Land-use legacies, capitalist contamination, and possible phosphorus futures in New York State

Authors: Russell Hedberg*, Shippensburg University, Bryan Pearson, Shippensburg University
Topics: Environmental Science, Land Use, Natural Resources
Keywords: Land use, phosphorus, agroecology, sustainable agriculture, capitalism
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Marshall North, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper examines phosphorus fertility on local food oriented vegetable farms in the Catskill Mountains and Hudson River Valley of New York State. I first document how agricultural intensification has respatilaized phosphorus biogeochemistry in New York State, entrenching the need for imported nutrients, and hindering the possibility of local nutrient supply through regional recycling. I then examine the extent to which locally oriented vegetable farmers in the New York City region that recycle regional biomass for fertility are both inadvertently reproducing the new geography of phosphorus wrought by capitalist agriculture and potentially altering soil biology in novel ways. I conclude by reframing these developments using Anna Tsing's notions of contamination and precarity to consider potential phosphorus futures in the region that could be environmentally ruinous, regenerative, or (more likely) a combination of the two.

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