres of America’s agricultural land have been lost to development—an area the size of Indiana. (

 I have called for an international soil convention several times before. Unfortunately it doesn't seem to be on the agenda for the upcoming Rio +20 event.

Some earlier blog posts on land "development"
Your 200 square meters of concrete and asphalt
Paving the land - and taking it back again
EU farm land increasingly sealed
Time for a soil convention!

(The trip to Illionois was part of the process to write the book "keep your ear to the ground" for the SSNC)


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