Prosperous Farming in the International Year of Soils

September 18, 2015

Screen Shot 2015-09-18 at 11.33.42 AMA brains trust of soil health knowledge will explore the theme “Prosperous Farming in the International Year of Soils’’ at Henty Machinery Field Day’s Agri-Centre this year.

The Agri-Centre pavilion, located adjacent to the agronomy plots, was launched last year to showcase agribusiness technology, trends and knowledge.

The field days, now Australia’s biggest single agricultural event, will be held on September 22-24.

The 68th UN General Assembly declared 2015 as International Year of Soils to increase awareness and understanding of the importance of soil for food security and essential ecosystem functions.

To mark the occasion, the Agri-Centre’s program involves a line-up of noted industry soil health scientists, practitioners and advocates, imparting their knowledge and philosophies.

The program runs daily from 9.30am to 3pm.

Keynote speaker and host of ABC’s Gardening Australia, Costa Georgiadis, will outline his deep commitment to improving Australia’s ecological well being when he opens the program on Tuesday, September 22 at 9.30am.

Costa first developed a love of nature and the soil by digging in his grandfather’s market garden and aims to create social change through his wide television audience.

Agri-Centre spokesperson and agricultural academic Pennie Scott said soil represented a huge realm about which little was known.

“Soil is habitat to millions – possibly billions – of yet unknown and unnamed animal, vegetable and fungal life-forms playing a quiet role in providing nutrients for healthy plants which, in turn, feed humans and other animals,’’ Ms Scott said.

“It is possible to grow topsoil using regenerative agricultural practices, especially those incorporating animals.

“Integral to growing topsoil is establishing and maintaining 100 per cent living ground cover, 100 per cent of the time.

“Given time, nature will always revegate bare soils, frequently with the ‘weeds’ most despised by modern agriculture.’’

Ms Scott said living ground cover increased rain infiltration and plant debris.

“Soil – living, breathing, metabolising, nourishing soils provide the quality of life we take for granted,’’ she said.

“The news is hopeful as we can deliberately create topsoil simply by changing our attitudes and practices.

“In this, the International Year of Soils, learn more about the fascinating realm of soil and the importance of it in our lives.

“In tandem, evaluate how your behaviours and action have either a positive or negative effect.

“How do you literally see the earth in the life of your great, great grand-children. Your decisions are shaping their future so learn how to grow some soil today.’’

HMFD chairman Ross Edwards said the field days co-operative were now looking to farming beyond the horizon of the next 50 years.

“The Agri-Centre allows those interested in cutting edge technology to listen and ask questions of experts within their fields,’’ Mr Edwards said.

“We, at Henty, envisage major changes in agriculture in the coming decades and believe this centre will provide a better understanding of where agriculture and farming is headed.

“The challenge for Australian farmers for the next 50 years is farming smarter, not harder. This can raise production levels, improve input and efficiency, and provide flexibility to weather seasonal variations.’’