Atherton Tableland soils are being mined at a great rate but crop production could easily be doubled by replacing nutrients, reaping great benefits for struggling farmers and consumers.
A soil and minerals seminar held near Yungaburra at the weekend was told the present method of mining the soil to produce sub-standard crops was unsustainable.
Minerals expert Mr John Koehler of Kingaroy told a well-attended meeting of growers from as far away as Tully, farming in Australia was in serious decline because
dwindling or almost negligible trace elements particularly in Tableland soils generally were not being replaced after crops are harvested.
The Tableland had some of the best soils in Australia but present farming methods were depleting any worthwhile trace elements resulting in grain and vegetable crops being
less nutritious and more susceptible to pests.
“When I was at high school 45 years ago there were about 1200 peanut farms in the Kingaroy district, now there are about 40,” Mr Koehler said.
“Most peanut paddocks have been so depleted of essential minerals, crops can no longer be grown in the district.
“Farming can only be sustainable if the minerals which are taken out by each crop are replaced.
“This is the only method of sustainable farming.
Soil and minerals expert John Koehler(right) told a Yungaburra seminar at the weekend that Tableland soils are at risk of being
completely denuded of minerals within 20 years.
“Kingaroy is 10 to 15 years ahead of the Tableland as far as minerals depletion goes but within another 20 years the Tablelands will end up with the
same problem, unless progressive farmers start adding essential minerals.”
He said governments needed to act quickly to mandate a mineral replenishment of soils and subsidies should be provided so it can be done on national basis.
“Otherwise this country will not be able to sustainably feed itself,” he said.
“From a historical perspective we will end up with an over fed but nutrition – starved population suffering sickness and disease.”
He said the connection between failed civilisations over past centuries and inadequate farming methods is available in any library.
A lack of minerals in the diet caused a multitude of diseases occurring every day which cost the country billions of dollars in medical care which he said could easily
be prevented by re-introducing minerals into the food chain.