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.

 

Dairy-Herd

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 soilfoodweb.com and on her classes and other work with Environment Celebration Institute at environmentcelebration.com.

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

 Soil Food Web