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Restoring soil carbon and landscape function will require us to change ourselves - David Marsh

Restoring soil carbon and landscape function will require us to change ourselves - David Marsh






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    Restoring soil carbon and landscape function will require us to change ourselves - David Marsh Restoring soil carbon and landscape function will require us to change ourselves - David Marsh Presentation Transcript

    • CCRSPI Conference 2011 SoilsRestoring Soil Carbon and Landscape Function will Require us to Change Ourselves David Marsh, Boorowa. NSW dmarsh1@bigpond.net.au
    • Looming Clashes• Increasing fuel costs and scarcity• Increasing input costs• Dwindling biodiversity• Rising human populations•Water issues• A more variable climate
    • High Intensity Agriculture is Heavily Dependent on Fossil Fuel Energy Imports
    • Capital in the LandscapeComplex Communities Require 33% of Absorbed Solar Energy to Maintain Structure and Diversity
    • The Simplified Agricultural Landscape Requires AnnualInputs of Purchased High Energy Products to Keep it in this Disturbed Early- Successional State
    • Humans have been Spectacularly Successful at Diverting the Product of Photosynthesis -this has brought many Benefits, but also has Consequences
    • Dry Season 1982-83My Decisions Caused This
    • Landscape Losing CarbonPlanned Grazing in Foreground 3-1-2008
    • 23 mm storm13 -2-2008
    • Holistic Management and Planned GrazingMaking decisions that are Socially, Economically and Environmentally sound
    • Getting Control of Time is Fundamental to good Grazing Management
    • Plant CommunitiesLike this Make Soila Carbon Sink
    • Soil with high SOC and 100% cover of living plants and litter, have high LFA• Higher infiltration rates, lower run-off• Larger mass and diversity of biota•Not susceptible to wind erosion•Lower surface evaporation•Warmer in Winter, cooler in Summer•Higher water holding capacity•Becoming dominated by diverse perennials• Stable productivity, resilient•Higher effective rainfall
    • 14 . 1 . 201146 days recovery 158 days recovery
    • 8 . 2. 201171 days recovery 25 days recovery
    • Community Dynamics49 plant species, 15 of them natives February 2008
    • Fungi can pull Phosphorus out of the soil bank and communicate it direct to plants They are an important agent in recycling plant material
    • Plants still Photosynthesising December 2008 Annual Communities stop Growing in Summer
    • Tree Cover has increased from 3% to 20%Nine years of low rainfall, but no loss of soil coverNo feeding of livestock at all
    • Soil carbon in a 7cm soil test, comparing the effects of planned grazing disturbance for ten yearsand no disturbance for 14 years in revegetation Vegetation type pH soil/water %Total Nitrogen % Organic Available Carbon Phosphorus 7 cm sample Colwell Grazed Pasture 5.4 0.34 3.22 55.1 At BD 1.2 this is 27t OC/ha CO2e =100t Grazed Pasture 5.9 0.24 2.76 26 At BD 1.2 this is 23.18 t OC/ha 85.7 t CO2e Ungrazed 5.3 0.17 1.86 13.8 Revegetation At BD 1.3 this is16.9 t OC/ha CO2e=62t Ungrazed 5.9 0.13 1.97 11.3 Revegetation At BD 1.3 this is 17.9 t OC /ha 66 t CO2e
    • Regenerative Farming The traditional approachPlanned grazing Set stockingPasture cropping Traditional fertilizingNo inorganic fertilizer Traditional croppingon pasture, some withcrop82.9% Native perennials 88.1% Exotic annualsHigh fungi and bacteria
    • Observations• We want to change everything, but not change ourselves•The unspoken assumption behind every proposed solution to the dilemmas that facehumanity, is that when the proposed solution is applied we can go on living as we do;but how we live is really the problem• Relying on GM, modification of rumen function and a bit of other tampering at theedges - is far too simplistic• The natural world has adapted over the long lapse of ages to an ever changingclimate; this is where we should be seeking answers• Collaborating with innovative farmers early in the development of research programswould be an investment worth making•Putting serious effort into learning how to practice agriculture without the relianceon fossil energy subsidies is very important right now
    • We all need to learn to love our landscapes