Have we learned from history 1.docx

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Agricultural Studies
AGST 1000
Henning Bjourlund

Have we learned from History? Australia Australia - Almost same size as Canada from east to west - 2 factors in influencing resources of Australia o Cultural practices o Rich in mining o - The British brought convicts to Australia to solve a problem at home o Poor criminals could not be sent to US  Due to the independence of the US they did not want to take the undesirable people from Britain - They expected the colony to become self sufficient and be able to export surplus produce especially wool, back to England. - They started farming the way they knew from home o Clearing land o Bringing sheep and cattle o Growing crops o Dairy farming o Orchards and market gardening. - Minerals were discovered (copper, iron ore, gold, fossil fuel) - They started irrigation schemes in 1860s, for the Returned Soldiers in 1920s, and again in the 1950s - About 6 million Europeans came to Australia in the early 50s. Mainly South Europe - Population increased to 10 million o Italian, Greek, Spanish - By 2004; 20 million - The Australian landscape was not Eupnoea Landscape - It had not been farmed before - The British did not question why that might be so - To them the aboriginals were primitive savages-how would they know? Important features of Australia - The physical environment o Solids o Especially nutrients and salt level o Availability of fresh water o Location: Tyranny of distance  One town to another almost 3,000 km- nothing in between They physical environment- Soil - Most unproductive continent o On average the lowest nutrients levels o The lowest plant growth rate o The lowest productivity - So old that the soils have become leached of their nutrients by rain over billions o years-very fragile - No renewal from volcanic eruptions, glacial movements or movement in the soil o Ice age did not move good soil around - Soil naturally high in salt o Plants cannot grow in high salinity o Some places 60% o In the southwestern Australia wheat belt the salt in the ground has been carried inland over the course of millions of years from the Indian Ocean o In the southeast the Murray0Darling Basin lies at low elevations and have been repeatedly inundated by the sea and drained again leaving salt behind o Part of inland Australia were, millions of years ago, a freshwater lake that did not drain to the seam as it evaporated it become more salty. It eventually dried out and left the salt behind which the wind then carried to other parts of Australia (like the Aral Sea) - Low productivity of Australian soils and salinity have had major economic impact on Australian agriculture and forestry Fresh water availability - Very variable o Due to the wide land mass o Need several years of water in storage due to variability - Large part low rainfall or desert - Rainfall high near coast reduces as you move inland o Cooler areas retain the moisture better then hotter areas - At coast, intensive cropping and grazing - Further inland sheep production o Very sharp divide between where cattle and sheep are - Centre cattle How have the “Locals” adapted to this? - Humans and the dog came this way 40-60,000 years ago - Sunderland was submerged in water 8-4,000 BC - Native Australian animals o No hooves which causes the soil to compact o Cattle and sheep damage to fragile soil due to hooves from breaking it up o Originally they did not eat Kangaroo-viewed as a pet more than livestock - The indigenous population never established ‘farming’ but lived as hunter gatherers - They had well established systems of land management by burning off fuel loads, and promoting seed germination - They were organized in clans or Kinship groups - Tribes living in tropical northland adapted to a lifestyle with fish, turtles and native birds, collecting seed and fruits on the coastal plains Tribesman of the desert - More than 650 distinct language groups How did white man deal with it Climate and fist settlers - Arrived a period of wet years (SA 1860s) - Decided to raise crops and sheep on relatively small parcels - Then the climate returned to its normal pattern - In many farming areas the rainfall is only sufficient to raise crops in a fraction of all years, not more than half and in some areas only 2 out of 10 years. o Now to make a living they need 3,000 acres of good soil European Methods and Values and their impact on Australian Environment - British identity o Brought sheep - Sheep and cows - Rabbits and foxes - Land and water management practices - Exploitation of other natural resources o As they found oil and gas British Identity - Secure British control of Australia o Closer settlement policies o Constitution and electoral power  Introduces policies and laws - Produce export goods to o Supply the industry in the motherland o Financially support the growing colony - Hunting and farming practices The sheep - Britain had a big textile industry-but not enough raw material - Lost supply of wool under the Napoleonic wars - Looked for alternative supply - Smuggled Merino sheep from Spain o Still most prominent breed in Australia - Was for many years the backbone of the Australian economy - Sheep needs grazing!!! o 25-35 million sheep today o And initially some cleared land reacted positively o Improved pastures- but suffered easily from overgrazing o Initially native landscape looked deceptively fertile but the soil productivity was low o Required close management o Artificially high wool prices resulted in high stocking rates o Very low regeneration  Due to overgrazing the plants too low  Required close management and movement  Introduced policies to help she
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