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Soils for Life Blog

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Can you be a soil scientist and a regenerative agriculturalist? "clash of cultures" discussion

In the October edition of Down To Earth, we published, "A clash of cultures: why are soil scientists given a bad rap by some regenerative agriculturists?" by Prof. Robert White. Building bridges between stakeholders with different perspectives helps to advance regenerative agriculture practice. One way of addressing contested issues is to provide opportunities to share and respect different opinions and understandings. A lively discussion in the Soils for Life Facebook Group followed the publication of Prof. White's article. We welcome all thoughtful comments; we've attempted to do them justice selecting two constructive threads from the comments. Diverse communities A homogenous group of soil scientists does ....

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The Relationship of Habitat and Biodiversity on Agricultural Land

Biodiversity is a term used to refer to the amount of living organisms found in any given area. Higher numbers of living organisms (types of species and their abundances) i.e., biodiversity, indicate a healthier landscape. Due to the nature of most living organisms, it can be challenging to measure their abundance. Unlike most other living organisms, bird species richness (different types of species) and abundance can be observed and measured by most people with some small degree of skill. Different birds occupy different habitats in different seasons and different times of the diurnal cycle. Birds are typically easy ....

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A starting point to becoming regenerative

In recent months regenerative agriculture has come into the public focus, the Prime Minister appointed a National Soils Advocate and and leading media organisations are regularly publishing articles about regenerative agriculture. Much of the eastern half of Australia is experiencing severe drought conditions. Regenerative agriculture could be the answer to Australia’s drought problem. Practitioners of regenerative agriculture improve the quality of their soil through various methods, which can result in improved water holding capacity within soil. Improving the water holding capacity of soil ensures that moisture is available for plants to utilise long after rainfall. Retaining soil moisture is ....

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Interview with Major General Michael Jeffery: The National Soils Advocate

A Future Directions International interview by Geoffrey Craggs, Research Analyst, Northern Australia and Regional Development The National Soils Advocate: "As the Soils Advocate, I have been tasked by the Prime Minister to increase awareness of and advocate the critical importance of conserving and improving agricultural soil and landscape conditions to: benefit the environment; enhance agricultural productivity and realise continuing economic benefits; and secure sustainable food production systems." Key points: The National Soils Advocate role is to progress the national objective to protect, restore and maintain the health of the Australian agricultural landscape in order to guarantee food security and sustainable farming communities. ....

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Soil, production and ecological benefits of trees on farms

A number of recently published Soils For Life case studies demonstrate that revegetation activities have on-farm production and environmental benefits, ranging from animal productivity improvements to soil protection and provision of ecological habitat. Approaching revegetation activities can be as diverse as the trees and shrubs being planted. Here’s a snapshot of some of the production, soil and ecological benefits trees provide. Production benefits Revegetation comes with costs, so a logical question is what are the benefits to the farm business. Trees provide shelter for livestock, pasture and crops. One study in Australia estimated that tree plantings in the form of shelterbelts can reduce windspeeds ....

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EVERY DROP IS PRECIOUS

  Michael Jeffrey is a senior Australian Army officer and former Governor-General of Australia. A world water crisis for drinking and agricultural purposes is the gravest threat facing our civilisation. This warning isn’t mine — it’s the sober, consensus view of international business leaders, expressed through the World Economic Forum this year. The forum cautioned that water crises easily could deteriorate into famines, failed states, wars, disease pandemics, refugee floods and bigger climate impacts. It was underscored by a UN report predicting that by 2030 world water demand might outrun supply by as much as 40 per cent. These are focal ....

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Australia cannot remain secure in a food and water insecure world

  Michael Jeffrey is a senior Australian Army officer and former Governor-General of Australia. The great crises of this century are predicted to involve water, soil and food. While financial failures and political and religious disputes claim the headlines, the reality is that we need to feed up to 10 billion people by the 2060s in a world where the resources to do so are becoming scarce. History has shown on many occasions that when food supplies fail, governments fall and people fight. The opposite is also true: a well-fed world is a more peaceful world. Most of the instability today is ....

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To Save the Planet, We Must Save the Soil

Major General The Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Retd), is Australia's National Advocate for Soil Health, and the Chairman of Soils for Life. He has written this guest blog post as part of the 2015 International Year of Soils.   I have been appointed by the Federal Government as Australia’s first Advocate for Soil Health. As the Advocate, I raise public awareness of the critical role soil plays in underpinning sustainable productivity, delivering high quality ecosystem services and helping ....