This ancient seeding method could be the future of agriculture

Today, Ethiopian farmers are feeling pressure to grow modern monoculture crops, thanks in part to the country’s push to become an agricultural powerhouse. “If you export grains, you want them to be uniform,” says McAlvay. “The global market wants a certain type of wheat for their Miracle Bread. A mix of three types of wheat and four types of barley with some other stuff thrown in really doesn’t make for a cut. “

Tesfanesh Feseha, a master’s student in botany who served as a field interpreter in McAlvay interviews with more than 100 farmers, says that with the nation’s popularity of monoculture, farmers New people have not learned the art of growing mixed grains. “The young farmers don’t even know the mixes we’re looking for,” she said.

Zemede, who collaborated with McAlvay but was not directly involved in the new paper, remains optimistic. “[The push for] Modernization took place strongly. It comes with technology and cool stuff… but it might just be temporary,” he said. From a farmer’s perspective, he understands the appeal of a lucrative offer to grow a particular grain but believes “the scientific community should offer better”.

To that end, through her research and countless conversations with farmers, Zemede is upholding the maslin tradition in her homeland. Along with McAlvay, and like-minded colleagues in Georgia and on experimental small farms in Poland, Finland and elsewhere, he hopes to inspire a greater appreciation for maslins, from Sowers to city dwellers buy a handmade loaf of mixed-grain bread.

The maslin renaissance can be especially helpful as farmers around the world grapple with poor soil caused by modern monoculture, growing populations and a changing climate.

“Small grains will be hit hard by climate change,” says McAlvay. Maslins, he added, have “all kinds of advantages,” including more reliable yields, more complete nutrient profiles, and the ability to grow in marginal soils and survive drought. Grain mixes are also naturally resistant to pests and diseases, from insects to fungal diseases. Although a pest adapted to attack a cereal species will have its day in the field, no pun intended, when loose in a monoculture it will not be able to jump from plant to plant different if the instance it attacks is surrounded by other types McAlvay explains.

The new paper from his team, which focuses on multiple sites in Ethiopia, is the first comprehensive case study of the development of maslins in the modern era — and other researchers are enthusiastic about it.

Heinrich, who was not involved in the study, said: “I think this is an excellent paper. He praised it for bringing together previous studies on maslins and showing their potential in meeting the challenge of feeding billions of people on a warming, less stable planet.

Malleson had a similar effect. “I like this newspaper,” she said.

“This is about empowering farmers to understand land and farming and how to manage everything,” says Malleson, who has family members farming and feels close to the topic. rank. “It brings the power back to the ground, literally.”

The new paper is only the first step towards bringing maslins back to the world stage, and McAlvay and colleagues are planning additional studies. Meanwhile, Zemede continues to encourage Ethiopian farmers to uphold the maslin tradition he learned as a boy, and he hopes more people across the globe will embrace these grain mixes as ancestors. ours used to do.

“In biology, we say that diversity must exist,” says Zemede. “If diversity is lost, then we are lost.”


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