With each passing year, we learn more and more about our impact on the environment and the depletion of many of our vital resources. As we learn more, individuals are looking to do what they can to reduce their impact and lessen their burden on our planet.
From solar-powered garage doors to recycled electronics, it has never been easier to reduce your impact and vote with your dollars for the economic future you want to see.
However, there is one commodity that is rapidly on the decline that truly does threaten our very way of life. That is the loss of arable land on which to grow our food.
The massive influx of people from rural areas to cities has literally changed our modern landscape. Most of us don’t think much about farming or farm land, and yet, as the ubiquitous bumper sticker proclaims, “no farmers, no food.” On a more basic level, it would be more appropriate to say “no farmland, no food”.
And that is a situation that we are currently facing. We are losing arable, farmable land on a massive scale and it cannot be easily replaced. It takes, literally, hundreds of years for a single inch of top soil (the layer of the soil that roots grow into and where the nutrients that feed our crops lie) to form.
There are a number of contributing factors to the loss of a massive amount of the world’s arable land. First of all, there is the very way in which we farm. Farming used to require a good deal of understanding about the local land, soil quality, crop variety, and climate.
Now, farming is a very stringent, process-driven activity that does not rely on nature to provide for many crops these days. Rather, heavy equipment is used to plant homogenized seeds that are fed with chemical fertilizers and protected from pests through the use of chemical pesticides and herbicides. These activities rape the soil of its nutrients, leaving sandy, infertile dirt that easily blows away on a windy day.
The change in population densities in rural versus urban areas is also part of the problem. As more and more people move to cities and urban areas, more land must be developed to house and provide the necessary resources of city life for the new inhabitants.
This often means sacrificing fertile land for the subdivision. This fertile land is something that will take generations to replace and yet we are using it up with tract housing and unsustainable farming techniques at an alarming rate. This news about the decline of arable land should make us all pause and remember, “no farmland, no food.”
image credit: storm crypt