Maximizing the semi-arid Australian landscape for farming
Well, justabout the single most important question in the semi-arid landscape in Australia, it seems. And an answer? Ask the people of "the 750 km2 back paddock of El Questro Cattle Station" - The Kachana Pastoral Company in the Kimberley in Western Australia. They regard their cows as part of the daily Executive Farm Management Team.
Kachana's intensive rotational grazing plan is a proven success. Their Web site states:
In our deteriorating rangelands we can view cattle as part of the problem .... or we can use cattle as part of the solution.
The challenge is to influence the movement of large herbivores in such a way, that the effect mimics what nature achieved in first place, before humans interfered: pruning, mulching, fertilising, cycling or sequestrating of carbon.
Animal maintained landscapes are 'scale neutral': what we currently do on fifty square kilometres with 50 to 100 head of cattle, we could do on five thousand or more square kilometres with more animals. However, the viability of such actions depends on the value society places on fresh air, clean water and healthy biodiverse landscapes.
For periods of just a few days at the time, they let their cattle loose on a small plot of land. The cattle does all the soil work, and after they're done, they are moved on to another area.
Click on the button "Show me!" to see what one of those land areas, the Upper Cockatoo Creek area, is subjected to by cattle, and what the results are over time.
Credits: Information and photographs about this project is posted on this page with permission of the owners of Kachana Pastoral Station. We thank them for that permission!
Holistic approach transforms Kimberley - An emigrant [sic] couple in Western Australia's Kimberley has turned a 750 square-kilometre 'backpaddock' into a sustainable cattle and environmental tourism operation. Chris and Jacquie Henggeler have transformed their lot, Kachana, using holistic farming techniques which Mr Henggeler's father pioneered.
Wayne Bryce is a successful contender for the 2000-01 Grant Awards of the Agriculture Advancing Australia Farming Innovation Program. Wayne manages his family merino properties, between Hamilton and Warnambool, which currently carry 14 sheep per hectare.
He's been experimenting for three years with an intensive system of rotational sheep grazing designed to increase the stocking rate by 30%, minimise input costs, control salinity and reduce water usage. Dairy farmers have long used such a system, but Mr Bryce is adapting it to broadacre sheep farming on Victoria's heavy volcanic soils.
The system involves changing farm layout to reduce the size of paddocks and grouping small mobs of sheep into large mobs, which are moved every two to three days. Paddocks are given 40-60 days between grazing. This allows healthier plants to grow large leaf areas and develop their root systems better while increasing feed production.
Source: Round One Applicants at: http://www.affa.gov.au/farminnovation/
A healthy, well-structured soil--rich in humus and high in biological activity--is a prerequisite for any sustainable agricultural system.
Decades of experience with the Biodynamic method on Australian farms have shown that these soil qualities can be promoted, and degradation reversed by the correct application of Biodynamic techniques.
Mixed farms practising the Biodynamic method have been in existence for over 65 years with none showing any evidence of loss of fertility or productivity.
Biodynamic farming practices are of an organic nature, not relying on bringing artificial fertilisers on to the farm, although some organic or natural mineral fertiliser may be necessary during the establishment phase.
On Biodynamic farms we seek instead to enhance the soil's structure and nutrient cycles as well as plant growth and development with the use of specific Preparations which are made from farm-sourced materials.
Pest and disease control is generally managed by developing the farm as a total organism. However, Biodynamic practitioners may make use of specific products for weed and pest control, which they make from the weeds and pests themselves.
Weeds and pests are very useful indicators of imbalances in soil, plants and animals; and the aim in the Biodynamic method is to use such indicators in a positive way.
The Biodynamic Preparations were developed out of indications by Dr Rudolf Steiner in 1924. They are not fertilisers themselves but greatly assist the fertilising process. As such they only need to be used in very small amounts.Source: http://www.biodynamics.net.au/html/biodynamics.html