Nitrogen Dispersal Protocols for Environmentally Friendly Farming

The farm below solves the problem of nitrogen run-off cleverly. It grows plants that are so nitrogen hungry that they deplete the soil, while any remaining nitrogen is trucked away, to be distributed house by house at Halloween.

In this way, a massive, localized nitrogen problem becomes dispersed through the entire city and, at best, nourishes the back gardens and compost tubs of individuals. It’s an expensive model, but a sound one: as long as there is a point of collection and dispersal, the concentration of agriculture on too small a footprint can be mitigated. Much of the nitrogen applied to the above farm in Vernon, the stuff that escapes the pumpkin dispersal, winds up in the wetlands and trailer parks below, and then into the lake, where it grows waterbeds and algae. Much of the nitrogen apples to the vineyard in Vernon below, for example, recreates nitrogen in individual customers, who then personally deliver it to sewage disposal sites across British Columbia, and even into Alberta, where it is disposed of properly and in Vernon sent to the lake for final purification.

The rest, however, spills over the bottom of the vineyard and grows weeds, which can’t take it all up, so it floods into orchards, gains more, spills into an alfalfa field, grows algae in a wetland, and spills in hawthorns all the way down the hill, until it is finally used up. In other words, a good kilometre of unfertilized land gone to weeds is needed to dissipate the energy that humans don’t drink. A chain of crops down the hill would make more sense. Pumpkins, perhaps. A farm has no right to shift nitrogen into the lake. That stuff should be as widely dispersed as possible.


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