Friday, April 22, 2016

What Are those Environmental Cues which Effect Gene Expression ???

Okay this is gonna be real easy. Especially for the folks with the modern day short attention spans. You folks who learn and understand only from Memes will understand all this hands down.
Diet! - Ever hear the expression, "You are what you eat" ???

Image: MyNetDiary
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Image: foodpsychology.cornell.edu
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Image: guardianlv.com
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For Meme Lovers Only

Seriously, you people new this all along. You know the advantages of a healthy well balance diet as opposed to an unhealthy diet. You know the effects of having abundance as compared to the extreme circumstances of starvation. All of these are environmental cues which trigger variying epigenetic responses within the genes of different people. This is why the role of Gut Bacteria is so important, because what you take in your body by choice in the way of nutirtion can effect how your cut bacteria react, which also triggers signaling messages into your body's genome. These same rules apply to all the other lifeforms on the Earth as well. For example, when I wrote recently about a fungal species I use in forumations for plant root inoculations. While our nutrition intake is an internal one, plants on the other hadn have an external one which we could compare the symbiosis of beneficial fungi and bacteria which externally colonize the rootsystem, can be compared to our internal gut bacteria. Trichoderma was a subject I wrote about where the fungi not only processes nutrients, but also provides specific signaling messages to a plant's immune system to step up production.
How Many Beneficial Functions & Services can be found in just one Fungi Species ?

Climate/Weather - Micro/Macro - Heat/Cold

Image: Rainy Day - CIC Services
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Image: Dry Climate - Incredible India
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Image: Storage West
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Image: American Grandparents Association

Elevation/Geography Environmental Cues
Image from Saguaro National Monument
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Image: Himalaya Mountains - WorldWildlife.org
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Image: Lux Tonnerre - Palau Islands
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Image: Great Plains - WorldWildlife-org
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Image: Noah Elhardt - North/South Slopes
Toxic Pollution effects epigenetic gene expression - so think Endocrine Disruption & Nylonase - then we can dump the doctrine of  Random Mutation (otherwise known as copying errors which result in bad or lucky mistakes) and Natural Selection (otherwise known as Tinker Bell) is a mysterious intelligent animist type of god which is omnipotent, omnipresent and if you believe the latest literature out there, also omniscient. [I'm not kidding either folks. For all the talk of ridding mankind of their various beliefs in gods, the secular elements of our modern world are obsessed with creating their own version of gods in their image]

Image: Slideshare.net
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Image: Nylonase - OVGuide.com
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http://sciencenordic.com - Endocrine Disruption - Spooky
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Seriously now, what more could I add to the list of environmental cue factors that trigger epigentic responses to gene expression ? How about hervivores, predators, nightime, daytime, caves, volcanoes, toxins, pollution, disasters (natural & human caused), wars, climate change etc, etc, etc.

Well, this wasn't so bad. Lots of Memes and Photographs with very little text! Environmental cues are everywhere and they influence how the informational content of genes are expressed. Survival, reproduction, health (good or bad), climate adaptability, all manner of ecosystem niches, etc, etc, etc.


A little Natural Selection humor here

BTW, just as a reminder of what natural selection is and isn't, retired Geneticist, Wolf-Ekkehard Lönnig, from the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research in Germany has a nice page on the history of the definition of "Natural Selection", it's problems and attempts at finding a more viable alternative for the outdated terminology in view of latest modern scientific discoveries.
http://www.weloennig.de/NaturalSelection.html

Monday, April 18, 2016

News Updates on Bee populations, China's Industrial effects, Climate Change's effects and Bee Vectoring Technolgy

First, the not so encouraging News out of  China and it's less than ethical practices in pursuit of  Industrial Agriculture
Photojournalist Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

He Meixia, a 25-year-old farmer, pollinates each blossom on a
pear tree by hand in the Sichuan province, China
Traditionally, pollinating fruit trees was a job that was best done by all kinds of  bees. But there aren’t many bees in China these days, which forces farmers to find other solutions. In Hanyuan County, often called the pear capital of the world, human workers go tree to tree, hand-pollinating the white blossoms with brushes. But of course this begs the question, why ? What Happened ? The main reason the People's Republic of china are using humans to pollinate fruit trees, is because they have no large populations of pollinators to speak of. Back in the historical past of the 1950's the prevailing Science of the time determined sparrows were eating too much grain which would make the people go hungry. As always, the usual industrial scientific answer was to kill off and eliminate all of the sparrows. Sparrows were the enemy, not human ignorance of ecological mechanisms. Without the sparrows, huge locusts swarms destroyed their the grain crops. So they in turn decided to use the same stupid scientific rationalization and invent more synthetic chemicals to kill all the bad insects with pesticides. Now they basically have no good insect predatores and pollinators. While the major news has been the decline of honeybees which is troubling, the real concern bringing back a healthy balanced insect population. Here are some interesting educational links below of what happened to China from the 1950s to the present agricultural crisis. 
Some interesting historical reference links:
Decline of bees forces China's apple farmers to pollinate by hand
Will We Still Have Fruit if Bees Die Off?
After Bee Die-Off, Chinese Apple Farmers Resort to Hand Pollination
The Bee Photographer - Hand Pollination in China Images
The Red Chinese Cultural Revolution science-based legacy for the elimination of worthless Sparrows and the domino effect we have today in Nature
And if you think such scientific ignorance & arrogance is limited to China and a  thing of the past, think again:
Fabricating Unscientific Fables for Corporate Business Interests 


"Chinese peasants were encouraged to shoot sparrows out
 of the sky during the Four Pests Campaign"

Youtube: The Great Sparrow campaign documentary
The Great Leap Forward, 1958-61
When China Wiped Out the Common Sparrow And Slit Its Own Throat (1958)
Four Pests Campaign



Yeah, we can't believe it either Mr Sparrow!
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Climate Changes brought on by rising CO2 levels reduce protein in crucial pollen source for bees

Photo by Ivar Leidus
Interesting research about goldenrod pollen containing much less protein because of increasing CO2 levels. Bees are taking hits at every turn, they just can't seem to get a break. As usual, I found the article while interesting and informative, but I walk away with far more questions which have to do with the peripheral view of things. While Goldenrod the plant is studied, what about other plants ? What effect does less protein content have with plant reporduction for future generations of various plant species ? Where does epigenetic or genomic imprinting fit into all of this ? Will the genes of these newer seeds produced under the new  abnormal conditions make them weaker than previous plants ? As a result will these, though wild, be more suseptible to insect and pathogen attacks ? Okay, sure, I'm full of "Yeah buts ???"
Quotes from the Purdue University article 
"Researchers found that the overall protein concentration of goldenrod pollen fell about one-third from the onset of the Industrial Revolution to the beginning of the 21st century."
"Previous studies have shown that increases in carbon dioxide can lower the nutritional value of plants such as wheat and rice -- staple crops for much of the global human population -- but this study is the first to examine the effects of rising CO2 on the diet of bees. "
"Native bee species and honeybees rely on flowering plants for energy and nutrition. While nectar is the primary energy source for bee colonies, pollen is the sole source of protein for bees. Pollen is essential for the development of bee larvae and helps maintain bees' immunity to pathogens and parasites."
(Source - Purdue University) 
Of course all along some have assured us that trees, shubs and most other plants will benefit by the higher levels of CO2s. The reasoning of course was that plants breathe CO2s while exhaling oxygen. The reverse opposite of us and other animals. And what about the effects on us if plants nutrition goes down ? That's okay, the biotechs say they will fix all the seeds. Funny, not one of them has clue one about how to reverse climate change, but they know how to counter it. They also refuse to admit they are a huge part of the bigger problem which brought us climate change.
""The impact of carbon emissions on the nutritional value of our food supply is something people need to be aware of. This issue isn't just relevant to honeybees and people -- it will probably affect thousands or even millions of other plant-eating species around the world. We don't yet know how they'll deal with it."
Not exactly new findings. Here is a study from the Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science in 2014 
THE IMPACT OF THE NUTRITIVE VALUE OF POLLEN ON THE DEVELOPMENT, REPRODUCTION AND PRODUCTIVITY OF HONEY BEE (APIS MELLIFERA L.) 
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Using bees to help deliver biological control agents to eliminate crop diseases could potentially sicken or kill couriers or nontarget insects and plants
And you people wondered where Hollywood got all their Sci-Fi World ideas!

THE X FILES | THE END PLAGUE vol.2 THE BEES

One strategy for keeping farm crops healthy involves treating them with biological control agents such as bacteria, viruses or fungi that incapacitate pests or diseases. Some producers have begun using bees to help deliver control agents to crops by having them walk through powder containing the agents before heading out on their flower-foraging flights. The extent to which the approach could sicken or kill couriers or nontarget insects and plants is currently largely unknown. But here is some interesting news which may provide an organic approach, but no one knows for sure. I would like to hope that this could work. It evenhas potential for the Organic Farming practices industry. Unfortunately in the shadows lurks the usual industrial suspects spying out this technology which is being touted for its ability to work with Mother Nature and more than likely end up as just another tool of some giant agro-industrial complex. On an interesting side note, I do recognize many of the biological controls listed, some being mycorrhizal. Especial Trichoderma on Strawberries could help if the chemicals could be eliminated. Strawberries are one of the most synthetically sprayed crops.
Bee Vectoring Technology (BVT)
Springer Link: Entomovectoring in plant protection
Youtube: BVT Explained
BICOPOLL: Managing bees for delivering biological control agents and improved pollination in berry and fruit cultivation
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For a fun read on flowers pollinators and other insects, try this blog like by Chateau Moorhen - Millymollymandy


http://chateaumoorhen.blogspot.se/2014/07/the-good-bad-and-ugly.html


Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Golden Opportunities for Habitat Restoration after Wildfires in Deserts

Many conservation & habitat restoration ideas which are badly needed, would also provide work employment for many after such wildfires, but such mergency readiness planning is just too logical and that's not exactly how this world works. The outdoor jobs would also be a welcomed solution particularly for today's modern  youths who are ecologically challenged which is a condition brought on by Nature Deficit Disorder.


This photo provided by the Mohave Valley Fire District shows a fast
moving brush fire in Mohave Valley, Ariz., on Wednesday April 6, 2016.
 (Photo: Aossciated Press)

I woke up and read the News headlines in today's online San Diego Union Tribune about the potential for major fire hazard this year in San Diego County in California where El Nino didn't exactly go so well in SoCall as Scientists had predicted. The journalist mentioned how rains which brought averages to normal did nothing but make the brush wet and annual weeds grow big everywhere. This was followed by my reading updates on the Oklahoma/Kansa fire which is still going. But then there was yet another massive fire in the news and it was a desert wildfire at Topock Arizona which started early in the morning and jumped across the wide and wet Colorado River to the California side. Temps were in the 90s F (30s C), but winds were only 10 to 15 mph. Not exactly Santa Ana huricane type winds, but then fire also creates it's own wind storms within. Still, jumping the wide Colorado is incredible. Here are some pics below of the 1,438 acre wildfire. 


A wildfire flareup near Needles, Calif. on Wednesday.
San Bernardino County Fire Department photo via the
 Associated Press

These falmes are huge and burning in almost strictly moncultured invasive Tamarisk forests which have pushed out all other native vegetation along both sides of the Colorado River and backwater lagoons. For over two decades when I worked down in both Imperial and Coachella Valleys and also along the Colorado River at Yuma AZ and Bythe CA, I would see how easily a Tamarisk Wildfire would explode in the desert and rival anything people accused native chaparral of doing during fire storms. Here is some AP fire video footage with no sound: 
AP - Raw: Big Wildfire Near Arizona-California Border

A wildfire began in the Havasu National Wildlife Refuge.
 (Source: Mohave Valley Fire District)

This event for me was reminiscent of what took place this past August 2015 near the same region at Topock AZ and Needles CA. That fire was much bigger and had higher winds pushing the flames north through intense overgrown invasive Tamarisk forests. 


ABC 15 News
Here is a ABC15 news map of the fire which started on the Arizona side across from Needles California at Topock and burned in a northeasterly direction towards Oatman Arizona on old Route 66.


(Source: Mohave County Division of Emergency Management)
I have provided some vidoes at the bottom which will explain why Tamarisk fires burn so fiercely. More than other native desert shrubs they create huge build up on dander underneath their canopies which easily catch fire. Might as well be another invasive called Cheatgrass.


Mojave Fire aftermath August 2015
After wildfires are golden opportunities that should not be passed up. I won't write any more on this as I have done so from the passed few years alreaady, but I have provided info in the links below.

Potential for extreme Wildfire with Tamarisk Forests
Wildfire on Arizona-California border grows to 1,400+ acres; 2 RV parks evacuated
Aug 11, 2015: Wildfire Evacuation Order Lifted For 900 Homes In Arizona

Important references and videos on Tamarisk (Salt Cedar) removal and desert riparian habitat restoration
Mesquite Dunes: Practical Solution to Tamarisk Removal & Replacement

Turning Badlands & Wastelands into Productive Wonderlands
Wastelands to Wonderlands - Part II
Lessons From a Mesquite Dune Project
Deep Irrigation Methods for Training Deeper Rooting networks


Removal and Control of Tamarisk Forests
AgriLife Research expert: Salt Cedar beetle damage widespread after warm summer
Video: Salt Cedar Beetle damge in the High Plains
Video: IPM: Salt Cedar Project
Video: Salt Cedar Beetles (10/26/13)

Monday, March 28, 2016

What will happen to Cuba's sustainable [although not perfect] Agroecology ???

Since reading glowing News Reports lately over the thawing of cold war relations between the United States and Cuba where both sides will soon be holding hands singing "Oh Lord Kumbaya" together, I personally find more interesting news is emerging that is shedding light on Cuba's Agroecology & the benefits discovered by peasant farmers being forced to adapt to the abrupt end of Soviet era dependence with regards synthetic fertilizers, insecticides, herbicides and fungicides. They basically had to fend for themselves after communism's collapse and revert back to a more localized group of numerous smaller farms working together in urban farming for the benefit of their fellow citizens. 


Melanie Lukesh Reed (Aug 2015)

Visiting an Organopónicos farm, Alamar Cuba

When I think of Cuba, I think of older 1940s & 50s automobiles and trucks, 1930s era Art Deco styled buildings , etc. While I'm not overly interested in the ideological and philosopical historical squabblings of both sides, I am fascinated by the successes of peasant farmers who've been forced out of necessity to be more self-reliant, creative and innovative because they were forced to go that direction. So my interest lays more with something the peasant farmers have done in Cuba. They call them, Campesino-to-Campesino, which means farmer to farmer. A sort of cooperative infrastructure on a social scale. From the 1990s, out of shear necessity “Agroecology Revolution" was developed as a means of supplying food to their nation. Cuba’s farmers shifted to organic fertilizers, traditional crops and animal breeds, diversified farming with crop rotations, and non-toxic pest controls emphasizing the use of beneficial plants and insects. And it's that use of beneficial plants and insects that intrigue me the most. I've noticed this in a number of photographs posted over the internet where numerous biodiverse flowering perennials are grown which in turn attract not only polinators, but also important predatory insects. Below is one example photo of one of the neighbourhood urban farms with beneficial plants grown in among and around crop plants.



 Photo by Noah Friedman-Rudovsky

There was an article in the online journal of "The Conservsation" which highlighted the potential dangers to Cuban agriculture as a consequence of more normalized relations between the United States and Cuba. First the history they referenced about how Cuba developed agroecology out of necessity after the Soviet system collapsed after the welfare gravy train aid from their Soviet friends all stopped.

The government devoted 30 percent of agricultural land to sugarcane for export, while importing 57 percent of Cuba’s food supply. Farmers relied on tractors, massive amounts of pesticide and fertilizer inputs, all supplied by Soviet bloc countries. By the 1980s agricultural pests were increasing, soil quality was degrading and yields of some key crops like rice had begun to decline.
When Cuban trade with the Soviet bloc ended in the early 1990s, food production collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilizers, pesticides, tractors and petroleum. The situation was so bad that Cuba posted the worst growth in per capita food production in all of Latin America and the Caribbean.
But then farmers started adopting agroecological techniques, with support from Cuban scientists.   
Thousands of oxen replaced tractors that could not function due to lack of petroleum and spare parts. Farmers substituted green manures for chemical fertilizers and artisanally produced biopesticides for insecticides. At the same time, Cuban policymakers adopted a range of agrarian reform and decentralization policies that encouraged forms of production where groups of farmers grow and market their produce collectively.

Cuban Produce Market - image by Nancy & Joseph Gill (May 2012)


How Peasant Farmers Made Agroecology Farming a Success
As Cuba reoriented its agriculture to depend less on imported chemical inputs and imported equipment, food production rebounded. From 1996 though 2005, per capita food production in Cuba increased by 4.2 percent yearly during a period when production was stagnant across Latin America and the Caribbean.
In the mid-2000s, the Ministry of Agriculture dismantled all “inefficient state companies” and government-owned farms, endorsed the creation of 2,600 new small urban and suburban farms, and allowed farming on some three million hectares of unused state lands.
Urban gardens, which first sprang up during the economic crisis of the early 1990s, have developed into an important food source.   
Today Cuba has 383,000 urban farms, covering 50,000 hectares of otherwise unused land and producing more than 1.5 million tons of vegetables. The most productive urban farms yield up to 20 kg of food per square meter, the highest rate in the world, using no synthetic chemicals. Urban farms supply 50 to 70 percent or more of all the fresh vegetables consumed in cities such as Havana and Villa Clara.
The Paradox of Cuban Agriculture - Stats on productivity
The Risk of a Marriage Alliance with America's Industrial Agriculture
Now Cuba’s agriculture system is under increasing pressure to deliver harvests for export and for Cuba’s burgeoning tourist markets. Part of the production is shifting away from feeding local and regional markets, and increasingly focusing on feeding tourists and producing organic tropical products for export.   
President Obama hopes to open the door for U.S. businesses to sell goods to Cuba. In Havana last Monday during Obama’s visit, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack signed an agreement with his Cuban counterpart, Agriculture Minister Gustavo Rodriguez Rollero, to promote sharing of ideas and research.
USDA - March 2016: Agriculture Secretary Vilsack Announces Historic Agreements for U.S.-Cuba Agriculture Sectors
“U.S. producers are eager to help meet Cuba’s need for healthy, safe, nutritious food,” Vilsack said. The U.S. Agriculture Coalition for Cuba, which was launched in 2014 to lobby for an end to the U.S.-Cuba trade embargo, includes more than 100 agricultural companies and trade groups. Analysts estimate that U.S. agricultural exports to Cuba could reach US$1.2 billion if remaining regulations are relaxed and trade barriers are lifted, a market that U.S. agribusiness wants to capture.

November 2015.  US Department of Agriculture

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Alabama
 Congresswoman Terri Sewell tour a Havana farmers' market

Here is what has happened with other poorer developing countries who form alliances with industrial Ag Business Interests
When agribusinesses invest in developing countries, they seek economies of scale. This encourages concentration of land in the hands of a few corporations and standardization of small-scale production systems. In turn, these changes force small farmers off of their lands and lead to the abandonment of local crops and traditional farming ways. The expansion of transgenic crops and agrofuels in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia since the 1990s are examples of this process.
Is there really any need to rehash what has happened with the health and damage to both man and nature in those South American countries, or the increased wealth obtained by industrial nations corporate entities ? Nature and poor people are the real losers. It never has been about just wanting to feed the world.
If U.S. industrial agriculture expands into Cuba, there is a risk that it could destroy the complex social network of agroecological small farms that more than 300,000 campesinos have built up over the past several decades through farmer-to-farmer horizontal exchanges of knowledge
Then as the article further states, the richness of biodiversity would ultimately disappear as it has in South American agriculture. So also would the diversity of crops marketed. Industrial Ag loves monocultures that they can control.
This would reduce the diversity of crops that Cuba produces and harm local economies and food security. If large businesses displace small-scale farmers, agriculture will move toward export crops, increasing the ranks of unemployed. There is nothing wrong with small farmers capturing a share of export markets, as long as it does not mean neglecting their roles as local food producers. The Cuban government thus will have to protect campesinos by not importing food products that peasants produce.

You can read the rest of the article (Here). The ugly unsustainable topic now with most all of the well established giant Biotechs and new comer Biotech wannabes is something called Bio-Diesel for an energy hungry consumer planet where everyone wants a piece of the 'good life' pie in hopes of upgrading their lifestyles. Nothing wrong with that, but to satisfy those needs it is proposed that there are a number of plants around the globe which which hold promise for the world's bio-fuels. They would fill the bio-diesel need for all the world's consumption needs. Well at least partly. It would require millions more acres of raw land to be developed [this means more wildlands need sacrificing] into more industrial monoculture behemoths. And with all that land there would also be huge water requirements, far more than they are already wasting and scraping the bottom of the barrel now. Let's face it, these people have no clue on what the real solution is, but the potential for a fistful of them to enrich themselves off these phony schemes seems worth the gamble to them. But hey, with all that science-based, peer-review and Consensus behind them, they'll sure give it a try. Sad thing is most people will blindly fall for this propaganda. But then a handful will learn from the Cuban experiment and hopefully create their own version of biomimetic success. Look at what the prevailing Scientific Orthodoxy has brought us below. Who should you really believe ?




Some frightening history not to forget when it comes to resisting the Anglo-American World Power's quest to stay that way
Some time back around the middle of 2014, several journals came out exposing the US government's efforts to pressure the Central American country of El Salvador to purchase Monsanto GMO seeds or face a withholding of foreign aid. I'll simply let you read the accounts for yourself:
U.S. Government To Pull Foreign Aid In El Salvador For Refusing Monsanto Seeds
The US Wants To Force GMO Seeds On Salvadoran Farmers, But They're Resisting: Report
US pressures El Salvador to buy Monsanto's GMO seeds
Evidently the Public Relations flack was so negative that the US Embassy down there El Salvador posted an explanation on their website as to why they were legally justified in taking the tough position on this:
http://sansalvador.usembassy.gov/news/2014/06/19.html
So the justification here for their position was a little trade agreement between the USA & Central American countries & Dominican Republic called CAFTA-DR. I doubt many even remember this. But it may sound vaguely familiar to the one with the USA, Canada & Mexico called NAFTA. Lately there are others notorious trade agreements making the News, but you may remember that with NAFTA the sale of American Farmer government subsidized corn hurt many of the indigenous peasant maize farmers throughout Mexico who could not compete with the American's cheap corn. The US response was purchase and grow America's GMO seeds and synthetic chemicals and get bigger harvests which would offset the lower corn prices. While the P.R. on all these agreements is that it's for the good of the people and their economy, historically this is never how things work out. Many of these countries now have buyers remorse. So who knows what Cuba may be getting themselves into when signing on the dotted line. Quite simply this is how this world now works. Like everything else going haywire around the globe, this is now the "New Abnormal."
Update April 1, 2016:
U.S. companies make case for keeping Cuba organic

Some Interesting Reading References you can track on your own
The Conversation: Cuba’s sustainable agriculture at risk in U.S. thaw
The Slate: What Cuba Can Teach Us About Food and Climate Change
The Campesino-to-Campesino agroecology movement of ANAP in Cuba: social process methodology in the construction of sustainable peasant agriculture and food sovereignty
The agroecological revolution in Latin America: rescuing nature, ensuring food sovereignty and empowering peasants
Lessons from Cuba - Cuba's Surprise Harvest

Friday, March 25, 2016

What makes the grass greener at "Vineyard Golf Club" ???

“We have a weed here or there,” he said unapologetically.
Image from Vineyard Golf Club

Vineyard Golf Course's Club House
Another incredible example of a large commercial enterprize rejecting the conventionally practiced, science-based, peer-reviewed methods of maintaining a part of the Earth's landscape without the use of synthetic inputs. There was an article in the New York Times back in August of 2010 about a golf course architect  named Jeff Carlson who attempted to do what no one else had really done with regards large commercial golf course installation and maintenance. That was of course a strict organic approach. Here is what the Vineyard Gold Club's website has to say after all this time:
"Today the Vineyard Golf Club stands as a tribute to what can be accomplished through persistence, collaboration and creativity. Working hand in hand with the local regulatory agencies, naturalists and organic experts from around the world, Carlson and the Grounds Team have established, and continue to maintain, what is reputed to be the most environmentally-sensitive golf course in the world."
(Source)
But I loved the actual account as related in the New York Times and I'll repost it here because I find that the Adverstisements and other online junk their pages are rather annoying and who knows how long it will be available to the general public who may not have a subscription to the journal. This seems to be the trend with most former conventional newspapers which are online these days:
EDGARTOWN, Mass. — Standing alongside the 13th green at the Vineyard Golf Club on Martha’s Vineyard, Jeff Carlson spotted a small broadleaf weed between his feet. As the superintendent charged with maintaining the club grounds, he instinctively bent to pluck it, then stopped.
“We have a weed here or there,” he said unapologetically.
It was the rarest acknowledgment in American golf course landscaping — the Vineyard Golf Club is not meant to be as unnaturally perfect as many of the country’s best-known courses.   
Opened eight years ago, the club is thought to be the only completely organic golf course in the United States, its 18 holes groomed without the use of a single synthetic pesticide, fertilizer, herbicide or other artificial chemical treatment.   
“When we started here, some of my peers thought this golf course would be a dust bowl,” Carlson said, walking across a lush, smooth green toward a rolling, verdant fairway. “I admit I wasn’t so sure it could be done myself. People said we were crazy.”
The club has a more prominent endorsement now. The nation’s first golfer, President Obama, is expected to play here while vacationing this month, after playing the course twice last year.

Image From Vineyard Golf Club

Not exactly what most Agro-Chemical critics would admit
when it comes to organically maintained landscaping
With golf courses increasingly being criticized for environmentally unfriendly practices, the Vineyard Golf Club has become a petri dish for alternative maintenance techniques. Carlson has learned to kill weeds with boiling water and a natural foam cocktail and to remove moss with kitchen dish detergent, and he has transported microscopic worms from Iowa to attack turf-ruining grubs. He has disrupted the mating cycle of damaging oriental beetles with a strategically placed scent and has grown grass that he believes is more resistant to disease because it developed without chemicals.   
The staff at the Vineyard Golf Club are now seen as environmental pioneers, with many in the golf industry examining their methods. The club’s organic model could become the successful experiment that helps push thousands of courses toward using fewer pesticides, less water and more natural grass-growing procedures.
“Everyone won’t be able to go fully organic, but we’re proving you can severely cut back on synthetic chemicals,” Carlson said.   
When the Vineyard Golf Club opened, it was the first club in 30 years built on Martha’s Vineyard, where the wealthy, many of them environmentally conscious but also accustomed to playing on chemically enhanced private courses, have long kept summer homes.   
Opposition to the project on this liberal-leaning island was fierce. It helped the project that the land was also zoned for a 148-lot subdivision. The Martha’s Vineyard Commission eventually allowed the course to be built with conditions prohibiting the use of any product whose active ingredient was synthetically produced.   
Bill Wilcox, a water resource planner for the commission, called the club a good neighbor and said he knew of no major complaints against it. 
 Although the club is private, with 288 proprietary members — the initiation fee is $350,000 with annual dues of $12,000 — the deal with the commission includes a condition that 125 island residents be accepted as members with no initiation fee and annual dues of $725.   
Carlson, 61, had experience building a golf course with conservationists watching, having worked with the noted architect Michael Hurdzan during the 1990s in the creation of the Widow’s Walk Golf Course in Scituate, Mass. That course is known as America’s first environmental demonstration course, although it was maintained with some synthetic materials.
“Nobody had tried what we were trying,” Carlson said.   
Cruising the Martha’s Vineyard club on a golf cart last week, Carlson recalled one of his earliest jobs in the business, in which he mixed mercury-based fungicides by hand, occasionally near the on-course house where he lived with his wife, Kathy.

Image from Vineyard Golf Club

“Kathy has beautiful, thick red hair, and it started to fall out,” he said. “She went to the doctor, who did some tests and was told she had heavy-metal poisoning. Obviously, I stopped using that stuff. All these years later, it has been kind of satisfying to be trying something so very different.”
In the golf community, there is no clear definition of what constitutes an organic course. A 79-page report prepared by a consortium of golf and environmental experts proposed definitions earlier this year but did not settle the issue. The report listed about two dozen courses that call themselves organic, but noted that most used some synthetic chemical pesticide, fertilizer or wetting agent.   
“The Vineyard Golf Club has gone further than anyone organically, especially for that level of golf course and considering what they’ve achieved over the years,” said Paul Parker, the chief author of the report.  When Vineyard Golf Club opened in 2002, Carlson was in hand-to-hand combat with fungal diseases, insects, grubs and the skunks, crows and raccoons that tore up the turf to get to the grubs. There was also the matter of teaching the membership that nothing in the rules of golf mandated that the game always be played on green grass.   
“We had to promote the notion of playability rather than visual perfection,” Carlson said.  Still, the grubs were particularly vexing. A synthetic insecticide application would have made things easy. But Carlson discovered a specific kind of beneficial nematode, a roundworm that would attack the grubs from within the soil. It occasionally meant flying in the nematodes from Iowa packed in dry ice.   
When it came to the skunks, crows and raccoons, the club went old school. It turned to a retired local fisherman — whom some have compared to Carl Spackler, the character played by Bill Murray in the golf movie “Caddyshack” — who was known on the island for his ability to trap and remove those creatures.   
Nothing at the Vineyard Golf Club, now in its ninth season, is left to chance. To prevent fungal disease, crews go out daily at dawn using a long, whip-like device that whisks condensation off the grass throughout the course’s 69 acres. And visitors have their shoes cleaned before they play to keep contrary grass seeds or diseases from infiltrating the fairways and greens. 
I've split this paragraph into two parts here above and below, because I'd like to interject my own personal thoughts on what was stated here. I love the fact that they have a large crew here for the hands on maintenance. Clearly it's a lot of work, but enjoyable work just the same. With the 10s of 1000s of dollars not spent on synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, fungicides, insecticdes and water savings as a result of having extremely thirsty plants because of the over fertility caused by synthetics, they can now hire and pay for more employees. More jobs and safer environment for the whole community.
The club’s maintenance labor budget is higher than those of most clubs its size, but Carlson said his net costs were the same “because of the money we save on traditional pesticides, which are very expensive.”
The Vineyard Golf Club greens are devoid of weeds or major blemishes, and they roll true and consistent. The fairways have patches of crabgrass and clover that are barely noticeable. What is most obvious in a walk of the holes is a striking and scenic layout pocked with deep, distinctive sod-faced bunkers designed by the British architects Donald Steel and Tom Mackenzie.   
“Yes, it is not perfect out there, but even if your ball comes to rest next to a shaved-down broadleaf weed, it’s not going to affect your shot,” said Gene Mulak, the club’s golf pro.
Private golf course members are notoriously hard on superintendents, but Carlson says those at the Vineyard Golf Club are “real environmental pioneers because they put down the money for this experiment.”   
Sally Rorer, a charter member, said members were proud of the club’s organic approach. 
“It makes it easier to put a sandwich down on the ground between shots, too,” she said. 
What practices and techniques might be transferable from Martha’s Vineyard, where golf courses are generally open only eight months a year, to other parts of the country is debatable.
“Most golf courses wouldn’t make it with an approach so organic, especially year after year with changeable weather,” said James Snow, the national director of the United States Golf Association’s Green Section. “But over time, we’re going to be using less synthetics, and that’s a good thing.
These days, walking past the occasional weed, Carlson has moved on to other goals. 
“We’re trying to be like any other golf course,” he said. “I don’t want people to come here and say, ‘That was a real good golf course for an organic golf course.’   
“I hate hearing that.”
(Source - New York Times by Bill Pennington)
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Concluding Comments and Reflection
The beauty of this organic landscape maintenance example is that it is yet another illustration of how a holistic approach through biomimicry [which is replication of Nature] can be successfully implemented with fantastic results on a large commercial scale. This is something the Agro-Chemical and Biotech Corporate business interests say cannot be done with any real serious commercial venture without their help, be it Farming, Urban Landscaping, etc. Here are a couple more examples of big commercial operations [one Farm & one University Campus] who have successfully done what the Vineyard Golf Club has done and the Agro-Chemical industry is livid. Why ??? Because these operations have completely eliminated all synthetic inputs and rely on beneficial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi colonizing plant roots which provides enhanced water uptake and both nutritional and immune system needs. Mostly it's a change in practice. The first example are the grounds keepers at Harvard Yard who were  severely criticized back in 2009 by the Garden Professors at Washington State University who are often committed to industrial science business interests for no other reasons than the claim of peer-review, scientific consensus and the illusion of a practice of something as science-based. Although to be fair, they do provide some good insight and helpful advise about organic practices, but they are adamantly against compost tea even to the point of putting down some of the efforts of their own fellow colleagues at the Extension Service who actually put on a great well balanced webinar on Compost Tea. 







Here is an article I wrote in response to the WSU Professors  thrashing they spearheaded against the successful Harvard Yard Groundkeepers and their own eXtension colleagues for providing information through a very informative well done webinar on the use, recipes and research being done on compost teas.
WSU Garden Professors attack Harvard Yard Soil Project
Another wonderful example of a commercial venture is a 5,400+ acre farming operation outside of Bismark North Dakota by farmer Gabe Brown who has stopped using synthetic inputs and having fantastic results and like Harvard Yard and Vineyard Golf Club is saving 10s of 1000s of dollars in the process. He manages his land by nurturing the soils mycorrhizal fungi and beneficial bacteria by keeping his fields continually covered with a 20+ biodiverse mix of perennials in pasture [because mycorrhizal fungi needs a continual host], grazing cattle and planting crops all on the same land with a no-till process which leaves the ground micro-organism infrastructure intact instead of killing them with conventional tilling and synthetic chemical inputs. You can watch this video which features Gabe Brown and his Keys To Building a Healthy Soil, filmed on Nov. 18th 2014 at the Idaho Center for Sustainable Agriculture's annual symposium.



Some of the more interesting photos on their website's gallery were these two photos of the sand traps surrounded by what appears to be the low growing native vegetation of their region. This made me think of ways and examples the west coast golf courses could also use many specimens of coastal sage scrub and some high desert plants in the same ways. There was one paragraph which seemed to sum up what other varied geograpphically located golf courses could do to incorporate many of Vineyatd's ideas, but also specifically tailor them to their own region. This is important not only from a maintenance perspective, but also a localized ecological one which enhances the natural ecological habitats within any given locality. Here are those pics below.


Image from Vineyard Golf Club


Image from Vineyard Golf Club

I love those pics. For me they are illustrative of the mountain high terrain in eastern San Diego County in California where such application could be implemented at another golf resort called Warner Spring Ranch Resort . For that matter all of the other golf courses of Southern California, including those of the deserts southwest could follow this example since an organic approach which utilizes and encourages micro-organisms allow less water to be used, something that is a rare and expensive commodity out there. And this is irrelevant whether the water comes from an effluent gray water source. Take a look at some example photos below of the Warner Ranch Resort golf course.


Image from Warner Spring Ranch Resort
The photo above here reveals the non-native trees and shrubs first  by the previous ranch developers decades ago. This was always the practice way back then by not only developers, but also land owners of the high elevation country. People move in from the cities and bring with them their favourite plants purchased at the conventional retail nurseries. They most often are not a good fit and if they do survive at all, they are not long lived and often stunted in growth. But today there are more Native Plant Nurseries for places like San Diego county which offer a huge choice of better suited attractive native ornamental plants for this drier environment located at the edge of the Anza Borrego Desert which almost take care of themselves under the right microbial soil conditions. The trees and shrubs the ranch has now have higher water requirements. The southwestern natives on the other hand generally have much deeper root systems and actually resent the massive amounts of water generally supplied on conventionally maintained golf courses. Take as an example the native oak trees below which are experiencing severe die off of their branches. Without any forethought decades ago when plans were architected and being developed, the course was mapped out to weave in and out of existing majestic oak specimens. But giant oaks resent a constant supply of water all the way up to their trunks. Take a look at the major decline and die off of foliage below.


Image from Warner Springs Ranch Resort
Again, as above, the photo below shows, the native California Live Oaks struggle under the golf course's wet grass conditions where the grass actually grows righ up to the trunks of the trees and the foliage declines as a result. The native majestic looking Fremont Cottonwoods and California Sycamores they have left are doing fine, but that is because they are water loving riparian trees. But I also like that they have left in the back in the photo below large patches of the attrctive native Silver Sagebrush. This allows a mycorrhizal system to remain intact and a buffer to weeds taking over had they removed them as a fire break which would create a bacterial system favouring ruderal plants which are non-mycorrhizal. Even many pines do not take so well  to the continual wetness of the lawn environment needed for the course. Please keep in mind here that I really can only speak from a southwestern ecosystem perspective and other regional ecosystems around the globe will all have their own unique ecological fine tuning, even though the basic fundamentals and principles are the same.


Image from Warner Springs Ranch Resort

Successful organic landscape examples on a commercial scale are desperately needed in a world where the prevailing Scientific Orthodoxy insists we need the Biotechs & Agro-Chemical comapnies if the world is going to survive. And they have the world's power and wealth to back up their claims. Truth be said, it is these very same companies from their earliest origins at the beginning o the 20th Century who have literally dismantled and reverse engineered the Earth by means of abuse and misuse of Science. Clearly, their are other scientific studies and ecologically minded organizations which time and again have proven the industrial science business model to be dead wrong. But one of the greatest allies the Industrial Science world has on it's side when t comes to propaganda storytelling is the global Media. Recently there was an article explaining why and how this major gray area journalism culture operates. The article's title is, "Is Most Science News Bull****?"
http://primemind.com/articles/is-most-science-news-bull****?
"If we want to live our lives based on evidence (and who doesn’t?), it makes intuitive sense to live according to what we read in the science section of the newspaper. First things first, don’t do that. Newspapers are actually one of the worst places to get information about scientific matters. Now this isn’t some kind of revelation. Anyone with a good understanding of science knows this is as clear as night and day."
Unfortunately the media is where most average people get their science education and understanding. Today's modern society living in a further and further dismantled world where life seems to have less and less purpose are for the most part apathetic. Like the old time religion of the past, most people are lazy and allow the prevailing ruling Scientific Orthodoxy to do their scientific study, research and thinking for them. That article further explained why journalists are not more honest and thorough in producing a well balanced and well thought out educational reads. 
"This is because a well-considered and balanced article is not only time consuming and challenging to write, but ultimately sells less copies, brings in less traffic, and consequently less advertising dollars than shock-horror headlines. All journalists who want to tell substantive, well-researched stories face this problem."
Humans under the failed leadership of political, Commercial & Religious elements have gradually dismantled this planet's life sustaining natural systems which has been accelerated since World War I thanks to the misuse and abuses of science. Quite literally our Earth (Home) has been trashed and abused for it's natural resources to such a degree that many parts are becoming unlivable. Hence the migration of people to the prosperous industrial countries. And yet very few are taking not. This question begs, Why is the average human content with living in a home in an ever growing homeless world ?

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Some Interesting References
New York Times: Exclusive Golf Course Is Organic, So Weeds Get In
New York Times: The Grass Is Greener at Harvard
Brown's Ranch: Regenerating Landscaoes for a Sustainable Future
https://www.warnerspringsranchresort.com/championship-golf.html
Reclaimed Water: Municipal Projects, CalTrans Landscaping & Pompous Grass Resorts
In Pursuit of the Perfect Lawn (& Why I've always hated Lawns as a Landscaper) 
Native Plants, Micro-Organisms & Habitat Building Resources for creating commercial Ecological Habitats through Biomimicry
California Chaparral Institute
Las Pilitas Native California Plants Nursery
Tree of Life Native Plants Nursery
Mycorrhizal Applications Inc
Lebanon Turf & Biologicals
http://www.valentbiosciences.com
Some Great News in the Biological Controls Research & Development Department
The article in Entomology Today dealt with grub issues in the lawns that the Vinetard Groundskeepers had to deal with. Here is the latest from the online journal Entomology Today on potential biological controls:
Journal of Integrated Pest Management (JIPM) Article on Masked Chafer Grubs in Turfgrass Explains Management Techniques

Credit Entomological Society of America

Most people are more familiar with the larval form of masked chafers,
like the one shown here. Often called “white grubs,” these
cream-colored and brown-headed larvae can grow to an inch long and
 are typically discovered in the soil lying in a characteristic C-shape.