Saving Soil with Solar

November 16, 2022

I shared an Indiana podium in August with Connie Neininger, a rural development expert from the Center for Infrastructure and Economic Development.
Connie’s insights are gleaned from study, and a lifetime of living in a rural community.

I’ll be posting more from Connie soon.

Below, I also spoke last summer to Dr Peter Schubert at Indiana University, who added some details to Connie’s overview.


7 Responses to “Saving Soil with Solar”

  1. What’s this? They’re planning for these solar farms to be replaced with real farms. Is the plan to demonstrate that solar can’t power the grid so we can switch to nuclear?

    • Gingerbaker Says:

      Right. You’ve nailed just like you always do.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      What’s this? They’re planning for these solar farms to be replaced with real farms.

      As disingenuous as ever, I see.

      The whole point of the video was that solar arrays are land-friendly. They’re also flexible in that they’re straightforward to move if you ever want to.

      How much does maintenance cost for a nuclear power plant (with no outstanding technical problems), divided by kWh? Compare that with the cost of maintaining or even completely moving a solar farm.

      OMG, the truck hauling the solar panels crashed, dumping them on the road! Call a hazmat crew and report it to the proper state and federal agencies! Call the boss and the insurance company and get out the push-brooms!

  2. J4Zonian Says:

    30 or 40 years is nowhere near enough to restore today’s typically-abused land to what it was before poor practices and especially chemical industrial ag wrecked it and eroded most of it into the—well, formerly, into the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico etc. now into Oklahoma where the shrinking Mississippi dumps it as it slows. But the process can be helped considerably by planting various native grasses and having them grazed either by native wild or foreign domestic animals.

    Grazing causes an imbalance with the roots; since they support each other in the right amounts the roots then need to die back as well. Roots, made of carbon made of sunlight and CO2 carried from leaves down into the ground; once the roots die back the carbon is sequestered and added to the soil. That, combined with not using excess nitrogen and poisons on it and not compacting it with heavy farm machinery allows the soil community to thrive, fluffing and building the soil more.

    Plains topsoils in North America were as much as 6 feet of fertile loam, often called black whether in the bison-ranges there, the black earth plains of Hungary or Australia, (pop. 74) or terra preta (Portuguese, “black earth”)—fertile indigenous Amazonian anthropogenic soils created with charcoal, very unlike typical red tropical laterite soils containing iron and aluminum. Civilizations are founded on such soils, and die when they die.

    Without having a better plan than “let it sit for 30 years”, the soil won’t recover enough to make any difference to our civilization. This needs to be a well-thought-out program of stacking functions on permacultured land.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      I think you grossly underestimate how fast organisms (plants, bugs, vertebrates) move back in once you stop fighting them off. Most of the problems are from ongoing practices. The dead zone in the GoM, for example, is maintained by a constant source of excess fertilizer that feeds the microbes/algae that consume the oxygen from the water. Take away that food and regular currents will do the rest to bring in oxygenated water.

      BOOK RECOMMENDATION: The World Without US (2008), by Alan Weisman.

      Weisman wrote a magazine article about the wildlife taking over the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone, which apparently does better with radioactivity but no humans than it does with humans but no radioactivity. Impressed by how quickly the area’s abandoned towns were recaptured by the forest, he started to explore other similar situations, and wrote a book.

      The book includes the original Chernobyl article, plus a number of other disappearing-human scenarios, including New York City, an abandoned house, Panama Canal, Houston area refineries and chemical plants, and other situations where humans no longer interfere. (I think he addressed the new growth on the Mt. St. Helens lava flow, but that may have been a different article.)

      A beer bottle or a wind turbine blade in a forest may offend nature-lovers’ sensibility, but wild organisms don’t give a damn.

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