Healthy soil the way to grow

A SOILS expert who wants Tweed farmers and gardeners to stop simply using fertilisers, and create healthier soils, will address a special Landcare workshop in Murwillumbah tomorrow.

Dr Maarten Stapper yesterday said the workshop, to be held at the Canvas and Kettle Room from 9.30am-2pm, would be for anyone using soil to grow plants.

He has worked extensively overseas, encouraging farmers to look after all the little living things in the dirt they cultivate.

“Current soil problems are the result of gross oversimplification of fertilisation and plant protection practices that use harsh fertilisers and chemicals while ignoring the delicate balance of carbon, microbes, trace minerals and nutrients in the soil,” he said.

Dr Stapper said he encouraged 'biological farming' which would help farmers to improve the profitability of their operations by harnessing the power of natural soil processes, creating healthy soils.

“A healthy soil produces better crops and pastures, requiring less fertilisers and agro-chemicals for similar productivity,” he said.

Plants would then develop resistance to insects and diseases and also become more tolerant of drought and frost.

“Biological farming can improve soil carbon 10 times faster and to higher levels than under current farming practices where nitrogen fertilisers and herbicides limit the carbon storage as humus,” he said.

“Higher soil carbon increases productivity and helps slowing climate change.”

Tweed Landcare organiser Claire Masters said soil degradation and adequate food production were widespread concerns.

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