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Your Royal Highness, I Have The Drill For You

Your Royal Highness, I Have The Drill For You

Thursday, November 15

A world authority on soil science and the inventor of a revolutionary new no-tillage seed drill has invited HRH Prince Charles to see it in action in the United Kingdom.

Dr John Baker met Prince Charles in Feilding today and discussed the drill which is almost fail safe and already helping to sustainably feed the world.

“I was delighted to meet an international leader who’s knowledgeable about the importance of soil biology in growing the world’s food and whose Duchy of Cornwall supports many charitable causes,” John Baker says.

“I am certain our no-tillage drill would help to increase production and yield on the properties comprising the Duchy of Cornwall.”

Prince Charles is patron of Garden Organic, the United Kingdom’s largest organic charity trust, and he contributes produce from his many farms to it.

Dr John Baker extended the invitation to HRH’s private secretary immediately following his conversation with Prince Charles.

Because of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall’s tight schedule, John was unable to demonstrate his Cross-Slot no-tillage drill to them but can access a drill in Oxfordshire that could be demonstrated to Prince Charles back in England.

Contained in the gift from the people of Feilding to them both are books Dr John Baker has written, a letter of introduction, a one page summary and DVDs on the Cross-Slot no-tillage drill.

Following 30 years of research at Massey University, Dr Baker decided there had to be a better way to sow seeds. He researched and developed Cross Slot no-tillage drills which penetrate through crop residues or vegetation on top of the ground and sow seed and fertiliser in different bands at the same time.

The Cross Slot process causes minimal or low disturbance to the soil, traps the humidity, preserves the micro-organisms and soil life and largely prevents carbon from escaping into the atmosphere.

No-Tillage is the equivalent of keyhole surgery as opposed to ploughing which is invasive surgery and contributes to global warming. The result of no-tillage is increased yields and the near elimination of crop failure and soil erosion. The long term outcome is sustainable food production which can feed millions of families.

While Dr Baker’s machines are used extensively in Australia and the prairies of America and Canada, there are very few in Great Britain.

John Baker explains the modern concept of no-tillage was invented in England in the 1960s but the equipment created the wrong shape of slot which resulted in unreliable seed germination.

Several were sent to New Zealand and John Baker, as a young soil scientist, discovered that the machinery provided a more hostile environment than ploughing for encouraging plant growth.

He devoted his Ph.D to finding out why it failed and what needed to be done to correct it. In doing so he discarded all the so-called knowledge about what a seed needed to germinate in a tilled soil and discovered unknown facts about the potential benefits of germinating seeds in untilled soils.

“Phase two was to create fail safe equipment to make that happen,” John Baker says. “And we did.”

Baker No-Tillage’s Cross Slot drills have now been in production for 15 years and are considered by the United Nations FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation) to be the best in the world. For his part in developing the drill, John was created an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2006 and has been nominated for the World Food Prize in 2012 and 2013.

Recently he warned that if conventional ploughing isn’t replaced by no-tillage within 50 years there’ll be famine and drought in areas of the world.

“When the soil is ploughed it releases much of the carbon back into the atmosphere. The long term result is a reduction in soil organic matter, which in turn leads to soil erosion, dust storms and ultimately famine,” he says.

If HRH Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall are willing to see a demonstration, John will fly over and showing them the technology that will increase yields and help to feed the world.


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