Editor of the New York Times
Re: “Can We Grow More Food On Less Land? We Must”, 12/6/18 pg. A8
To the Editor:
While Mr. Searchinger is correct in stating that 25% of humanity’s greenhouse gas emissions are from agriculture, he does not advocate the simplest, least technological solution to the problem. Research has shown that regenerative, organic agricultural practices can sequester carbon in the soil that if practiced worldwide, could offset current carbon dioxide emissions. This does not require new technologies, and even the most primitive farmers in developing countries can be taught these techniques.
Trees, crops, and grasslands all capture CO2 from the atmosphere, and through photosynthesis transform it into sugars that are exuded through the roots to feed the microbiome in the soil. By adopting farming techniques that help the microbiome flourish (e.g. no chemicals on the soil, adding organic matter to the soil, minimized tillage, and use of cover crops) Nature will be allowed to work her magic!
Further, desertified pasture land can be regenerated through the practices of Alan Savory of bunching and frequently moving grazing animals on lands that might not support crop production. With both of these methods, the organic matter of the soil is increased and helps to hold water in the soil, so the yield on these lands is greater than on conventionally farmed lands during times of drought.
I believe that Mr. Searchinger has willfully overlooked these simple solutions, while advocating for genetic engineering of seeds, use of animal drugs, and non-fossil fuel fertilizers. The solutions are at hand, if only we have the political will to implement them!
President of the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New Jersey