Naturally Speaking: Save Our Farmland | Community

In previous columns, I wrote about the erosion of our Indiana soils and how much we lose each year due to water and wind erosion. I am very concerned about this loss and intend to continue writing about this preventable tragic event.

Now the soil can be replaced when it is lost, but it takes thousands of years for this to happen and with the ever increasing population all over the world especially in third world countries can we wait that long to replace what we lose each year?

Soil can form from the decomposition of rock layers that extend below the top layer of soil, preventing it from being exposed. Like I said, it takes tens of thousands of years to happen and plant nutrients have to be added to the decaying rock to make it productive.

Added to this loss of soil from the effects of erosion is the amount of good land that we lose each year due to land growth due to the number of houses, shopping malls, roads, etc. escapes from our towns to the countryside and build on what is usually prime farmland.

Urban sprawl, we call it, and I’m sure you’ve seen it every time you go to a big city. It seems people just have to get out into the countryside and get away from city life. Then they want the city life to come out with them so they don’t have to venture into the city to get what they need to lead a country life.

Aldo Leopold was a great writer who most often put his finger on him. He wrote in Sand County Almanac in 1949: “We abuse our land because we regard it as our commodity. When we see the earth as a commodity to which we belong, we can use it with love and respect. How true. Léopold continues: “This land is a commodity is the basic concept of ecology, but this land which must be loved and respected is an extension of ethics. When we abuse and abuse the land we own, we have effectively lost our ethics and will eventually have to suffer the consequences.

An old story tells the story of a Native American who watched a settler plow what was once a beautiful natural prairie. The settler used a plow pulled by a team of oxen which was to be used to convert a prairie into agricultural land. It was a land on which the Indians hunted to feed his family.

Seeing his hunting ground which he believed was being destroyed, he only used a few words to express his feeling: “Land on the wrong side.” For him it was true. He would never be able to hunt in this meadow again and he also knew that the settler would never give him any of the crops he expected to grow on the new transformed soil.

As you would expect, the settler hardly thought about what the Indian said and really meant. He just laughed and kept flipping more shit. I know what was in the Indian’s head. His way of life was almost over. He would either have to change his life, move out, or be kicked out of what he always believed to be something that would always be there to provide him with food for his family.

Are we like the Indian or the settler? Will we always have our good land to feed us or are we only seeking to exploit our natural resources for our present needs or do we only care about ourselves and let the future take care of itself? In other words, do we really care that there are already millions of people who go to bed hungry every night and know that tomorrow won’t be better and maybe even worse?

Let’s at least try to save our precious topsoil and not turn every acre of prime farmland into a new high-class mall or subdivision. The old saying goes that you don’t run out of water until the well dries up. The same can be said for our farmland and the topsoil that provides us with our food.


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