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Monitizing life and fertility in a society based on property rights  RSS feed

 
Landon Sunrich
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So I'm doing some mental gymnastics here and I thought I'd start a thread. To me it seems self evident that If I posses a seed it is my property. I may have payed for it, in which case the value is clear, or I may have harvested it in the wild or even 'created' it myself via selective breeding. It stands to reason, at least to me, that in purposefully putting this seed into the ground it remains as my property and so is the resulting plant. If this plant is a carrot and I choose to pull it out of the ground I am free to sell it, as my property, at whatever rate I deem fit and the market will bare. Making logical sense so far, yes? Now If I am a conventional farmer or even a certified dirt worshiping better than organic gardener and I find myself deficient in a nutrient I may be obliged to buy this nutrient in some form or another. For instance, if I was an average corn farmer in Iowa I would purchase chemical nitrate fertilizer and I would pay a going market rate for whatever amount I choose to add. Still with me? Now, what I am truly wondering about and the purpose of this thread, is to determine how to value nutrients added to the soil via natural cycles. Obviously, the nutrient has value as we have established this with the example of the farmer who will pay to add nitrogen or phosphorous or calcium to his field. Now lets say that the seed I plant (again, my personal property) is a Leguminous tree. In my mental gymnastics this is a golden chain, but something like black locus would be equally applicable if you are more familiar with that species. This seed grows and produces a root system. I own these roots as equally as I own the above ground timber. These roots fix nitrogen. Further they fix an ever increasing amount of nitrogen over the course of decades. We have established this nitrogen has value but how would one calculate it. Further, ever year this tree - my personal property - drops leaves which build soil and increase organic matter and add fertility to the ground beneath them. How would one calculate value here? Now normally I'd just quote me some Wendall Berry 'Manifesto' but I doubt that would cut it in a court of law. I'm looking for cold hard numbers anyone can understand.

Continuing on this line of thought. Chickens. If I have bought a chicken it is my property. If I buy feed that is my property. I would contend that it doesn't cease to be my property as it is digested and inevitably passes through the chicken. In fact I would argue that it actually increases in value. I've worked many an organic farm and, my friends, these people pay for chicken shit. The same would of course hold true to any seed which I have grown and fed to my chickens. I am feeding my property to my property and it never ceases being my property right? But how does one own or value the fertility it generates? Seriously, I'm trying to construct a case for myself here!

Anyhow this is (obviously) a general discussion thread. Although specifically I am very interested in how to go about calculating real money into this equation - this seems pretty simple when I payed for 20 dollars worth of chicken feed and it turned into 25 dollars (or something) worth of organic soil amendment, but I am far less sure on something like the Leguminous tree example. I wouldn't even know where to begin trying to make those calculations.


Edited: Added some commas, changed by to buy, did some minor general tinkering with phraseology
 
John Polk
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It is indeed difficult to put monetary values on a natural production.
In my mind, a pound of nitrogen from chicken manure (or a legume root) is worth more than a pound of nitrogen from a chemical fertilizer. Whether you can expect to get more for it is totally dependent on your market. The Iowa corn farmer who only makes a few dollars per acre is going to buy the cheapest nitrogen he can find. A health conscious home grower should be willing to pay more for a healthier source.

 
Landon Sunrich
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To be clear I am not looking to sell this fertility but merely to establish a means for valuing the fertility my personal property has produced. Especially as this wealth is indivisible from the land it is on even when the actual 'dirt' is not yet technically my property.

For instance is anyone aware of a method for approximating the amount of nitrogen produced by a given volume of roots? Like say will an average one year old tree produce a pound a year, a five year old tree ten pounds a year, and a twenty year old tree one hundred pounds a year?
 
John Polk
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Each species will be different, and it will also vary depending if it was properly inoculated.
One of my sources states that a 20 year stand of Black Locusts will fix 600 pounds of nitrogen per acre in a year.

 
Ann Torrence
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This is an interesting exercise. If I were looking to rent land (either side of the equation), I could see negotiating a "land improvement" value into the rent. Increase organic matter by soil and pay less. Deplete fertility or heaven forbid topsoil and pay more. But you need a metric and organic matter ain't it.

Eric Toensmeier has a table that ranks nitrogen fixers, but doesn't quantify them. It would be hard to do beyond anecdotal measurements in a lab, because the fertility of the N-fixng plant itself would depend on the starting soil conditions, a real chicken and egg problem.

In livestock, animals are scored for weight, coat, fat/marbling, conformation, etc. Perhaps we can brainstorm a land score, based on soil tests and other quantifiable factors. It could be a tool for measuring progress, assessing land purchases, ultimately it could be used as part of bank loan collateral (but not taxed!). One part of the analogy between livestock scores and what I'm suggesting is that both are transient: in fairly short order, if you don't care for either, the score will drop. If you like that idea, it's probably a new thread, what goes into the score, in what proportions.

 
Landon Sunrich
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Hey I say brainstorm away! And please do so here, I'll be paying attention. When I say I'm trying to construct a sound argument I mean it!

I am currently re-reading A bunch of stuff I studied for one of several State College independent studies I never got credit for because the staff where horible at paperwork... I'm finding Paines 'rights of man' and John Lockes 'second treatise on government' to at least add credence to these thoughts. Locke in particular - I stumbled on to this on Wikipedia, but I have read the treaty years ago and still have my copy.

John Locke wrote:Though the earth and all inferior creatures be common to all men, yet every man has a "property" in his own "person." This nobody has any right to but himself. The "labour" of his body and the "work" of his hands, we may say, are properly his. Whatsoever, then, he removes out of the state that Nature hath provided and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with it, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property


These guys are pretty well commonly accepted as having incredible influence on the structure of our society, the nature of our rights, and the function and responsibilities of government. Fingers crossed that there is hope yet for my hugels.
 
Landon Sunrich
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I think to add to Locke that intent here obviously matters. Ie if you engage, activate, or otherwise aid some natural process with a clear intent to make use of it's 'labor' for you, one is using their god given 'mind' and 'creative and contemplative efforts' and thus can hold claim of the results as property. Or something akin. Rephrasing, input, et all continuously encouraged.
 
Ann Torrence
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Straw man starting land score system

Start 50 points

minor remediation required (glyphoshate) -5 points
moderate remediation required (aminopyralid, sterile soil due to fire) -15 points
serious remediation required (lead) -25 points
radioactive waste dump -45 points

additive penalties, so traces of both short and persistent herbicides is a -20 point reduction in score

organic material +1% point above local average +5 points (up to 10) {this factor has a lot of regional variation}
native pollinators on site +1 pt per species (up to 5)
native amphibians on site +15 points (indicator of clean water and soil health)

running out of gas, but you get the idea, a plot of land could go from negative to over 100. 80 would probably be an awesome score.
should be points for mycelia and nitrogen fixing capability, but I'm not seeing just this minute how to quantify that.

(edited for clarity)
 
Landon Sunrich
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Ann Torrence wrote:Straw man starting land score system


running out of gas, but you get the idea, a plot of land could go from negative to over 100. 80 would probably be an awesome score.
should be points for mycelia and nitrogen fixing capability, but I'm not seeing just this minute how to quantify that.

(edited for clarity)


Yeah I do get the point and its good to see others tossing out similar ideas. Most parcels in my area would clearly score less than the one I have lived on my lifetime clearly due to land management practices. I have so many damn worms, and newts, and frogs, and mushrooms, et all. But I still feel for some reason like I need to monetize it if I'm going to get traction with 6 to 12 peers, Especially given that any arguments would be put forth in terms of monetary value...

off to read about privity of contract...
 
Ann Torrence
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Landon Sunrich wrote:But I still feel for some reason like I need to monetize it if I'm going to get traction with 6 to 12 peers, Especially given that any arguments would be put forth in terms of monetary value

In free market economics, you don't know the value until the transaction occurs in the marketplace. Plenty of people around here think stuff is worth far more than anyone actually will pay for it. Willing buyers and sellers and all that. So your quest is even harder. I'm looking at simpler metrics to chart our progress.

I'm not sure what you mean by traction? Motivation to do the work? Motivation for others to follow your excellent example? A scheme to suborn the empire?
 
Matu Collins
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This exercise is very interesting to me. I am going to mull it over and maybe I will use it in the efforts to keep the farmer whose poison spray has been drifting over to my property from continuing to spray. By spraying, he's taking my property, the fertility that I have been building
 
Landon Sunrich
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Location: Western Washington
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Ann Torrence wrote:A scheme to suborn the empire?
<<< Something like this. As a means to show value and to get the empire to recognize my natural rights clearly enumerated and unifringable. It's a long story.

@ Matu

He's knowingly and willfully destroying your property which you have been building!!! Release 20$ worth of lady bugs along the property border and keep the receipt
 
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