Broadacre and vegie patch share the same soil science.

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Torquay Landcare Group & Geelong Organic Gardeners investigate the 'Soil Food Web'

Torquay Landcare Group met in conjunction with Geelong Organic Gardeners, with Tony Evans as guest speaker. This was a first for a joint meeting. Topic for the evening was 'Compost for Broadacre & Vegie Patch'.  There was a good roll up with forty people attending.

Thursday 26th March represented a unique opportunity for both gardeners and
broadacre farmers alike to see and hear Tony Evans' presentation. Behind the presentation were ten years of experience that Tony and his business partner Nick have amassed in the formation of the Camperdown Compost Company (CCC). Formerly Tony was a dairy farmer, so broadacre farmers felt they could trust his insights as they sought for ways of improving farming productivity in a changing world. And organic gardeners are always on the alert for new ways of making compost.

The CCC works in conjunction with Elaine Ingham's 'Soil Food Web Institute' and is the only accredited business under her guidance in Victoria. There has recently been advertised a two day seminar conducted by Dr Ingham in Gippsland that will cost several hundred dollars to attend (TLG/GOG's costs zip to those attending!).

Before Tony launched into the theory and showed slides of the various microbes in the soil, he gave an outside talk along with TLG and GOG member, Steve Findlay who gave a demonstration of mixing compost at home, using, not a finacky mulcher but a family motor-mower. "Works just as well he affirmed!"

Members had been encouraged to bring along samples of their compost, to extend the learning experience of the evening.  Tony reviewed some good compost, and not so good, as he explained that what was frequently absent from back yard compost, were the larger, solid pieces of bark & wood etc, which were the places where the highly desirable fungi were to be found. Without these solid pieces, compost would be bacteria dominant - and that's also  the chief problem with many soils cleared for pasture growth. It is the fungi which breaks down the minerals, trace elements etc and makes these building blocks available to the plants.  Consumption by the plants of this 'predigested soil food', leads to healthy and extended root growth. He demonstrated how this was a major improvement on fertilisers which were 'add on' rather than 'integrated with' the soil, so that most of the nutrition could not be absorbed by the plants.

Samples of Camperdown Compost Company's compost, made by the hundreds of cubic metres at a time, for broadacre farmers and horticulturalists was also reviewed, sniffed and handled.

Then as the sun set moving into the hall for a hot drink, a few munchies were shared before all present traveled down the lens of the microscope for a great slide presentation of the world beneath our feet. The mysterious underground world of protozoa, fungi, bacteria, beneficial nematodes and aerobic and anaerobic, composts were all explained, with an enlightening slide presentation.  It was acknowledged that if we don't start to come to terms with the true building blocks of our soil/food/life we may well find ourselves in not too deep a compost at all!

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