Letter from China - the future of the world


Attached is my latest newsletter written during my trip to China - I look  at the future of food and how it is affected by both technology and politics.  Also I look at the most dramatic change in computer technology from the city of Shenzhen - truly amazing.

Letter from China
 
-Previous newsletter on gut biology

Go to GBiota for full newsletter    response to Gbiota

 

 

Index

Subsurface Irrigation and intelligent scheduling
 
sub surface irrigation intro1.jpg

I started this web site some twenty years ago when my main focus was water use efficiency. The two key technologies were sub-surface irrigation and a sophisticated intelligent irrigation system which would apply just enough water to reach the base of the root zone - but no more as this would result in the loss of both water and nutrients.
 

Wicking beds

 
Wicking beds intro2.jpg These were really quite complex technologies and never really caught on in any significant scale. This all changed with the Wicking beds (link) which automatically prevent water and nutrients escaping past the root zone while irrigation scheduling is a simple as checking the water level in the subsurface water reservoir.

My early Wicking beds were incredibly simple - basically a film of plastics forming the underground water reservoir. Despite their simplicity they worked amazingly well and they went feral and are now used in almost all countries.
 

KISS Keep It Simple Stupid
 

phone intro4.jpgHowever some people quickly realised they had one major disadvantage - they were so simple that there was nothing there to sell as a commercial product.

They solved this problem by adopting the smart phone strategy of making them more complicated - difficult to use and not working so well. I have spent significant time and space on this web trying to persuade people not to waste their money on these less effective designs.
 

Sponge beds
 

sponge bed intro5.jpg While Wicking Beds have gone feral with home gardeners they have not caught on so much with commercial growers. Sponge beds are a more robust technology which are better suited to large beds where they may be some damage from machinery. (link)

They are particularly beneficial for soil biology.

They are very similar to conventional wicking beds but there is no waterproof layer, just a layer of absorbent material which holds the water. 

Smaller sponge beds are made by simply placing a layer of the absorbent material (typically organic waste) under the top soil; larger ones are made my making a trench in which the organic material is buried. Each year a new trench is dug alongside the old trench.

Sponge beds are more suitable for larger areas.
 

Diabetes

 
diabetes intro6.jpg

However when my wife Xiulan was diagnosed with diabetes and I learned more about diet and this debilitating disease I realised that while water and soil are on the priority list for feeding the ever expanding world’s population that the quality of the food is a higher priority than quantity.

 

Trace minerals

 
minerals intro7.jpgOur bodies need certain minerals to remove sugar from the blood stream - particularly chromium and vanadium but a balance of minerals is essential. It is perfectly practical to grow healthy looking plants with little of none of these trace minerals but we as animals need a much broader range and I larger quantities than plants. (link)

Understanding this has changed the emphasis from growing healthy plants to growing plants which will make us healthy.
 

Soil and gut Biology

 
eating dirt intro8.jpgWhile these minerals are readily available commercially they are generally insoluble so need soil biology to make them accessible to the plants.

But recent research into diet has shown just how critical our gut biology is to health. My main focus now is how to grow plants in biologically active soil which will improve our gut biology. The science is moving ahead rapidly with much work still to be done but I am more interested in pragmatic solutions. (link)
 

Navigating this web

 
navigation intro9.jpgYou may find the size of this web site makes it a bit difficult to navigate as there are so many article written in different format over the years. But here are a few tips.

The recent articles are listed in descending date order in the library file so to catch up on the latest articles all you need do is to click on articles in this list.

For more specific searches you can go to the list of articles under the subject list.

If you want to look at some of the earlier articles - and many contain really good technical information you can search the files in the list of files in descending time and if necessary go back to the old library for the even earlier files.

You can also use the search engine which has a record of all files which opens the articles in a new tab.
 

Support and Q and A

 
library indes10.jpgI have tried creating a public Q and A session but for some reason people seem to prefer to write to me directly. Email me here. If I get asked the same question repeatedly I may write an article which covers that specific topic.
 
library library.jpgGo to library