How regenerative farming can help heal the planet and human health | Charles Massy | TEDxCanberraJun 11, 2021
Now what would you think if I told you that
regenerativeagriculture can save the
health at the same time? absurd this guy is crazy last time i checked no so i would like to take you on the journey that led to that conclusion that journey started here on my farm in snowy mountains country beautiful native grasslands lots of biodiversity , including these guys who only got yellow robins after the big fires and the mountains in 2003, they are plentiful now so they clearly liked the biodiversity there. like these black cockatoos that also came in after the fires and now they're there and my friend Richard Weatherly painted them here and Richard captured his lazy flies in that painting so it might surprise you to learn that early in my career as a farmer I did very well. damage to this beautiful landscape and therefore some of its creatures, but which in turn became a catalyst for change, but first, what is
What is an ecological approach? h of agriculture that allows landscapes to renew themselves radical idea that enabling and not dominating there are a variety of practices in regenerative agriculture ecological or holistic grazing
farmingwith biological inputs
farmingon native grasslands agroforestry food forestry and a variety of others like biodynamics and permaculture like now tens of millions of acres around the world are under this approach and are generally run by family zealots and not corporate, in contrast factory farming tends to simplify dominant control and usually ends up destroying natural systems and their cycles and is driven by some of the largest pharmaceutical chemical multinationals in the world. companies that operate under a rationalist economic philosophy of growth and greed now some of their key practices are monoculture crops the application of synthetic fertilizers we decide pesticides pharmaceuticals the manipulation of plant and animal genomes and industrial animal husbandry now all of these are unnatural ral some outrageous, so how did a nature lover end up adopting some of these practices?
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how regenerative farming can help heal the planet and human health charles massy tedxcanberra...
I grew up an only child on our farm and spent a lot of time in the bush near the national parks, so I was a nature lover and ended up here. in Anu doing serology, but at the age of 22, my father's illness meant that I went home to take over management. that was I was introduced to the industrial paradigm or world view of agriculture and consequently early in my agricultural career I ended up causing damage. I remember grazing and plowing beautiful native grasslands, and I remember in particular the great drought of the early 1980s, he said haughtily.
I'm going to fight this so I kept my animals on board a lot of food and as you can see we damaged the landscape as a result and ended up in huge debt but that started to shake the cage and c. The change stemmed from a series of incidents I remember a few years ago, one Saturday morning when I was driving to our local town, half an hour away with my son-in-law Andrew and my grandson Hamish, to watch Hamish play soccer on the road. When we passed a farmer who was spraying his paddock with weed killer, and suddenly seven-year-old Hamish said to me, Grandpa, why do we have to kill things to make things grow?
It was a deep question and it really got me thinking and then in my subsequent travels around Australia I met more and more regenerative farmers and found that they were not only regenerating their landscapes but also their finances, their family and their mental
health, for what the result was that, when I was over 50, I ended up back at Anu doing a PhD wondering why they had changed and what they were doing and then the breakthrough came because I was forced to reflect on my own initial journey and i realized i had actually been landscape illiterate i couldn't read the scenery i didn't know how it worked i didn't realize ze that scenery i should have been in the hospital in intensive care i needed healing therefore as in my teaching students and then writing a book on this subject, I came up with a model for teaching ecological literacy now there are many cycles in chemical nature and otherwise it could break them down to those five key functions. those interconnected arrows if you damage one of those systems you damage them all because of that connection but if you regenerate them you regenerate them all and it's that process that drives our
humans so let me give you a couple of examples. we all know that solar energy is key, the solar cycle is key, so plants have a lot of solar panels that photosynthesize, take carbon dioxide and convert it into sugars that feed all of that. soil biology yes it's healthy soil and then that biology brings nutrients to the plants and we create the plants but that biology and the plants also set up through that process that carbon lives in our entire industrial civilization is based on fossil fuels through from that process now this boy i visited norman croon in a difficult country in south africa the left side of that fence is his farm today on the right is a neighbor who continues to farm the desert and when norman started a few decades ago everything was desert 400 years of European mismanagement then he said about ecological grazing putting his solar panels and various plants and that it kickstarted the carbon and the soil cycle and the water cycle and then biodiversity, you can see the result today and today in comparison with when it started a few decades ago, now it is with its animals and its production produces more than triple what it started with biodiversity another example a few years ago I visited you with friends who had just left Canberra and they said to me they are regenerating their streams with various methods and as we were driving to have a look we passed the neighbor which was traditional factory farming so overgrazed it was bare, the signs of dry land salt, the creek was dry and there is recent erosion from a rain event, but then downriver through the fence I found David and Jones Creek and there are hundreds of yards of lush green grass that leaves the vegetation washed out of their creek and due to the room being stored in the ground that now creek was running all year and what were they talking about?
I noticed a patch of tall Phragmites reeds and all of a sudden out of those reeds came this beautiful call of a reed warbler, that guy no bigger than a wine glass and it suddenly dawned on me that it was probably the first time in a Hundred fifty years of European mismanagement that a warbler had returned to that valley and all because that family had begun to love and care for their land, so how does this relate to our plane? It ties in well because what we do in our landscapes is extrapolated to the entire planet and there she is, she's exceptional, there's only one blue-green planet where life itself created the conditions for life and maintaining those conditions means that today we have nine . built-in self-organizing systems that maintain those conditions, weather being one of them, the problem is that our industrial society has now started, as we hear today, massively destabilize all of those systems because of our own fossil fuels and everything else, and it's because of that there is a growing consensus. from scientists who say that the Earth has now entered a new epoch which they call the Anthropocene anthropohuman fact and if you look at those systems up there, the red and yellow shows that some of those systems are entering a highly dangerous state, possibly out of control events and the key point I want to make if you look at all the research is that factory farming practices are a key player in destabilizing and dangerously most of those systems, but there is a flip side to that because we give it the return to regenerative agriculture can play a very important role, so going back to normal and coronas farms on the right continuous degradation carbon dioxide until continuous degradation of the other cycles in the left the opposite and that extrapolates across large landscapes and we are starting to get some numbers on this recently one of the main agents of environmental and social change in the world in recent decades Paul Hawken has started a study 70 or more scientists and analysts looking at the numbers on the 100 best methods of extracting carbon dioxide, taking it away or keeping it from going up now I looked at all this, there are some regenerative agriculture approaches in the that everyone is doing the same thing so i a grenade and i called it regenerative agriculture and by almost two and a half times the next best method regenerative agriculture is the best way to extract carbon and bury it in the soil and that's why i say with great confidence that regenerative agriculture can heal and save the planet, but this in turn is connected through our modern biophysical and mental health crisis because with the rise of the Anthropocene has come a parallel increase in human ill-health for various reasons . the way industrial society processes their food adds fats sugars salts and generally destroys all the micro many of the major micro nutrients and nutrients we have co-evolved for our health and immune system for millions of years but stabilizer is the key of those nutrients and health is factory farming the way we play our et cetera and here's a cross section of the crucial element of soil biology it just shows one of the key players root fungus micro hugs the micro fungi to feed on the plant the sugars go and are a source of nutrients that feeds the whole process but if we fertilize, we spray poisons, pesticides we decide we kill most of the soil biology so all of that The big variety of micronutrients is not making a comeback and we are left with druggie plants waiting for their industrial dose of just a few n restricted utrients and the evidence shows that there is a high correlation between this process and the increase of the industry. diseases after World War II, but there's even another dangerous element to this and it's coming at us like an express train and that's the widespread use of the most widely used herbicide in the world known as glyphosate and a brand you'd be familiar with roundup and because it's soluble in water, we now know that it's widespread in our environment, there's almost a million tons of this material coming out every year, that means it's in our groundwater, our surface water, it's in our industrial foods, the tests show that it is now in most of our bodies. it's even in breast milk when it enters our bodies research confirms it's now having a devastating impact it's entering this critical microbiome of our gut it's disrupting a crucial amino or acid pathway essential to our immune function by being water soluble it's crossing some of the critical barriers in our body preventing toxins from entering is crossing the gut lining the blood brain barrier etc. and again the research shows a large escalation particularly since the 1990s of the use of glyphosate is highly correlated with many of the modern mental and biophysical illnesses ok let's put the negative aside because we now have regenerative biological replacements and methods for the agriculture and biological replacements for non-agricultural inputs and we can turn it around and I can now let's go back to my grandson who asked a deep question grandpa why do we have to kill things to grow things and could Hamish tell him we don't have to kill things just we have to nurture them and that is a seven year old a warbler tree and indeed the planet is calling us all, they are calling us to nurture and care for this earth because I can tell you the solutions are not going to come f From the end from the city will not come from the government, it depends on us, so they call us to do three things, one so that the farmers change Let's go to regenerative agriculture, two for all of us to grow and eat healthy food. and nurture our communities and three so that all of us really begin to love and nurture that one Bluegreen planet and so I can tell you with the utmost conviction that regenerative agriculture can save both planets and renew human health at the same time. weather
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