This is an article that is available on www.biodynamics.net.au
Farmers are the solution©
There is growing concern and attention being directed to climate change and the environment. It is the farmers who can solve our environment problems - everyone else can slow the process of creating carbon emissions but only farmers can reverse them.
1. CARBON: "We require only 10% of our productive, degraded lands to absorb the estimated 6.1 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide emissions to make a carbon negative world possible in our lifetime" www.amazingcarbon.com/SummariesHORSHAM.pdf Note: biological carbon sequestration is very different to carbon GEOsequestration, a physical process.
2. SOIL: Australia loses 6.97 tonnes of soil per hectare per year across the entire continent. www.deh.gov.au/soe/2001/land/land01-5html Humus holds the soil as well as increasing drought tolerance
3. WATER: In a river catchment basin such as the River Murray (1,057,000 square Kilometres) a 2% increase in humus would equate to an increase in water –holding capacity of 33,824 gigalitres of water (which is approximately equivalent to one Olympic pool per 10 hectares).
4. ECONOMY: Australia imports approximately $4 billion in agricultural chemicals. This is approximately $30,000 per farmer. If we can free ourselves from this requirement we have more resources: $4 billion - to spend in local communities - annually.
Politicians can encourage and scientists inform, only the farmers can achieve outcomes on the scale required, effective immediately.
Biodynamic Agriculture Australia Ltd is a not-for-profit, national, membership association with over 1,200 members. We educate, train and support farmers in the adoption of carbon efficient agriculture and the implementation of sustainable methods that are environmentally regenerative, simple and low cost to apply as well as providing high quality food and fibre.
The loss of water holding ability in Australian soils has initiated a devastating cycle of terrestrial and marine degradation ranging from the visible effects of soil erosion to the slower and more insidious effects of dryland salinity, acidity and marine sedimentation.
The British Royal Society has estimated potential carbon dioxide sequestration on the worlds 2.5 billion acres of agricultural soils at 6.1 to 10.1 billion U.S. tons per year for the next 50 years.
Physical Processes of Humus Formation
Kay (1997) describes the formation of stable humus in the soil as a physical process by which humus material and inorganic matter interact; protecting the organic carbon from further microbial attack and in the process, sequestering organic carbon.
Water-Holding Capacity Increase for One Hectare for Varying Levels of Humus Increase
Using the guideline ratio, which has been established for additional water retention the following gains can be expected.
Humus Increase Increased Volume of Water Retained /ha (to 30 cm)
(OC% x 4,000,000kg x 4)
0.5% 80,000 litres (average 2004 level)
1 % 160,000 litres
2 % 320,000 litres
3 % 480,000 litres
4 % 640,000 litres
5 % 800,000 litres (pre-settlement level)
The Clarence Valley catchment has an area of 2,300,000 ha, a 0.5% increase in humus (organic carbon) would therefore store an additional 184,000,000,000 litres of water following an adequate rainfall event.
“Irrigated farming takes two-thirds of all water abstracted from rivers and underground reserves. This is largely because of the green revolution. The ‘high yielding’ plant varieties that have kept the world fed as populations doubled over the past 30 years turn out to be high-yielding only when measured against land area. Measured against water use, they are generally worse than the crops they replaced. They produce less crop per drop.
The world grows twice as much food as it did a generation ago, but abstracts three times as much water to do it.”
Guardian Weekly; Supplement Every Last Drop, p 2, September 29 – October 5 2006 Vol 175/No 15/Printed in Sydney. The article is based on When the Rivers Run Dry, by Fred Pearce, published by Eden Project Books.
See also DVD: How to Save the World available $30 incl.GST p&p at www.biodynamics.net.au