Publication:

Bush Telegraph - 2021-05-03

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Move makes farming fun again

FOCUS ON FARMING

In the first few years we had to shift our mindset from the conventional model of farming we had known up to that point. We were fortunate to have the support of Greg and the farm up the road — a year ahead of us in this process, to look to for guidance. We gradually started planting diverse pasture species, adding more every season. We now have 85 per cent of our farm in diverse mixes, what we commonly refer to as our ‘cow salad’. We cut urea from our fertiliser regime and instead opted for a fish and seaweed mix that we spray on with our Metalform Tow-n-Fert. We very quickly noted the improvement in the soil biology when we dropped synthetic fertilisers and chemical sprays from our system. Our worm count increased, our plants were noticeably healthier, more resilient, and had stronger, deeper roots, and our organic matter has increased from 5 per cent to 9 per cent in the past four years. We also noticed an improvement in the water holding capacity and infiltration of the soil. Diverse pasture mixes include: ● Red Clover ● White Clover ● Plantain ● Chicory ● Phalaris ● Cocksfoot ● Timothy ● Prairie Grass ● Fescue ● Tetraploid perennial ryegrass ● Italian Rye In the regenerative farming system we have noted a significant improvement in animal health, the flow-on being a significant reduction in animal health costs. We now have a proactive, preventative approach to animal health. We use adlib minerals and trace elements year round, and together with the diverse pasture mixes, the cows have all that they need for optimal health. The wellbeing of our people was one of the key factors in our need for change. We have one fulltime staff member, Anthony Mills, and his family living on-farm. We also have a couple of part-time staff. The regenerative farming model we have adopted has supported us to restore farmer wellbeing through stress reduction, bringing the ‘lifestyle’ back into farming. We have created a family friendly environment on-farm that we are proud of. It is great to have quality time with our families both on and off the farm — achieving the balance we have long been after. It was an honour to share our story and showcase what we are doing on-farm for the prime minister, several other ministers and farming leaders last week. The positive interest and enthusiasm from our visitors left us feeling even more confident in our approach to farming and the possibilities it holds for the future. A growing interest in regenerative farming has seen Russell start working with Greg as a coach, supporting other farmers to transition to this system with the knowledge and hands-on experience he has gained during our own transition. By November this year we will be fully certified organic, a milestone that has been supported by the regenerative farming system. We can now honestly say we love what we do, and that farming has become fun again.

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