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Viewing posts by Peter Donovan

Commodifying and financializing nature

Posted by Peter Donovan 1 month ago in policy and framing /

The rush continues to commodify soil carbon or other "ecosystem services" and trade these on some kind of markets. Are we asking the wrong questions? These two excellent videos suggest that we are.



Online presentation and discussion on soilhealth.app

Posted by Peter Donovan 3 months ago in Events /

The recording of the session announced below is now available here.

What is nature, how does it work, and why? The physicist Werner Heisenberg, one of the pioneers of quantum mechanics, wrote: "What we observe is not nature in itself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning."

So our questions are key to the understandings we construct. Much ecological monitoring has and continues to be surveillance: categorizing species and practices in terms of compliance with rule-based systems of policy and regulation, resulting in one-way information pipelines. Since I began the Soil Carbon Challenge in 2010, I wanted to ask different questions: when, where, and with whom are the opportunities for slowing carbon and water cycling?

A shift is possible, from surveillance and compliance monitoring toward a participatory, evidence-based, localized, shared understanding of carbon cycling, water cycling, and even local economics—if we can ask better questions, and engage more people in asking and answering. This calls for a different design, with implications for diversity and power.

I will be doing an online showcase and discussion of soilhealth.app. The session is on Wednesday, January 20 (7 am U.S. Pacific time, UTC-8) and you can sign up here. If you are engaged in a local or regional effort of regeneration or restoration, this app has been designed to support your work, customizable to your local needs.



Andhra Pradesh successes

Posted by Peter Donovan 4 months ago

Vijay Kumar, Didi Pershouse, Walter Jehne, and others participated in a recent inspiring 3-hour webinar on the successes of farmers in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. This presentation highlights local successes built on 1) the empowerment of women and small farmers, 2) Zero Budget Natural Farming or similar strategies, and 3) the recently adopted practice of pre-monsoon drought seeding, which enables a standing crop canopy, even a small one, to capture atmospheric water in the form of dew, particularly at night. The combination here has resulted in some farmers achieving yearlong green cover even in fairly arid regions, and in some cases a doubling of farmer's income.



Judy Schwartz: The Reindeer Chronicles

Posted by Peter Donovan 7 months, 2 weeks ago

YES! magazine recently published a review of Judy Schwartz's new book plus some interview excerpts:



Soil‑microbe systems are self‑organising states

Posted by Peter Donovan 8 months, 2 weeks ago in policy and framing /

by Susan Cousineau

(Instagram @susan.cousineau)
Neal, A. L., Bacq-Labreuil, A., Zhang, X., Clark, I. M., Coleman, K., Mooney, S. J., Ritz, K., & Crawford, J. W. (2020). Soil as an extended composite phenotype of the microbial metagenome. Scientific Reports, 10(1), 10649. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-67631-0
 
This paper was a really dense read, but in a nutshell establishes soil as a self-organizing system derived from the interplay of microbial genetics (not just the whole organisms) and soil characteristics, rather than a reducible, mechanical system of many parts. While that may at first glance seem kind of self-evident, here's the peer-reviewed science to back it up.
 
The authors determined that the soil isn't just influenced by microbes; and microbial populations aren't just influenced by soil type, structure, soil organic matter, and so on.