District and regional councils are taking an active role in shaping our environment, and agriculture is so closely linked to our environment in Hawke’s Bay. Biological farming can rapidly address many of our environmental challenges like water quality, soil collapse and nitrate and phosphate leachate. 

To facilitate environmental regeneration with biological farming, our Councils could focus on farmer education.  Farmers are stewards of our most precious resource – the soil upon which our lives depend.  The soils are the lungs and stomach of the planet and farmers need to be aware of the crucial role they play in environmental quality.  As this year’s theme of the Mystery Creek Fieldays highlights….“My Land, Our Environment.” 

Farmers need to be helped to understand the need for mineral balance and microbial diversity in their soils.  Councils could assist them to understand the concepts of biodiversity and soil microbial integrity.  Seminars on prompting soil humus formation could explain the need for regular application of lime, traces and humates. There are clear links between the nutritional density of grass and animal health, worm burdens and reproduction. Farmers need to be made aware of how to reduce drenching through animal nutrition.   Growers need to be aware that herbicide use suppresses soil microbes, and ways to promote, rather than destroy, bio-active soil carbon need to be explained.  Soil digestion of crop residue is key to humus creation and could be explained and encouraged. 

Councils need to understand the sciences of soil management better themselves, so that they can direct staff and arrange education for farmers to promote soil regeneration in Hawke’s Bay.
 
Sustainability is not good enough. Why would we want to “sustain” the practices which have gotten us into this environmental pickle? We need to practice regenerative biological farming, not sustain the status quo of chemical-oriented farming. Our soils, our health, our pocketbooks, our water and our air cannot sustain the continued damage of conventional approaches into the future.  Positive, informed change needs to happen fast.  This is where awareness of biological farming practices comes to the fore and where Councils could play an important role in education. 

We have practices, now, which are reducing leachable fertiliser use, increasing soil carbon levels, increasing the soil’s ability to hold water and reducing pesticide use. Farmers need to be helped to learn more about them. Rather than grapple with the problems of trying to regulate Superphosphate or urea use, Councils could be proactive in helping farmers to nurture soil processes better through biological farming so that fertilisers are used more effectively and water quality is improved. There is hope with biological farming as the foundation for environmental quality and regional prosperity.

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