Janet Miles, CAP-OM (janetmiles) wrote,
Janet Miles, CAP-OM

Returning the land to prairie (Chronicle of Higher Ed article)


Y Gwyndwn, the Unplowed Land
November 16, 2010, 10:23 am
By Lawrence Biemiller

Doug Caulkins . . . had been telling me that the tall prairie grasses and flowers among which we stood have such deep roots—six, eight, 10 feet—that they have no trouble surviving the fires on which the prairie depends for regeneration.

. . .

For one thing, he said, “Iowa has just become a giant storm sewer.” Because rain falls at times and in amounts that are inconvenient for farmers trying to get tractors into their fields, the farmers create tile drainage systems that carry water to streams and rivers as soon as it falls, contributing to flooding. Prairie plants, on the other hand, retain water beautifully. “Iowa is the most human-modified state in the nation,” he added.

For another thing, modern agriculture has made Iowa a near-monoculture, at least in plant terms, where there was once—before the prairie was plowed up—a “perennial polyculture.”

. . .

This appears to be a free post (not behind the paywall), and it was a lot of fun to read.

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