Soil is made up of six components which include sand and gravel (mineral particles from bedrock, either in place or moved from elsewhere, as in wind-blown sand), silts and clays (extremely small mineral particles; many clays are sticky and hold water because of their flat surfaces and ionic charges others give red color to soil), dead organic material (decaying plant matter stores nutrients and fices soils a black or brown color), soil fauna and flora (living organisms, including soils bacteria, worms, fungi, roots of plants, and insects, recycle organic compounds and nutrients), water (moisture from rainfall or groundwater, essential for soil fauna and flora), and air (tiny air pockets of air help soils bacteria and other organisms survive). Soil organisms are important because they are responsible, to a varying degree depending on the system, for performing vital functions in the soil. Soil organisms make up the diversity of life in the soil. Soil biodiversity is comprised of the organisms that spend all or a portion of their life cycles within the soil or on its immediate surface.
Food security is a hugely popular topic, in the media, around dinner tables and foreign investment review board meetings.
Higher frequency of climatic events like droughts, cyclones and floods in recent years have given rise to concerns over supply of our most fundamental human need, food. As a farmer I know better than most the influence seasons and climate have on food production. Mother nature is the most fickle of business partners and we farmers are notorious for never being happy with the weather we are dealt. We always want rain, just not during harvest. Or if we have had enough rain for the month, or if we have to get on the paddocks to plant, spray or fertilise, or if we need to get to town on the black soil road. But we always want rain. Right now it is raining on the mung beans we are trying to harvest, potentially downgrading their quality and costing the business hundreds of thousands of dollars. On the other hand we need rain to plant wheat and chickpeas. Hence we farmers always want rain and are never happy with the rain we get. \”The greater majority of Australians have never known a dayвs hunger. we are affluent and statistically one of the most overweight countries in the world. \” In spite of having firsthand understanding of the fickle nature of food production, discussion of food security in Australia intrigues me.
The greater majority of Australians have never known a dayвs hunger. As a western nation, we Australians are affluent and statistically one of the most overweight countries in the world. We have so much spare cash, spare time and ease of life that we pay personal trainers and gym memberships to simulate physical work. We also pay nutritionists and dieticians to tell us how to eat less. Because it is so abundant, we literally have to pay people to tell us how to eat less food. Think about that, we pay people to teach us how to eat less. I then find it very interesting that as a nation we have discussions about food security. Nothing in the living memory of current generations of Australians should make us concerned about our sources of nutrition.
Food has never been cheaper, safer or more abundant. So why are we so concerned with debating food security? As a farmer I should be right on the food security bandwagon. It stimulates a lot of the conversations I think we need to have more often, conversations about where our food comes from, how it is produced and what it takes to get it to our plates. These are conversations we havenвt been having often enough. We have come to take our food for granted. \”I know how we can grow more food from the land and water we have. Pay more for food. \” The problem I see is debate of implementing legislation to improve our food security. This may come in the form of blocking foreign investment in Australian agriculture or research into how to grow more food from the land and water we have. The thing is, I know how we can grow more food from the land and water we have. Pay more for food. Every input into a crop or grazing animal comes with a risk versus reward decision. As farmers, every day we ask ourselves questions like; is putting $100/ha of fertiliser on a crop worth the potential increase in yield, taking into account current market values?
Does the value of wheat per tonne warrant the expense of new technology I would like to invest in? Is it worth investing in better genetics to grow more beef per hectare at current cattle prices? Farmers worldwide are capable of growing exponentially more food from the land and water we have available. The financial rewards simply have to be there for farmers to invest in new technology and increase levels of inputs. Increasing the financial value we put on food, will also increase its competitiveness for land use. Digging coal out of the ground may be seen as the poor alternative to sustainably growing food on the same land, if food is valued more highly. Investing in secure and safe food begins with consumers at the checkout. This may mean receiving higher food bills than we are accustomed and it will also mean you never have to worry about where your next safe, nutritious meal will come from.