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Ecological News

Australian Institute of Ecological Agriculture

No. 2 | February 2017
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  • Editorial
  • Australian Ag and its future
  • What is nature worth to humans?
  • Good news
  • The Green Revolution
  • Request for information
  • WA Climate Change
  • Organic Farming
  • AIEA Hall of Fame
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 " We try to create as much biodiversity as we can within the woodland ecology of the area."

~  Sam Johnson, Farmer  ~

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Erin Earth


By the time you receive this you should have received a letter seeking membership details and payment of dues. Despite having been in existence for 7 or so years – initially as the Ecological Agriculture Australia Association (EAAA) – we have discovered we know very little about the 380 or so people who are on our data base. By filling out the form as sent we will begin the process of addressing this.
The $25 fee is sought to enable the Institute to begin its life and I trust you will help out in this regard.
The Institute is one meeting old with the second meeting is scheduled for mid February. The meeting will hear from the various subgroup leaders and initiatives to develop an educational profile, form a professional body to represent holistic science, create a advisory and consultancy service, and address climate change and biodiversity issues. This is a big agenda for a minute organisation but the intent is always half the battle so you can say we are well on the way to creating that which we seek to do!
A key goal of the Institute is to accredit graduates and others as having the necessary knowledge to operate within the holistic framework of the Institute. The institute might be seen as a home where like-minded people gather, and a launching pad where those who are educated and trained in ecological thinking or those who practice it can assist others to change.
It is easier to define what the Institute is not as a starting point for discussing a possible model for accreditation. The Institute is not confined in its thinking to reductionist science which is the case with industrial agriculture and to university courses in agricultural science, but instead embraces the mantra of holistic science. That is the point of departure which in itself makes it difficult when formulating an accreditation program. The problem is one of establishing the criteria for measuring the subjective aspect of decision making and the objective element as well. These two elements might be seen as opposites from a dualistic perspective but unity is beyond this and seeks to find ways of combining the two in such a way that they become one.
The following commonly understood dualities illustrates the need to blend the opposites to create a position of unity or holism.
Traditional Ecological Awareness The Institutes model
1.Mechanistic 2. Ecological 2/1
3. Reductionism 4. Holism 4/3
5. Objective 6. Subjective 6/5
7. Economics 8. Nature 8/7
9. Rational 10. Intuitive 10/9
11. Expansion 12.Conservation 12/11
In effect, the Institute model places the Traditional qualities in the service of the Ecological qualities. One is the servant, the other the master. In this way a complementary arrangement is advantageous since both ends of the continuum have their advantages. In the case of 4/3, for example, reductionism is seen as useful but only in the service of holism. Likewise, for 8/7 Nature is the master and Economics the servant. As it stands at the moment nature is the servant of economics and therefore the relationship is reversed to become 7/8.
The master servant language used above has its origin in Scotland’s Consultant Psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist’s book The Master and his Emissary. For a brief overview go to where he asserts that the world suffers from a dominant left brain orientation whereas what is needed is more of the right brain (read ecological). He refers the right brain as a sacred gift and the left brain as a faithful servant. Unfortunately, it is the right, he contends, that has become the servant!
Part of our difficulty lies in recognising and measuring the various occupations that might want to become accredited. Graduates of university degree programmes in ecological agriculture and agroecology will qualify upon graduation but the same set of guidelines will not apply to graduates of agricultural science degrees. There may also be issues with (1) graduates of diploma courses in organics, permaculture or biodynamics (2) graduates of Holistic (Cell Grazing) Management, (3) farmers who already think and operate this way, (4) landscape planners operating in the peri-urban landscape, and so on. It is expected that the educational function of the Institute will be to provide short courses for those wanting to  upgrade and engage with ecological/regenerative farming.
Given the above it is obvious that the accreditation system must be flexible, and importantly, it needs to ensure that those who join must be authentic in terms of the values and knowledge base that represents the Institute.
This issue will be discussed at the February meeting of the AIEA Cooperative Board.
Kerry Cochrane
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Australian Agriculture and its future


Anika Molesworth is a young 28 year old from Broken Hill who in 2015 was selected as the Australian Young Farmer of the Year. Anika is currently completing her PhD ....continue reading.
Image source:

Question: Who is the ecological king?

The person is from the USA and when you click on the link below the answer probably won't surprise you although as far as I know he had little to do with agriculture!
But ecological is a universal term connecting all things.
Image source:

Question: what is nature worth to humans?

This is a useful question the answer of which could alter the way we manage the environment. The following report by Balakrishna Pisupati, Coordinator,  Biodiversity, UNEPDELC (27th July 2016)  provides some hints as to the answer ...continue reading.
Image source: andreusK via Getty Images

Now to the good news

Across the world we are seeing farmers and communities resisting the corporate takeover of seeds, soils, water and food ...continue reading.
Image source:

The Green Revolution and it's connection to soil loss

The Green Revolution of the 1980s and beyond in hindsight delivered huge increases in food production which had led to an increase in the world population.
But this story isn’t so much about population growth as about soil management ...continue reading.

Request for information

The AIEA Newsletter has had a request for information relating to the effect of phosphorus on soil fungi. Here is the answer according to Dr Google!
... continue reading.
Image: Getty Images: Australian Scenics

Climate Change and the South West of Western Australia

At a time when the NSW government has introduced its controversial Land Management Act which makes it easier for landowners to remove trees ...continue reading.
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Organic Farming


What has rock climbing, mountaineering and white water kayaking got to do with organic farming? Well according to USA farmer Eliot Coleman the word adventure is the linking word. For a fascinating read go to:

Image source: supplied

The AIEA Hall of Fame

Sam Johnson
Young, NSW

Over the past few editions of the newsletter we have featured practical examples of an ecological approach to farming. We continue the theme in this edition with Sam Johnson from the Borrowa/Young region of NSW ...continue reading.

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Newsletter compiled by Kerry Cochrane | Editor
Produced by Elke Knebel

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