ABC News: Farmers urged to focus on soil biology

ABC- News    
Posted Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:16pm AEDT 


An independent agronomist says Australian farmers must change conventional farming practices to include a greater focus on soil biology.

Dr Maarten Stapper says the use of fertilisers and herbicides, combined with over-cultivation, has resulted in dead soil, where carbon levels have dropped below 1 per cent.

The former scientist with the CSIRO says farmers need to look at rebuilding soil biology with natural trace elements and reduce reliance on fertilisers.

“Over the last decades we have killed the living organisms through cultivation and through spraying of herbicides and big amounts of fertilisers which are salty or acidic and fries the living organisms,” he said.

“In that process we make compaction, because it’s the living organisms that keep the soils viable and open and aerated, so that infiltration can happen with the rainfall and roots can grow deep and dense.

“If farmers don’t start looking at those methods for production, then they end up having to use more and more fertilisers and chemicals to get the same production as they used to get before, so we have to try and balance the soil in a way that the soil becomes fertile, which is supported by biology so we have to do everything to stop the negative impacts on that biology which is in our current farming.”


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