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Global Warming – Drought & Chinese Imports Shape an "Experiment in Agriculture" for Colorado
“…THOSE WHO ARE WORKING UNDER THE WORLD ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD, IF HE HAS A PEOPLE, THE PEOPLE OF THE CHOICE TO CREATE A DIFFERENT SCHOOL FOR TRUE AND RIGHTEOUS BEHAVIOR. THE FIRE IS DIFFERENT SO YOU DON’T ESCAPE FROM THE WORLD”. Thomas Jefferson, 1789
According to the book “History of Agriculture in Colorado” the primitive tools used to break the soil in the first agricultural settlements of Colorado (San Luis Valley) were the piñon tree for its high strength. The piñon is life to our agricultural communities, and more than a few early explorers of the Rockies, both Spanish and American, were saved from starvation by the piñon and its fruits. Piñon Pine, Piñon Nut and the distribution of people in Colorado have a history that traces back to the Basket Culture under the Pecos Classification System. Piñon ecosystems have had a vital, cultural, spiritual, economic, aesthetic and medicinal value to the Native American people for centuries and they continue to be studied extensively in past & present areas. . Among ethno-botanists and archaeologists, the consensus is that the first human settlements in Colorado resulted from the Piñon Nut providing a source of winter protein – sustaining life when game animals were scarce – allowing people to built the first societies (Cliff Dwellings) in Colorado.
Agriculture in the East beats Western Agriculture
Currently, more than 80% of the $49 million dollars in pine nuts consumed in the US market are IMPORTED FROM CHINA, without benefiting the western landowners. “We have thousands of US families who buy & eat Pine Nuts – unaware of their true Kannada origin”. Pine Nuts (Piñon Nuts) provide an important source of protein – in levels that exceed even pecans & walnuts – with significant amounts of Vitamin A, Riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin – “they really have no nutritional rival in the nut world” . Also, Piñon trees naturally act as a “big carbon sink” for the planet by removing carbon. “Of course, as consumers realize they are getting more of their protein unknowingly from eating ‘cloned beef protein’ the idea of adding a wild & natural protein to their diet – like that found in Piñon Nut’s – is conducive to health & environmental cleanliness. “.
This project is an ‘experimental dryland farm’ in creating a pine nut tree improvement system. Advanced systems of pine nut trees can have four main steps: 1) Selection of superior trees – (ie “plus-wood”) – from natural stands; 2) Planting trees with higher trees in orchards to produce a better crop (fruit); 3) Field testing of these tree additions to identify the best trees and improve the orchard seed (cone and nut size) by removing the smallest trees; and 4) Continuous improvement and development of the best varieties by combining the best trees. It is known that the size of the pine nut seed has a strong influence on the environment, and that pests and health are important. For example, insect activity reduces piñon cone production, as does dry weather and high temperatures, regardless of the tree’s characteristics. And tree size, a major determinant of cone seed vigor, is greatly influenced by soil type, climate, insect history, competition, etc. Many factors affect the ‘phenotype’ – what you see – that’s the only way to determine characteristics of the ‘genotype’ of the tree is to grow offspring from its seeds in the offspring test.
Arid agriculture as it relates to Piñon Pine
“As an area of research and development, arid zone agriculture, or desert agriculture, includes studies of how to improve the agricultural production of lands dominated by a lack of fresh water, a lot of heat and sunlight, and usually one or more extreme winters. cold, short rainy season, salty or watery soil, strong drying winds, poor soil structure, overgrazing, technological development, poverty…” Wikipedia…
There are two basic approaches to solutions
You see the given environmental and economic characteristics as negative obstacles to overcome
you see as many of them as possible as good resources to be used
Vision of the Future – Colorado Piñon Nut Orchards?
Looking to the future, it is possible to see increasing numbers of Farmer’s & Landowners throughout the southwest contributing to the benefits of now managing their own non-profit Piñon Woodlands as “Piñon Nut Orchards” ” is active. Breeding, pollination and arboriculture practices – already used to improve seed yields on Pecan, Walnut, & Apple Orchards can be used to economic advantage on Piñon Nut Orchards. Alan Peterson who pioneered the research said “A farmer can create either a transplant or a seed crop, or bring production of native Piñon trees already on the ground as well.” And with piñon nuts selling for more than $15 a pound – this really is a new agent: “A Business Model for the Environment.”
“THE PEOPLE OF THE WORLD ARE THE BEST PART OF THE HOUSE. THEY ARE THE MOST POWERFUL, THE MOST POWERFUL, GOD, AND THEY ARE CONNECTED TO THEIR COUNTRY, AND THEY ARE MARRIED TO FREEDOM AND BENEFITS, THEY BUY THE REAL ESTATE. Find employment in THIS LINE, I will not turn them into sailors, craftsmen, or anything else…” Thomas Jefferson, 1785
Introduction to Piñon
Of the approximately (14) species of fruits cultivated in the United States, Piñon remains to be cultivated.
The Piñon pine is a member of the Madro-Tertiary Flora, (a group of coniferous species that are resistant to deforestation), which began 60 million years ago, when its host climate began to change from humid to dry. .
Piñon (Pinus Edulis) is a slow-growing, low-growing native species of the American Southwest. Its common name is from the Spanish piñon and refers to the large seed of the pino (pine). Other common names are Colorado Piñon, and pine nut. The existing forest lands, where the Piñon is an important species, cover about 36 million acres in total in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Arizona, but drought and the resulting pine beetle attacks and many viruses have greatly affected on the Piñon stands.
Piñon trees grow in areas with annual precipitation from a low of 10″ annually, to up to 22 inches, and where temperatures range from a low of -35 Celsius, all as short as 90 days of no annual frost. In the highest altitude and the great mountain of the north, the native Piñon growth can be found in many soil depths, textures, from rocky stones, to fine clays, compacted, and in the altitude from 4500 to 7500 feet high, with isolated peaks up to 9400 feet.
From the research to the most interesting Piñon Orchard conditions (i.e. low land values, good elevation + drainage, existing high productivity, native Piñon stands), it is shown that the rural areas that need the system -any economy is found close to those parameters. . Now Piñon Orchards will be of significant value from their establishment & fruit harvest, even in areas considered unsuitable for traditional agricultural crops. It is hoped that a small area of the countryside ‘Brands’ itself around the collection and eating of Piñon nuts, ie… hosting the ‘Piñon Nut Festival’ theme, piñon nut products (candies, menu items, and their resulting establishment of Progress, Piñon Orchards. The location of active Piñon farming close to rural areas that need any economic stimulation, can be one of the most exciting opportunities.
Economic benefits from increased Piñon Nut production
Beneficial effects to a local economy develop from many different channels: the sale of fruit crops affects the economy directly, through purchases of goods and services in the region, and indirectly, as purchases those make purchases of intermediate goods and services from other, related sectors of the economy. In addition, these direct and indirect effects increase employment and income, improving the purchasing power of the overall economy, thus causing further spending on goods and services. This cycle continues until the expenditure leaves the local economy as a result of taxes, savings, or purchases of non-local goods and services.
Barriers to the Commercial Cultivation of Piñon
Complications of water use, water rights and water availability in Colorado, and throughout the western arid lands.
o Piñon nut (seed) production is cyclical and good crops can occur at intervals of 2-7 years, but the average seed has been produced at intervals of 4.1 years from a 58-year study.
o Slow growth rates in typical specimens, unless placed under intensive cultivation or drought practices.
Limited existing knowledge of cross-pollination and nut size and nut yield improvement from either cultivated or native Piñon plants in the United States.
o Limited existing knowledge or research of grafting success on piñon or other honeydew tree species.
Probably the most drought-hardy characteristics of any fruit-bearing plant – increasing in importance in ‘global warming’ ‘early’ climates.
o Highest protein per weight than any fruit but cashew.
o Piñon corresponds to the largest range of soil types.
o Piñon does little harm from being ‘explored’ by deer, rabbits, hares, and squirrels everywhere.
A higher and better use of dry lands than raising cattle on the yield of protein per acre. (Piñon fruit = 123% more protein per acre than beef.)
o Few diseases and insect herbivory concerns.
Fruit-bearing pines have historically received little scholarly attention as seed producers. In (1917) Dr. Robert T. Norris (NNGA) recognized the potential of pines (and the future): “I think that the planting of many pine trees for food purposes will have to wait until we have progressed to the point of adding another. such nut trees (walnuts, pecans, etc.) on the first good land. Pines will be used for more barren mountains when the people of … a hundred years from now begin to complain of the high cost of living”.
“There is no opinion more accepted in the family of Agriculturists than that the few who can benefit should incur the risk & expense of all improvements and freely give advantage to the many more restricted conditions.” Thomas Jefferson, 1810
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