Academic Docs

Paradigm shifts

Making a paradigm shift is not easy and might take a long time.  This information is by no way absolute, compiled by Hans from academic papers and persons following their own innovative ways.

Nature has already solved many of the problems we are grappling with.  Animals, plants, and microbes are the consummate engineers. After billions of years of research and development, failures are fossils, and what surrounds us is the secret to survival. –

Turning the soil and adding artificial substances leads to weak plants as both activities go against the natural laws of Nature. In our pursuit for extended yield and profit without considering soil health, we destroy natural systems. The result is food low in nutrition, contaminated with pesticides and herbicides, which lead to compromised human and animal health.

David Marsh writes in 2016:

Over human history since the dawn of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, humans have tried to bend the world to their will in a quest to feed and clothe themselves. In doing this we have diverted energy and the products of photosynthesis away from the living community. This has had long term, inexorable effects for which we now, late in the day, begin to feel responsible.

Innovative farmers all over the world, uneasy about the effects their farming systems are having on the earth, have taken up the cudgel and are farming now in a way that is good for the Earth. On these farms, formerly plunging soil organic carbon is beginning to rise. Falling soil carbon is an indicator that shows us we are ecologically living beyond our means.

Recently I heard a senior American university soil scientist say that he felt the scientific community was way behind innovative farming practice. He said that scientists now are struggling to describe what is happening in innovative farming systems, in both grazing and cropping.

 And yet in our institutions of education, the same courses are being taught, the application of which have presided over the loss of approximately 70% of the soil organic carbon in the world’s agricultural and grazing lands.

The engine for change now is down on the farm, the days of funding research programs that only look at maximising yield should be over. The farming systems based on that research are tied to high energy products and huge energy sequestered in the equipment used to operate the system. It is a high entropy, low information way of behaving that simplifies landscapes. I don’t think any research program in agriculture should be considered unless there is a credible long term evaluation of the effects that that research is going to have on the ecosystems where it will be applied. Of course, this should be part of the application for funding.

One of the most influential minds of the last half century has been the independent British scientist and inventor, James Lovelock. He realised that the constant composition of the earth’s atmosphere could not be explained by the physical sciences. He proposed the Gaia theory or hypothesis, that the Earth behaved like a self-regulating organism, in the late 1960’s with his colleague, Lynn Margulis. He was widely pilloried by his scientific peers for many years, but over time much of the hypothesis he proposed has come to be accepted, as many formerly unexplained features of the earth system have been explained by Gaia theory. For example, the initiation of cloud formation over the oceans was shown to be molecules of dimethyl-sulphide emitted by oceanic algae and oxidised in the earth’s atmosphere to form sulphur molecules that are the genesis of oceanic cloud formation, and thus critical for the regulation of the heat of the earth.

The clamouring calls for we humans to become the custodians of fixing up the problems we have caused to the Earth’s self-organising systems (homeostasis), are resisted by James Lovelock. His view is that it would be a depressing and probably futile task for us, compared with the more hopeful and likely option of allowing the Earth system to do what it has been doing over evolutionary time. That is to self-organise, self-repair and via the agency of living organisms, continue to keep this Earth in a life-friendly state.

 Whether they know it or not, that is what regenerative farmers are in the business of doing. They are, through what they do, and what they stop doing, allowing the natural tendency of evolution to become a reality once more.

Stuart B. Hill (1996 when Chair of Social Ecology at the University of Western Sidney)

Agriculture is sustainable when it maintains the capital within the systems involved while achieving its other goals, including productivity and profit. Most ecosystems will require regeneration work and fundamental redesign to enable us to manage much more complex systems and be much more precise in where and when we do things, much of this redesign being aimed at reaping the benefits of nature’s natural synergy and mutualism.

Following are some insights by science, hardly acknowledged by mainstream product driven “solutions”, addressing symptoms rather than underlying challenges.

Franz Sekera (1899-1955)

  • The soil crumb is built with living mortar, that is living organisms hold the primary aggregates (sand and clay) together, forming the veins (water and air movement) and the alveoli (water and air chambers).
  • The mass of all living matter in the soil is the measure of carrying capacity regarding plant growth on top. If such mass exceeds the critical minimum there is no need to feed such system with compost or any other means. The harvest of the fruit and leaving behind the residues will suffice sustainable fertility.

Walter B. Bollen (1896-1989):

  • Roots contribute, directly and indirectly, over 60% of living matter in the soil

Bargyla Rateaver (1916 – 2006):

  • Endocytosis is an energy-using process by which cells absorb molecules (such as proteins) by engulfing them. It is used by all cells of the body because most substances important to them are large polar molecules that cannot pass through the hydrophobic plasma or cell membrane. “Plants eat meat.”

Lynn Margulis (1938-2011):

  • The other evolution – merger and cooperation between primordial microbes. “Each plant has its own primordial microbial profile.”

Hugo Schanderl (1901-1974):

  • The death of a plant translates into billions of new life forms through transformation and re-mutation of the cell organs along the evolutionary history to older forms of life – Bacteria.

Hans-Peter Rusch (1949-1977):

  • Closed cycle of living substances, nothing gets lost other than should disaster happen.
  • The first about 8 cm of soil has a distinct population of microbes, which differs from the deeper layer reaching about 30 cm and having these two distinct layers optimises productivity. NO TILL, do not MIX.

James Lovelock (born 26 July 1919):

  • the Gaia hypothesis proposes that living and non-living parts of the Earth form a complex interacting system that can be thought of as a single organism.


The National Resources Conservation Service of the United States Department of Agriculture (NRCS / USDA) has published videos by Buz Kloot and his team to make clear six principles:

Full-length, combined chapters:      The hope in healthy soil (19:31) How America’s farmers are breathing new life into our nation’s soils.

An excellent presentation by an active potato farmer, convincingly shows that the NRCS / USDA principles hold true.  Brendon Rockey is reaping the benefits of nature’s natural synergy and mutualism.

Part 1:

Part 2:                 a must see!

The importance of photosynthesis cannot be overemphasised and a classical presentation is done by Mick Alexander:  Inspiring The World About Soil and Plant Health

Reduced cost of production with an increased yield is done by Gabe Brown, please look at his video presentation from about the 45th minute to about the 48th minute (3 minutes) using this link:

Rolf Derpsch ( ) a researcher and an advocate of conservation agriculture stresses the importance of leaving some 60% residue behind, even when grazed by cattle or sheep.  This is important, not only to armour the soil against sun and heavy rains. “The many farmers using CA principles and concepts globally can’t all be wrong (Kassam et al. 2014b).” —- statistics:  (156  991 000 ha worldwide). Herwig Pommeresche shows something else: Feeding the very bottom of the food chain. The video forms part of a project by the Technical University of Hamburg and the viewer is invited to do some trials at home. ( )


From our home page: “Controlling pests and diseases organically means much more than simply changing the types of sprays and dusts you use.  Organic gardeners strive to develop a balanced system where problems are regulated naturally and where there is little need to use even the safest organic sprays and dusts to control pest problems” is substantiated by Jonathan Lundgren – in his presentation at a Beyond Pesticides conference:

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