Monthly Archives: September 2021

All Water is Divided Into Four Parts

Water is basic to life. Environmentalists worry about four kinds of water:

• agricultural runoff: poisons (pesticides, herbicides) and nutrients.
• stormwater runoff: oil, grease, salt, silt, chemicals, fertilizer, poisons, untreated sewage.
• industrial wastewater: chemicals.
• domestic wastewater: nutrients (nitrogen, phosphate, potassium), drugs, medicines, germs (bacteria).

The whole point is to protect the quality of water in the two broad categories of nutrients and toxins. Nutrients promote the growth of bacteria that will make people sick and cause growth that damages sea life. Toxins include a broad range of substances from poisons to traces of metals, plastics and paints. Many of these damage cell tissue and some promote cancer.

None of us can do much to protect the wells, rivers, lakes, aquifers and oceans of our planet. But each of us can do a little. No one person is causing the Chesapeake Bay pollution or the thousands of acres of floating garbage in the Pacific or the toxic shoreline problems on our beaches.

Moral of the story: don’t over-fertilize or dump substances such as paint, grease and oil into the ground. Don’t flush medicines down the toilet, use detergents to wash vehicles on driveways and streets instead of using car washes. Don’t be wading around in floodwaters. Do dispose of waste properly and avoid littering. Manage rather than ignore runoff. Pay attention to local guidelines. When the authorities warn us to boil water before drinking or the sign says stay out of the water, we need to do so. The well being of our families, patrons, and friends is at stake. We need to act accordingly.

Partehnium: A Curse to Agriculture

Weeds are a menace for our agricultural crops. They absorb all the mineral nutrients required by our valuable crops and spread in a wide range making the agricultural land unfit for cultivation. Parthenium hysterophorus or Congress weed is one such menace. It is one of the worst weeds in the world. It is harmful to plants, animals and human beings. It can be called as a curse for our biodiversity. The other names for his weed are Chatak Chandni, Ramphool and White top. It is not a native to India but has been transported through grains in the late fifties. The flowers are known to cause allergic reaction in human beings as the plant is known to emit millions of pollens which cause asthma, skin reactions and mental depression. The minute hairs present on the stem of the weed are also known to cause skin irritation in humans.

It is also it is also surprising to note that many farmers suffering from Parthenium borne skin infections have committed suicide. The roots of the congress weed are also known to secrete lethal chemicals which are responsible for affecting the growth of the neighbouring plants. These chemicals are responsible for the rapid spread of this weed. These chemicals are also responsible for the death of our valuable medicinal plants. In the past the weed was known to be restricted to our wastelands but now it is widespread among the fields competing with our valuable food crops for light, moisture and minerals and declining their production. Every day many farmers and cattle come in contact with this harmful weed and are affected because of it. It is also harmful for our wildlife and it is really very difficult to estimate the total percentage of the wildlife which is affected by this obnoxious weed every day. Animals generally do not feed on this weed but if taken by them accidentally then it is fatal to them. In Australia many tons of meat gets infected with this weed leading to a loss of many millions of rupees.

The plant produces four generations in a year and each plant produces about 25,000 seeds. Parthenium is a native to America. The weeds lacks any natural enemy so it spreading tremendously. The management of this weed is not an easy job and the weed makes its demarcated appearance at the flowering stage. If we disturb the flowering plant then the possibility of the dispersal of the seeds increases so it is not beneficial to destroy the flowering plant. Although many chemicals are available that can control the spread of this irritating weed but they are not environmental friendly so one should avoid the use of such chemicals. American and Australian governments are working in this direction to make people aware of this obnoxious weed and the Indian government is also trying to think in this direction. The Parthenium beetle of the Mexican beetle Zygogramma bicolorata has been introduced in India for the control of this weed but more research is required so that it can be used as a potent biocontrol agent against this lethal weed.

We must encourage the eco-friendly tactics for the control of harmful weeds.

Agriculture Education in Philippines

The Philippines is an agrarian economy with agriculture being the main occupation of its people. Most of its citizens live in the rural areas and follow various livelihood options in the agricultural sector. The total land area in the country is 30 million hectares, out of which 47% is under agriculture. Prime agricultural lands are located around the main urban and high population density areas.

The agricultural sector in Philippines is divided into four sub-sectors comprising of farming, fisheries, livestock and forestry. Rice and corn account for nearly 50% of the agricultural produce in the country. This has led to the increased awareness about agricultural studies.

Besides rice and corn, the other important crop yields in the country are coconut, bananas, pineapple, coffee, mangoes and abaca (a banana type plant). Apart from these, the secondary agriculture produce include peanut, cassava, garlic, onion, egg-plant, cabbage, rubber, cotton and calamansi (type of lemon).

The agricultural land in the country is a mixture of small, medium and large farms. An average farm size is about 2 hectares which are usually owned and managed by single family units and range from the subsistence to the commercial production. The typical farming system constitutes of crop yields like rice, corn and coconut as common base and also includes a few heads of livestock and poultry.

Due to all these prevailing conditions, a need was felt to impart knowledge about the various agricultural practices and the latest trends being followed around the globe. This gave birth to the Agriculture Colleges in Philippines, some of which are owned by the state.

The following colleges in the country are considered to be the best in terms of infrastructure, the faculty and the quality of education.

Pampanga Agriculture College: Primarily established as an agricultural school, Pampanga Agriculture College became a state college in September 1974. Originally started in 1885, this century old institution is located on the foothills of the Majestic Mt. Arayat in the town of Magalang, province of Pampanga. It is spread out on an area of 700 hectares of government agricultural lands. The main focus of the college is on Instruction, Research & Development, Extension Training and Production.

Presently the college offers 13 under-graduate courses, 2-year computer course, 2-year course in agricultural technology, agricultural science high school, and graduate schools for three masters and three doctoral degrees.

Xavier University – College of Agriculture: This prestigious institution was founded in 1953 by the late Fr. William F. Masterson and is the second oldest amongst the colleges of agriculture in Mindanao and also has the proud position of being the only Catholic College of Agriculture in the entire country. It is also the founding member of the Association of Colleges of Agriculture of the Philippines (ACAP).

The curriculum of Xavier University – College of Agriculture is a distinctive combination of active field work and the liberal arts formation. The main thrust of the college is on Instruction, Research, Extension and Production.

Apart from the above two educational institutions, there are also many other state sponsored Universities which provide education on the different facets of agriculture. Most of the colleges are affiliated with some overseas faculty and organizations which provide valuable inputs on a regular basis.

Manatee River Watershed And Four Corners Phosphate Mine

Manatee County, Florida covers about 740 square miles of land area and 151 square miles of freshwater resources. A 130-foot ridge in the northeast corner of Manatee County produces the headwaters and the (1) Manatee River basin flow characteristics including water quality and quantity. In other words, Manatee County is itself a watershed by definition where all rain water culminates throughout the county and flows into a common basin called the Manatee River watershed.

The Manatee River watershed encompasses most of Manatee County in west central Florida. The watershed contains a substantial amount of natural freshwater resources in area tributaries, streams, lowlands, lakes, rivers, and the like. All of the freshwater resources in the basin flow into the Manatee River estuary which in turn flows into the Gulf of Mexico, just south of Tampa Bay.

Economically, this region of Florida brings in billions of dollars annually via tourism including water related venues, agriculture, and the cattle industry. The head of the Gulf Restoration Network said phosphate strip mining in Florida “is a direct threat” to Florida’s $8.1 billion recreational fishing industry not counting revenues from the industries mentioned above. Historically, Florida taxpayers make up the difference in lost revenue based on phosphate industry economic damages due to “industry accidents”.

Historically, Manatee County has phosphate issues at the Port Manatee where taxpayers paid over one hundred and forty million dollars to neutralize (3) severe environmental industry “accidents”. The phosphate industry, in this case, was not held accountable just by filing for bankruptcy. Filing for bankruptcy by phosphate companies is the “norm” after severe toxic releases and accidents which seem to release phosphate industry official’s responsibilities and liabilities as well.

Unfortunately, Florida’s phosphate industry owns much of the land in the Four Corners area in Manatee County with thousands of acres of environmentally critical strip mined land complete with a processing plant. Florida’s elected officials “permit” industry plans to include completely removing environmentally critical navigable waterways and riparian areas in the Manatee River basin for the phosphate ore thirty to fifty feet below the surface. Phosphate industry practices may be illegal by removing riparian areas and navigable waterways based on state and federal laws and may soon be under investigation.

The phosphate industry owns the mineral rights to the phosphate but cannot disturb riparian lands, navigable waterways, and downstream user’s rights during mining processes. Historically, Florida’s elected officials “permit” the phosphate industry to severely disturb navigable waterways and riparian lands. Florida’s elected officials should be held accountable by their constituents. Interestingly, “public rights” to riparian lands and navigable waterways may be “overlooked” by elected officials leaving Florida taxpayers with little representation if any concerning phosphate industry practices.

Interestingly, an economist from the University of Miami researched economic gain from the phosphate industry and related jobs in the area of Hardee County. Hardee County is adjacent to Manatee County. The study confirmed an “economic loss” of almost eight million dollars due to the phosphate industries destruction of the landscape by removing the fabric of the Florida earth including navigable waterways and riparian lands. All other economically driven industries in Florida are completely crushed under the weight of phosphate strip mining. The only winners are phosphate industry officials themselves.

Once the landscape is strip mined, industries such as agriculture, cattle, and tourism will never return based on (2) geologist research from the University of Florida. The research results estimate about five hundred years for the less complex ecosystems to recover from severe land disturbances such as phosphate strip mining. Once the phosphate industry recovers all the phosphate in a region they move on and leave the toxic left-overs for the county taxpayers where the abandoned phosphate mines are located.

Historically, what once seemed to be a good deal for local jobs during the beginning years of a phosphate mining operation will finally play out, during a later generation, to become a local economic disaster? Economic and environmental models for various stages in the life of a phosphate mine are known and studied in depth.

Statistically, the end result of phosphate mining both economically and environmentally, display high probabilities of being a poor long term investment and leave local economies in ruins.

1. Basin Management Action Plans. –
2. University of Florida –