2485658243_3c97eda78c One of the best sources of up to date information that is available to farmers is in the form of Field Days and Workshops. These are usually organised by the local Dept of Primary Industries office, or the Catchment Management Authority or Landcare office, or similar organisation. Interested attendees gather, view the talk and interact with the presenter, often with some pretty lively discussion! The other part of these events that make them so worthwhile is the interaction with other farmers and attendees.

Such was the case a few weeks back when I headed down to the Manning Entertainment Centre at Taree, to a seminar organised by Manning Valley Landcare led by a very effervescent lady, Carolyn Ditchfield.

It was clear from the outset that Carolyn was passionate about her topic, knew her stuff, and presented what can often be a dry topic in a way that was both enjoyable and inspiring. Here was a lady who loved to get her hands dirty!

Soil management in sustainable farming enterprises is the core of
our operation – one of our maxims ‘feed the soil, not the plant’ says
it all – and given that our bio-dynamic principles here at Near River
take this one step further, engaging with what Carolyn had to say was

The day was based around Understanding Soil Tests, and topics covered included a conventional approach, Gary Zimmer’s Biological Approach and Hugh Lovell’s Biodynamic Approach. Albrecht’s ideal mineral balance was listed, along with ideal ratios and Mulders Chart was then pondered over.

A trained Agricultural Scientist, Carol has spent much time with Graeme Sait at NutriTech Solutions, and now finds herself running her own company, From The Soil Up.

website states that it’s "dedicated to the open dissemination of
knowledge and theories for working with nature, literally From The Soil
Up – from below the ground through to our bodies and beyond! A wide
range of information derived from scientific, commercial, anecdotal and
live discussions are pulled together and summarised using a good dose
of logical reasoning and common sense."

Aside from the plethora
of information and links contained on Carolyn’s website, each week she
produces a lengthy tome by way of a newsletter
that covers all matter of things related to sustainable agriculture,
the biology of soils, and the impacts on our health as humans. There’s
a paragraph or just a sentence on a recent topic with a link to more
detailed information.

Excerpts from recent newsletters include
the serious issue of soil carbon and the part agriculture can play in
the emissions trading scheme;

The Quiet Soil Carbon Revolution

Christine Jones has found a supportive audience for her soil carbon
building ideas at the Senate Committee Inquiry into Climate Change. By
putting forward the data and results from farms across Australia,
she is proving that soil carbon has so so much to offer farmers and
global climate change. In the process, faults in the scientific
modelling that has tended to block this area of discovery to date have
been exposed. She may have just tipped the scales towards a
fully-fledged soil carbon revolution….Professor Ross Garnaut is now
publicly saying that soil carbon is a must in an emissions trading scheme

This months (July issue) of the Australian Farm Journal
(now available in newsagencies) has quite a few articles on soil
carbon. For example, see Editor’s View, p.3, letter from Michael Kiely
on sequestration credits for soils on p.4 and Christine’s article on
the liquid carbon pathway on p.15. Unfortunately the article on p.18
resurrects old data from research stations based on seriously outdated
farming practices. The dust and diesel photo that accompanies that
article says it all compared with photos of sowing into thousands of
hectares of beautiful grassland on p.13. 

In addition, there are now calls for the Federal Government to send a strong signal
on "carbon farming" ensuring Australia’s agricultural sector can plan
towards the economic benefits of improved soil management, particularly
as last week the need for a Soil Taskforce was identified, following
the Agricultural Alliance on Climate Change (ACCC) Soil Summit in

to the interesting issue of non-oil powered cars; 

Air Powered Cars

India’s largest automaker is set to start producing the world’s first commercial air-powered vehicle.
It uses compressed air, as opposed to the gas-and-oxygen explosions of
internal-combustion models, to push its engine’s pistons and can hit 68
mph with a range of 125 miles. It may even make it to the American market soon.

As you can tell, I’m a fan. If you like the look of what you’ve been reading, hop on over to From The Soil Up

image credit visionshare

  1. Thanks Val D, we weren’t aware Qantas had a carbon offset scheme.
    Perhaps they should tell the world about it and gain some positive publicity.
    And thanks also for the warning about greenwashing – we’re very clear about that topic.

  2. 1. Beware of green washing.
    2. Having said that Virgin is undoubtably pro green.
    3. To be fair on Qantas they do have a carbon offset program. The cost is simply factored into the ticket price, so your not aware of it.

  3. Hello Jansy, I get that the cost of organic food can seem as an impediment to eating nutritious food, particularly when your on a budget with a young family.
    Organic foods are priced the way they are for a number of reasons, the primary one being that additional costs are incurred in their production, usually labour, as chemicals cannot be used for weed and pest control.
    As the price of oil and oil-based chemicals continues to increase, ‘conventional produced chemical’ foods will rise in price, making organic foods a more viable alternative economically.
    Until then, I suggest you find and use your local organic farmers markets, which in Australia can be found at http://www.organicfoodmarkets.com.au/Organic-Food-Markets.aspx
    Thanks for your comment and I look forward to seeing you again

  4. Hi Andrew
    Just reading the blog. The cost of eating organic is a real hard one.
    We try to eat organic whenever possible, especially with our fruit & veg. We are happy to travel further for it & I know the more people that buy it the more mainstream it will become & hopefully the cheaper it will become. But for us to eat organically it costs more than double. We are even happier to buy less and more selectively & more frequently, minimising the rotting veg in the fridge scenario. But some weeks its just too expensive. For example a bag of oranges(non organic) is $3.99 or a bag of organic oranges is $9.50.
    We want to the best for the health of our family & the environment but find ourselves caught between balancing the budget of the day to day and trying to live in a way where there will still be an environment for our children’s families.
    How do we make it work?

Near River Produce - Real food direct from our farm located on the NSW Mid North Coast