Jeffery a soil champion

25 Apr, 2014 02:00 AM
 Retired WA governor Michael Jeffery (left), talks about his passion for the soil with Jandakot manufacturer and inventor John Ryan, Ausplow, and New Norcia farmer Peter Nixon.
Soil, water and biodiversity need to be embraced as one...
Retired WA governor Michael Jeffery (left), talks about his passion for the soil with Jandakot manufacturer and inventor John Ryan, Ausplow, and New Norcia farmer Peter Nixon.

DEVELOPING gardens in every Australian school is a key aim of former WA Governor Major General Michael Jeffery.

And he is dead serious about achieving the goal as chairman of an environmental organisation called SoilsForLife and as the Prime Minister-appointed Soil Advocate of Australia.

General Jeffery was in WA this week in his dual roles to speak with agricultural industry representatives about the future plans of SoilsForLife and his objectives as Soil Advocate.

His first appointment this week was to see Ausplow DBS and deep tillage inventor and manufacturer John Ryan.

"It is good to see such cutting edge technology which is beneficial to sustaining soil health," he said.

"We must get the message out about how we need to care for our soils if we are to be a serious player in food production.

"And I think early education of our children will go a long way to helping our urban population better understand agriculture."

General Jeffery said when he retired as WA Governor he wanted to play a role in addressing global population increases and food production.

SoilsForLife is a good forum to facilitate positive and sustained change in how the Australian landscape is managed to ensure a thriving natural environment for the benefit of all Australians.

An initial focus has been to compile case studies of farmers throughout Australia.

"A report has been compiled of 19 initial case studies showcasing leading-practice farming across a range of regions and land-use types," General Jeffery said. "These farmers, land managers and others like them, should be seen as role models in landscape management and sustainable, profitable farming.

"SoilsForLife has set up an interactive website for farmers to relate with each other and share success stories of productive land management.

"We want to encourage this interaction and promote working with nature and gaining a better understanding of soil hydrology.

"Soil, water and biodiversity need to be embraced as one to provide the key to capturing and retaining as much water as we can."

According to General Jeffery, a properly structured soil, with good levels of soil organic carbon, allows greater infiltration and retention of rainfall.

"Every gram of carbon in the soil can retain up to eight grams of water," he said.

"About 50 per cent of rainfall on the Australian landscape is lost to evaporation due to poor soil structure and insufficient ground cover.

"If properly supported, a regenerative cycle can continue to sustain and improve the natural resource base and therefore landscape resilience and productivity."

General Jeffery said he would be taking a more public profile to promote sustainable and profitable agriculture later this year.

His work will include television appearances and continuing his promotion of the soil at public meetings.

And it's a sure bet he will be called on to officially open the school gardens he hopes will be popping up like mushrooms.

Ken Wilson

Ken Wilson

is Farm Weekly's machinery writer


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