our next speaker is Peter Rutherford Peter is the senior ecologist at kin bricky and an Ingleside local Peter has a thing for dirt what is healthy soil and how does it impact human health let's find out please welcome Peter this stage I'm here to talk about something I think is this is exciting so just put this over here from moment it's get myself organized okay I'm here to talk to you about soil it's amazing stuff called soil which is what that is worms and all those beautiful creatures I'm just going to put that there for a moment so as most of you know I work up at Kim breeki at run an ecology education center up there and this is the sort of exciting bit of feedback sorry and it's a very exciting place to work because what we do is we work we work with soil and before I start how did I get so interested in soil I just want to tell you a little bit about my story I grew up as a farmer as a chemical farmer actually out near Malang or orange in the center west and its really lovely my mum's here today as well so I'm very excited to have her here she's 90 this year and that's where I grew up and everything we did had chemicals associated with it you know whole life was about chemicals that's how I was trained in farming and I studied agriculture and horticulture and and I learnt more about chemicals and how the chemical industry had had a run a farm that way how to how to grow food that way and then I ended up on a cotton farm I got a job on a cotton farm out here we wore in northern New South Wales and this was the epitome this was a wake-up call for me in terms of the destruction going on in terms of chemical use and abuse of the system we used to obviously mass as a spraying going on you know aeroplanes were used for all that sort of work and we even used to spray birds and things used to come and eat our other crops you is to get animals cutting our birds coming in EDM set flowers and sunflower crops and we'd get the plane out from town that would dieldrin or chlordane then used to spray birds with chemicals and they all died and next time we plowed the fields we just plowed him into the ground I'm giving a personal story because this is what happened to me why did I become too no soil you know it was a big big story for me out there and then about 30 years ago from from now my dad died of cancer and when he died of cancer quite young 60 he was my age when he died and I decided not to be a chemical farmer anymore it was like because I think the chemicals had something to do with with his demise and so I so what did I do I start to retrain myself in organics and biodynamics how do we how do we grow food either in our own backyards or on farms without the chemicals and it was a big learning from a huge learning it's a 25 year learning now and everything I sad to learn in permaculture and organics by Dynamix Rudolph's Tina's amazing work took me back to the soil back to the soil everything took me back to the soil it's amazing stuff where you start to see incredible things when you're looking it you know you see the beautiful worms and so my first question is what is a living soil so it's about a living soil not just a soil and these four words really describe a living soil it's alive it's unbelievably alive you've got incredible life in beautiful soil you've got a diversity or variety there of creatures the bigger the diversity of creatures the healthier the soil and there's a beautiful I'll saying isn't there my dad taught myself saying finish the sentence variety is the diversity is the same saying diversity is there exactly so diverse it's all about diversity and we know that the plant immunes function is related to diversity so the amount of microbes in the soil the amount of the different types of microbes in the soil give plants their immune function their strength to resist insects and diseases we know this now from solid scientific research so soil ISM is amazing stuff and we start with the bigger creatures like worms you know that beautiful creatures that make soil and all the other bugs and things that you can see in soil and then we get down to I want to take you into a little journey inside we've been out to space now let's go down soyal so then we get then we start looking at electron scanning microscope photos of the soil this is that we're now looking at soil this is this is soil fungi and some bacteria things you can see in there penicillin act as most of you know came from the soil that's the Penicillium fungi in the soil we're now looking into the soil into the world of electron microscope world of the soil this is what it actually looks like um molds and fruiting structures are mild and what a beautiful world you know it quite like to be a worm next time I come back and explore this a little bit on your skin you know there's in a handful of soil in a handful of soil like that and you've all got a cup under you under you can you all just grab the little cup under your seat with soil employees in that little cup of soil which is a beautiful living soil in your hand there are over there are billions of microbes in every handful of soil there are billions of microbes in there right now don't worry they're not going to jump out and get you because people we need to because what we're looking at here is bacteria on human skin that slide in front of you I want you to understand you're covered in microbes every square centimeter of your skin right now is covered with has over a million microbes on it we are microbial I had David Suzuki in one of his more recent talks I love David Suzuki amazing ecologist he said when you stand on the scales several kilos of what shows up is microbes understand we are microbes but we're training our kids and people to be scared of microbes you know bacteria viruses protozoa funghi know we need to love the microbes and love our relationship with soil so just taking there's another beautiful slide of soil the blue the blue is the bacteria and the fungi rather and the pink the bacteria amazing world in their yeast fungi so unknown it goes but I just want to give you a fact because you asked most kids what do they think about bacteria and they'll tell you straight away what germs they're bad they're terrible look at the ads on TV we're being hoodwinked programmed so deprogram our population is really important part of what I try and do it Kim bricky because look at the figures about 95 percent of all the microbes in the world are good for us you're covered did by microbes the ones in the soil you're protected by them every leaf of every plant on the planet covered in microbes it is in microbial world my friends understand and love the microbes not this fear thing and the good ones protect us from the harmful ones so stop using the antibacterials and things which were encouraged to use don't use them where you're giving yourself an opening to a deeper infection using those substances outside of hospitals so how do we make a living so that's what a living soil is it's unbelievable life in the soil so how do we make it and I think part of our project of every single person not just farmers every single person should be learning how to make beautiful soil because our soils are devoid at the moment our farming soils so you need to understand some living thing how do you make living soil you bring back the life so you start to understand that you've got to stop using poisons any poison you spray even herbicides and things like roundup and whatever we've been told how benign they are they're not benign to this life in the soil any chemical you use will be affecting this amazing life in the soil in some way so become an organic grower understand that we need to grow without the chemicals understand diversity that the more different things you put in so all your food scraps all your garden materials go into that beautiful compost or the worm farm or whatever way you're doing it so increase the variety of what's going into that system is how you end up with a very high variety or diversity of microbes in the finished compost and that then makes your plant stronger understand that it's about adding these things there's my beautiful wife Allie give me a little demo so you know changes from that to that that's still a miracle for me that this stuff that we call scraps and yucky and horrible turns into this beautiful stuff called soil um an aeration we need to mix we ought to do it on a big scale we mix it air is really important soil breathe so as a living creature it breathes and the healthier soils are the aerobic soils we can have anaerobic soils as well but the arab exceeds what we're really working with and you know there's good tools and technology now to make it on a small scale so you mix and they're right they're right your compost or your soil and then you need to keep it moist obviously we need a drink every now and then so does your soil so your compost so keep it nice moist learn how to make it and actually we're not doing anything really the worms and the microbes are doing this work for us worms what comes out of worms backside black stuff people quartz you notice a worm poo or worm casting this black stuff is worm poo pure houmous can we all say houmous can we all say human notice the relationship they're linked humans human the word Adam I'm using Adam the Hebrew Adama that the word Adam comes from the boy's name Adam means earth or red clay we are we are soil my friends so learn how to make it this beautiful stuff called soil and take some of your friends out in their farms we know that about 80% of our farming soils in New South Wales have less than 1% organic matter left in them the chemical farms which means they're biologically did that's a frightening fact even to non farmers so I saw our human health now how do we relate the soil that we grow in to the health of us you and me and everybody else obviously everything we eat comes from soil I say that the kids I say that I work with thousands of school kids and I say to them everything you eat comes from soil okay now what about ice cream and milk and chocolate I say everything everything no exception milk for example you an example does milk come from soil or ice cream of course where does it come from cows what a cows eat grass where does grass grow soil everything the soil feeds everything everything we get comes from the soil chocolate the whole line I show them you know beans from the cacao from cocoa trees and things everything we it comes from soil there's some beautiful fruit from they were growing at Kim bricky native raspberries on the right there beautiful Australian native raspberries zucchini and cherry guavas on the left hand side amazing or everything comes from soil and so we need to get our kids into the soil we need to understand that kids eating from organic food food connected to the mother to the living Earth has a different effect and food grown in soil without the life in it and I'm going to give you a bit of research stuff on that right now so food grown in a living organic soil seems to create a more alkaline response in the human body and there's a lot of research in this field happening right now so we knew eat something growing that's been grown in a living soil compared to a dead soil it has a different effect on your blood and we know that healthy people tend to be more alkaline for example even cancer there was a Nobel Prize given over 30 years ago for a scientist who proved that cancer cells cannot live in an alkaline environment so we need to alkalize our bodies and this is one way of doing it so kids who eat a bit of good clean dirt are healthier when they grow up they are and so like often get asked by teachers you know can I let kids touch soil is it okay for the kids to touch soils Havis beautiful organic living soil yes absolutely because we know that when when children and you know you've all got your little cups there which I'm about to talk about if children get their hands in the soil in their fingernails and so on and they eat a bit of soil it's a good thing I just got millions of microbes extra microbes into my body right then we build up our relationship with the soil by getting some soil into our body when my kids it just happens naturally you put a baby on down on the dirt what do they do they put stuff in their mouth and that's a good thing there's good research on that I can give you lots of references to that so we need to get our kids and one mazing thing that I discovered from an article I saw was that microbes in the soil can make it happy there's actually a microbe which they've identified called Mycobacterium Vasa and it's a it's a bacteria that when you when you breathe it it's sort of the smell you know the smell of good soil smells beautiful can you still smell a cup you'll get a bit of that smell you're actually getting bacteria into your nostrils right now and we know from the research that this particular bacteria I'm sure there's a lot more we just this is like a whole new field we're learning about will boost the level of serotonin in your body most of you know serotonin makes you feel good it's a health related substance in our body and that's articles reference there um so what can you do to finish up my talk with you what can you actually do you and everybody else on this planet you can learn how to make soil for a start we shouldn't be putting any food scraps in our waste bins and you know if you're already doing that I hope this little cringe going on with you don't do it it's polluting you send it to tips and landfills it creates groundwater pollution and creates methane when you bury food scraps in and out big environment so don't do it learn how to do something with your own you know start a compost do a worm farm and get your kids out into the soil get your kids out into the soil touch soil you know get them touching soil do you have to wear gloves when you touch beautiful soil no crazy touch the soil feel the soil smell the soil it's very important part of what we need to do I think as our communities start to want to be healthier you know we've got sick communities cancer now the number one biggest killer of people in Australia used to be heart disease cancer is now the number one there's something something not right and I think a lot of its relate to this beautiful stuff here so you know be with your kids get them into your gardens have a worm farm touch soil eat a bit of soil having a little granddaughter I've got two little granddaughters now actually and now we had one living with us for quite a while and I when she was born and for the first year or two and I just take her into the garden and I used to put it you know before she could even speak I'd put a bit of soil on my hand I go like this I put a bit of soil in my hand like this and she put bit in her hand and I'd go and she'd go and I was doing her a favor I know that I was doing her a favor in terms of building up her immune system so I would encourage you all to not rush out and eat this but um you know what I'm saying work with soil please and you know get them in whatever you can do get them into the soil get them into the soil and the dirt so I just want to say perhaps if we could just contemplate for a moment just take a nice breath of the soil in your cup just contemplate our lives for 30 seconds just contemplate your connection to soil who are you you're a walking bag of soil thank you

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Methew Wade

18 thoughts on “Dirty secrets of healthy soil | Peter Rutherford | TEDxPittwater”

  1. I bought a house 27 years ago and it had dead trees on it, nothing would grow. I added dirt and it didn't help much. I bought 1000 red wiglers (worms) and they did their magic after a few years. No pesticides used and now have 20 foot mountain laurel and grass. The grass I used is a native to texas called buffalo grass. Isn't green like st augustine but gets into the soil, doesn't need watering, and the deer love it. I mulch the grass so the leaves from the trees get ground up and the nutrition from the leaves refertilize each year. Great video.

  2. i understand kids should be around soil more but there's a very important reason why there's a warning on every bag of commercial soil you buy in Australia, that says not to inhale anything fom the bag, and most even recomend the use of dust masks.

  3. i like you stuff man you are really amazing inshallah allah will keep you in safe for good life with all your love one

  4. When my parents bought their home over 50 years ago the trees were smaller, so there was more daylight and grassy lawn. Now the trees shade the lawn and part of the wooded area has had about 30+ years of leaf debris composting naturally.

  5. I've been saying this for years now & nobody believes me in my neighbourhood. They think I'm crazy because I want all of their dead leaves, their grass clippings, I have 5 compost bins, I have 2 compost heaps, I scatter grass clippings all over my garden soil, I dig trenches in fall & fill them with all the annuals & garden plats that are done for the year (they're usually pretty much gone by the following spring). The guys at the eco-station in my town think I"m nuts because I come in to TAKE grass clippings (everyone else dumps them off).
    I think that we can complete change our farmlands if only more people could be encouraged to make use of their food scraps & used coffee grounds & NOT bag the grass from their lawns!

  6. Thank you, that was music to my ears. I have been working with my soil now for a few years, and this is really giving me purpose for living. I love working building the soil naturally, and every bit of information I get just thrills me. I really want to expand our worm composting now that you mention it. I can see having a lot more worms composting during the winter time especially. That will give me something to do in the winter time for the garden. I can always find leaves and scraps to feed them.

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