This is the World Organic News for the week ending 11th of May 2020.
Jon Moore reporting!
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
As a bit of a follow on from last week when I recommended the resources at NCAT ATTRA which are now free to download, link in these show notes too, I listened to their podcast this week. I listen to most of theirs unless the episode revolves around US Tax law or something equally not relevant to me.
This episode entitled: Glyphosate Contamination was amazingly detailed while being specific to certain producers. Two things leapt out as I listened. A little background: The episode began discussing how some Montana organic durum wheat growers had their crops rejected in Italy for having more than 10mparts per million of glyphosate. That such a small fraction can be tested for is impressive. It also ensures the quality of organic wheat in Italy, at least.
So these growers sought help and the scientists went to work. After eliminating everything that wasn’t the cause, they were left with the only thing that could be. I hope you’re sitting down for this,I was. The source of the glyphosate was…. The rain. Let that sink in. The rain. It turned out this was the case in only two counties of Montana but it also meant farmers lost their organic certification.
I’d urge you to listen to the entire episode, there’s much more in there. The way the rain was tracked down as the source and so on.
The other point to come from this podcast was on the nature of glyphosate and its effect upon animals. As you may recall from previous episodes of this podcast, Monsanto’s argument that RoundUp was safe, the active ingredient in RoundUp is the chemical glyphosate, was that it only worked on the shikimate pathways in plants. Animals don’t have this physiological pathway, ipso facto, animals couldn’t be affected by the chemical.
Now one of the four participants in the ATTRA podcast pointed out glyphosate has antibiotic properties. This has the effect of killing off, or the very least, damaging the gut microbiome. The gut microbiome appears to be connected to the immune system so the possibility, at the very least, exists for glyphosate to be detrimental to animal health which of course includes our species of bipedal ape.
The point this particular academic made was: the effect of glyphosate upon the microbiome was to mimic wheat intolerance. This means, in reality, individuals suffering from wheat intolerance. Given the marketing and exponential growth in the sales and use of glyphosate, especially after it came off patent, during the last twenty to thirty years, it is not surprising we have seen a rise in wheat intolerance during the same period.
Apparently it only takes four weeks or thereabouts to clear the body of glyphosate with careful food selection. The evidence seems to be that the apparent wheat intolerance leaves with the glyphosate. Now I’d just like to point out that I’m not a medical practitioner and I am NOT diagnosing nor prescribing, I am reporting. Equally, I am not suggesting Coeliacs disease is caused by glyphosate, clearly it has a genetic origin. What I am saying is that we all need to be wary of what we eat and that any niggling points of upset should be discussed with a qualified medical practitioner.
As I said there was lots more in the ATTRA podcast and I recommend I listen.
Now to the no-dig surprise. From The No-Till Market Garden Podcast: Gabe Brown – Brown’s Ranch comes a tale of regenerative agriculture spread over 5000 acres. That’s 2000 hectares, in the new money. Anyway this property is run by four people and produces beef, lamb, turkeys, chooks, eggs and cereals. The cereals are all grown using the no-till method. Gabe is a wonderful guest. Full of wit and wisdom. He suggests we all use the climate where we are to our advantage.
The example he cites relates to cover crops. One of the difficulties with cover crops in a no-till context is to achieve a full kill of this intermediate crop so it doesn’t interfere with the next one in the rotation. Gabe farms in North Dakota. This part of the world is known for its brutal winters and snow on the ground. So Gabe plants his cover crop with the full expectation that the winters will achieve this kill for him. On the odd occasion it doesn’t, he adjusts his rotation and feeds off the cover crop to his stock. It’s all about being adaptive to what’s in front of him rather than forcing the plan onto the conditions. He certainly sounded a fairly stress free individual so I’m guessing this adaptability has kept him sane. Working with Nature rather than attempting to force Nature to his desired outcome.
This insight would have been enough to justify listening but wait, there’s more. He’s actually run some tests and had food analysed for nutrient density. So listen carefully, this is remarkable.
He has tested no-till cereals against chemically produced cereals and against conventional, that is, plough driven, organic cereals. The chemical and the organic cereals returned about the same nutrient levels. The organic no-till cereals returned more nutrient density and a more complex nutrient profile.
This he put down to the biological diversity of the no-till soil. Soil that hadn’t seen the plough in over thirty years.
This data is remarkable and yet inspiring. Confirming the benefits of working with 3 billion years of evolution rather than finding a “better” way. And while Gabe farms across 2000 hectares, we can practice no-till or no-dig wherever we are. Imagine a world where all vegetables are produced this way, imagine a world where all cereals are produced this way and meat from regeneratively grazed animals of all sorts completes the diet. Imagine a baseline of health we could build for not just ourselves but the entire biosphere.
So as I’ve mentioned for the past few episodes, there’s a link to a Udemy course in the show notes entitled “Growing a No-Dig Garden” if you’d like some more formal assistance in your gardening. You can also send people to Episode 207 where I discuss growing a quick response garden to get yours happening swiftly.
Remember in this unusual time, if we put in the ground work now, we can all:
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back next week.
Or copy and paste this link:
SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE TOPICS
ATTRA – Sustainable Agriculture: Glyphosate Contamination https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/attra-sustainable-agriculture/id1208569802?i=1000473797618
The No-Till Market Garden Podcast: Gabe Brown – Brown’s Ranch