How do you know if you have healthy soil? Look for worms! Dr Maarten Stapper joins us on In Situ Science to chat about how caring for soils and healthy ecosystems can improve our farming practices. Unfortunately modern farming practices, including livestock grazing, pesticide use and synthetic fertilizer use, can actually harm our crops more than they help them.
Originally published 2017 by University of Queensland Press
Author and radical farmer Charles Massy’s book Call of the Reed Warbler explores transformative and regenerative agriculture and the vital connection between our soil and our health. According to Massy, we need a revolution — he believes that human health, our communities, and the very survival of the planet depend on it. Charles talks about how he believes a grassroots revolution can save the planet, help turn climate change around, and build healthy people and healthy communities, pivoting significantly on our relationship with growing and consuming food. Click here to see Charles in conversation with Costa Georgiadis, nature lover and host of ABC’s Gardening Australia.
Continue reading for excerpts from the book describing some of Maarten Stapper’s activities in advocating regenerative farming. Continue reading →
Maarten participated in the Great Debate about genetically modified (GM) crops at the 2013 Ausveg National Convention at the Gold Coast on June 1st. Four speakers had been handpicked in the GM debate on the pro and against sides. Where does the horticultural industry want to go? Watch the Great Debate with Chris Uhlmann (ABC) as the moderator.
Christine Smith through Soil Restoration Farming organised a farm walk on three farms around Dandaragan with Dr Maarten Stapper on 29 September 2017. Click here to watch a video of the farm walk that Jarrad Thomas made with his drone.
Healthy soils, nutritious food, healthy people was the key of a workshop hosted by the Baw Baw Food Movement on 21 September. The free event, held at the Drouin Country Club was attended by a group of 120 enthusiastic people keen to hear how nutritious food improves our gut health.
GIPPSLAND farmer and inventor Niels Olsen says sales of his SoilKee pasture renovator have risen markedly in recent months following findings it can aid in the accumulation of carbon credits. The worth of the renovator, which aerates the soil with minimal pasture disturbance while burying organic matter, top-dressing with soil and drilling seed into the rows, is being evaluated in a three-year Healthy Soils Sustainable Farms study on the 457ha grey loam property of Madeline Buckley and Ross Batten at Buffalo, in South Gippsland.
While that study is not due to finish until next year, Niels said results were shaping up as similar to those of a year-long independent study (click to Soilkee Renovator summary doc) conducted on three Gippsland properties by farming systems agronomist Maarten Stapper up to May 2014.
Background to the presentation by Dr Maarten Stapper at the Water Resources Management Forum organised by the Perth Natural Resource Management in Gingin, 27 September 2017.
“Soil fertility is the capacity to receive, store and transmit energy to support plant growth. These processes require healthy soils – living, self-organising systems with physical, chemical and biological components all functioning and in balance.
Continuous use of acidic or salty synthetic fertilisers, insecticides, fungicides and herbicides disrupts this delicate balance. Organic Farming has recognised this, but needs to follow its leaders to active soil fertility management.
Carbon, in particular, is of critical importance and needs to be maximised through capture with solar energy through photosynthesis by green plants, and optimum storage and use in soil. Continue reading →
Maarten presented this during the YLAD seminar and field day on 10-11 October 2012 for their 10th year anniversary.
Maarten talked about the following points:
Demand for chemical-free, healthy food
Farming Systems in working ecosystems, complex but resilient
Systems too complex for single-factor science – holistic approach needed
Biosensitivity: manage with observation and feelings, not numbers
Change of paradigm needed in practice & science
Self-development, learn by doing & participatory learning
Built knowledge network with locals
Slow changing climates by carbon sequestration, emission reduction & water retention
Become sustainable with the triple bottom line: people-finance-resources
Biological Farming or Regenerative Farming is the way to sustainably feed the world in the future with quality food from soils regenerated by and with soil carbon under much reduced needs for synthetic inputs. Maarten describes the process as the 3rd way of farming, a step-by-step transition from Industrial (input-output) to Biologic-Organic (soil health) Farming Systems. The step-by-step approach allows the agro-ecosystem, including the soil, to adjust in natures timing during successive seasons. Keeping the budgets per hectare the same, a workable first step is a 20% of budget change into biologicals.
National Carbon Farming Conference, 7-10 July 2015, Albury NSW.
In this presentation, Maarten describes the significant results of trials he did with the Soilkee Renovator in nine paddocks on three farms in Gippsland during 2012-14. He explains the scientific background of how successive passes with the Soilkee Renovator do result in such striking soil improvement. For example, the increase of soil organic carbon with 0.9% in one year as an average over nine trial paddocks. Another outcome of increasing soil organic carbon and soil health to be explained is the shift away from primitive, less competitive weeds such as onion grass, lovegrass and serrated tussock.
The invention of the Soilkee Renovator implement relates to the one-pass tilling system which tills, cultivates and renovates soil of pastures to overcome compaction and poor root growth. It enhances the growth of both existing and newly sown plants with the least amount of grazing days lost compared to current techniques available. It saves time and fuel costs for pasture renovation while increasing the quality and quantity of grazing.