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How to use less fertilisers and still grow heaps!

by Dr. Wendy Seabrook, Learning from Nature, Cooktown

Wouldn’t it be great not to need fertilisers?

The money and time we’d save! We’re told it’s the best way to be productive. That we need fertilisers to replace the nutrients removed with the harvest.

How is it then that some farmers are getting higher nutrients levels in their soils without using fertilisers?

It’s not hokey pokey! There are broad acre croppers, like Gabe Brown (, getting soil tests showing nutrient levels higher than their neighbours, and that nutrient levels are increasing. Contrary to what we would expect.

Unfortunately though, there is no quick fix. Just doing away with fertilisers isn’t the trick.

Soil organisms are the magic ingredient. Soil scientists are now saying that our soils are not generally lacking in nutrients, just the soil biology to make them available.

So the trick is bringing diverse and healthy populations of organisms back into our soils again. Half measures don’t work as well. We need to create functioning soil food webs by giving our soil organisms a comfortable place to live and sufficient nutritious food to eat. It’s how these innovative farmers are growing without fertilisers.

This is challenging. If we could easily and affordably do this using current organic techniques, wouldn’t everybody be doing it already? In reality, most of us struggle just meeting the costs of ‘sustaining’ the status quo, making small improvements when we can.

So what’s the solution?

Designing our production systems to grow a varied diet of organic material and root exudates for our team of soil builders and nutrient recyclers, as well as saleable products.

Are you interested in exploring ways to trial this ecological approach on your property?

Come to a one-day workshop at Hill Top Farm, near Cooktown, facilitated by Dr. Wendy Seabrook.

You’ll understand the soil science behind this approach, look at how other growers are benefitting, and develop ways to grow feedstuff for soil organisms in your production systems – orchards, pastures, market and home gardens.

Workshop: How to use less fertilisers and still grow heaps! 28 October 2017 at Hill Top Farm, Endeavour Valley Road, Cooktown.

For more information and to register – email  Can’t make the workshop? Check out Learning from Nature’s videos and other resources.

This workshop is supported by Learning from Nature and Cape York NRM through funding from Cook Shire Council’s Economic Development Programme.

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