Episode 35: Green Farming Future & Trees Talk to Each Other

This is the World Organic News Podcast for the week ending 3rd of October 2016.

Jon Moore reporting!

We begin this week with a post from the UK National Trust:  New Report Points To A Positive Future For Green Farming. 

Quote

New markets worth millions per year could help to support farming methods that reduce flooding, provide clean water and restore wildlife, for the benefit of all.

End Quote

In effect the report highlights the need to feed the soil. Reduced flooding, clean water and restored wildlife all come from a healthy soil. Soil that is never bare. Healthy soil holds more water, mitigates floods and provides the grounding, pun intended, for good tree growth. To do this requires both a paradigm shift and its accompanying price signals.

To quote Patrick Begg, Rural Enterprises Director at the UK National Trust.:

“Farmers should be paid fairly for producing great food in a way that supports the long term health of our farmland. The Natural Infrastructure Scheme is about creating a market for services from farming that today go unrewarded – reducing flood risks, improving water quality and creating homes for wildlife, while at the same time opening up new revenue opportunities for farmers.”                     

End Quote.

This leads inevitably to penalising, maybe through taxation, those who use systems which destroy soils. I looking at you, chemical, fossil fuel based systems pushed by Monsanto and Bayer. 

The doomsday scenarios they paint if farmers dare to walk away from them are shown to be mere bluster in a post from GreenStiched: Africa’s Top Cotton Grower Sees Good Crop After Monsanto Ban.

Not only have the cotton farmers of Burkina Faso dumped the poorly paying, on international markets, Monsanto short fibre BtCotton, their government is discussing compensation from Monsanto for the price difference between the short and long fibre production. Most production is still chemically based but removing the BtCotton is a good first step for this cotton dependant nation.

For those with an internet connection, the time and the inclination, the blog from Cayuta Sun Farm informs us of a Cornell Online Permaculture course starting October 24. This looks like a great course! You receive the info online, put it into practice where you live. Hands on and distance education at the same time.

Now to return to a pet subject of mine: Mycelium!

The blog ESP Adelaide, that’s ESP as in Eastern Suburbs Permaculture, produced a post: Can Trees communicate with each other? I hope by now we all know the answer to that one. Yes, yes they can and yes they do. In this post there’s a great video from Dr Suzanne Simard on her work from the last thirty years. Really, really worth a watch! 

elizabethterp’s Blog follows this theme with a post:Mycelium Miracle Workers. This post points out the importance of the fungal communities and our dependence upon them. A thoughtful piece and I highly recommend you give it a read.

To quote but one paragraph:

We learn that some forms of oyster mushroom can neutralize soils made toxic with Roundup and other poisonous pesticides that have leached through our soil to infect plants they are designed to protect. When we eat the plants or medications made with plant extracts, we are in fact consuming poisons that make us susceptible to disease.

End quote.

The soil is, of course, what sustains most of us. I know there are small populations of humans who survive on seafood but for most of us, it’s the soil! Not surprisingly this the point the blog Soils Matter, Get the Scoop! Is making in their post:  In what way is the soil dynamic, rather than a lifeless, static body?

Another quote will help:

… [Soils] are actually complex systems that support a suite of physical, chemical, and biological activities.

The processes that occur within a particular soil system are dependent upon what the soil is made of. So, soils within different environments will likely have their own unique sets of activities. Desert and tropical soils, for example, do not harbor all the same reactions.

End quote.

Soils are both a creation of their environment and creators of that environment. We are looking at complex, interdependent relationships between, soil, atmosphere, bedrock, plants, animals and mycelia. We are only just glimpsing into the wonders of this complexity. We alter it too quickly without understanding. It would appear, and let’s hope this is the case, the systems are, more or less, self correcting. They operate within given limits with feedback loops driving them to their own points of equilibrium. Yet we can move these balance points. North Africa, once the grain basket of the Roman Empire, is now a semi-arid desert. Given our deeper knowledge of soils, their self sustaining yet fragile systems, surely we should be doing more to protect what is left and to rehabilitate what has been damaged?

I think the blog posts discussed today, not only support this argument, they provide hope for the future. Change is happening, in a thousand ways in a thousand different places. From window boxes to rangelands, in the face of the continual assaults by those who would deny the life below our feet, the repair is underway .

And that brings us to the end of this week’s podcast.

If you’ve liked what you heard, please tell everyone you know any way you can! I’d also really appreciate a review on iTunes. This helps others to find us. Thanks in advance!

Any suggestions, feedback or criticisms of the podcast or blog are most welcome. email me at podcast@worldorganicnews.com.

Thank you for listening and I’ll be back in a week.

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