National Geographic : 1995 Dec
NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC C^L1 g LeV Farming the Natural Way * As you read the article about sustainable agriculture, can you list at least six techniques farm ers use to enrich soil and protect crops without using chemical fertilizers and pesticides? What are the advantages of these tech niques? Which ones could you use in your garden? A weed is not a special kind of plant; it's simply a plant growing where you don't want it. The same plant we value in a wild meadow might be called a weed among farm crops-or in your garden. Why are weeds undesirable among crops? Why are cover plants such as clover grown between rows of corn or grape vines better for the crops than weeds growing there? STo see the effect of weeds, you can try an experiment at home. In each of two small pots of fresh soil, plant a few flower or vegetable seeds. In one of the pots also plant a generous amount of grass seed to produce "weeds." Water the soil as needed. As the plants grow, compare those growing in "weeds" with those growing in plain soil. SOne farmer said that he had to take care of the soil-otherwise it would blow away. What else can happen to soil if a farmer doesn't take care of it? * As farms have grown larger, farming towns have shrunk. Why? How might sustainable agriculture affect the population of farming towns? Why? Keeping an eye on her cat, Hallie Muller (above) helps her parents milk on their organic farm in Cal ifornia. In Wisconsin, Ross Smith uses his cultivator and plastic, rather than herbicides, to keep strawberries weed free. USE GEOGUIDE ALONG WITH THE ARTICLE "A FARMING REVOLUTION" IN THIS ISSUE TO HELP CAPTURE THE INTEREST OF YOUNG READERS AND STIMULATE DISCUSSION WITH THEM. GEOGUIDE IS FEATURED FOUR TIMES A YEAR.