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Concerts of the Spring

LED Stories

Elias Hakalehto, PhD, Adj. Prof.

Microbiologist, Biotechnologist

CEO, Finnoflag Oy

Vice President, International Society of Environmental Indicators

Lifetime Fellow Member, International Society of Development and Sustainability (Japan)

Published on the 14th of April 2022

Spring often means muddy roads, floods, and fields covered with melting snow in the Northern hemisphere. Water fills in the rivers and rivulets, lakes and waterways. As the soil surface gets uncovered, it offers landing sites for humble but cold, hardened little birds, the skylarks, Alauda arvensis. - These maestros of atmospheric concertos rise, flying to altitudes of kilometres. Their songs are always joyous. From the biological angle, could it be just for defending their territories if they fly up that high? Their nesting areas are perhaps a tenth of an acre of land, and they can also sign on the stones or fences.

At that time of the year, the night skies may still flame due to solar storms caused by magnetism. This produces the magnificent Aurora borealis. The further we go to the North, the more abrupt Spring. When the Morning is broken, the skylark fills the skies again. Bringing joy to listeners. It should make the hearts happier and more thankful for the products of the fields to come.

A big portion of human food consumption is based on various cereals derived from the agricultural lands, above which the skylarks indeed do often distribute their happy tones. This is the case in the war riven regions, too. And farmers everywhere cannot make a mistake: the clarinets of Spring remind us of the right time to prepare the fields and lay the seeds. This declares the basic right to find its nesting site among dust and smoke to avoid destruction.

In the dawn of Mankind, the development of societies was based on agricultural advancements. In fact, the cultivation of land has always been dependent on the microbiome in the soil that is essential for producing the crops year after year and makes the soil fertile in the long run. In Mesopotamia, the Sumerians dried the marshland around Euphrat and Tigris rivers. This led to the urban metropolis of that time. The agricultural skills and population growth then led to urbanization. In 2013, there were already 29 megacities (with more than 10M dwellers) in the world.

The hanging gardens of Babylon were described by the Roman historian Flavius Josephus (born 37AD) as follows: "In this palace, he (king Nebuchadnezzar II, 605- 562 BCE) erected very high wall, supported by stone pillars, and by planting what was called a pensile [hanging down] paradise, and replenishing it with all sorts of trees, he rendered the prospect of an exact resemblance of a mountainous country". - The description could fit some parts with the modern concept of city food. That could occur inside, too. The artificial light could be exploited, which increases food production during our time, as the war is evoking the threats of increasing famine.

This sophisticated food production could make it possible to provide additives and supplements for food through biotechnology. In fact, in the Hiedanranta project in Tampere, Finland, we have demonstrated that biorefineries could produce such food and medical excipient-grade chemicals as lactate and mannitol in vast amounts from the environmental deposits of the past industrial actions. Moreover, the cellulosic sediments on the lake bottom provide sources and raw materials for economically feasible and sustainable production of chemicals. Simultaneously, biogas and biohydrogen and electricity could be produced, together with microbiologically upgraded soil improvement. We will present these results in connection with the EGU (European Geosciences Union) General Assembly in Vienna, Austria, in late May 2022.

Thence, the overly chemicalized fields of India and many other countries could get revived for effective food production again. Based on the recirculating matter in the industrial ecosystem! - Whether the sunlight is replaced or not by artificial sources, the ultraviolet (UV) light provides food production with tremendous assets. It can be used for maintaining hygiene, too. In soil, it boosts some important microecological cycles, such as forming conidiophores by moulds. These eukaryotic, omnipresent microbes are essential in hydrolyzing macromolecules for plant nutrition. Did you know that their spores are as abundant at the height of one kilometre as on the ground level? (According to our investigations, whose results were presented in Goiania, Brazil, in 2017, during the International Symposium of Microbial Stress). The mould strains accompany Nature´s overwhelming display's skylarks that spread its effects across any artificial borders.

From this very same atmosphere, the soil Nitrogen-fixing bacteria capture natural fertilization by increasing soil ammonium levels. These microbes have been harnessed for centuries in the agricultural traditions of various countries. However, modern technologies make it possible to enhance this fruitful activity, as has happened in Tampere biorefinery tests, confirmed by the experiments in the greenhouses of the University of Helsinki.

In the Far East, on the slopes of mountains of China and Japan, for example, generations of farmers have respected the specific features of every corner of the land in their use. In other words, they have learnt to live in balance with the soil microbiota. Correspondingly, the Sumerians or the old-time Finnish farmers have attempted to live in harmony with the biosphere in soil. However, many extensive new cultivation methods have also disturbed this balance during times, such as irrigation, which could lead to increased salt, erosion and desertification of soil.

During the research conducted in the laboratory of Finnoflag Oy, it has turned out that the microbiomes are striving for balance most of the time. Of course, there is also competition, but balance and diversity are far more important and beneficial for all. The microbiological balance of the human digestive tract is a continuum with the outer ecosystems and microbiomes ("Alimentary Microbiome - a PMEU Approach" 2012 and "Microbiological Environmental Hygiene" 2018 by E. E. Hakalehto (Ed.), Nova Science Publishers Inc. N.Y., USA). This overwhelming search for balance among microbial communities is something to take a lesson of. If circumstances are changing, the skills of new strains become actual. But the, micro-organisms seldom aim at the destruction for the sake of development.

One trend is the simultaneous use of land for solar photovoltaic power generation and agriculture, called agrivoltaics or agrophotovoltaics. This approach could combine agriculture with energy production. Plants could exploit shadowy conditions under the solar panels to cultivate selected plant species. Of course, the soil needs to be preserved, but physical protection could provide shelter against erosion.

When visiting the Micmac tribe of North American aboriginal people in Canada, I asked the chief why many of their artworks and handicrafts often include the common loon, Gavia immer. He replied that this handsome waterbird, looking upwards, reminds us where Justice comes from. - The Justice for soil and its creatures, plants and animals, and people.

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