5 Jun 2013

Farmers advised to build up humus levels in soil

1:58 pm on 5 June 2013

Farmers are being told they can play a vital role in slowing warming of the planet by protecting and building up the humus in their soil.

The head of an Australian-based company that sells biological farming products describes humus as the soil's glue, and a vital storage system for carbon, minerals and water.

Humus is a layer of organic material in the soil produced by the decay of plant and animal material.

Nutritech Solutions chief executive Graeme Sait says 150 years of intensive, extractive agriculture has led to a loss of two thirds of the world's humus, and the massive loss of the carbon that humus stores into the atmosphere.

Mr Sait says the world is warming quickly and it's time to take action.

He points to a range of measures that farmers can take to rapidly increase humus levels on their land such as composting, adding carbon to fertiliser, and not burning off crop remains.

He believes the best thing farmers can do is re-innoculate their soils with root-friendly fungi.

Further, he says, the most efficient way of storing fresh water is in the soil, not irrigation schemes, and building an extra 1% organic matter means soil can hold an extra 170,000 litres of water per hectare.