Look after the soil to look after ourselves
Agri-Phoenix Feature: Andrew Gunther
Name: Andrew Gunther
After primary school at Tara (about half-way between Dalby and Meandarra) I boarded at Downlands in Toowoomba. Leaving school, I tried my hand at fencing and then worked for Landcare for a couple of years after giving university a burl and finding out that wasn’t how I liked to learn.
Farmers aren’t stupid people. When it comes to the land, no-one knows the place better than the farmer. In my work as an agronomist, I give producers advice about what fertilisers or chemicals they may need to apply to improve their crops, or what they might consider to improve their soil. Often someone will say to me ‘What about that corner over there?’ They know the variations and deviations of every corner over thousands of hectares. Some people don’t even know what’s in their backyard.
I don’t know any farmer who is not interested in making their place thrive. Sure there’s a few who do the wrong thing. But hey you don’t need to look at farmers to find bad eggs – they are everywhere.
Farmers know that if we don’t look after the environment, the system will collapse. That sounds a bit melodramatic but the carbon in the soil is like the backbone of the environment. We have to think about what we can do to strengthen it – to make the system strong and flexible to support us and to support the bio-diversity of the whole ecosystem.
At home I look after about 3,000 acres and a few (hundred) lambs. So every day out on my property I am seeing how the biodiversity in the grasses is important in their food chain. I also grow a bit of dry-land crop fodder to supplement, so I appreciate that what’s in the soil is crucial to our food chain and our survival.
Look after the soil to look after ourselves. Farmers know the powerful truth of that.