17-Mar-2018

SENIOR SCIENTIST SAYS "THROW AWAY THE PLOUGH"

One of Australia’s most respected scientists has raised alarm bells about Australia’s loss of soil carbon and has urged farmers to throw away their ploughs.


In the latest in the Soils for Life video series, former Australian Chief Scientist, Professor Robin Batterham AO, warns that the world has lost two thirds of all soil carbon since the introduction of industrial agriculture.

“Australia is no exception”, Professor Batterham says. “Essentially we’ve found cheap fossil fuels and fertiliser which gives us more production and at lower cost”.

“It leaves the soil in a more oxidative state. If we plough as soon as it rains we wash off, in one rainstorm, perhaps a hundred year’s worth of soil in terms of how quickly it’s generated”.

“We’re losing soil and we’re losing soil organic carbon through our intensive practices. So we have to change that.  We have to throw away the plough for a start”.

“One of the difficulties for people who move from intensive agricultural methods to what’s commonly called regenerative farming – no till, precision agriculture, leaving material on the ground, rotational crops, winter and summer crops - depending on what’s appropriate, is that there’s no single formula that works”.

“There are actually a few years for the soil to recover and then start to deliver these benefits of better water retention, much lower fertiliser usage and ultimately higher productivity”.

Professor Batterham says one of the secrets of good soil is the interaction between funghi, bacteria, nematodes and other creatures.

“There are thousands of different types of funghi. If you’ve got more of them, it’s almost guaranteed that you’re not going to have to use nearly as much super on that particular plot of ground”.

“But you can’t just innoculate with that single funghi because they’re part of a complex system. This is the most complex area of science and we’ve hardly scratched it”.

Find Professor Batterham’s interview at: https://youtu.be/B01wrGOXqEQ

For more information, contact: Niree Creed, Media, Soils for Life:0418625595


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