Thursday, June 04, 2009

The St Paul of Soil Biology...

IS Maarten Stapper's story is a parable about Agricultural Science in Australia?.He is not the Messiah. IS he the St Paul of Biological Farming - his "Road To Damascus" was the road to Canberra. The Romans persecuting the earliest Christians - the CSIRO? The dominant paradigm (religion) Industrial/Dominate Nature vs Biological/Mimic Nature?
Does the aggressive response to the natural farming movement reflect the realisation by those in extension mentoring roles that they are losing contact with the farmers. (Both Scott Macalman and Peter Cook admit to hiding somewhere on their farms when the district agronomist came visiting.)
The GRDC is investing in its agronomist network in the CENTRAL WEST OF NSW, Home of Carbon Farming and Conservation Tillage. It has also announced a major investment in soil biology. Was the "Cost Of Humus" saga really The Chaser Team? Could be.... It was hinted at, at a major sustainability conference in Canberra recently when a very senior government manager, after sitting through presentations by Adrian Lawrie, Christine Jones, and Bob Wilson, said, of soil biology, "This is something we are yet to learn about."

A compassionate analysis: soil biology neglected in a country where the soil science is dominated by physicists and chemists. The industrial solution losing its effectiveness. The "Moron" response - put more on - also loses potency. Farmers demand for soil biology noted by NSWDPI 2004 (Tamworth event overbooked), Cotton CRC 2005 (survey)... meanwhile Arden Anderson and Elaine Ingham derided. Meanwhile Governments close agencies, slash staff (LWA, DPI, DAFF etc.). Carbon farming derided - "Mythbusters" seminars try to win back hearts and minds of landholders while justifying denying farmers access to carbon credits to offset against their emissions...

More farmers want to understand, don't want to be told. LawrieCo is forming support groups who learn from each other. "Microscope Clubs" are springing up - farmers search for and discuss the microbes they discover in their soil.

Grassroots farmers should not be ignored. They may not have PhDs, but they work in their laboratory (farm) everyday.

No comments: