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Agricultural Ecosystems

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I maintain that we could change our environment almost overnight if suddenly we said we'll reward less fuel usage, less herbicide usage, less fertilizer usage. Plus, it's not only that I'm doing it for the environment, I'm saving dollars.

— Charlie Melander, Kansas farmer

Earth on Edge profiles Charlie Melander, a farmer defying the conventions of contemporary farming practices by working his rich farmland in a way that prevents soil loss caused by pollution and erosion. The land his family has plowed for three generations was losing topsoil at
Charlie Melander on his farm south of Salina, Kansas.
the rate of 20 tons per year. Melander, who's been a farmer all his life, decided that he was part of the problem and started changing how he farms — drastically cutting back on pesticide and herbicide use, planting narrow strips of tilled soil instead of upturning entire fields, and allowing wildlife back into the ecosystem. Today he's spending less money on farming, and he's improving the condition of his soil. Furthermore his crop yields haven't diminished. Charlie's story begs the questions, Do we really need all the chemical inputs and state of the art technology to produce food? And what is the long-term effect of subsidizing the use of chemical inputs?

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