The Founder, Chairman and Patron of Future Directions International, Major General The Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Retd), sadly passed away in December of last year. One of his many legacies, that will continue to touch the lives of Australians, was his dedication to the regeneration of the landscape. To acknowledge his contribution FDI is today publishing a Feature Interview with General Jeffery in his role as National Advocate of Soil Health.
From 2012 to very shortly before his passing, General Jeffery strove to provide leadership and national strategic direction to the good work being done by soil scientists and landscape managers across Australia. He worked tirelessly to raise public awareness of the critical role soil plays in underpinning sustainable productivity and helping to meet global challenges, including food and water security and climate change.
FDI invites you to view the video From the Ground Up – Regenerative Agriculture, directed, produced, videoed and edited by filmmaker Amy Browne for Festival 21. Inspired by Charles Massy’s best-selling book “Call of the Reed Warbler”, Amy set out across the dry farming country of South East NSW to meet Charles and the other innovative farmers bringing new life to their land. Regenerative agriculture is one of the most promising wide-scale environmental solutions. This short documentary is a comprehensive journey through a variety of landscapes and regenerative farming techniques.
Rick Wilson Federal Member for O’Connor and Chairman of the House of Representative Standing Committee for Agriculture and Water Resources
Mr Rick Wilson is the Federal member for the electorate of O’Connor, an electorate that covers a large area of Western Australia. He is currently the Chairman of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Agriculture and Water Resources. He is also a member of the Parliamentary Friends of Soil. Recently, FDI took the opportunity to interview Rick about these organisations and Australian agriculture and water resources generally.
To slow climate change, humanity has two main options: reduce greenhouse gas emissions directly or find ways to remove them from the atmosphere. Storing carbon in soil is often touted as a promising way to offset greenhouse gas emissions. There is, however, a catch. This Paper offers a critique of this strategy and finds that to be effective, emissions technology in Australia should focus on improving energy efficiency in industry, the residential sector and transport, where big gains are to be made.
Until recently, carbon released into the atmosphere from wildfires was not considered a significant component of atmospheric greenhouse gas as it was assumed that over the climatic cycle this carbon would be returned to vegetative re-growth. In Australia this may well be the case. Globally, however, a growing body of evidence suggests that carbon produced by wildfires is making a significant contribution to the volume of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere where it contributes to climate change.
Agriculture sits at the nexus of some of the most pressing challenges facing the world today: climate change, food security and nutrition, water quality, biodiversity and livelihoods. The COVID-19 crisis is exacerbating pressures across the agriculture supply chain, revealing the fragility of the food system. It has shone light on core societal values of health and nutrition and highlighted the importance of essential food system workers. A transition toward regenerative practices could bring a huge win-win for farmers, food companies and the environment and a foundation for a truly future-fit agricultural system.
Soil scientist Declan McDonald has hosted a series of eight short videos articulating the key principles of Regenerative Agriculture. Topics covered include introducing regenerative agriculture, minimising soil disturbance, maximising crop diversity, keeping soil covered, maintaining living roots systems year-round, integrating livestock and trees, and how farmers can transition to regenerative agriculture.
In this, the third and final part of Jack Kittredge’s paper he firstly asks the question: what practices do we need to use to build and keep carbon in our soil? He then discusses, in detail, the soil management practices that will enhance and maintain soil carbon. He then describes the advantages of building organic matter in the soil in addition to of removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. To conclude the article, the author makes states that if we wish to survive, we have no alternative but to restore carbon to the soil and that it can be done through biology. It utilises a process that has worked for millions of years. Anyone who manages land can follow these simple principles and restore carbon to the soil while renewing our atmosphere agricultural land
In Part Two of his paper, Jack Kittredge discusses in detail the components of soil highlighting its complexity which is driven by the interrelatedness of these components and importance of the living components of soil, particularly the microbes. Part Two will include a description of the carbon cycle and introduces the topic of stable soil carbon which, the soil component critical to the successful sequestration of carbon from the atmosphere and the mitigation of greenhouse gas influenced weather extremes.
A great deal of discussion continues to focus on how to deal with greenhouse gas emissions and the resulting weather extremes. Many analysts believe we must stop burning fossil fuels to prevent further increases in atmospheric carbon and find ways to remove carbon already in the air. In this paper, that will be published in three parts, Jack Kittredge provides a carefully researched argument for returning the carbon to where it came from, the soil.