Even if the majority of people see weeds as a persistent problem, a farmer has discovered that they can make the dry and tarnished soil fertile again, while they also eat up atmospheric carbon. Accordingly, weeds can help us curb climate change and its effects.
Farmer Pete Andrews has observed the land and learned how to keep the land lush over the years, as being interested in viable agriculture. As he pursued his observations and goals to keep the soil fertile, he realized that plants and water are crucial for maintaining balance in the land, also discovered that every type of soil has its own natural system. So he came up with the idea of ‘natural sequence farming.’
Why is natural sequence farming important for the environment
A scientific report pinpoints that climate change and land clearing have created high temperatures and severe weather situations throughout Australia. Also, a study led by Australia’s Nature Conservation Council (NCC) alerts about deforestation in Australia, explaining that erasing forests from the face of the Earth leads to less rain, hot weather and more carbon in the atmosphere.
It is because of these extreme, and aggravating conditions natural sequence farming is needed. The system has four major elements:
- Return fertility to better the soil
- Increase groundwater
- Restore vegetation (including weeds if required)
- Understand the demands of a specific geography
However, Andrew’s ideas aren’t generally agreed upon, as he was thought to be a nonconformist. It took a while, until 2013, for scientific proof to confirm that natural sequence farming is, indeed, efficient. A test site of natural sequence farming, about an hour away from Canberra, appears to be showing that Andrew’s ideas are practical, even if at a small range for now.
The site, an array of organic farms which are using Andrew’s idea is a 6 kilometers land of Mulloon Creek. The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Solutions Network stated back in 2016 that the Mulloon Creek Natural Farms is among a few farming places in the entire world which are indeed sustainable.
Gary Nairn, chairman of Mulloon Institute, a research and teaching organization, explained that scientists have proved that natural sequence farming is, in fact, rising water flow and table. He proceeds to say that the rehydration of the soils is made by the weeds which gather the energy from the water to restore the land.
Weeds can curb climate change and its effect by absorbing atmospheric carbon
Plants are also absorbing atmospheric carbon, as mentioned above, enabling a system that collects carbon from the atmosphere and sets it into another type of depot. This can aid to manage climate change as well. Besides forests, which have the highest potential for extra carbon storage, and thus helping reduce the carbon dioxide discharge and other greenhouse gases as well, there are numerous farming systems that can, too, grow the carbon storage, Christa Anderson, a climate researcher from the World Wide Fund for Nature in the US said.
However, the question is if small scale plans like the natural sequence farming will be sufficient to help farms thrive again considering the massive levels of deforestation and soil damaging.
Nairn believes we have to stay optimist, and the original creator of the natural sequence farming, Pete Andrews, agrees. At the same time, some world leaders argue when and in which way carbon emissions should be trimmed, a sustainable farm at Mulloon Creek in Australia is demonstrating that weeds can aid in reducing atmospheric carbon and bring soil and rivers back to life. Thus, weeds help us fight climate change.
Dee Mongo is a graduate of UFT. She’s based in Toronto and has written for Maclean’s, Motherboard, the National Post, and the Huffington Post. In her spare time, she plays AC/DC on the ukulele and does psychic readings for B-grade celebrities. Dee is our tech/finance correspondent.