Wednesday, July 20, 2011

dirt on the mind

Went to a public lecture this evening, at the planning school at Auckland University. Nominally it was a talk on the Zero Waste, the recycle movement. with a chap from Wales, Mal Williams starting of talking about how the recycle movement in Wales got started pretty much on a shoe string. Passably interesting I suppose. The second chap, Gerry Gillespie, is part of Australian Zero Waste movement, he's started a thing called City to Soil, which is where I thought it started getting interesting. Soil is actually a pretty interesting thing, being composed of a dam site more than just dirt. There's huge numbers of bacterial and fungal organisms bopping round in there, tens of thousands in every square centimeter. And not all of them have been identified. This makes it quite difficult to create soil from scratch, because there are whole ecosystems in tiny spaces that we just can't replicate at the moment. The 3rd speaker was a chap called Max Purnell, a farmer from Waitakaruru who talked about the fact that we're only now beginning to learn how to manage soil correctly, and the way to go about it is not to dump tonnes of soluble phosphates on it like we're currently doing.
If I'd been on to it, I'd have asked a couple of questions at the end. I wasn't though. I'd quite like to know what they thought of some of the GM pest resistant crops. They tend to result in significantly less damage to the soil and less loss of soil, given that you're not mucking around with it quite so much. And while they think it's quite possible to feed the worlds current population sustainably, it would be interesting to see how much correct soil management could contribute to feeding the population that we're going to have in 40 years time (1.5 x what we have now).

The rest of the rest of the evening of course was spent at the wine cellar, watching cartoon's with naughty bits interspersed, making for quite an ... interesting evening.

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