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Inoculate with Mycorrhizae - Nutri-Life Platform™

Monday, December 19, 2016

Inoculate with Mycorrhizae – Nutri-Life Platform ™

Mycorrhizal fungi have co-evolved with plants and soils for over 460 million years.  The bottom line is that mycorrhizal relationship is as common to the roots of plants as chloroplasts are to the leaves of plants.  Plants use leaves to fulfill their carbon needs and mycorrhizal fungi to attain nutrients and water.

Why is this important to farmers?  Cropping systems could be more sustainable with management of mycorrhizal fungi for increased yields and less reliance on agrochemicals.

We will explore methods and management that will restore, maintain and enhance mycorrhizal activity on the farm.

Mycorrhizal fungi are keystone species anchoring a truly healthy soil that contains a prodigious abundance of biological activity.  One heaping tablespoon of healthy soil may contain billions of soil organisms.  Just two grams can contain numbers of organisms equal to the earth’s entire human population.

This plethora of soil organisms equates to billions of miniature bags of fertility, each storing nutrients in its body tissue while slowly converting them into plant-available forms.

Just a review, ‘myco’ means ‘fungus’ and rhizae’ means root and so the word Mycorrhizae means fungus- roots.  In these mutually beneficial partnerships, the root of the host plant provides a convenient substrate for the fungus, and also supplies food in the form of simple carbohydrates.  In exchange for this free ‘room and board’ the mycorrhizal fungus provides several benefits to the host plant.  AM fungi form a beneficial symbiosis with the plant roots. In return for organic carbon from the plant, the AM fungi scavenge phosphorus from much more soil than is explored by the plants’ roots, and deliver it to the roots.

 Mycorrhizal (the plural is mycorrhazae) is an anatomical structure that results from a symbiotic association between soil fungi and plant roots.  In exchange for a ‘home’ the fungus provides numerous benefits to the host plant.

  1. Mycorrhizal fungi produce an extensive network of microscopic hyphal threads that extend into the surrounds soil or growing medium.  The group or mycorrhizal fungi that are most important to agriculture are called arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMYCORRHIZAL FUNGI or sometimes endo-mycorrhizal fungi)  These fungi e vast majority of agricultural plants with the exception of canola, the cabbage family, spinach and sugar beets.  AMYCORRHIZAL FUNGI also form Mycorrhizae with a wide variety of wild and cultivated plants including most grasses, tropical plants and most fruit and nut trees.


If your soils have been repeatedly tilled or left fallowed or the inclusion of break crops, that do  not form AM symbioses, or if the root colonization analysis of your crop or pasture plants indicates low levels or absence of mycorrhizal colonization, you will find re-establishing and building effective populations can be relatively easy and cost effective.

Tillage also reduces the ability of the fungi to colonise roots and transfer phosphorus to the plants, because the fungal hyphae in soil are damaged by the soil disturbance. 

The fastest, most effective way to restore depleted mycorrhizal populations in croplands or pastures is to apply a Platform™ to the roots or seeds.

Nutri-Life Platform™ is a new inoculum from Nutri-Tech Solutions that combines AM and Trichoderma together in one breakthrough blend.  Applied to the seed at 50 gms per hectare it allows for the AM to colonise the roots as well as Trichoderma is a predatory fungi that assists with reducing pathogenic diseases in the soil.

Without                                   With Mycorrihizal 
Mycorrhizal Fungi                   Fungi
 “B” with Seed

Benefits are maximized when the mycorrhizal fungi colonises the roots as early in the plant’s life as possible.

In the perfect world, this is immediately after the seed has germinated and begun to sprout.  The active components in the inoculums are mycorrhizal fungi propagules in the form of spores and colonized root fragments.  When one of these colonizing units touches or comes into very close proximity of living root tissue, in this case the sprouted seed, they are activated by minute amounts of specialised root exudates and begin the mycorrhizal colonization process.

Within a brief period ranging from a few days to a few weeks, the newly colonised root cells begin to send hyphal threads from the young plant’s roots.  The hyphae then begin absorbing moisture and nutrients from the surrounding soil while warding off root disease pathogens via production of antagonistic exudates.   
These processes results in greatly improved chances for survival compared to non-mycorrhizal plants.  Almost immediately, the colonised sprout develops special “tools” to secure adequate moisture, nutrients and defense against fungal root diseases.  The hyphae quickly grow and spread through-out the surrounding soil, penetrating the tiny spaces between soil particles.  As they encounter more roots, these also become colonised.  Then, each of these roots produce more hyphae which, in turn colonise even more roots until a massive hyphal network has pervaded the expanded rhizosphere.

Clearly, inoculating seeds with Mycorrhizae is an effective way to go.  The benefits are the greatest and the cost is minimal, since treating a seed usually takes less inoculums than is required to colonise the larger root system or a more developed plant.

Seed treatment is best accomplished using either powdered or liquid mycorrhizal inoculants applied so that the inoculums adhere directly to the surface of the seed.  Powdered inoculants work well with hairy-textured seeds such as wheat, barley, oats, or many grass seeds.  Seed adhesion is important not only to insure inoculums proximity to the germinating seed, but because excess powder falling off the seeds can accumulate in the seed box, possibly leading to mechanical problems with the auger and drill operation of the planting equipment.

Liquid inoculums are often preferred for corn, beans, Lucerne and similar smooth-surfaced seeds because it will adhere well. 

Application to the seed can be achieved by lightly spraying liquid inoculums on the seed as it passes on the conveyor to the seed box on the planter. 

Often liquid inoculums can be applied to seed by mixing it with other seed treatments such as legume inoculants on beams, alfalfa and vetch –

YLAD Living Soils mix their proven seed treatment Seed Start with the Platform to create a complete seed dressing.


Liquid mycorrhizal inoculums can be sprayed in-furrow along or with other liquids.  While this later technique does not inoculate the seed immediately upon germination, the young plants become colonised as their roots enter the treated bands.  This latter method often dovetails will with fertiliser or other planting applications.


Plants may also be treated after planting, including established crops and pastures.  This method of inoculating is quite common with vegetables.

Treating established crops is particularly worthwhile with perennial crops such as Lucerne in which a one-time inoculation will continue to deliver benefits over several years.  The amount of inoculant used to treat such a crop is greater (and therefore also the cost) but the advantages apply to multiple harvests.

Forage pastures are another excellent example whereby either a one-time or a few incremental applications can afford very long term benefits.


When applying a mycorrhizal inoculant at planting, it is important to avoid high levels of available phosphorus in the soil proximate to the target seed or roots.  Readily available soil phosphorus in excess of approximately 70 ppm can prevent the mycorrhizal spores in an inoculant from breaking dormancy when in near contact with a live root.  Since one of the primary natural functions of the mycorrhizal relationship is to access and mobilize phosphorus, the spores have been ‘programmed’ to delay activation in an abundant phosphorus environment.  The propagules are not harmed and do not expire under such circumstances, however they remain dormant and colonization does not commence until the ambient phosphorus levels diminish.  Insoluble forms of phosphorus that naturally occur in the soil do not contribute to this phenomenon.  Likewise phosphorus from organic or natural fertilisers such as soft rock phosphate, humates, fish fertilisers or kelp is not problematic.  It is the realty available phosphorus, derived primarily from soluble (liquid) or fast-release fertilisers that contribute to this situation. The solution is to avoid high rates of P starter fertilisers.  Remember that one of the primary reasons for high P in starter fertilisers is to overcompensate for the inefficiency of non-mycorrhizal roots.  Once crop plants become colonised with mycorrhizal fungi, these high P levels are no longer required.  Phosphorus fertillisers applied anytime 10 – 20 days after inoculation and colonization has occurred need not be restricted. 

NOTE:   however, due to the greatly improved phosphorus uptake efficiency imparted by the mycorrhizal association, amounts of P fertilisers needs for good crop performance may be noticeably reduced.

Trials in Eyre Peninsula soils have shown that wheat inoculated with AM fungi was highly colonised and that the fungi delivered up to 80% of the plant phosphorus.


How do you tell if an application of mycorrhizal inoculant is working?

  1. When trialing any change in program, be sure to leave a part of your crop untreated as a control.
  2. Often the effects of mycorrhizal colonization will be obvious in early growth.  The plants may be taller, have more foliage and larger root systems.  If water is scarce, you may note less moisture stress compared to controls.
  3. Sometimes the visual difference between the treated and control crop is less obvious but the yields are significantly better in the treated crops..  And occasionally, there will be no discernable difference at all.
  4. In this last circumstance, it may be that the benefits lie entirely in savings via reduced inputs to get the same yields as without treatment.  Capitalising on this may take some experimenting over several seasons.


Once you have re-established Mycorrhizae on your crops, there’s not much that will remove them from the living roots, but there are a lot of things that will help them colonise quicker, more thoroughly and increase the density of the hyphal network.  What do compost, compost teas, no-till methods (with reduced chemical usage), humates, seaweed extracts and fish fertilisers have in common?  All of them, in diverse and various ways, increase the microbial activity in the soils, including the mycorrhizal fungi which then spread from root to root faster and further enhance the nutrient uptake efficiency of the colonised plants.’

Scientific research confirms that fallow, frequent tilling, erosion, compaction and high levels of soil phosphorus availability delay, reduce or eliminate the soils AM populations. 

Advancement in our understanding of mycorrhizal fungi and their requirements has led to the production of concentrated, high quality mycorrhizal inoculants such as Platform™.

The most important factor for re-integrating Mycorrhizae into the cropland environment is to place mycorrhizal propagules near seed or near the root systems of the target plants.

Ref:  Dr Mike Amaranthus

Whatever course you decide upon,

There is always someone to tell you

that you are wrong

There are always difficulties arising

which tempt you to believe

that your critics are right.

To map a course of action and follow it

to an end requires courage.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 – 1882)

The Five Biggest Threats to Agriculture Today

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Five biggest threats to farming

Farming is not the industry it once was. It’s getting tougher to make a profit and be competitive in the current market. Here we look at the five biggest threats of farming in Australia today.

Profitability is a threat in every industry but looking at the statistics in farming it’s simply startling. The average farm owes over $460,000 ($1.4 million for cattlemen) and has lost money 7 out of the last 22 years. Average yields have plummeted by 80%. The costs of farming continue to rise, since 1970 fertiliser prices have skyrocketed a jaw-dropping 1,560%.

Threat number two, conventional farming practices are ruining soil health. Since Australia’s European settlement 80% of farmed soils’ carbon has been lost. The use of Nitrogen fertiliser has decreased in efficiency by 66% since 1970 and has caused lower nutrient uptake in crops and pastures.

Three - weeds, pests and disease are out of control in Australia. Farmers spend an approximate $3 billion on weed, pest, and soil problems every year. Pesticides are just not working. There are now 388 weeds and 577 insects that are resistant to pesticides.

Animal health is being compromised. Poor nutrition and ineffective drenches are just some of the challenges facing farmers. It is staggering to know that parasite resistance to drenches occurs on 90% of farms. Research has found that calving rates for pastured cows with poor nutrition are 90% lower than cows with optimum nutrition.

Lastly, exposure to traditional pesticides is causing high rates of disease for farmers and their families. For farmers there is a 40.8% higher incidence of cardiovascular disease. Farmers and their families are seeing 79.5% higher incidence for leukemia and lymphoma. Male farmers have a 136.7% higher incidence of prostate cancer.

Click to read more

The Future is in Liquid Fertilisers

Friday, September 28, 2012
An article in Stock and Land Newspaper:

YLAD Living Soils have just launched the new TE250 Tea Extraction Unit in Australia.   YLAD, a solely owned Australian family business is well known for assisting farmers become self reliant on producing their own fertiliser requirements, in real terms this has to be the future for farmers who are looking to become more environmentally aware.

A three year trial run by an independent company has shown that the liquid humus compost tea, Bio TX500, produced from the big-brother of the TE250 the TE500 was not only more economical but also more sustainable then the control of 80kg MAP/ha. The smaller unit is going to allow more farmers purchase the TE250 for on farm extracting of humus compost tea.

Trial results showed that the liquid injection treatment (T2), which had only 100L Bio TX500 applied at sowing, returned the second highest gross margin/ha in 2007, and the highest gross margin in 2008 and 2009. The 2009 Bio TX treatment returned $830/ha compared to $798/ha for the controls of 80kg MAP. (gross profit – fertiliser costs).  

It must be remembered that the three years these trials were run were drought conditions when some people would say that microbial inoculums would not perform well.  The use of microbial inoculums as foliar, fertigation or liquid inject is growing in Australia and YLAD have the knowledge to assist you set up both on farm extracting as well as on-farm composting.

The BioTX500 can also be used very successfully as a Foliar fertiliser which is the practice of spraying a nutrient solution directly on the leaves of plants in order to boost their vigour so that they grow and produce better. Potentially this can improve the delivery of hard to access nutrients by factors ranging from ten-fold to more than a hundred-fold. 

Cereal grains respond brilliantly if the inputs, techniques, timing and circumstances coincide to boost the growth of the crop in its early to mid vegetative stages.

We the rising price of fertilisers it is important that farmers have other options, liquid fertility is one of these options which can be produced on farm very economically.

The Six Challenges of Dependence on Soluble Fertilisers to provide Plant Nutrition and why Humus Provides the Solution

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Six Challenges of Dependence on Soluble Fertilisers to provide Plant Nutrition and why Humus Provides the Solution

Unfortunately almost all growers and Agricultural advisors around the world have a flawed view of plant feeding.   YLAD Living Soils have researched over many years how plants take up nutrients and water and understand how to grow a healthier plant more resistant to fungal attack, frosting, droughts, disease and pests.

Worldwide research reveals that:

  • When all plant nutrients are soluble and available within soil water, which is almost every ‘bought’ fertiliser, the plant takes in nutrients through its water roots.  This happens 24 hours a day whether the sun is shining or not and whether the plant is making new substances or not.                                                                                                                        The natural reaction to this ‘free’ nutrient by the plant is to try and dilute it down to a normal level by taking in yet more water… hang on now, it gets even more nutrients so  it takes in more water,  so on and so on.  The cell structure becomes bigger and bigger like a balloon until it can expand no more.                                                                                                                     The roots of these particular plants will be very bare and white with very few microbes feeding off the plant exudates.  I call these types of roots ‘naked’.  When a plant has ‘naked’ roots it has no means of ‘feeding’ itself and must rely on you to provide ‘food’.  This is a very costly exercise as the cost of fossil fuels increase so does the cost of man-made fertilisers.
  • What we have now is one big watery plant lacking essential nutrients to build plant sugars.   This plant actually does not transpire as freely as our naturally fed plants as it wants to hang onto its water to keep diluting the nutrient salts.
  • New research from Illinois University has been able to measure the amount of a particular nutrient taken up by the plant in the soil water and there is very little surprise to know that nitrogen is taken up 2.7 times more than calcium or phosphorus. It is this oversupply of nitrogen that adds more water to this already ‘big watery plant’.
  • Products such as bio-solids and raw manures also act as a soluble nitrogen source producing plants that are watery with incomplete protein chains more susceptible to frosting. When this occurs we have lower quality protein, less and less developed flavours and a big watery bitter plant being force fed! 
  • However the worst is yet to come, this big watery plant is attractive to fungal growth.  In nature, insects and pests are there to ‘remove’ the unhealthy problems from the system, they are the clean-up crew, however in this system they are not there to ‘mop’ up the pests or disease.
  • Soluble fertiliser application begins the destruction of soil biodiversity by diminishing the role of nitrogen-fixing bacteria and amplifying the role of everything that feeds on nitrogen. These feeders then speed up the decomposition of organic matter and humus. As organic matter decreases, the physical structure of soil changes. With less pore space and less of their sponge-like qualities, soils are less efficient at storing water and air. Water leaches through soils, draining away nutrients that no longer have an effective substrate on which to cling. With less available oxygen the growth of soil microbiology slows, and the intricate ecosystem of biological exchanges breaks down.
  • With the nutrient level of our plants and food dropping it is now time to address how we can reduce or ‘hang on to’ soil nutrients and allow the plant to take up its ‘food’  in the balanced ratios, producing more nutrient dense food and healthier crops.

Firstly, beneficial bacteria help to retain and provide water through multiple mechanisms.  The cellular content of a prokaryotic bacterial cells is anywhere from 60-80% water.  That means the majority of what is being added to soil when inoculating with beneficial bacteria is water.  Also, the bacterial biomass provides a giant buffering and retention system for the water that becomes available when needed.  When water is available, the bacteria divide and incorporate it into their cell bodies.  When conditions become dry, the bacteria can re-release this water this water to make it available to the plant.

Secondly, bacteria store and retain water in biofilms.  Beneficial biofilms are polysaccharides (sugar) secreted by beneficial bacteria that they use to retain nutrients and water.  Polysaccharides can bind many times their weight in water.  This is water retained in the soil that would otherwise wash through or evaporate.  The water is concentrated in the rhizosphere around the root zones, where the microbes are concentrated.  The plants do not create this emergency water reserve, they provide the roots and the microorganisms store the water.

Thirdly, beneficial microbes produce water as a by-product of their normal functions for such metabolic activities such as bacterial photosynthesis and products of cycling nitrogen.

When you breathe onto a mirror you will see the water that your body expels as a by-product of its metabolism.  Having billions of bacteria constantly ‘breathing’ in the soil is analogous to this process, producing water in the soil.

Fourthly, the decomposition of organic matter releases water, and this process is driven by microbes in the soil

These findings and conclusions of the researchers can be tested by comparing roots in soils inoculated with beneficial bacteria to roots in a sterile soil.

What is the Solution?

Since populations of free-living soil microorganisms are strongly carbon limited Wardle (1992) rhizosphere carbon input from plant roots via rhizodeposition is the driving force for the well-documented ‘rhizosphere effect’, which stimulates microbial growth and activity in close proximity to plant roots (Hiltner 1904, Semenov et al 1999). 

A plant fed with colloidal Humus, which is a very special substance that holds the normally soluble plant nutrients from leaching or locking up, the correct ratio of minerals are taken up by the plant.  We need an active rhizosphere (area surrounding the roots) with high numbers of beneficial microorganisms obtaining nutrients held in the humus via the feeder roots. 

Given the chance in a natural situation a plant will only feed when the sun is telling it to do so and take up just enough ‘food’ to grow the plant. All nutrients are converted into plant material and high quality proteins, flavours, sugars and starches. 

For over ten years YLAD Living Soils have proven the above research to be true and can assist you with biological and humus programs to grow a healthier plant delivering higher quality.

Root exudates can also have protective functions against pathogens from where it is released into the rhizosphere in significant amounts. 

YLAD Humus Compost assists plant growth and microbial growth by the production of growth stimulating compounds encouraging root growth, making it easy for roots to travel through the soil and take up necessary nutrients, in the right balance at the right time. Roots are the digestive system of the tree and plant and a healthy root system determines the microbiology that lives around the roots, beneficial microbes will out-compete pathogens, meaning less disease issues.

YLAD Living Soils over their last 10 years in business have been promoting the essential balance of physical, chemical and microbiology with proven results, both independent and farmer trials. Soil microbiology ten years ago was rarely spoken about and no value placed on the huge role it plays in creating soil structure, nutrient cycling, plant health and disease suppression.

When a soil lacks microbiology and the ability to recycle and supply these nutrients to the plant, the plant then becomes very dependent on the farmer ‘feeding’ water-soluble N & P, which can lock-up, leach or evaporate.   When this oversupply of N & P occurs the microbiology cannot perform their role of fixing nitrogen (for free), solubilising phosphorus and staving off disease organisms.

Nitrogen seems to be a nutrient that farmers rely on most, believing that only when they supply large amounts of soluble N will they obtain high yields and quality.  Over the past 10 years this has proven incorrect showing that there are alternatives to achieving a similar or better results.  These alternatives not only supply short term gains but contribute to long term benefits such as improved soil structure, organic carbon increases and meeting environmental parameters.


Douglas, W. & Speed, S.R.- Florida - Soil Microorganisms and H2O – Microbes Create Emergency Water Reserve.  What takes place in the Root Zone of a Plant?

Petra Marshner – Nutrient Cycling in Terrestrial Eco-Systems

Rod Turner – The World’s Best Compost and Why

Living Soils Improve Wool Performance

Thursday, February 09, 2012
An excerpt from the Australia Wool Network Newsletter

AWN Network News thought it was time to revisit a couple we met four years ago.

Bill and Rhonda Daly run a mixed-farming operation on their property “Milgadara”, near Young in southern NSW. They run 5,000 Grogansworth-blood merino sheep, with that number maintained since our last visit. They also produce prime lambs, trade cattle and run a broad-acre farming operation.

On top of this they operate “YLAD Living Soils” from their property. The business is now in its seventh year of operation, going from strength-to-strength with a variety of new products. The focus of “YLAD Living Soils” is to provide a range of products and services that can restore the mineral and microbial balance in the soil. 

The natural products promote the activity of fungi and microbes in the soil, virtually eliminating the need for the use of artificial fertilisers, chemicals and pesticides. Rhonda Daly said the products created by “YLAD” are not only good for the “bottom line”, they are also good for the environment. “The word has spread because our business grew 100 per cent last year with clients spread across the length and breadth of the Australian mainland,” Mrs Daly said. 

New products including “Humified Compost”, “Compost Tea”, and the “Compost Turners”, which creates compost blends. These new products complement the blends and soil test kits the company has always produced and sold. 

Rhonda Daly said it all begins with the soil, no matter what enterprise you are in. The proof is in the pudding at “Milgadara”. “From a wool point-of-view, our records show an improvement in tensile strength and wool cuts since the adoption of biological products on our farm. We’ve had positive feedback from the wool trade regarding the “density” of our wool. This appears to be because of our improved pasture production, along with Grogansworth breeding/bloodline over the last 20 years,” Mrs Daly said.

The improvements have also flowed through to crop production on the Daly’s property. “Our performance is backed up by positive feedback from a growing band of satisfied clients,” she said. 

Bill and Rhonda regularly hold field days to discuss biological farming, often featuring guest speakers from around the world. They aim to hold an event in August. 

When we first featured “YLAD” in Network News, Bill and Rhonda offered to run workshops for smaller groups. That offer still stands for readers of Network News.

The Boorowa News - MPs learn lesson on sequestering carbon

Thursday, February 09, 2012
Greg Hunt the shadow minister for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage and Alby Schultz, Federal Members for Hume vited YLAD Living Soils and 'Milgadara' Model farm to develop their understanding of carbon sequestration through Humus Technology®.

Click below to download the whole story!
No media download found. 

The Role of Soil in our Environment

Thursday, February 09, 2012
Since man has inhabited the earth the soil has been the medium in which to grow and produce food for himself and his animals.

Soils vary in fertility from country to country and region to region and it is well documented that healthy, fertile soils produce the most nutrient dense foods leading to a healthy immune system and healthy animals with high productivity and reproduction.

Australia has one of the oldest soils on earth with inherent acidity problems and regions of low fertility with only very small areas being used to produce our foods.  It is absolutely imperative that we care for this small amount of productive soils we still have left.

If we are to continue to till these soils consideration must be given to the type of fertiliser inputs and the impact they have on the soil, both chemically, physically and biologically.  It takes all three of these components to have a healthy, fertile soil while prime consideration must be given to enhancing the biological component, an area that has been disregarded in favour of soluble fertilisers.

The over emphasis on the N, P, K, approach has raised these levels, regrettably to the detriment of our soil structure, (excess Nitrogen burning out our organic carbon) and at the expense of the quality of water in the river systems.   The soil has not been regarded as a living breathing system responsible for the recycling and storing of nutrients, but merely a medium in which to stand a plant and feed it soluble fertilisers.

Biological agriculture takes into consideration the overall mineral balance required to grow healthy plants as well as the role of soil biota in improving soil structure and reducing disease, weeds and pests.  If our past practices had been a solution to our low soil fertility we would not have the problems with our river systems, disease, insects and pests and weeds that we have today.

It is now time that a balanced approach is used as a management tool to address the problems rather then hide behind short term fixes that then compound into greater problems.

Fortunately there are total biological programs available to balance the soil with fertilisers that will not harm our environment but build soil fertility, and produce the highest quality food possible. Biological farming is based on sound scientific principles and works to create fertile soils, which in turn create strong and healthy plants, animals and humans.

It combines the best of conventional and organic farming with an emphasis on attaining naturally productive soils that display a high level of biological activity.

The main purpose is to maximise the activity of soil micro-organisms through the provision of good soil nutrition and structure, together with adequate supplies of energy, air and water.

It is an environmentally responsible farming method which is becoming increasingly accepted by farmers worldwide who want to ensure the long-term productivity of their land, while growing better crops and reaping the profits.

Biological agriculture provides a unique approach to sustainable and profitable agriculture production through the use of biological farming techniques.

Farmers become inspired to face the challenges of contemporary farm management and face the future confidently knowing they have the answers to soil fertility and long term sustainability.

A definition of soil fertility that is inclusive of environmentally responsible land use considers the three components of soil fertility:  biological, physical and chemical activity.

Skilful biological/organic farmers have learnt how to solve their underlying (nutritional) problems and thus have reduced or removed their need to use costly inputs, especially agro-chemicals; these often only assist farmers in suppressing recurring symptoms of a sick farming system (e.g. disease, weeds, pests)  

‘Whatever you see that needs to be corrected you start taking care of it ’ Jim Rohn.  This certainly takes into account Australian Soils.

Putting the Eco Back into Agriculture

Monday, September 26, 2011

With the most serious environmental issue currently before us, we as a society need to embrace change to ensure the future survival of agriculture, our planet and society.

Only when we recognise the limited nature of our planet’s resources will we be able to achieve a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions.

Agriculture has a huge role to play in assisting with lowering greenhouse gas emissions by adopting farming methods that combine ecology with economics.  Perpetual growth, not valuing natural resources and discounting the future are all keys to why our economy is not working for the environment.  Both economists and environmentalist need to work together to battle climate change effectively.

Re-localising fertiliser and food production is seen as a way of transforming agricultural systems to ensure the future of farmers and a way of been able to produce enough nutritional food to feed the growing world population.  Using local waste, producing local fertiliser to grow local food is a sustainable option that we have that will enhance our local economy and communities.

Industrial agricultural systems depend on fossil fuels and other non renewable resources such as mineral fertilisers for production.  These will be replaced with low input systems that rely on natural capital available to us within our soils and nature.

‘The food production and consumption systems most common today are harmful to the earth, to its ecosystems and to the peoples that inhabit it.’ says Wendell Berry, a farm poet in his book, Eating is an Agricultural Act’

It is now becoming known that the organic carbon levels in Australian soils has dropped from 8% to around 2% in the last 200 years with current farming practices.  Still today we lose 12.5 kg of soil through wind and erosion to grow 1 kg of wheat, equating to 250 grams of soil lost per slice of bread.

In Australia, we have approximately 60 years of top soil remaining if we don’t take full responsibility for increasing soil organic carbon levels from where they are today by using responsible practices such as rotational grazing, retaining stubbles and increasing soil organisms to glue the soil particles together to reduce wind erosion.

For every tonne of carbon lost from soil we add 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide gas to the atmosphere.  Organic carbon, particularly humus is central to successful soil health, underpinning the future of agriculture in Australia and illustrating to governments that agricultural soils have an enormous role to play in reducing green house gas emissions worldwide.
The level of public awareness pertaining to our environment has never been higher than the present time.  Everyone is witnessing the negative impact society is having on the Earth with global warming and the flow on effect to human health.  It is only through a heightened awareness of our practices can positive change occur, helping to reverse the damage already done.

We can all play a role in reducing our carbon footprint to ensure the survival of future generations.

“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
- Chief Seattle

Pioneering Clean Green Agriculture

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Carbon is a certainly the ‘hot’ topic at the moment with Julia Gillard recently announcing the outline for a proposed carbon tax for all Australians, creating a clean energy future.

I believe that each Australian needs to become more aware of reducing their carbon footprint in an effort to alleviate the ever increasing levels of CO2 emissions; however I am not convinced that a carbon tax is best way to achieve this goal.

From an agricultural perspective this is huge as soils are the largest terrestrial sink in which to sequester carbon and can have a huge impact on reducing carbon levels in the atmosphere.

All over the world conventional farming methods have reduced the amount of carbon stored in the soil.  It is estimated that the total amount of soil carbon lost to agriculture, is many times more than the amount of carbon emitted by industry as CO2, since the industrial revolution began. For every tonne of carbon lost from soil we add 3.67 tonnes of carbon dioxide gas to the atmosphere.

This means that soils have lost the ability to hold water and recycle nutrients rendering the soils lifeless. By adopting biological farming methods research has shown that our soils can sequester over 3 metric tonnes of CO2 –e per hectare, per year.

The Carbon Farming Initiative announced by the Government is promising funding, education, measurement techniques and incentives for farmers to change management and fertiliser practices to restore degraded land, as well as having the ability to earn substantial extra income, being paid for the carbon they store in the soil.  Farmers who take steps to reduce carbon pollution by creating credits for each tonne of carbon pollution stored or reduced will be paid a per tonne price.

Farmers moving to this ‘new form’ of agriculture will benefit in a variety of ways, from improved soil health, productivity and dollars made by carbon trading.  

Soils consist of three pools of carbon, with scientists proving that it is the humus pool that has been the most depleted.  This is where Humus compost, an active carbon, has a enormous possibility, dramatically improving the physical, chemical and biological aspects of the soil while building soil carbon levels.

Biological Farming and Humus Compost is a path for those who appreciate the great wisdom of traditions of the past, but feel a yearning for a new form of agriculture that is informed by a leading edge understanding of both the land and the environment that supports life.

The use of Humus Compost, which is organic matter digested and then transformed by soil microbes culminating into humus, has proven to fix carbon into the soils making it the ‘jewel’ in the future of clean green agriculture.

Now that there is a greater understanding of the role soils play in sequestering carbon, the face of agriculture is about to change. Both political parties are backing the soil carbon intuitive knowing it is the fastest, most efficient method to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere. I believe we are about to enter a period of agriculture and food production where we build soil health rather than destroy it.

Rhonda Daly of YLAD Living Soils on 02 6382 2165