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The Mystery in the peat soil

By Malcolm Campbell.

So far with most of my articles, I have tried to point out how our authorities are destroying the wider environment and, as a by, kill those creatures that formerly existed very comfortably in our surrounds. Every creature and especially those associated with water from the humble frog all the way to the ducks are in serious decline. The insects are also in serious decline yet for many creatures out there, they are the start of the food chain. Let’s get a check; the real start is the soil and water biology and even that is under attack.

Without soil and water and sunshine, there is nothing, a big fat nothing. Having developed a farm from barren scrub, beginning in January 1952, everything on that property was established by our family. If the pasture improved and flourished in one area faster and better than another, then it was some action we had carried out that led to that improvement.

The soil was extremely acidic with pH of 4, with one reading at 3.8. Some early temporary fences used the steel fence posts – Waratahs. When pulled out, they were not rusty as usually happens, but bright where the acid in the peat had eaten into them. There was no wildlife on those infertile acres, yet as development continued, the wildlife came; all of the common birds from the cute little brown quail right through to the bitterns, the shags and the ducks on the ponds we had made and the hares who grouped at certain times. Have you ever seen eleven hares playing in a group? The wildlife indicated that it could co-exist happily on farmland.

Some extraordinary discoveries were made. The peat soil was estimated to be three metres deep and probes could be pushed down to this depth quite easily. There was a curious feature that puzzled numerous people. The actual peat soil overlaid a layer of a gritty brown material about 150 to 180mm (6 to 8 inches) thick. It could be found across the entire farm, in some areas half a metre below the surface, and in others, over a metre below the surface. Many debates ensued. What was it? How had it arrived there? Airborne or water borne? Where did it come from?

We were working on our runway and a student from Waikato University was assisting when some of this brown grit was dug up. This fellow kindly took a sample back to the University for analysis and the question was answered.

That brown gritty layer came from the Taupo Eruption about 1800 years ago. Because it was so evenly spread, it must have come from the sky. Water would have left deeper or shallower layers, and it is a dense material, no doubt consolidating over time. The eruption was thought to have occurred in March or April in the afternoon. How is this known? No idea? Can anyone imagine having a deluge of semi-earth substance arriving in a great heavy blanket covering everything. In this day and age, it would be catastrophic.

Continued next week.

Caption: Malcolm Campbell

 |  The Informer  | 

By Malcolm Campbell.

So far with most of my articles, I have tried to point out how our authorities are destroying the wider environment and, as a by, kill those creatures that formerly existed very comfortably in our surrounds. Every creature and especially those associated with water from the humble frog all the way to the ducks are in serious decline. The insects are also in serious decline yet for many creatures out there, they are the start of the food chain. Let’s get a check; the real start is the soil and water biology and even that is under attack.

Without soil and water and sunshine, there is nothing, a big fat nothing. Having developed a farm from barren scrub, beginning in January 1952, everything on that property was established by our family. If the pasture improved and flourished in one area faster and better than another, then it was some action we had carried out that led to that improvement.

The soil was extremely acidic with pH of 4, with one reading at 3.8. Some early temporary fences used the steel fence posts – Waratahs. When pulled out, they were not rusty as usually happens, but bright where the acid in the peat had eaten into them. There was no wildlife on those infertile acres, yet as development continued, the wildlife came; all of the common birds from the cute little brown quail right through to the bitterns, the shags and the ducks on the ponds we had made and the hares who grouped at certain times. Have you ever seen eleven hares playing in a group? The wildlife indicated that it could co-exist happily on farmland.

Some extraordinary discoveries were made. The peat soil was estimated to be three metres deep and probes could be pushed down to this depth quite easily. There was a curious feature that puzzled numerous people. The actual peat soil overlaid a layer of a gritty brown material about 150 to 180mm (6 to 8 inches) thick. It could be found across the entire farm, in some areas half a metre below the surface, and in others, over a metre below the surface. Many debates ensued. What was it? How had it arrived there? Airborne or water borne? Where did it come from?

We were working on our runway and a student from Waikato University was assisting when some of this brown grit was dug up. This fellow kindly took a sample back to the University for analysis and the question was answered.

That brown gritty layer came from the Taupo Eruption about 1800 years ago. Because it was so evenly spread, it must have come from the sky. Water would have left deeper or shallower layers, and it is a dense material, no doubt consolidating over time. The eruption was thought to have occurred in March or April in the afternoon. How is this known? No idea? Can anyone imagine having a deluge of semi-earth substance arriving in a great heavy blanket covering everything. In this day and age, it would be catastrophic.

Continued next week.

Caption: Malcolm Campbell