Regenerative Agriculture & Soil Health: Vital Connections

Farming sits at the heart of human and planetary health, it is through awareness, education and support that Farmers Footprint Australia is looking to help support Australia’s transition to regenerative farming.

Why Regenerative Agriculture Is Important for Us All

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:00:05] Hello and welcome to another Healthy Bite. My name is Dr Ron Ehrlich. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I’m recording this podcast, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their Elders – past, present, and emerging.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:00:20] Now, this week, I had the pleasure of talking with Blair Beattie, who is the CEO of Farmer’s Footprint in Australia. Now you may recall it may be worth going back and listening to the podcast that I did with the CEO of Farmer’s Footprint globally.

But Farmers Footprint is very much about regenerative agriculture, bringing some stories of success on the land, bringing knowledge of what is going on in the land, and connecting it to us in the urban world. And this is a subject, regenerative agriculture, very close to my heart. And I believe it is a subject that should be close to each and every one of our hearts.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:01:04] If you are interested in climate change, in nutrient-dense foods, in honouring and supporting farmers who are producing that healthy food and regenerating soil which through modern industrial agriculture. And that is not just animal agriculture.

We’re talking about monoculture, mono-crops, and huge industrial agriculture. We are destroying soils, degrading soils at a rate which is literally unsustainable. I mean, some estimates have us at 60 more harvests.

And even if you think of a harvest a year and they’re usually two more, how two harvests a year or maybe even three, that doesn’t leave an awful lot of time for us to be growing nutrient-dense foods in healthy soils. And it’s sobering to know that it takes nature something like 500 years to grow one inch or 2.5 centimetres of soil.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:02:07] And yet, as we have learnt on this podcast, if you’re a regular listener, you will know that through proper management of animal agriculture, of regenerative agricultural practises, of holistic land management practises, you can regenerate an inch or 2.5 centimetres of the soil, not in 500 years, but in 3 to 5 years.

And this is just a reminder of what one of my heroes and guest on this podcast, Alan Savory, has said to me, and he said, “Do not blame the resource.” Whether you’re talking about fossil fuel or whether you’re talking about meat. Seems to be two very popular topics in today’s world.

Well, regenerative agriculture has a role to play in carbon sequestration, animal welfare, regenerating soil, farmer health, and independence, in animal health, and also provide us with that all-important, nutrient-dense food.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:03:13] Ultimately, what is good for the animal is good for us and good for the planet. So as a general rule, I think that cuts right across the board. So regenerative agriculture and Farmer’s Footprint in particular is something that I am very keen to support.

And as I’ve said also that some ten or more years ago I was honoured to launch a not-for-profit organisation together with my good friends, Vicki and Tim Poulter called Nourishing Australia, which was dedicated to healthy soils, healthy plants, healthy animals, healthy food, healthy people, and healthy planet. They are all connected and it’s why we all need to engage with this movement.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:03:39] So I thought I would just share it with you. I mean, we talked to Blair this week and I would encourage you to go and have a listen to it. I’d encourage you to visit the Farmer’s Footprint in Australia website. Coming up in February is the National Regenerative Agriculture Week.

I think it will be in February this year. And in 2023, I’m looking forward to at least getting out into the country, in New South Wales country to visit country towns and try to do workshops around the stuff I talk about on my Unstress Health platform and in the process support land care or whatever other organisation or Farmer’s Footprint or Nourishing Australia. All proceeds from that will go to those kinds of organisations.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:04:48] So I’m very keen to take this message that we’re talking about. That holistic health model which sees, identifying, and minimising stressors, being emotional, environmental, postural, nutritional, and dental stress. And on the other hand, building resilience through sleep, breathe, nourish, move and think. All pivoting on our genes and how our genes express themselves.

As you can see in the Unstress Health platform, I’m looking forward to taking that to the country New South Wales, at least initially in 2023. But here is and if you’re watching this on YouTube, well, it’s a wonderful video, but it works just as well on audio. And this is a five-minute overview of what Farmer’s Footprint is all about.

Speaker 1: [00:05:37] So it came that I would follow in footprints I admire. And with each step, I made my foes of drought and flood and fire. Of drought and flood and fire. Of drought and flood and fire…

Narrator: [00:05:57] Mother Nature is tapping us on the shoulder. The signs are all around us that something needs to change. And Australian farmers are on the front line.

Charlie Arnott: [00:06:11] I was getting up every morning, killing stuff. That was the job. Why is it that we’ve got to kill so much stuff to get things to live and grow? We were bashing our heads against nature and nature’s, I mean, name a time when nature hasn’t won.

David Marsh: [00:06:27] I was one of the first people around here to use glyphosate and human beings as suckers for anything that looks like it’s going to give you a benefit and makes life convenient.

Bruce Pascoe: [00:06:38] You’ll definitely get a bounce in your pasture out of superphosphate, but it’s destroying the soil.

David Marsh: [00:06:45] Regardless of how hard I tried, our debt tended to just keep on increasing.

Chris Hall: [00:06:51] The orchard wasn’t as healthy as it should be and getting die back in the limbs.

David Marsh: [00:06:57] I felt ashamed of the way this property looked.

Charlie Arnott: [00:07:00] You can’t grow nutritious, good food in a landscape that’s wounded.

Chris Hall: [00:07:05] This place had round-up resistance. They end up spraying twice to get a result. So now there’s got to be a better way.

Narrator: [00:07:14] This is the regenerative farming movement. A holistic approach that works with Mother Nature and not against her.

David Marsh: [00:07:22] We thought our business was the livestock. We didn’t realise that’s actually the grass that’s your business.

Charlie Arnott: [00:07:29] Can I have more of that GMO corn and that lettuce sprayed with lee matt that bloody caterpillar killer was great. Can I say more about that? No one is saying that. They’re going into shops and grocery stores and they’re saying, “Can I have more of that organic corn?”.

Faien Fabbro and Jodie Viccars: [00:07:45] Everything that you do on a farm starts right there at your feet. I love looking at the soil. There’s a bit of a little bug there.

David Marsh: [00:07:56] But the people say it’s so intensive. But you check the water today and then a couple of days later, you open the gate, and let the cattle into the next paddock. I mean, it’s so blindingly simple.

Charlie Massy: [00:08:04] You’re disempowered, big boys, that they’re not being able to flog the chemical and the fertiliser because you’re making your own worm juice, your own compost extra. It’s the so-called peasants taking on the biggest powers in the globe and starting to win.

Chris Hall: [00:08:18] I mean, with regenerative agriculture, we are contributing to helping the planet to store carbon. And if we can start taking carbon out of the atmosphere and putting it back to where it belongs, in plants and in the soil. That’s massive.

Narrator: [00:08:32] It offers some of the best solutions for reinvigorating our landscape, our people, and our planet.

Faien Fabbro and Jodie Viccars: [00:08:40] All we’re doing is enabling and helping nature to do what it’s done for millennia.

Chris Hall: [00:08:45] The typical regendive shot is down the fence line with the neighbours on one side and your own place on the other side. Cattle-like leaning over the fence and chewing on my side of the fence.

Narrator: [00:08:58] Regenerative farming isn’t a new idea, but its time has surely come.

Laura Dalrymple: [00:09:03] There are people doing extraordinary things and transforming landscapes and transforming relationships and transforming communities. It’s happening now and we can all participate in that.

Ella Bancroft: [00:09:15] I don’t know if it’s actually the farmer’s responsibility. I think it’s actually a responsibility for consumers to think, “Okay, how do we start supporting our farmers?” And the way we do that is with money.

Voice: [00:09:27] We’ve eliminated 80% of the costs what we used to use.

David Marsh: [00:09:31] But it’s good for the human psyche not to feel beholden to others like the bank.

Narrator: [00:09:37] Farmer’s Footprint is a platform giving voice to the growing community of Australian caretakers who want to share their knowledge, learn from the past and create a future where we not only survive but thrive.

Voice: [00:09:51] Today there’s enough knowledge and support that you can transform your system and your place without losing money.

Charlie Massy: [00:10:01] Most of the regenerative farmers I know I find the journey so exciting. They’re not on about saying we’re better than Joe Beau.

Voice: [00:10:08] We’re not better. We’re just being different, but we are not better.

Voice: [00:10:14] If I go to a supermarket, that’s not perfect. If I see potatoes like this. This is perfect for me.

Voice: [00:10:23] Food from our region and farm is always going to taste so much more delicious because it’s just got so much more abundance and life to it.

Bruce Pascoe: [00:10:31] People say, “Oh, you want to turn Australia over to your way of farming?” No, I don’t. I want farmers in trouble financially to look at an alternative.

Charlie Massy: [00:10:42] This is the biggest crisis that’s ever confronted our species. We have some of the best solutions. Let’s bloody get on it. Simple as that.

Narrator: [00:10:52] If not us, then who? If not now, then when? We are Farmer’s Footprint. The journey has begun.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:11:04] It was great to see Charlie Massy on that. He has been a guest on our podcast and also Charlie Arnott. So there it is. I encourage you to engage with Farmer’s Footprint Australia, which is Their vision is to transform Australian agriculture into a more regenerative system that recognises and respects interdependence with nature. This whole concept of enabling, not dominating nature, a subject we covered with Charlie Massy, but also their mission.

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:11:40] Our mission is to unite, inspire, and accelerate the movement towards regenerative agriculture as a means to restore soil, human and planetary health. They are all intimately connected. If neo-liberalism the market let the market dictate, shareholder supremacy may well prove to be the greatest social, financial, environmental, and health disaster the human race has ever faced. I think that is becoming increasingly likely. But regeneration is what this is all about.

And I believe, I hope that the coming century, that this century, the 21st century will be the century of the revered farmer because ultimately they are growing the food. We need to be healthy and they are managing the soil that we and future generations will need for that food to be grown. So they are so incredibly important and are to be revered for their work for us all. So I hope you enjoyed that. We’ll have links to Until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be well.

This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. This content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.