Soil is More Precious than Gold

As concern over diminishing soil quality grows in the Asia-Pacific region, natural farming methods may hold the cure.  The prime cause of soil erosion and nutrient depletion during the past thirty years is over-application of chemical fertilizer.  

This is the finding of a study by the Graduate School of the Chinese Academy of Science, which notes that farmers have become too dependent on artificial fertilizers.  They haven't been building up their soil with organic matter that nurtures the soil naturally and binds it together to help resist erosion due to wind and rain. 

Sustainable Farming Trumps Industrial Methods

The need to produce more food in some regions of Asia during the past fifty years was—for a time—achieved by increasing the yields of grain crops by as much as 2.5 percent per year using industrial farming methods.  These methods relied on high-yielding hybrid seeds and more recently seeds of genetically modified (GM) crops, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, and intense irrigation.  But by 2004 annual growth rates of crop yields began declining, e.g. the annual growth in yield for rice crops dropped to as low as .5 percent.