A Voice from afar.

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duane
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A Voice from afar.

Postby duane » Mon Nov 24, 2008 4:36 pm

This is an email I received today from **Professor Haikai Tane and he tells and paints a frightening picture of what is happening in Chinese agriculture today. The same things are/have happened here and elsewhere.

When will humans ever learn???



I have just returned from two months in China researching watershed farming systems in both traditional natural farming areas and in modern agricultural zones. Nowadays, there is considerable debate in China about the damage being caused by the introduction of western agricultural systems of farming to China. Contamination of water, soils and food is only one of them.

Even more serious is the damage agricultural methods of farming are causing to the prime food production areas producing rice and wheat. These are the staple foods of 1.4 billion Chinese.

After only 20 years of agricultural farming methods being introduced to China, highly productive rice paddies are failing - mainly due to the deleterious impacts of agrochemicals killing the soils and aquatic biota necessary to keep wetland soils aerobic and alive. Agrochemical fertilizer and pesticides in wetlands results in anaerobic decompostion - producing acid sulfate soil conditions - causing root rust, declining productivity and elimination of biota necessary for viable paddy soils.

In the drier wheat growing areas of the north, repeated applications of agrochemicals have reduced the soil biota so much, that many soils are no longer capable of digesting the stubble or recycling organic wastes through composting. Soils are degrading and dying under the onslaught of agrochemical toxins. Millions of tonnes of crop residues once part of the fertility cycle are now burnt by farmers each year - causing huge air pollution and environmental health problems..

Although western agriculture has only a short history in China (about 30 years) the resulting damage to soils and water systems is already plainly evident. Traditional Chinese terraquaculture systems - farming water flowing through the landscape - are poorly understand by agricultural scientists visiting China, yet they marvel at the productivity of these ecological farming systems. Alarmingly, expert interventions by Agricultural Scientists are resulting in a loss of livelihoods and a lowering of total land production. Though they claim success in improving the yields of a single crop - it only comes at the expense of other important crops and sustainable farm productivity.

This situation is a salutory lesson in practical and applied ecology. When one part of an ecosystem is maximised, it is at the expense of other parts of the ecosystem. It looks like we have another classic example of Marshall McLuhan's injunction

"specialists are people who never make small mistakes
while heading towards the grand fallacy"

When will agricultural specialists learn that maximising crop yields reduces total farm productivity - it seems agricultural scientists have yet to learn this simple ecological rule. Ironically, agricultural scientist continue to offend by perpetuating their mistake worldwide. They have a lot to answer for ....

warm regards
Haikai
________________
Professor Haikai Tane
Director Watershed Systems
PO Box 108 Twizel Aotearoa NZ 7944

This email is placed here with the kind permission of Professor Haikai Tane**.

duane
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Postby duane » Tue Nov 25, 2008 3:26 pm

I have recently received a copy of the Australian Goverments policy discussion paper titled "Managing Australia's Soils" prepared by Andrew Campbell for the National Committee on Soil and Terrain.

I note a number of past paradigms still being put forword but the thing that captured my interest was this paragraph on p.8 under the heading Envisaging sustainable soil management. This is what it says and I quote " at present, a range of approaches to land and soil management, each with its passionate advocates, compete for attention and support in Australia, including organic, biodynamic and biological farming, holistic resource management, time controlled grazing, pasture cropping, natural sequence farming and keyline farming. More mainstream practices such as conservation farming, raised beds, fixed beds, minimum tillage, no till farming and precision agriculture are also in the mix. All these approaches claimed to improve soil structure and fertility, reduce soil erosion and compaction and increase your carbon and water holding capacity.
Landholders could be forgiven for feeling confused in the face of sometimes competing claims and a fragmented, haphazard extension effort". Unquote.

It is clear from this bureaucratic speak that agencies clearly don't recognise the positive attributes all of the above make to soils. The comment about fragmented and haphazard expansion efforts clearly alludes to the evidence that the bureaucracy does not consider any of the above worthy of merit. In fact, it is their claim that whilst these small groups are kept isolated and apart they cannot be included in any mainstream thinking of modern agriculture. It is the divide and conquer mentality.

So now we have it in writing. All of the above are a rabble with nothing to contribute to the management of our soils.

We see it continually in the efforts of bureaucracy to sit in the past paradigms where ongoing degradation and erosion of our soils galleys and rivers continues at a pace. In the recent announcement of the open grand funding the caring folk country there was $1 million or more given to the old paradigms of willow removal. If the bureaucracy was really seeking a way forward to sustain both our soils and our agriculture this would be one of the first things that should be recognised as being a past paradigms with no real benefits to the environment except a negative downturn in habitat, bank erosion and loss of biodiversity.

I would like to see all of the above groups or 'tribes' join forces to form an army of such magnitude that Government could no longer ignore them. They could become the Coalition of the Ecocentric.

Recently, Barack Obama, used the power of the Internet to enlist support from social networking groups to gain the office of President in the USA.

I want to be able to gain access to these social networking groups to raise the failures of our Governments both past and present as regards to their ongoing ignorance in the face of overwhelming informtion that their policies are having a negative effect on the environment.

Can anyone out there make suggstions as to how we could best develop this idea? I would love to hear from you.

Adrian
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Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:40 pm
Location: Northern Victoria Shepparton Area

Postby Adrian » Tue Nov 25, 2008 6:50 pm

Duane as i'm part of the new age younger farmers, gen X or Y all depending when you were born. I found a group on Facebook which alot and i mean alot of younger people use in this day and age, The group is called "Peter Andrews is a bloody legend"
Once i found this group and joined i went along and sent and invite to all my concerned farming country friends to join also.
I have found out through different ways that a Vlog or video message is the best way for people to take in the info they have been given. eg. 20% of what you read you take in at first, 50% of what you hear you take in first, but with video info people take in upto 85%. :shock:
Maybe this would be the way for the younger Generation or even older to go about with the way they would like to let others now of there point of view.
I have seen all of Peters Youtube videos and they were the info to inspired me to join NSF. :D
Always keep an open mind

ColinJEly
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Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:50 am
Location: melbourne

Postby ColinJEly » Wed Nov 26, 2008 4:36 pm

Q. How do you eat an Elephant?

A. One mouthful at a time!

But maybe we should all just give up and go elsewhere. I have just finished reading 'Firestorm' about the Canberra bushfires. Talk about the (in)competence of the Australian Public Sector! :cry: No wonder we can't get anything done in this country. Things were under the control up there by the 'watermelons' No prescribed burning had been carried out for 30 years. The undergrowth and dead material under the trees was as tall as a man. Blind Freddy could tell it was a nightmare waiting to happen.

Well I guess all we can do is keep on plugging away :shock:

duane
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Postby duane » Wed Nov 26, 2008 6:52 pm

Col

Peter and I were invited down by the ACT Government to look over the damage and make recommendations to the 100 year plan.

This fire started well outside the ACT. It was captured on film at its starting point by a team from one of the ACT's universities. The fire was SO benign that you could have put it out with your boot.
It was not put out but left to its own devices and in the subsequent days, the weather conditions changed and the fire spread. Then the decisions were made by Koperberg et al to do the standard RFB option-when 'called to a fire in the kitchen start a backburn in the loungeroom'. More and more backburning was started, adding more fuel and heat to the already burning inferno. Like any open fire, if you put more lit logs into the fire the greater is the flame.

This was mismanagement at an operational level of the greatest incompetency. It was all shown on the ABC on 'Four Corner' I think it was some 6-12 months ago.

Adrian
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:40 pm
Location: Northern Victoria Shepparton Area

Postby Adrian » Wed Nov 26, 2008 10:51 pm

Duane have you or Peter seen the media about the Barmah Red Gum Forest. Farmers have had cattle in the bush for over 100 years and now the beaucats have said that they stay out of the bush for good. After reading Peters' books and seeing that the Barmah Forest is the ponds edge, downsteam from the river. I have come to this conculsion about the forest:
(1) The cattle stay in the forest!
(2) Flooding of the forest in a slow manner at any time of the year is better than none.
(3) Thinning of Red Gum suckers in dense areas done for stronger healthier quicker growth.
(4) Permits for firewood collection allowed.
(5) Stricked logging practise, goverment owned and run.
(6) Free camping in the forest.

My reasons are for to benifit the forest firstly, and to keep the people allowed free access into the forest. As the local people eyes are better than a few untrained in the area to keep the goverment bodies controling the forest. With the goverment bodies, Landcare groups, forestcare groups, Green groups, Vistors, local farmers, Forest cattle graziers, and the local and outside the area community, thier main concerns are for the forest its self.
Any vistors to the bush during certain times of flooding be closed to the public. To maintain the roads and woodcutter tracks throughout the bush.
Work is needed throughout the bush for slow flooding as the banks of the Murray have eroided to the point where a high river height is needed to flood or soak the bush.
I can remember my Par telling me stories about his sleeper cutting days, of how there was a work force of thinning teams going through the bush. After logging has past in that area the team would thin out the suckers so that one for fire risk and also to let some of the suckers to grow into trees instead of being over crowed and then die.
Without the consevation game hunters alowed into the bush for feral pigs, rabbits, cats and foxes. These feral animals will have a safe haven to live and destroy the biodiversty in the bush while also moving out into the farm lands outside the bush fences through the day and night.
With the introduced grasses inside the bush which does grow to a fire risk after having the flooding period, this is where a control number of cattle can roam throughout the forest to graze, with areas fenced so that in areas of less water they can be protected. :D
Always keep an open mind

duane
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Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:44 pm
Location: Central Coast, NSW
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Postby duane » Thu Nov 27, 2008 7:53 am

This is a specific case on the MDBS which exemplifies what Peter has been saying all along.

All of these problems are seen in isolation, not as a holistic system. Recently, the ABC ran a story on the Barmah Wetlands, which after a fresh, had an invasion of a so-called 'weed', a native plant known 'Tall Native Rush'. The CMA and the local indigenous people were burning the rush to get rid of the 'weed'. I contacted the ecologist who appeared on the ABC programme and said to him " Do you not realise that this is the first natural process of a repair mechanism occuring here, after the wetlands had been in drought for what was years. They are attempting to recover the system. to build C and put fertility back into the wetlands and then the river. And you are burning the very thing that can restore the system??"

His reply was pathetic and showed his clear lack of understanding " but its invasive and therefore a weed". That's exactly what pioneering plants do! Invade in large numbers QUICKLY, to RESTORE the sysyem.

Its just another case of our ignorance and lack of understanding of the natural components and functions in this unique landscape and of mans stupidity in thinking he knows all and can fix all.

ColinJEly
Posts: 167
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:50 am
Location: melbourne

Postby ColinJEly » Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:22 am

One of the high points as an ex-employee of DNRE in Victoria was seeing a documentary made by a voluntary group after the Ash Wednesday fires around Airey's Inlet. They went out and documented what plant species had been destroyed in the fire and what came back over a period of some 10 years. They showed the natural sequence of plant renewal and succession. From memory there was only one plant at one site that did not naturally return.

Saw a repeat last night of 'Two Men in a Tinnie' As a layman it would seem to me on the face of what was on that Cubbie Station is taking more than their fair share of water. Said that their storage was bigger than Sydney Harbour! Surely they should be made to release say 25% back to the river or not take any more for a certain period of time

Just so we don't finish on too depressive a note here is a trivia question for everyone :)
Q. What is written on the end of a 'Furphy' water cart and in which language is it written?

**********************************************
Whisky is for drinkin', but water is worth fightin' over!
**********************************************

ColinJEly
Posts: 167
Joined: Fri Feb 15, 2008 1:50 am
Location: melbourne

Postby ColinJEly » Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:04 pm

G'day All
Dissapointed that no-one had a go at the question!
Here's the answer
Old man Furphy was a very devout methodist so he had this written on the ends of his water carts
'Whisky and Wine are works of the devil, but Water is the gift of the Lord'

He knew that if he wrote it in English everyone would denounce him as a wowser and wouldn't buy his water carts, so he had it written in Pitman Shorthand!

duane
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Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:44 pm
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Postby duane » Fri Jan 09, 2009 12:28 pm

Hi Col

I had read it years ago and was aware of it, when we were still buying things from the foundary in the 80's. but could not remember it exactly but when I saw your earlier post with the caption "Whisky is for drinkin', but water is worth fightin' over" I thought that ran a bell.

Thanks for the piece of Australiana trivia...and Happy 2009.

Adrian
Posts: 56
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2008 12:40 pm
Location: Northern Victoria Shepparton Area

Postby Adrian » Fri Jan 09, 2009 5:25 pm

Hi Col,
I had no idea that it had that on there, and i only live half an hour from the foundry. :(
But i do know that it also states " Good better best, we will never rest, till our good is better, and our better best" :D
Always keep an open mind


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