This is the World Organic News for the week ending the 2nd of September 2019.
Jon Moore reporting!
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
I still get surprised when it happens but sometimes I run out of podcasts to listen to myself. During this last week I went looking for some content and stumbled upon and old series that ran for 40 years on the BBC World Service. I thing called The Farming World. I flicked through the listings until I found something which peaked my interest. Agroforestry Success Stories. It contained the usual matter. Planting trees works. A mix of tree lines and cropping works, livestock under trees works. All fairly straightforward stuff. It was when I heard the presenter say: “As we approach the millennium…” that when my ears really pricked up. I hunted through the material available to discover this gem of an episode was from…. 1996. 23 years ago! Even then the results had been proven. Less water use, greater productivity, improved soil health and as we know now, much improved soil carbon.
Podcast footnote: Our block is a long rectangle running from SSW to NNE with a line of trees across the middle, west to east. Old thinking would have me scheming to find a way to remove these and let more sunlight into whole block and therefore more feed. And I must plead guilty to this thinking. However after thinking about the episode mentioned above, I wandered down to have a look. We are at the beginning of Spring after a fairly cool to cold winter with a dozen or so frosts and one light snowfall. Imagine my delight when I observed how much more feed there was under the tree line than away from it. In cross section, it was the perfect bell curve. This now has me scheming to drop more tree lines into the system. Probably a mix of fruit trees and legumes to provide feed and food. End podcast footnote.
My thought was the episode I’d just listened too was just a one off and continued listening. Around rolled one entitled: Why Cuban Agriculture Went Organic. This is something I’ve discussed in one of my first 30 odd episodes, of memory isn’t playing tricks. Quick summary: with the fall of the Soviets Cuba was suddenly not being supported from Moscow with subsidised oil, fertiliser and purchases of Cuba sugar. Overnight, almost literally, the country’s agriculture ground to a halt. A huge effort was put into growing food rather than sugar, people were heading towards famine. Most did go hungry from at least 18 months but they adjusted and using what was on hand, they went organic. Oxen replaced tractors, after retirees were pulled from nursing homes to explain how they were used. Every spare piece of land in the towns and the cities was converted to vegetable production. Pigs, poultry and rabbits were raised in the urban and peri urban areas. People’s health and weight recovered and the health benefits continued. Since that time Cuba has recovered economically and moved away from organic production. Still the point is, it can be done and we have this example from over 25 years ago. Maybe “peak oil”, remember that?, may not have the devastating effects predicted.
Some hours later, an episode, Mixing it up: a Biodiverse Harvest (1999), popped into my ears. A really exciting story about a “retired” ag scientist was setting up any number of biologically diverse cropping, stocking and tree planting experiments. There is a link in the show notes and I would highly recommend a listen, fascinating stuff.
To round off this nostalgia laden journey, a radio program here is Australia, the Science Show has been running for 44 years, every Saturday afternoon. Last week’s episode had a clip from the very first episode entitled: The first Science Show had a warning about fossil fuels – 44 years ago. It pretty much outlines the path from 1975 to our current situation through a continued use of fossil fuels. It is quite remarkable. Again I would urge you to have a listen, link in the show notes. The antiquity of this knowledge may surprise some of you listening. To be fair, the possibility of an unexpected nuclear war was probably a higher concern but the Cold War ended in 1991. The entirety of my daughter’s life and we are still pumping CO2 into the atmosphere.
Clearly we need to and have the knowledge to:
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
If you’d like to join the movement to recarbonise the soil or you know someone who would, our online conference: RegenEarth 2019: Living Soils ~ Backyard Regen would be a great place to start. Over 300 years of accumulated knowledge and experiences from our presenters over three night’s, covering everything from compost to seed saving to no-dig gardens all for just $67 AUD. There are links in the show notes. We’d love to see there in September from the 16th to the 18th.
Thank you for listening and I’ll be back next week.
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Agroforestry Success Stories (1996)
Why Cuban Agriculture Went Organic (1996)
Mixing it up: a Biodiverse Harvest (1999)
The first Science Show had a warning about fossil fuels – 44 years ago