Episode 233. The Change Underground Movement

This is the World Organic News for the week ending 28th of  September 2020.

Jon Moore reporting!

Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!

The Change Underground Movement indeed! 

Over the past month or so I’ve been going through a kind of life realignment. World Organic News and I have been so intertwined since I started the blog back in 2014. It’s almost a part of me, and I hope it’s been a useful part of my listeners’ and readers’ lives too.

The thing is “Organic” covers a multitude of things. That and my up close look at a world renowned 100 acre organic farm was very disillusioning. I heard a podcast some months ago where the guest was promoting another certification. The gist of it was this: Organic certification lets buyers know the producer left stuff out of their production methods. These things are important. Artificial fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and so on do not belong in the food system. They certainly don’t belong in the soil. In fact, the organic ideal is now so corrupted in the US that’s now possible to receive organic certification for hydroponic systems. That’s right, you can be “organic” without soil. 

Don’t get me wrong, the Organic Movement was needed. A counterpoint to the Green Revolution and its over hybridised seeds, irrigation, artificial fertilisers and all those “cides”. We also needed the organic movement to remember the “how” of older methods, the smaller farmer, the family farmer, the integrated communities, the sophisticated use of the commons. All these things are important. 

We are now at a point where we know that simply removing the artificial parts of industrial farming will not be enough in the current climate. The 10,000 years of African/European/Asian agricultural practice as expressed in the organic movement and taken to extremes in the industrial system, the plough and plough again system does not assist with the sequestration of carbon. Carbon, it turns out, is the key to food production. All life on this little blue planet is carbon based. Turning carbon based solids, people, animals, mycillicia and plants into a gas, CO2 disrupts the self correcting cycles evolved on this planet.

The work of Dr Christine Jones on light farming which puts things in a different way to the article I wrote, Fractional Farming, and the new research I’ve read whilst studying for a Diploma in Sustainable Living at the University of Tasmania all point to a simple step we all need to make. Well maybe not all of us but say 10% of us. The life underground is where we need to make the change. 

Applying the ideas mentioned above, as we discussed back in episodes 217 and 218, in the form of chaos gardening. Let’s recall these things are only chaotic from a plant in straight lines with enough space for tractor wheels and only one crop at a time point of view. A standard native pasture would look like a chaos garden if the species were edible by humans. It’s all about perspective.

Given that we now know regenerative farming/gardening restores soil carbon and that industrial processes both release carbon through tillage and through the production of inputs, fertilise, “cides” etc. is there a number we can rely on in all this? Turns out there is: The number 4. 4 per 1000 is an organisation that’s run the numbers. If we add 0.4% of carbon to the soil, year on year we will remove all the excess carbon added since 1750. Small steps that self accumulate into bigger ones. Now there will be a limit to how much carbon we can stuff into soil. The good thing is once we reach that limit, the ecosystem of the soil simply creates more soil. 

The Bureau of Meteorology report for the next three months here in Australia is a little concerning. No forecast of the fire conditions we had last summer or that of the US north west, the Siberians and the Amazonians are dealing with now but a continuation of the warming. A la Nina and a negative Indian Ocean dipole point to above average rainfall on much of the mainland. Keep an eye out for reports of flooding on the news in the next three months. However for our part of the world in North West Tasmania, below average rainfall, just, and warmer night time and day time temperatures. That means more evaporation and in effect, less rainfall, or at least soil moisture. We will see.

Back to that 10% figure I mentioned earlier. A Bill Mollison quote:


The greatest change we need to make is from consumption to production, even if on a small scale, in our own gardens. If only 10% of us do this, there is enough for everyone. 

End Quote

So my vision is this: train 10% of suburbia to grow in a no-dig regenerative way and we can change the world. 0.4% carbon sequestration to start with, rapidly increasing as the system grows more soil and thereby sequesters more carbon to grow better, healthier food through better, healthier soil. If we start small, we can change much once we demonstrate the ease of no-dig gardening. We can feed the world, we can save the world for humanity and all of the biosphere. We are, after all, in this together. 

So over the next little while this podcast will change its name to The Change Underground! The blog will follow. I’m reliably informed this is technically known as a rebranding. The podcast will remain on this feed and the archived episodes will be all there. Nothing will change other than the artwork, the name and the continued focus on the soil! If you have any thoughts or suggestions please email me: jon@worldorganicnews.com

Join me in fixing the major issue of our time. It really is this simple. We just have to do it. 

We just need to: Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!

Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back next week.




Growing a No-Dig Garden on Udemy


Or copy and paste this link:



World Organic News

email: jon@worldorganicnews.com


Dr Christine Jones ~ Amazing Carbon



Fractional Farming



Diploma in Sustainable Living at the University of Tasmania



episodes 217 and 218


Bureau of Meteorology



Bill Mollison



4 per 1000


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