Regen farming – a heartening story

The ABC’s Australian Story, 28 Sept 2020, produced a very compelling program about Charlie Massy – a fifth generation sheep farmer who turned his back on over-grazing and chemicals to find a natural way to look after the land and counteract the effects of drought. Definitely worth a look.

It’s a very encouraging sign that farming can be more sustainable in the face of global warming.

Massy is talking around the country about the benefits of regenerative farming and says interest is building and it’s not just about the land – his own health and wellbeing improved enormously too.

There is an understandable resistance on the part of some farmers and there are potential losers in the fertiliser sector. Massy says he reduced his costs by 90% when he stopped buying chemicals so if this practice takes off we can expect a backlash.

I think there’s kickback from different scientists and parts of the industry because there’s a huge amount of financial interest in maintaining the status quo,

And regenerative agriculture poses a real threat to that economic system in that mode of production.

Tanya Massy, daughter of Charlie Massy

And on the matter of fertilisers, Chief research scientist, Pep Canadell Executive Director, Global Carbon Project, CSIRO et. al. says fertiliser use has grown exponentially around the world and this is releasing significant greenhouse emissions:

This advancement kick-started the Green Revolution, one of the greatest and fastest human revolutions of our time. Crop yields across the world have increased many times over due to the use of nitrogen fertilisers and other improved farming practices.

But when soil is exposed to abundant nitrogen in its active form (as in fertilizer), microbial reactions take place that release N₂O emissions. The unrestricted use in nitrogen fertilisers, therefore, created a huge uptick in emissions. 

N₂O is the third-most-important greenhouse gas after carbon dioxide and methane. As well as trapping heat, it depletes ozone in the stratosphere, contributing to the ozone hole. Once released into the atmosphere, N₂O remains active for more than 100 years.

The Conversation, 19 Nov 2019 Nitrogen fertilisers are incredibly efficient, but they make climate change a lot worse

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