Saturday, May 11, 2013


the field is plowed and the anhydrous ammonia tanks have long gone...their contents injected into the "growth medium" ( someone like sir albert howard would not call this "soil" is fairly sterile...we'll get to that in a minute ) along with the treated gmo seed like "liberty link" corn or "roundup ready" soy what does this dose of concentrated nitrates do besides adding dangerously unhealthy amounts of nitrates to the groundwater and all the ecological damage that does throughout the watershed? well...i work with a limited amount of gardening knowledge ( learning as i go ) but one of the first things i look for when i am turning over a bed for a new season or as an expansion of an existing garden is worms...if there aren't a significant number in the shovelfuls of earth i am turning i immediately begin to make plans to import a colony...they feed on bacteria that multiplies as it breaks down organic matter, keeping their numbers in check and maintaining soil health...worms are good news...they aerate the soil and leave castings high in nutrients like phosphorous...a dose of anhydrous ammonia lowers the soil ph and kills approximately ten percent of the earthworm population in a given field...they can recover from that but continued doses decimate populations...earthworm populations in farm field are reduced by seventy percent after just five years of tilling and chemical application in "normal" farming methodologies [edwards and bohler 1996]...the longer a farmer uses anhydrous ammonia and broad spectrum fungicides in conjunction with most pesticides ( herbicides seem harmless to earthworms according to the research i have read)the fewer worms there will be and the impact on the soil fertility will mean more chemicals as a replacement meaning fewer worms yet...a negative feedback loop if ever there was one...i work to preserve worm populations in the gardens i work in ( moles are the enemy...mole larders with as many as a thousand earthworms have been found...mole tracks make me irritable ) and feed the garden organic matter to keep a fair balance of micro life in the mix...the chemical impact on the soil is why wes jackson calls agricultural chemicals chemotherapy for the land.


  1. I am frustrated that robins keep stealing the worms from my yard...I realize they too need some lunch but I'm using those worms!!
    and some of these chemical sprays may be contributing to the decline of honey bees needed for pollination.....

  2. birds pose less of a threat than moles or the pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers...i try to look at squirrels eating my maize as trying to make a living too...doesn't work well...honey bees have multiple issues it seems with pesticides high on the list...ugly news for agriculture and anyone who likes's the "poor diet" part of the honey bee issue that gets plants lacking basic bee nutrition? wonder if monsanto saw that coming.