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Haze starts to cover Phayao despite 60-day burning ban

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Would I be correct in assuming that much of this haze-producing burn-off is due to the traditional farming practices of the Hill Tribe people who tend to clear a patch of forest for planting their crops in the nutrient-rich soil that has developed over many years of forest growth, then, when the soil has been depleted after planting and harvesting a number of crops without the use of fertilizer, the Hill Tribe people move on to clear another patch of forest to take advantage of the rich soil?

If this is the case, then the government needs to spend money to provide advice and assistance to these Hill Tribe people to help them develop alternative and more sustainable agricultural practices. Innovation is required, not punishment.

For example, one interesting agricultural practice which I came across recently, on the internet, was practiced in Eastern Europe a thousand years ago. It's called Hugelkultur, which means Hill Culture or Mound Culture.

The main principle is, instead of burning the trunks, branches and foliage that are cut down to clear the land, all the timber is placed in a hollow, with the thicker trunks and branches at the bottom and the small branches and leaves on the top. The pile should be compacted as much as possible, then covered with a substantial thickness of natural soil, allowing for the fact that much of the soil will sift down between the branches.

The crops, or fruit trees, are then planted in the covering layer of soil. As the timber beneath gradually breaks down over the years, it provides a continuous source of nutrients for anything planted above. Not only that, as the timber breaks down into mulch and humus, it has an increased capacity to store water, and removes the need for constant irrigation.

Such a system would seem ideal for the Hill Tribe people. Would someone please communicate this idea to Mr Prayuth. wink.png

Personally I think it would be more productive to take on the major corporations who are behind the nearly 8 million rai of corn grown in the North. Sure the Hill Tribe people are contracted to do most of the manual labor but they are simply using the limited tools at their disposal.

I agree the major corporations need to be included in any proposals to fix the problem. There are often many different facets of a problem. All of them need to addressed.

We need solutions to all the various problems but I suggest we need modern solutions which take in to consideration our modern problems.

I think we need effective solutions which take into consideration our modern problems, irrespective of whether such solutions employ modern or ancient practices.

For example, one significant modern problem which we all face, not just people in Chiang Rai, is the possible harmful effects of climate change.

Improving the soil through these ancient Hugelkultur practices, that is, burying the products of deforestation instead of burning them, has the additional benefits of reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The carbon is sequestered in the soil.

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To me recommending farming techniques which died out a thousand years ago as a solution to modern problems sounds very much like suggesting we go back to the horse and buggy to solve our traffic and city pollution problems. It may sound romantic, simple and may work on a very small hobbyist scale but simply won’t work, in my opinion, in these modern times with a population which is many times greater than it was in the past. What worked when there were less than a billion people has little chance of working when you have more than 7 billion and increasing at an alarming rate.

As a side note to your perception of traditional slash and burn, I think you will find that most of the Hill Tribe people have been persuaded to live in permanent communities and are no longer free to roam the mountains the way they did in the past.

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To me recommending farming techniques which died out a thousand years ago as a solution to modern problems sounds very much like suggesting we go back to the horse and buggy to solve our traffic and city pollution problems. It may sound romantic, simple and may work on a very small hobbyist scale but simply won’t work, in my opinion, in these modern times with a population which is many times greater than it was in the past. What worked when there were less than a billion people has little chance of working when you have more than 7 billion and increasing at an alarming rate.

Villagefarang,

I don't think this view is correct, for the following reasons. Although the concept of Hugelkultur goes back a thousand years or more, the implementation of this ancient practice in modern times would (or could) involve modern machinery, if there were a purpose of establishing a commercial farm as opposed to a hobby farm.

Bulldozers, bobcats and chainsaws can very efficiently clear a forested area, cut up the branches, create a shallow swale, transport the broken timber to the swale, and cover the timber with the soil which was previously removed to create the swale.

For the ancient Germans and East Europeans, without the benefits of even a chain saw, their Hugelkultur practice would have been much slower and more labour intensive. The fact that the world population was much lower in those days is irrelevant. In fact, the processes of Hugelkultur, together with Permaculture in general, can be a solution to any impending world food shortage.

Modern agricultural practices which involve tilling of the soil, removal of plant debris after harvesting, the application of artificial fertilizer, regular irrigation and so on, result in a gradual depletion of the carbon content of the soil, the richness of the soil and the biodiversity of the soil.

Hugelkultur, on the other hand does the reverse. It improves the richness of the soil and the biodiversity of the soil, reduces the need for fertilizers, dramatically reduces the need for irrigation because the water is held for long periods of time amongst the rotting timber a few feet below the surface, where it's protected from evaporation, and most significantly regarding any world food shortage, results in approximately double the quantity of food that can be produced from a given area of land, compared with modern monoculture practices.

Since Thailand is currently worried about an impending drought, an agricultural system which reduces the need for water, must be very attractive.

As a side note to your perception of traditional slash and burn, I think you will find that most of the Hill Tribe people have been persuaded to live in permanent communities and are no longer free to roam the mountains the way they did in the past.

That might well be the case, but the annual burn-off in the Chiang Rai area is of some form of plant material, whether trees, grass or crop residue, isn't it? The plant material should be returned to the soil. Deforestation and burn-off is a huge problem in many countries. Indonesia is notorious.

This is Thailand's chance to show a good example. I really think you should contact Mr Prayuth about this solution. thumbsup.gif

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To me recommending farming techniques which died out a thousand years ago as a solution to modern problems sounds very much like suggesting we go back to the horse and buggy to solve our traffic and city pollution problems. It may sound romantic, simple and may work on a very small hobbyist scale but simply won’t work, in my opinion, in these modern times with a population which is many times greater than it was in the past. What worked when there were less than a billion people has little chance of working when you have more than 7 billion and increasing at an alarming rate.

Villagefarang,

I don't think this view is correct, for the following reasons. Although the concept of Hugelkultur goes back a thousand years or more, the implementation of this ancient practice in modern times would (or could) involve modern machinery, if there were a purpose of establishing a commercial farm as opposed to a hobby farm.

Bulldozers, bobcats and chainsaws can very efficiently clear a forested area, cut up the branches, create a shallow swale, transport the broken timber to the swale, and cover the timber with the soil which was previously removed to create the swale.

For the ancient Germans and East Europeans, without the benefits of even a chain saw, their Hugelkultur practice would have been much slower and more labour intensive. The fact that the world population was much lower in those days is irrelevant. In fact, the processes of Hugelkultur, together with Permaculture in general, can be a solution to any impending world food shortage.

Modern agricultural practices which involve tilling of the soil, removal of plant debris after harvesting, the application of artificial fertilizer, regular irrigation and so on, result in a gradual depletion of the carbon content of the soil, the richness of the soil and the biodiversity of the soil.

Hugelkultur, on the other hand does the reverse. It improves the richness of the soil and the biodiversity of the soil, reduces the need for fertilizers, dramatically reduces the need for irrigation because the water is held for long periods of time amongst the rotting timber a few feet below the surface, where it's protected from evaporation, and most significantly regarding any world food shortage, results in approximately double the quantity of food that can be produced from a given area of land, compared with modern monoculture practices.

Since Thailand is currently worried about an impending drought, an agricultural system which reduces the need for water, must be very attractive.

As a side note to your perception of traditional slash and burn, I think you will find that most of the Hill Tribe people have been persuaded to live in permanent communities and are no longer free to roam the mountains the way they did in the past.

That might well be the case, but the annual burn-off in the Chiang Rai area is of some form of plant material, whether trees, grass or crop residue, isn't it? The plant material should be returned to the soil. Deforestation and burn-off is a huge problem in many countries. Indonesia is notorious.

This is Thailand's chance to show a good example. I really think you should contact Mr Prayuth about this solution. thumbsup.gif

I am afraid I don’t share your enthusiasm so perhaps you would make a better salesman for this solution.

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29a95bfd97956b693e784684d8002e1d.jpg

It keeps on climbing and this is the highest it has been here this year. No signs of slowing down. Lets hope there is some rain soon. Arent there any inspectors driving around? At the back of my house there are a lot of farm and I can see farmers setting fields on fire.

Sent from my SM-N920C using Tapatalk

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There' no agricultural reason to burn, it's laziness.

they say it helps produce mushrooms, no it doesn't it just burns off the top layer of mulch hiding the mushrooms.

They say it's better to burn the old rice straw, no it isn't it's better to plough it in and let it rot, providing organic matter for the soil.

I've been here nearly forty years and they hardly burned at all back then.

Now it's seen as a quick way to clean up the land, no more mulching and composting.

the Thai farmers are totally hooked on chemicals and fertilisers.

I never saw fertiliser 40 years ago, they had buffalo poo.

This is just another example of the get rich quick mentality.

You are quite right. They like burning just the fun.. something to pass the time.

In my area there is no water for the fields now. They could not grow the last crop.. and they will not be able to plan again till the rains come. But the farmers are still burning the fields... why?

Its going to be months before they are going to plant rice again. I was surprised they had the good idea to buy cattle to grow up and sell.. which ate the dry grass in the unused fields. But now they have burnt all the vegetation away.. and the cattle have been out there for days now with NOTHING to eat!!!

The farmers were told NOT to plant any rice.. TOLD every single day on the village loud speakers there would not be enough water. But most of them still planted rice.. and it died.. now they are angry.. they have lost time and money..

In the past they all had buffalos, or their neighbours had some. They used them to plough in the rice stubble for organic matter. They were FREE to use. No need for expensive tractors and machinery or petrol / gas., insurance, repairs etc. And at the end of the day they could actually EAT the buffalo or sell they young to get more money. They did not even have to buy food for the cattle and buffalo as they ate the vegetation and rice stubble.. so, again no need to burn.

In the past too, they did not use chemicals... they used the FREE animal dung as fertilizer.. and the decomposed ploughed in organic material. No need to spend money buying bags of plant feed.

They did not buy PEST CONTROL CHEMICALS. They used DUCKS and their own mixtures made form natural insect repellant plants like ginger and chilli. The ducks swam in the rice fields eating the snails and pest inscets. They also fertilized the fields with their poop. The farmer also got FREE duck eggs and meat from his birds... AND could sell surpluss ducks on the market for even more money.

Many of the farmers in my village spend their time drinking whisky,.. spending the money they get from the government for cattle de wormers on whisky so their cattle are sick and worthless skin and bones. They gamble the rest of the money away of cock fighting

They do nothing all day... get drunk.. wander aimlessly around the fields.. burning stuff for something to do.. not just the fields, but piles of plastic and junk as they are too lazy to re cycle it or dispose of it properly. Every day there are 2 big fires of black thick smoke from burning plastic or old tyres in the same spot.. someone goes around collecting this stuff saying it going to get re cycled.. then they just burn it. Everyone can see what they are doing.. but no one cares.

Farmers have to spend money of fertilizers, chemicals, tractors, gas, new rice seeds, meat, eggs, food.. when in the past these were all either not needed or free! Because they don't want to spend the time looking after livestock... they want quick fixes... now perhaps they have lost their farming skills and would not know how to go back to a better way.

It would be EASY to stop them burning the fields.. just inforce the law. We used to burn the stubble in the fields in the UK in the past.. now its banned and no one does it ever!!! They now plough it back into the earth.

Its about the rich people getting more money from the poor as usual. The have the farmers dependant on these agricultural chemicals, new kinds or rice seeds etc. If the farmers went back to how they used to farm the price of rice would go up... as it would not be so mass produced.. and the chemical industry would loose all its money from farming chemicals if they were no longer needed. All the time no one... poor or rich.. cares enough about human life to stop the bruning and pollution.. which causes a lot of sickness and many deaths each year.

Apathy and greed.

Phew.. rant over.

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While that is a truly impressive rant, I can’t say it represents what I see in our village. People here work a lot harder than you suggest. I get the impression many in our area are getting most of their income from outside work and not their rice crop. More people are using harvesters as people don’t have the time to harvest by hand anymore and you can’t find people to do the work.

People here still remember when you had to grow your own rice because you couldn’t just go to the store if you ran out. They seem to grow rice more out of tradition than economic return. Anyone in the village who didn’t grow their own rice would be looked at unfavorably.
With mechanization and fertilizer farmers have been able to increase their yield and spend less time in the fields, allowing them more time to go work in the cities where they make more money. Sure I would like to see less burning but I don’t want to see the entire village incarcerated. I still say the answer is not EASY.

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I am afraid I don’t share your enthusiasm so perhaps you would make a better salesman for this solution.

I don't live in Thailand, Villagefarang, as you do, so I don't have the connections to petition Mr Prayuth.

I'd like to make the general point that agricultural practices such as Permaculture and Hugelkultur do work as described, and they do seem more appropriate for less developed nations such as Thailand, where farm-workers' wages are very low compared with the West.

Most of the problems in the world do have solutions. However the problem of implementing the solution is yet another problem to add to the list. Most people are stuck in their ways. We are creatures of habit.

Simply punishing people for clearing their land through customary burn-off practices, is unlikely to be effective by itself. The 'carrot and stick' approach is more effective. The government should be encouraging people to adopt a more sustainable agricultural practice through monetary incentives and through education on the long-term benefits of returning organic matter to the soil where it originated, instead of sending it off to the atmosphere.

The last time I was in Chiang Rai was in April 2015. I was staying at the Dusit Island Resort. During the first day or two, I noticed some distant construction through the haze, but I couldn't determine what it was.

We had a bit of rain and the sky cleared momentarily. I was then able to see that the construction was that of a Buddha statue in process. I later learned it was the 'female Buddha' of Chinese origins. I enquired at the reception desk if it was easy to walk there, and set off with my camera.

The following photos show the view from the hotel at a relatively clear moment, a closer view of the female Buddha statue through the trees, and the view of the entire temple.

Enjoy your smoggy days. wink.png

post-118979-0-62615300-1458197186_thumb.

post-118979-0-57507100-1458197249_thumb.

post-118979-0-87555400-1458197257_thumb.

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I am afraid I don’t share your enthusiasm so perhaps you would make a better salesman for this solution.

I don't live in Thailand, Villagefarang, as you do, so I don't have the connections to petition Mr Prayuth.

I am not the kind of person who petitions anyone but I admire your conviction that you have the answers and know what is best for Thailand. I suffer from my inability to tell others what to do or how to do it. I am like the wildlife photographer who does not interfere with whatever is in view through his lens. I am cautious and try to maintain a safe distance but I don’t try to change the outcome or natural progression of things.

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I am like the wildlife photographer who does not interfere with whatever is in view through his lens. I am cautious and try to maintain a safe distance but I don’t try to change the outcome or natural progression of things.

Except if you were to get sick through inhaling smoggy air, I presume. Wouldn't you get medical treatment in such circumstances, or would you allow the natural progression of your ailment to take place? wink.png

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I am like the wildlife photographer who does not interfere with whatever is in view through his lens. I am cautious and try to maintain a safe distance but I don’t try to change the outcome or natural progression of things.

Except if you were to get sick through inhaling smoggy air, I presume. Wouldn't you get medical treatment in such circumstances, or would you allow the natural progression of your ailment to take place? wink.png

Sure I take responsibility for my own health but I don’t force others to do anything.

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I am like the wildlife photographer who does not interfere with whatever is in view through his lens. I am cautious and try to maintain a safe distance but I don’t try to change the outcome or natural progression of things.

Except if you were to get sick through inhaling smoggy air, I presume. Wouldn't you get medical treatment in such circumstances, or would you allow the natural progression of your ailment to take place? wink.png

Sure I take responsibility for my own health but I don’t force others to do anything.

Now you've confused me. Does taking responsibility for your own health involve shifting some responsibility to a doctor?

My idea of 'taking responsibility for one's own health' implies not visiting a doctor but applying one's own remedies, or natural remedies, such as herbal medicine or fasting.

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For the most part I have purchased medication from a pharmacist and cut the doctor out of the equation. That has worked quite well for me for the last 40 years but I would not suggest anyone else do as I do.

Maybe I should put it differently. If a Thai official asked me for my personal opinion, I would not hesitate to give it. I don’t, however, feel comfortable going into someone else’s home as an uninvited guest and criticizing how they live. I don’t tell clouds not to rain, rivers not to flow or the wind not to blow. It is up to me to adapt to my surrounding not to insist that everyone and everything change to please me. I also maintain a suitable buffer between me and my neighbors so their freedom has minimal impact on my freedom.

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