The purpose is to gather data on the effects of urban air pollution on urban gardening- and farming crops. Soil can be analyzed and heavy metals in soils can be treated by bioremediation (mushrooms, green manure, nitrogen fixers), but on the effects of city air pollution on crops there is not a lot of information available. How do car exhaust, road dust and acid rain affect the different crops? Is the environmental pollution affect different for leaves, flowers, roots or fruits? Are nuts, fruits and berries less exposed to the urban pollution risks than leaf crops as spinach, or as root crops which do take up and accumulate metals from dust particle deposits in the soil? How might we intelligently assess risk and proceed with a program of harm reduction, and modify urban garden design strategies around these known risks?
Pollution is definitely a concern for city farmers, but luckily, the pollutants of greatest concern are heavy metals, such as lead, and automotive break pad particulates. Both are denser than air, so vegetables grown on a rooftop high above the roadways are protected from these contaminants. The limited lifespan of plants mean they absorb significantly less contamination than our lungs do.
Field research could be:
– how long does particle dust stay on a tomato skin in your urban garden? Does the tomato absorb it or does it wash off in a rain? What about raspberries, blueberries, hazelnuts? What about different herbs? What about beetroot and lettuce?
– compare the data gathered from urban environmental pollution monitoring on organically grown vegetables, with monitoring data of non-organically grown vegetables of industrial agriculture origin (pesticides, GMO’s, chemical fertilizers, … )
Sensors for air pollution monitoring:
– air pollution meter : air quality (optical→dust, O3, CH4, CO2)
http://sensorapp.net/?p=479 (optical dust sensor)
– carbon monoxide pollution meter
– lead pollution meter
– exhaust gasses pollution meter
Effect of air pollution on peri-urban agriculture: a case study