Life in the Soil

Life in The Soil

Humans tend to see the world as a solid ball of rock coated with a thin layer of soil and life. But lately, scientists have been finding out planet looks more like a wheel of cheese, one whose thick, leathery rind is perpetually gnawed and fermented by the microbes that live in the planets innards.

You would need a microscope to see the life in this subterranean biosphere, however scientists have estimated the total amount of life on Earth that exists below ground, is vast. It’s made up mostly of Soil organisms (biota), such as bacteria and their evolutionary cousins, the archaea think microscopic flora and fauna. With “Something like 70% of the total number of microbes on Earth in the soil below our feet”. The role all these organisms play in shifting carbon about the Earth is profound, you cannot begin to understand soil carbon on Earth without understanding the diversity and influence of underground life. Microbes in the soil turn over carbon, take in carbon, and breathe it out. They do amazing things to transform the soil environments, and are vital to produce health crops and livestock

There is a two-way relationship between soil biota and agricultural production. Soil organisms (biota) carry out a vital range of processes that are important for soil health and fertility in both natural and managed agricultural soils. This subterranean microscopic biosphere provides the energy and nutrients for the biota, which consume the organic matter (OM), and improve nutrient availability and soil structure. Agricultural practices can be both beneficial and detrimental to the soil biota.

Soil organisms (biota), can range in size from microscopic e.g. bacteria to centimetres (or metres Giant Gippsland Earthworm)

• Most Soil biota activity is concentrated in the top 1m of soil, but extends deeper than 50~100 m.
• Millions of organisms exist but only a fraction have been identified e.g. 5% of fungi and 3% of nematodes.
• 80 – 90% of soil biological activity is carried out by bacteria and fungi.
• Resistance to extreme changes in the soil environment increases as organisms decrease in size.
• The reproductive interval reduces with a decrease in organism size e.g. bacteria reproduce themselves in hours whilst earthworms may take weeks.
• In natural and managed farming environments a complex food web exists. These ‘predator-prey’ relationships help control the balance of species present in the soil, and the balance can be destroyed with poor farming practices.
• Studies have shown that not only does heathy Soil biota activity improve yields, it reduced the incidence of plant disease.

Further reading

Life in the Soil CSIRO Authors: VVSR Gupta, SM Neate, E Leonard  – This information is based on research carried out by the Cooperative Research Centre
for Soil & Land Management and other national and international institutions.  More information on Soil Biota can be found on the University of Adelaide web page:

Deep life – Researchers at the Deep Carbon Observatory announce the results of the 10-year study suggesting 70% of bacteria and archaea exist in the subsurface of the Earth.

The farming business case for composting

Farm Manager & Vet Robyn talks about the farming business case for composting

Farm Manager & Vet Robyn talks about the farming business case for composting

In the area around Robyn’s dairy farm in south east Queensland compost was rarely used in commercial agriculture, especially in dairy and feed lots with high manure surpluses.   In this video Robyn talks about the challenges and lessons she has learnt about using manure surplus, to increase soil quality and fertility in a sustainable way. She believes that compost is the most effective way of improving soil long term with clearly beneficial effects on soil quality, stock health and farm profitability.

Robyn also addresses standard modern Australian agricultural practices such as the heavy use of mineral additives and chemical fertilisers, frequent soil tillage, fast crop rotations, and huge shifts in land and how this has greatly decreased soil organic carbon (SOC) stocks, leading to bio diversity loss, faster soil erosion, and pollution of groundwater and air.

Robyn is a vocal advocate of the importance of composting is an  tool having witnessed first hand how healthy soil creates healthy plants, which creates healthy plants, stock and humans. The benefits of compost are clear including: improving drainage and nutrient availability in clay soils, improving water and nutrient holding capacity of sandy soils, helping neutralise pH of both acidic and alkaline soils and lastly that many toxins are broken down in the composting process, while others such as heavy metals in city soils become locked up and less available to plants when compost is added.

This is the story of the real journey of compost discovery, the effects and benefits and watching the farm and it’s live stock and the herds milk and health change over the years. Seeing with her own eye that the cattle preferred to graze in the paddocks that had been treated with compost and would walk past other grass to do so.









Questions about composting

Farmer talks about composting with the JPH Equipment CT360 Windrow Turner

Ged a dairy farmer from Tamborine in Queensland answers questions about composting and the JPH Equipment CT360 Windrow Turner,

This is a great video where Ged talks about how he got into composting, the lessons he has learnt and why he would recommend that you compost.

Other questions covered include

  • How hard is composting to do?
  • How would you start composting?
  • What resources do I need to begin composting ?
  • What space do I need to compost?
  • What tools & machinery do I need?
  • Do I need a turner to start?
  • Talking about the CT360 compost turner
  • What is the CT360 compost turner like to use
  • Have you owned any other turners?
  • CT360 Watering, Gearbox and Construction
  • What type of Tractor do I need
  • Do you recommend using a watering unit
  • How long does it take to make compost
  • How often do I need to work on the windrow?
  • Can you store the compost?
  • What effect does the composting have on your farm
  • How do I use/apply the compost
  • How long will it take to work
  • How much does it cost to do
  • Is composting really worth it Time, Effort and Cost? fertilisers are easier aren’t they
  • Can you sell the compost?
  • Sum up how the composting journey has been for you

As you most likely know Compost is a natural soil improver made from broken-down organic matter, and it contains three things of vital importance to farmers. Humus, that’s the dark spongy material that makes good soil the colour of chocolate, Recycled plant nutrients and most importantly billions of microscopic lifeforms which create a healthy soil ecosystem (Read more about the soil food web).

Healthy soil creates healthy plants, which creates healthy humans. And to this end, composting is an important tool. Some of the benefits of compost include: improving drainage and nutrient availability in clay soils. Improveing water and nutrient holding capacity of sandy soils, helping neutralise pH of both acidic and alkaline soils and lstly many toxins are broken down in the composting process, while others such as heavy metals in city soils become locked up and less available to plants when compost is added.


Bagger 3 HD from JPH Equipment

Introducing the Bagger 3 HD from JPH Equipment

Introducing the Bagger 3 HD from JPH Equipment

The Bagger3 HD is a heavy duty stationary bagger for industrial use. It’s designed for Sand yards, gravel pits and for use with stock feed, Rock, fertilizer, grain and much more.  The Bagger3 HD is designed for products that are normally problematic for standard bagging machines like moist compost, wet sand, damp crusher dust, stock feed and bark chips

Optional productivity extras

The Height adjustable work conveyor is removable to enable filling of bulk bags and bins. With bag horns and bulk scales available as an option extra. The motorised handling belt makes it easy on the operator allowing Heat sealing or sewn bag closure with no heavy lifting or dragging.  With a Fast change material chute to allow for the filling of a wide range of bag sizes

If you would like to know more about the Bagger 3 HD from JPH Equipment Click Here
Bagger 3 HD from JPH Equipment

Bonus Upgrade 8kVa 6Kw Diesel inverter Generator with select JPH Equipment products fitted with Generator

JPH Equipment is offering a Upgrade to a 8kVa/6Kw Diesel unit on select JPH Equipment Bagger3 HD and LC1000 Conveyor/loader products that are sold fitted with Generator.

The Generator is a 4-Stroke, air-Cooled Engine with Earth Leakage and electric Start a Heavy-Duty Steel Casing and 15L Fuel Tank.  The unit has Three Phase, and single phase outputs and a 12v DC outputs that are monitored via a LCD Screen showing volts, amps, overload and thermal protection status. The added capacity of the unit built-in to your Bagger or Conveyor of provides you with the flexible power options to add site lighting, radios, charge phones and devices.

The features of the upgrade includes


  • Super silent! Three Phase AC generator
  • Inbuilt self-excitation system – ensures prolonged quality of generator voltage and power
  • Powerful air cooled 4-stroke diesel engine!
  • Includes single phase and three-phase weatherproof outlet
  • 12V/8.3A DC Output
  • 240V AC Output
  • Three Phase
  • Earth leakage
  • Voltage regulator
  • Huge 16L fuel tank!
  • Meets EPA emission standards
  • Weatherproof Outlets – Work Cover Approved
  • Protective low-oil system – automatically shuts down when oil is nearly out
  • Industrial wheels
  • Compact frame design


  • Engine: 8KVA 4-Stroke Diesel Engine (air cooled)
  • Rated Frequency: 50Hz
  • Rated Voltage: 240V/415V
  • Max Power:
    • 2800W (240V)
    • 6500W (415V)
  • Starting System: Electric Start/Recoil Start
  • Fuel Tank Capacity: 16L
  • Run time on 75% load: 8.5hrs
  • DC Output (V-A): 12-8.3A
  • Displacement: 418cc
  • Lube Oil Capacity: 1.655L
  • Dimensions (L x W x H): 950mm x 560mm x 850mm
  • Weight: 185kgs

Adam Willson from Soil Systems Australia, talks about the decline in Australian soil health

The decline in Australian soil health

Adam Willson from Soil Systems Australia, talks about the decline in Australian soil health

The building of soil carbon in Australian farmland should be regarded as a an national priority because it the bast way of sequestering atmospheric carbon, soil carbon also holds significant amounts of water, reduces erosion across catchments, increases biodiversity, increases nutrient use efficiency and is a key to increasing yields and food quality. With Australian climate already experiencing temperature extremes impacting vast areas across the continent the need for implementing soil carbon building practices is urgent. To begin this process both the Australian government, the organic industry and conventional counterparts need to immediately start baselining organic carbon in soils. Carbonlink is one Australian company that is developing a soil carbon monitoring process and can measure deeper soil carbon down to 1m – Carbonlink (2015). This data is critical for establishing the effectiveness at which farming practices build soil carbon, biodiversity and resilience across the farming landscape.

All across the world there has been a dramatic decline in soil carbon levels, in particular colloidal soil humus. Deforestation, reduced pastures and meadows, continuous cropping, over cultivation and excessive use of nitrogen fertilisers have all led to reduced soil carbon levels. This carbon has left the soil as carbon dioxide, one of the 3 primary greenhouse gases, and made its way into the atmosphere and ocean (causing acidification).

Soil Systems Australia guide companies and producers with project management, agronomy, horticulture, commercial and on-farm composting, organic consultancy, dairy production, waste water management (for rendering plants & abattoirs), establishing market gardens, education and soil surveys.

Soil Systems Australia

environmentally-friendly farming can increase productivity

Environmentally-friendly farming can increase productivity

A major new study involving researchers from the University of York has measured a global shift towards more sustainable agricultural systems that provide environmental improvements at the same time as increases in food production.

Nature Sustainability

The study shows that the sustainable intensification of agriculture, a term that was once considered paradoxical, delivers considerable benefits to both farmers and the environment.

The study, published in the leading journal Nature Sustainability, involved researchers from 17 universities and research institutes in the UK, USA, Sweden, Ethiopia and New Zealand.


Their assessment shows considerable progress has been made towards the sustainable intensification of agriculture, with sustainable approaches now being implemented on 163 million farms worldwide.

Co-author of the assessment, Professor Sue Hartley, who is director of the York Environmental Sustainability Institute and University’s Research Champion for Environmental Sustainability and Resilience, said: “It has long been thought that increased food production would have to come at the expense of the agricultural environment and its biodiversity, but this paper shows that this trade-off is not inevitable and the sustainable intensification of agriculture is both possible and increasing globally.”

“The use of techniques such as integrated pest management, agroforestry, and micro-irrigation is expanding and are now being practiced on 29% of farms worldwide, with the greatest advances in low and middle income countries. Our research shows this can deliver the ‘win-win’ of improved agricultural and environmental outcomes.”


With the benefits of these sustainable technologies and practices, devised with input from both farmers and scientists, increasingly evident, the researchers are calling for policy makers worldwide to establish measures to increase their uptake still further.

The study concludes that sustainable intensification of crop production may be approaching a tipping point where it could become transformative.

Global assessment of agricultural system redesign for sustainable intensification is published in Nature Sustainability.

The research was carried out by Professor Sue Hartley from the Department of Biology in collaboration with researchers from 17 universities and research institutes in the UK, USA, Sweden, Ethiopia and New Zealand.


USED CT360 Windrow Turner For Sale

USED CT360 Windrow Turner For Sale

USED CT360 Windrow Turner For Sale
Current location Canungra QLD

Call 0411 695 335 to find out more

More photos and inspection available on request

USED CT360 Compost Turner
USED CT360 Compost Turner



The CT360 is an Australian made and designed, tractor pulled compost turner /windrow turner, that comes fitted with a spray system for applying compost inoculants and starters. The JPH Turners is the equal of any Compost/Windrow Turner currently sold in the world and Australian designed & manufactured with support available in Brisbane.  The CT360 has a 3600mm wide fully galvanised tunnel it also has a patented drum and paddle design that breaks up and mixes your compost ingredients while providing maximum aeration and product blending. The design also lifts the windrow to a greater height which allows more Compost material to be added thus improving productivity.

CT360 Compost Turner /Windrow Turner Specs:

  •     Manufactured: Australian Manufactured for Australian Conditions
  •     Tow Speed: Requires “creeper” or hydrostatic gearing.
  •     Drum Width: Uses a 3.6m wide drum.
  •     Windrow Size: Makes windrows 3.6m wide and 1.8m high.
  •     Weight: 2400kg
  •     Output: 1300 cubic meters per hour.
  •     Tractor Required: Suggested requirement of a minimum of 100hp tractor



Call 0411 695 335 to find out more

Dead Soil is Dirt

PODCAST Dr. Elaine Ingham talks soil microbiology – Dead soil is Dirt

The permaculture podcast interview Dr. Elaine Ingham, microbiologist and soil researcher.

Click here to listen or download the episode.

During this conversation, Host David Bilbrey and Elaine explore the concepts of soil microbiology, talking about how just below your earth surface the soil is brimming with life — moles, insects, worms and billions of microorganisms all living within the soil. When we think about plants we only see the growth above ground, bursting with leaves, flowers and fruits, however just below the earth’s surface the root growth is just as significant and profound. Dr. Elaine stresses the importance of this life on the health of our plants and agricultural system, how using compost to increase the number of beneficial organisms living within your soil can make a huge difference to your soil quality, and the power of a microscope to bring all these ideas together, right in front of our eyes. The toxic chemicals in large scale agriculture practice is KILLING the insects, and microbes, and this eliminating or drastically reducing or sometimes even adding species to the mix can put the whole food chain out of whack..

Dr. Ingham, stresses the importance of healthy, living soil for human wellbeing. Her theory is that “Conventional” agriculture is all about trying to get people to buy inorganic fertilizers, pesticides and minerals that inadvertently kill of the beneficial life (both flora and fauna) in the soil, so they are never able to do the jobs that nature intended them to do.  Of course, this keeps growers “addicted” to buying more, and more, and more of those chemicals from the big chemical companies.  Excessive use of chemical fertilisers poses a real danger to the soil sucking the water out of the microbes that live within the soil.

To find out more about Dr. Elaine Ingham, and her work on soil microbiology at and on her classes and other work with Environment Celebration Institute at

Other Resources
Dr. Ingham’s CV
Soil Food Web
Environment Celebration Institute
Dr. Ingham’s Online Classes

 Soil Food Web



Farm Profits in Root Depth

Farm Profits in Root Depth (No Fertilisers Required)

Its’s true real Farm Profits are found in Root Depth, Not Fertilisers, watch this video with Dr Elaine Ingham to find out how you can get your plant roots go down 4 feet and more within 3 – 4 months using compost.

If you have been told that you need fertilisers because your soil is lacking nutrients to be able to grow plants, It’s not the only way, have you thought of improving the soil?  The root growth shown in this video is achieved not by adding more and more fertilisers but by improving your soil. Using compost to build a balanced soil ecosystem is a smart cost effective, long term option.  With healthy soils you don’t need any of these fertilisers inputs, so save your hard earned money and instead focus on building soil health using a quality compost to achieve root growth and let the soil ecosystem do all the work.

If you are a farmer you will most likely have been shown a laboratory soil test results, showing  “this or that” is missing in your soil and the only option recommend to you is to apply expensive chemical fertilizers which contain that “required” nutrients to “top up” your soil.  What they say seems to make sense,  but chemicals like nitrogen are only one small part of a healthy, living soil.  You already most likely know that chemical solutions are like expensive band aids that fix the problem now, but fade just as quickly and in the long run leaving you with more problems, like having to apply more and more of these chemicals each year and the problems keeps getting worst.

Watch this video with Dr Elaine Ingham, as she talks about how quality soil teems with a multitude of organisms, which provide all the necessary food for healthy plants to grow free from disease, pests and infertility. These interconnected interactions and feeding relationships (quite literally “who eats who”) help determine the types of nutrients present in soil, its depth and pH, and even the types of plants which can grow.



CT Compost Turners


The fastest way to generate quality compost is via our CT Series Compost Turner/Windrow Turner has a unique “semi circle” double skinned, tunnel design, offering maximum strength and our patented drum and paddle design that efficiently breaks up and mixes your compost ingredients while providing maximum aeration and product blending. Find Out More