An Agricultural Run-off Solution That Doesn’t Foul Wetlands and Beaches

Wetlands are used in 21st century Canadian society to absorb nitrogen run-off from agriculture, to purify run-off from roads and sidewalks, to strip winter street snow of its road salt (my city of Vernon is big on this), and to wash post-sewage-treatment water so it can be returned to the city’s main swimming beach for some quality splash time with the dog and the kids. Up on the hill above the beach, though, the deer and coyotes, the grass and the rock are showing us a different way. Here is one of their trails. You can see all their poky foot steps cutting the soil to bits.

Well, that’s how you make a trail, right. But look at the image again. There’s a rock there that the cutting has slipped down to the lower side of the trail. It has collected the deer’s droppings (a gravity think, thank the Earth for that), and the water that the pounded trail sheds, and stopped them both in their tracks together, creating a rich environment for invasive cheatgrass. Well, we don’t like cheatgrass, no we do not, but the lesson is a good one.

If you interrupt a dry gravity slope, you will collect and shed water in a specific direction (downhill) and push animals in a specific but different direction (laterally.) What an energy shift! If you place a collector there (rock), you will collect that energy shift (water and manure), hold it in place, and create a small farm.

The method teaches that it’s not agriculture that is the problem here, but the size of its interface, or, in other words, land use. There are millions of hectares of land in British Columbia, most declared unfit for agriculture, although, gadzooks, stuff grows on it. So, to rephrase: it is unfit for industrialized, large-lot, colonial agriculture. But, as the red root pigweed teaches …

Tilling and Seeding Team at Work

A seed that settles into a porcupine trail and grows, attracts a gopher, which makes new, sorted and tilled soil, which appears as a perfect planting bed when new seeds fall. Plus deer get to munch the seeds. It’s a lovely and near-perfect cycle. We don’t have to think too small, either. A rock can shed water rather than collect it, and a dip and rise in the land can stop the off-flow in its tracks, and create a small orchard.

A Day’s Honest Labour for Some Harvester

I know I’ve shown you these principles before, but I never realized how they can be used to save our wetlands, or how they can be used to refocus discussion on farmland and environment into land use discussions. There is no reason, for example, why farming can’t be operated like a kind of trap line. In fact, we already do this with wild mushroom harvesting. Thousands of British Columbians take to the forests every fall to take part in this harvest.   I’ve always been looking for the link, but here it was, on the trail I wander every week. I thought I’d share it, for the joy of it, and the stories it might open for you, as we make the shift from the erosions of blue water to the green water that is really on our hills.

1 reply »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.