The soil microbiome, the key to land productivity and climate resilience
The Brisbane Valley Kilcoy Landcare has invited three expert guests to their most recent meeting. The topic was soil health and the importance of collaboration between scientists, industry leaders, Councils and producers. They each shared crucial information relating to loss of soil productivity and how we can remediate this pressing issue using sustainable and cost-effective practices.
Dr. Sandra Tuszynska, an agricultural scientist and soil microbiologist, who specialises in education about the role of root symbiotic fungi and the soil food web in crop production, explained that, ”Soils are the source of the air we breathe and the food we eat, supporting all terrestrial ecosystems. 70% of soils are degraded world-wide and alarmingly losing productivity due to our current soil management practices.
“However, there is a simple solution which lies in the restoration of the microscopic life within soils.”Dr. Sandra Tuszynska
The soil food web organisms create soil structure, retain and purify water, sequester atmospheric carbon and feed all plants, ensuring their immunity to pests and diseases. Beneficial bacteria, fungi, protozoa and nematodes naturally feed and protect plants, which is easily seen in productive ecosystems. As an agricultural scientist and a microbiologist, I know that the only way to feed the world and ensure its health, is to help growers restore damaged soil ecosystems. This simple biological solution is extremely economical and cost effective, eliminating the need for fertiliser and pesticides application, while significantly reducing water input. It is also sustainable, long-term and life promoting, ensuring full nutrition for humanity and our planet.”
Markus Kerkdijk, a soil food web lab technician shared his interesting career journey, “It started with trial and error attempts in growing my own organic food. Initially only one of my six broccoli seedlings survived and it tasted horrible! After years of research I use practices from Permaculture, Biodynamics and (Korean) Natural Farming. Using the 18 day Berkeley composting method, I managed to increase yields at the community garden where I volunteered, until all plants in one garden bed died after applying a batch of compost. This is when I found Dr. Elaine Ingham, and realised a microscope was going to be the answer. I am the first graduate, worldwide, to have completed her Certified Lab Program. The microscope, in combination with Dr. Elaine’s method of making Bio-Complete compost, compost extracts and teas, really is the key to be able to restore any type of soil, whilst significantly increasing yields, and pest, disease and drought resistance.”
Amanda Roughan, an agri business consultant, director of South East Country Vets, and a member of the South East Qld Regional Beef Research Committee, added that, “The Australian red meat industry has set a target to be carbon neutral by 2030. One way to achieve carbon neutrality is by improving soil carbon which creates sustainable grazing land that supports the long-term productivity and profitability of the industry. As producers, by looking at our current system, and investigating things we can do, to improve our soil organic matter, we will be able to capture and hold more rain and carbon by growing more grass. A great place to start is to better understand our soil, and more importantly the biology that helps contribute to building soil carbon and organic matter. Sandra and Markus have both been trained by Dr. Elaine Ingham who is widely recognised as the world’s foremost soil biologist after discovering the soil food web four decades ago. With their help, we look forward to better understanding the role of the soil biome, and how we can use some practical and economical methods to lift the organic matter in our soils.”
Somerset Region Councillors Cr. Bob Whalley, also present at the meeting, said that “It is refreshing and exciting to see we have this calibre of knowledge and expertise within our region, as a Somerset Councillor I would like to help the broader community have access to this knowledge for the betterment of the region.”
“As Treasurer of the Brisbane Valley Kilcoy Landcare Group and Councillor for our beautiful region, I look forward to working with such knowledgeable and caring professionals, and to disseminate relevant information to interested residents.”Cr.Cheryl Gaedtke
Reg Pease, president of Brisbane Valley Kilcoy Landcare stated that ”Our mission for the Somerset region is to showcase how restoring soil microbiology and biodiversity, can support growers to reduce their production costs while increasing yields. This will be achieved through an on-farm trial which aims to cultivate beneficial soil microbes to naturally feed and defend crops, pastures and cover crops, while rebuilding the much needed soil organic matter.”
Contact us for more information about the trial via our contact form, to speak to one of the soil biologists, phone 0459 228 575.
Article submitted by Brisbane Valley Kilcoy Landcare and printed in The Somerset Newspaper October 7, 2020 (refer to page 7)