FYI, eco-aware shoppers! The Biological Farmers Association’s (BFA) soil scientist Owen Gwilliam says problems associated with desertification, over-cultivation and soil degradation are less likely to grow under organic systems, new reasons to buy organic.
Several certified organic and bio-dynamic farmers in Australia have taken internationally acclaimed steps in decreasing the damaging effects of erosion and other land degradation outcomes, primarily through effective management of water reserves.
Ron Watkins, certified organic grower from Payneham Vale in Western Australia, has been recognised twice by the United Nations for his role in best practice environmental management.
He says water management in Australia is connected to everything from soil salinity levels to washed away topsoil.
“Land degradation is not just one issue – it’s part of an interrelated, interdependent environmental system with water management at its core”.
Ron says most effective use of water occurs where it falls. Under an organic system he has focused on enhancing natural water drainage and storage systems, using wildlife corridors and tree belts for land shelter.
Surface water control and subsequent land condition has improved.
“We rarely have run-off events now, where we initially saw 10% of rain drained away taking top soil with it, further along the creek. We’ve also cut down water logging to 3% of prior levels, and have land suitable for high-diversity production. We grow everything from cattle to vegetables and olives”.
Tony Coote, certified organic and bio-dynamic farmer from Mulloon Creek Natural Farms in NSW, agrees land re-hydration is dominant in the Australian desertification issue.
His property is pioneering the first national Landcare demonstration of Peter Andrews’ Natural Sequence Farming techniques. Centred on better management of water flows and riverbank reserves, the work is being monitored by an independent international hydrology reference panel.
“Australia has been farmed for the past century using European drainage systems that are un-suited to the Australian ecosystem.
Using natural sequence farming (which adheres to organic principles) we have collected a chain of ponds of stored and flowing water which resembles the original natural flow of water in an Australian landscape”.
He says the methods have seen the farm retain water reserves in the middle of severe drought.
Encourage you to “buy organic’?