Spearheading alternative agriculture

Published in : ABC Rural –  Tuesday, 22/09/2009
By Sarina Locke

The former Governor General Michael Jeffrey is so worried about the state of agricultural land degradation in Australia that he’s spearheading an organisation to push for a different farming system.

General Jeffrey brought together people from agriculture, science, and Government Department.

General Jeffrey hosted a dialogue on the South Coast of NSW, which brought together proponents of agricultural techniques that might normally be publicly opposed.

Scientists, social academics and bureaucrats, also joined in, and the result was a task force, Outcomes Australia to promote alternative farming like Natural Sequence that Peter Andrews developed in the Hunter Valley, Holistic farming, permaculture and biological agriculture.

“It’s different from any other task force that I’ve served on, or seen in that it brings together different experts, and they come voluntary,” he says.

“The beauty about the organisation, because it’s pro bono, it’s not owned by any particular group, by governments, chemical companies, scientific groups, or so on, and if the information is very accurate, then we’ll get a lot of public and stakeholder support.”

They don’t yet have scientific evidence to back the methods, but he says many scientists are interested, and the anecdotal evidence is “there before your eyes.”

Dr Maarten Stapper is part of the gathering momentum for alternative agriculture. He left the CSIRO feeling his biological farming research was sidelined, but has been busy delivering 60 talks this year on a talk called healthy living soils.

“Oh it’s very active across the country for this information because most farmers see the difference with living soils and living biology that they can’t explain with the current farming.”

He admits there is no scientific backing for his talk, but he says in the United States they are quantifying biodiversity in landscapes and agriculture. But agricultural science he says is lagging behind that.

Dr Maarten Stapper is speaking in Braidwood, NSW tomorrow September 23, 2009 – on Biological farming for healthy soils and Peter Andrews will talk about his Natural Sequence Farming method on a Sydney Catchment Authority property at Braidwood this Saturday night and Sunday.

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