John van Nooten – Making a Difference
ENVIRONMENTAL AND HUMANITARIAN PROJECTS
Published by John van Nooten, December 2012
[One of many conversations of interest from the OPAL Inaugural weekend came from my discussions with John van Nooten, a gentleman from Australia dedicated to making a difference on Planet Earth. The following is an excerpt from his environmental and humanitarian white paper of December 2012 which he shared with me. – Holly Tucker, Editor]
Human health depends on healthy, nutritious food. Our bodies require at least 80 minerals yet most farmers add only three minerals to the soil – Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium – in concentrations so high they kill most organisms living in the soil. Most farm soil has lost most of its trace elements, therefore all food grown on those farms can’t provide the nutrition our bodies need.
No wonder we have a global epidemic of diseases and obesity. Most people, even those who are obese, are malnourished because the food they eat does not contain all of the nutrition they need.
There is hope, despite the enormity of the problem. We can quickly and dramatically repair damaged soil, re-plant forests, break the addiction to agrochemicals and provide abundant, nutritious food for everyone on Earth. We can do this sustainably and responsibly. The cost of doing it is minimal when compared with the cost of not doing it.
All of the systems and technologies exist today, fully proven and ready to go. We can do this NOW.
I have assembled a core team of extraordinary people with complementary skills, resources and networks.
Our overall mission is to preserve biodiversity, repair degraded farmland and improve soil on a global scale and teach others how to do it, quickly, inexpensively and sustainably. My colleagues and I, and several interested parties, are patient but very keen to get started as soon as possible. They have said to me, “it is not a matter of if we will do them but when. We WILL do ALL of these projects. We MUST. The planet and humanity NEEDS us to do all of them.”
This document presents a broad overview of a group of inter-related, complementary environmental and humanitarian projects. These projects have been in the planning stage for over 3 years. My own research spans more than 15 years. Some of my colleagues’ research spans more than 30 years. We will be working in conjunction with several universities and newly created research institutes.
The initial group of projects will be clustered in the Riverina region, located near Wagga Wagga in New South Wales, Australia. Wagga Wagga is a city of about 70,000 people. The Riverina region produces about one-third of Australia’s food.
PRESERVING BIODIVERSITY & REPAIRING THE LAND QUICKLY, CHEAPLY and NATURALLY
We plan to establish a community owned 2,000 hectare (5,000 acre) Gene Bank/Food & Medicine Forest of extraordinary biodiversity, with an eco-resort, and giant greenhouses like the Eden Project. We will build eco-villages with about 500 homes made from hemp building materials – these will be surrounded by sustainable and profitable organic/permaculture farms.
All of these initial projects will be close to Wagga Wagga, NSW, Australia (half way between Melbourne and Sydney). We expect that it will become a major tourist attraction, hence the eco-resort. We want to encourage visitors from all over the world so they can see what we are doing and take inspiration from it to encourage participation in similar projects in their own communities.
We will follow-up with many similar projects worldwide. We will emphasise teaching the local communities how to create and maintain the forests as well as how to make a sustainable, profitable living from the organic/permaculture farms surrounding the Gene Bank permanent reserves (similar concept to the Willie Smits video, below).
We plan to establish a Farm Repair Institute to teach farmers how to repair their land and how to convert from unsustainable, toxic chemical farming back to sustainable organic farming. We will hire the likes of Peter Andrews, Geoff Lawton, Willie Smits and others as teachers/mentors.
REPAIRING HUGE AREAS OF LAND – ALREADY DONE!
See a project in China to repair an area of unproductive desert the size of the Netherlands, now highly productive farmland – done in a few short years. See other large projects in Africa and the Middle East.
Biochar is charcoal made from plant or animal waste by heating the waste to high temperatures in a very low- or no-oxygen kiln (so it doesn’t burn to ash). When added to the soil, biochar has dozens of benefits, including:
- improving soil fertility
- improving fertiliser retention in soil
- reducing or eliminating the need for chemical fertilizers
- improving soil biomass/ecosystems (micro and macro organisms)
- improving soil aeration
- improving soil moisture-retention
- improving soil drainage
- reducing soil erosion
- rehabilitating huge areas of degraded farmland
- making barren land fertile
- growing much healthier plants
- reducing or eliminating the need for pesticides
- improving water quality (by reducing chemical fertilizer and pesticide usage and reducing their run-off as a result of improved Cation-Exchange Capacity and natural carbon filtration)
- reducing atmospheric CO2 (by sequestering carbon from plants in soil for thousands of years)
- reducing emissions of other greenhouse gases from soil
- growing a lot more food (up to 900% increase in harvest) of much higher nutritional quality
All of these benefits have been scientifically verified.
The world’s most hyper-fertile soils are in the Amazon. These soils, known as terra preta, are man-made by adding biochar and compost to the practically barren clay soils that dominate the region. Approximately 10% of the Amazon Basin’s soils are man-made! That is approximately 90 million hectares (225 million acres) of man-made soil. Imagine what we can achieve globally with modern technology.
The extraordinary fertility of these man-made terra preta soils continues today, as much as 7,000 years after the biochar was added. Incidentally, the world’s best carbon for water filtration is biochar made from mammal bones.We plan to build a factory in Wagga Wagga to produce approximately:
- 40,000 tonnes of biochar (per year) and
- 26,000 tonnes of bio-fuels (jet fuel, bio-diesel) (per year) and
- 15,000 tonnes of organically-sourced liquid nitrate fertilizer (per year) and
- 20 Megawatts of electricity (continuous) plus
- enormous amounts of heat that will be used in various processes in adjacent factories
The raw materials we will use are all waste products such as agricultural waste, food processing waste, forestry waste, bones and manures. The technology we will use is the world’s best – there are ZERO emissions. EVERYTHING is recycled, even the exhaust from the diesel, kerosene and syngas-powered generators. We could also grow crops specifically for making biochar.
Nature has NO WASTE, so why should we?
We will follow up with about one hundred similar systems, as well as smaller mobile systems and on-farm systems, throughout Australia and several hundred more worldwide. The current design allows for scaling up to three times the production capacity listed above but we prefer a decentralized model to dramatically reduce the transport distance/costs for the raw materials and finished products and to provide off-grid power to large farms and local communities. Any excess power will be fed into the national grid, wherever possible.
VIDEOS ABOUT BIOCHAR FOR FURTHER RESEARCH:
Biochar – agrichar – Terra Preta (10:53): 2007 documentary from ABC’s Quantum program discussing Australian and international biochar researchOther Biochar Other Videos:
The Promise of Biochar – Part 2 (Biochar on the Farm) (2:25)
A teaspoon of healthy soil contains billions or even trillions of micro-organisms. Biochar complements the soil biology. The micro-organisms take up residence inside the biochar where they are protected from predators and climate extremes.
It is the soil micro-organisms that are responsible for making the nutrients available to plants. Soil biology can protect against plant diseases and pests, similar to how pro-biotics help our digestive and immune systems.
Healthy soil produces delicious tasting and highly nutritious food which has a longer shelf-life than food grown in virtually dead soils where chemical fertilisers, herbicides, fungicides and pesticides are used.
Farms using chemicals are highly toxic places. The food they grow is contaminated with chemicals, radioactivity (from the mineral phosphorus used in chemical fertilizers) and the food has very poor flavour and poor nutritional value. Chemically-grown foods and highly processed foods are responsible for the majority of cancers and other diseases, worldwide.
Any farm currently using agricultural chemicals can revert to organic farming IN ONE DAY by stopping the use/abuse of agri-chemicals, applying biochar, compost tea to inoculate the soil with beneficial micro-organisms and customised liquid organic fertiliser based on comprehensive soil analysis for each site.
VIDEOS ABOUT SOIL BIOLOGY FOR FURTHER RESEARCH:
My associate, Richard, manages 350,000 hectares of farms, including a single farm of 200,000 hectares (500,000 acres) that produces more than 1 million tonnes of rice each year. Richard is passionate about organic farming and repairing severely degraded land.
Richard described how he uses 1,000 litre tanks with a spa-blower to produce a type of “biological tea”. He inoculates the water with a small amount of laboratory-selected beneficial soil microbes, including nitrogen-fixing bacteria, and some nutrient to feed the bacteria as they multiply exponentially. After 30 minutes of aerating the water, the weight increases from 1,000 kg to 1,170 kg! The extra 170 kg is mostly nitrogen taken from the atmosphere by the bacteria. This “tea” is then diluted and sprayed onto crops using broadacre irrigation systems. The results are impressive.
There are a variety of technologies that use magnets, vortices and/or light to alter the physical structure of water (basically de-clumping the molecules) which produces incredible health benefits for plants and animals, including humans. Using these technologies, crops use less water and yield more nutritious food. We will incorporate these technologies into our broadacre crop irrigation systems.
This research has been replicated many times, including in Australian schools
We have been asked to manage the expansion of the hemp industry in Australia and the southern hemisphere, in partnership with an Australian/European joint venture group of companies who have been researching, growing and processing hemp for decades. They are the world leaders in hemp plant selection and breeding, hemp farming, materials science and processing technologies. They currently grow and process hemp in Australia (from Cairns to Hobart), 6 EU countries, Russia, China, South Africa, Thailand, New Zealand, Canada and Uruguay (soon also Brazil, Argentina and Chile), and process hemp in USA and other countries where hemp cannot be grown legally.
Part of the task we have been given is to manage the expansion of the hemp crops to 300,000 hectares (750,000 acres) in 5 to 7 years.
We will build hemp processing mini-mills on farms which separate the raw materials – seeds, leaves, bast (bark) fibres and hurd (the woody core of the plant) – and make them more compact to reduce the cost and environmental impact of transporting to secondary processing factories. We will build a large mill with several adjacent factories for “second-stage processing” in Wagga Wagga and in several other strategically located regional centres.
We will produce a wide range of products:
- Food (hemp seed is the most perfectly balanced food on the planet)
- Medicine (can be used to treat over 500 different ailments)
- Body care & cosmetics
- Building materials such as hempcrete, chipboard, and one-piece moulded house frames (in sections) and roof trusses that snap together (eliminating the need to hand-select straight, knot- free pieces of lumber, eliminating the manual tasks of measuring, cutting and joining – and eliminating the joining hardware, glue, etc.)
- Plastics and fibreglass substitutes using hemp fibre instead of glass.
- Paper (the world’s best paper is made from hemp).
- Textiles including pure hemp and 50/50 blends of hemp and wool.
- Advanced “technical” fibres, similar to kevlar (or better).
- Car parts (Mercedes Benz, Audi, VolksWagen and other car manufactures use hemp products today).
- Bio-diesel, ethanol, lubricants, wood-preserving oils for decks and outdoor furniture.
- …and many more! There are over 50,000 products in the world today that are made from hemp.
Some added benefits of growing hemp are that it suppresses weeds and improves the soil. For instance, if we grow hemp in summer followed by a winter grain crop, the grain crop will yield up to 50% more than if we had not grown the hemp.
Hemp is an excellent “mop-crop” for removing contaminants from the soil. Hemp and biochar are excellent for mine rehabilitation.
Henry Ford’s Hemp Plastic Car (1941) (0:33):
We must take responsibility for the destruction we have caused. We must take responsibility for fixing the myriad problems our greed, ignorance and stupidity have caused. If we don’t take major action now, our future will be very bleak indeed.
Competition and greed are root causes of scarcity. Co-operation and sharing knowledge are essential to humanity surviving and thriving. With co-operation instead of competition, we can all share in a world of abundance, health, happiness and peace.
This is a global mission, ultimately requiring hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dedicated people to help achieve the mission. Together, we will work with nature to REPAIR THE EARTH. – John van Nooten[To read the entire white paper, contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org]
- CATEGORY Imagining