Sunday, June 8, 2008
Back in mid-May, north Florida was under drought conditions (and still is), with lawn watering controls and no-fire rules in place. North Florida normally is in drought every spring (and autumn), but this year's spring drought feels unusually dry. I guess farmers deal with it by either irrigating or not planting at all.
Here's a field in north Florida along CR318 in Putnam County, in sandhills. These deep, nutrient-poor sandy soils naturally support a xeric habitat dominated by longleaf pine (Pinus palustrus), turkey oak (Quercus laevis), rosemary (Ceratiola ericoides) and wiregrass (Aristida stricta). They must be given a lot of fertilizer and irrigation in order to grow food crops. It has been cleared of the original vegetation and was plowed and left fallow over the winter and spring. It looks like a dustbowl.
You can see a rich flora where the soil was not stripped of cover, both on the roadside and in the background. With the human population continuing to rise exponentially in much of the world, farming marginal land like droughty sandhills has even come to the USA, the world's richest country. Can the world continue to allow such poor farmland management? I wonder if farmers will have to get their crop plans approved in the future in order to assure our burgeoning population that farm soils will be sufficiently well-tended to feed us?