The Living Wage – Does it affect the whole farm’s work force?
I could bang on about the effect of the living wage on horticultural businesses but besides having some excellent staff on my payroll, we are in danger of ignoring another essential workforce on the farm.
A hidden work force
All too often, Bacteria and Fungi are misunderstood. The majority are essential to all life and are in desperate need of a “rebrand”. Their main job description is to extract mineral from the soil and make them available to the plant roots.
They are the foundation of the whole soil food web from Protozoa, Nematodes through to earthworms.
Prof William Jackson stated that “microorganism activity in one healthy Hectare uses the same energy in soil preparations as 10,000 people would burn for the same amount of work. We must nourish, protect and stimulate this invisible workforce”. We farm 121 Hectares so that’s a huge number of full time equivalents!
Mobilising the soil army
There are more bacteria in a handful of soil than people who have inhabited the earth.
Plants value their input so greatly that they contribute one Third of the sugar that they produce from photosynthesis.
We have a hidden army which needs to be kept on side.
Soil health & safety
This is where we implement our soil health & safety policy.
For the “health” element we must tend to the physiological needs of Bacteria and Fungi. An army marches on its stomach so it is essential that we nourish them with organic materials but it’s also vital to provide living conditions in the form of soil structure for optimal levels of water & air and continual cover cropping.
‘Safety’ largely relates to protection from toxins, especially not ignoring the damage that can be done by chemical sprays and poor soil management decisions.
A great Deal!
Without “high vis” it’s no surprise that on many farms this workforce is often overlooked
I always thought that the tradition of paying workers with cider was a great deal for Throne farm but where else would you find willing workers 24/7 in return for board & lodging?