To the other side of the planet for the planet

Dubbo Photo News - - Emergency issues - By JOHN RYAN

WHEN you’re pas­sion­ate about the en­vi­ron­ment you live and work in, you’ll of­ten do un­usual things to drive that point home.

For Mike Parish, his lat­est en­deav­our was to visit Paris but it was hardly an ex­tended sight­see­ing hol­i­day trip. His 46 hours in the air in just a four-day pe­riod left him lit­tle time to see any­thing other than the in­side of jet air­craft’s econ­omy class and a mo­tel room. Mike spent the rest of the time pre­sent­ing and net­work­ing at the Planet A con­fer­ence.

“It was a long trip – about 46 hours on planes – but it was well worth it and be­ing in­volved in it and able to con­trib­ute,” Mr Parish said.

He said there were 350 del­e­gates from more than 30 coun­tries and all present had a real com­mit­ment to bring about change.

Mr Parish’s ob­ser­va­tions were that while many land­scape prac­tices in other na­tions are up to 10 years be­hind the most in­no­va­tive Aus­tralian re­gen­er­a­tive farm­ers, he be­lieves they’re po­lit­i­cally well in front of us.

“There seems to be a real ur­gency to bring about change in their agri­cul­tural pro­duc­tion sys­tems in France and the Eu­ro­pean Union (EU),” Mr Parish said.

“I sensed that they are not aware of the dif­fi­cul­ties ahead with their ef­forts to bring about change eg: method­olo­gies, farmer’s mind­set around adopt­ing new prac­tices.”

He said the pre­sen­ta­tion he was asked to de­liver went off well and gen­er­ated plenty of pos­i­tive feed­back.

“I was pleas­antly sur­prised that they were very open to lis­ten to my in­put. The work­shop ses­sion I at­tended was called Re­think­ing Pro­duc­tion and Prac­tices in a Rea­soned Use of Soil – it was part of a six-work­shop pro­gram cov­er­ing dif­fer­ent pol­icy ar­eas,” Mr Parish said.

“The main points I put up in­cluded holis­tic ap­proach, the need for farm­ers to have an in­cen­tive/pay­ment mech­a­nism to bring about change, train­ing, men­tor­ing and a peer-to-peer setup sup­port for farm­ers – these were all adopted as the main points from that work­shop.” Dubbo’s Mike Parish with Oli Mad­gett, CEO and co-founder of Plat­farm, a start-up spe­cial­ized in soil car­bon cap­ture; Tim Cav­agnard, As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor Soil Ecol­ogy, School of Agri­cul­ture, Ade­laide Univer­sity and Zrinka Tolkeic, In­ter­na­tional Pro­gram Di­rec­tor of the Aus­tralian Echal­lenge, Ade­laide Busi­ness School

Mr Parish said a doc­u­ment was drafted as a call to the EU and other coun­tries of the world to com­mit to ac­knowl­edg­ing soil health as an imperative.

“I was given a copy of the draft to see what I thought – they men­tioned the word “soil” but no ref­er­ence to be­ing bi­o­log­i­cally ac­tive, liv­ing or soil health, so I added that as my in­put and no­ticed af­ter they had adopted those amend­ments, which I was very happy about.”

His name was also added at the bot­tom of the doc­u­ment as a sig­na­tory with 12 oth­ers in­clud­ing pro­fes­sor Rat­tan Lal, one of the world’s lead­ing soil sci­en­tists, with whom Mr Parish was lucky enough to spend two hours talk­ing on the shut­tle on the way back to Paris, along with other sci­en­tists and politi­cians.

“All in all it was a great ex­pe­ri­ence and I was able to make many con­nec­tions dur­ing my visit.”

Mike Parish re­cently pre­sented at the Planet A Con­fer­ence in Paris. PHO­TOS: SUP­PLIED

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