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Agriculture Roundup

August 24, 2007

Unless the U.S. adopts different agricultural practices, the nation’s topsoil will continue to disappear at an alarming rate.


Is America running out of dirt? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

We’ve long been concerned with conserving water; University of Washington earth scientist David Montgomery says we should be just as concerned with conserving soil. In a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, he concludes that conventional agriculture is removing topsoil ten to a hundred times faster than it can be replenished. Montgomery calls for new methods to save the nation’s soil, including no-till agriculture that turns over far less soil than plowing. In other agricultural news, a new paper in the Journal of Consumer Research examined the effects of Community Supported Agriculture. That’s when community groups purchase shares of produce directly from farmers. The paper describes a variety of benefits, including a bond between farmers and their customers, and the encouragement of conservative, sustainable farming methods. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.