In late summer, I would swim and stream-walk a small section of the Raccoon River. While sedimented for decades now, the water was clear in the shallows. For a few years now, the water is pea-green from edge-to-edge. For decades and worse now, this water has strongly contributed to a vast hypoxia zone in the Gulf.

In the 1980s, I wrote about the wisdom of the river, focusing on the Des Moines River as a living, very open metaphor for the essential streaming dynamic of the universe that is within us as well in the streaming of our body metabolism and thought.

Saturday, April 22, 2017

EARTH DAY 2017!!!: Iowa Agriculture: A Mining Mentality / High Yield Extraction

[Iowa Water Post Number 10, selections from Your 2 Cents Worth, & Letters To Editor, Des Moines Register]

It was wonderful to read about thousands of acres of farm buffer strips next to creeks and lakes, and how, very soon, all the waterways in the state will be protected. Unfortunately, I was reading about Minnesota, which requires buffer strips. Iowa doesn't.

Iowa farmers are switching form corn to soybeans to search for more profit this year.  Here’s a novel idea.  How about adding a third, fourth or fifth option?  Try planting oats, wheat, sorghum or anything else but row crops.  Plant a crop that actually holds the soil and takes less inputs (fertilizer, chemicals).  Oops, silly me.  You would lose your row crop welfare checks.

I’d like my taxes to help the farmer down the road who raises veggies and uses compost to improve his soil.
Instead, my taxes help the corn farmer next door who sends lots of soil and nitrates into the creek via tillage and tiling.


[letter to editor: Selden Spencer, Water is still polluted]
Despite the recent legal decision against the Des Moines Water Works, Iowa’s water is still polluted and getting worse. How do we fix this problem?  Who is responsible?

Each of us can help. but the bulk of the problem is from industrial agriculture.  It is the owner of an “operation” that must accept final responsibility for the pollution of Iowa waters.  Whether the owners are on the farm, in a condo in Arizona or in some boardroom in Chicago. The owners, through persuasion or legislative rules must be brought to a conservation mentality and practice--a mindset that would value increased biomass as much as increased yield. 

The obsession with maximal yield will never allow for practices that might preserve or even enhance our gift of topsoil.

A mining mentality will continue to tear, destroy, pollute and wash away our topsoil into our waters and thereby foul them.  With carrot or stick we must try to promote and elevate the best practices of soil and water conservation to all landowners if we want to restore our water quality.

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