"Improving Our Lot" - Planned Holistic Grazing, for starters..

Everything (all relationships) is really only as good as its last few "meetings" - nothing demonstrates it as clearly as when a meeting is 'mutually beneficial' as is the case in a cow/grass/soil biome.

Was going to say similar on the thistles thread but it would go over their heads I fear; it's as simple as getting it right, rather than making excuses as to why you can't.

Do whatever it takes
Get it done

Unsolvable = solved
 
When is a drought man-made?
Terry McCosker, RCS, June 13, 2019
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An unexpected outcome and a sobering email prompted RCS’s Terry McCosker to ask, “What has caused our National Estate to be in the condition it is in?” Many would say lack of rain, but Terry disagrees.

A few months ago I was in southern NSW. A group of us were going out to see a property after lunch, which was about 50 minutes away. Just prior to lunch and during lunch we were rejoicing over some good solid rain. It turned out to be between 11 and 20mm in about an hour. Just what the doctor ordered in a drought, you would think.

Terry McCosker
However our journey revealed a different story. Almost every dam we passed was by-washing, water was gushing off paddocks and down the gullies and the run-off was thick with silt. As we drove back 4 hours later, water was still sitting on top of the soil on the flats.
The entire landscape looked like it had been ploughed. It hadn’t been, it was just over stocked and overgrazed. My realization was that rainfall will not end the drought in this district, and this district is not on its own. That is a shocking condition for the national estate to be in.

That prompts the question – what caused the landscape to be in the condition it is in? Most people will say lack of rain, but I disagree. The condition of much of our landscape is a function of lack of effective management of the lack of rainfall – and not just the current drought. Getting a landscape to a hygroscopic state, has not just happened via this drought. It is an accumulation of mis-management over generations.
Fenceline picture showing water running off on the degraded side and water soaked in on grassed side.
The property we visited was a clear example of the fact that it does not have to be like that. Here the water gushed off neighbouring farms and as it hit the grassed paddocks, the water infiltrated immediately and within 50m of the fence, it had all soaked in.

The tools and management practices which led to the stark contrast have been around for 30 years, including the 90’s drought, the 2003 drought and every other one since.
There is always a cost in a drought. The difficult thing is to restrict the cost to a financial one. However frequently, due to lack of a solid drought plan, there is a cost to the land, the livestock and the people in the business, on top of a financial loss. The losses compound which then takes away any opportunity to profit from the small falls of rain that do occur.

I was prompted to write this by an email received in response to Raymond Stacey’s last newsletter article. Here’s the email:
Dear RCS,
I read your newsletter ‘If you can’t see it, you can’t eat it’ with interest. I have driven between South East Queensland, the Northern Territory and northern Queensland on inland roads at various times during the previous three years, and been struck by the increasing amount of run-down country with cattle still on it, that I’ve seen over this time …
I have wondered what the point of this is and whether this type of land management is supported by the wider industry. To the outside eye it appears senseless for the reasons stated in your article… Your article made it clear how hard it is to manage large areas of land with insufficient and unreliable rainfall and I appreciated learning this. However, widespread run down country isn’t a good look for the industry, and unfortunately it is these areas I remember more than the country where grass and shrubs/trees are in tact. Even though it is by comparison with these areas that one concludes overstocking above drought, is causing this land degradation.
It is a good thing relatively few outside people travel through these areas. In my view it is a tragic vision, especially if degraded land is next to a national park, what the country could be and what it actually is. Not at all in line with the idea that Australian food is ‘green’. It is also a scene ready to be exploited by those who want to curtail the activities of the livestock industry. My sentiments and own interests are with the agricultural industries – my father was a farmer and I work in fruit packing sheds – however seeing this badly run down land has turned my sympathies away from graziers and I am sorry to say this.


I had not been drinking when this arrived, but if I had, it would have sobered me up quickly. This is from someone who is on our side but it clearly illustrates that the social licence for graziers to continue business as usual, is on the wane.
Further evidence of the slow withdrawal of the social licence to degrade land is the legislation being put through in Queensland, where policy has now switched from the carrot to the stick.



The photos above, taken by Raymond recently, illustrates what the author of the email was talking about. The first picture is Indian couch, a pioneer which thankfully protects degraded country. The second picture is in a nearby National Park and the Kangaroo grass, a high successional plant, is very evident. It is not the difference in yield which is important, because obviously one has been grazed. What is important are the indicators of the ecosystem health, such as the tree dieback, the indian couch, the browse line and the lack of shrubs, in the grazed country.
The following two properties are also in the same district and illustrate that it is not lack of rain that creates the environmental issues, but the management of the rainfall we get.


It is time we started to call a spade a bloody shovel.
We have national drought policy which rewards unsustainable management instead of encouraging future-focused management. We have extension systems which, in many cases, have encouraged poor drought strategies (e.g. drought feeding) rather than changing the status quo. It might be the circles I mix in but the vast majority of graziers do not want to be tarred by this brush and want drought policy reversed so it rewards good management instead of bad.
Unless this happens soon the chickens will come home to roost for the grazing industry with more legislation and no social licence to continue with business as usual.
Terry McCosker,
Transient part-owner of the National Estate.
This article was originally published on the RCS website and is republished here with the permission of the author. To view the original article click here
 
i guess thats one of the benefits of just starting - you know youll fk it up somewhere. you dont plan for it but your inexperiance means itll happen - and as long as your aware of that you in a small way can mitigate it through other planning and also be ready to react...
Having been lucky enough to have sat through the training that HM is based off to quote an often used line - No plan survives first contact!
 
i guess thats one of the benefits of just starting - you know youll fk it up somewhere. you dont plan for it but your inexperiance means itll happen - and as long as your aware of that you in a small way can mitigate it through other planning and also be ready to react...
Having been lucky enough to have sat through the training that HM is based off to quote an often used line - No plan survives first contact!
Mistakes are how you learn better things faster.
 

Agrispeed

Member
Location
Cornwall
My first attempt at a diver cover crop - predominately stubble turnips and Barseem Clover, with cheap birdseed (Linseed, Sorghum, Millet, Sunflowers, Buckwheat, Safflower and hemp) is starting to look quite good. I am very impressed with this and will be using this again. I sowed the diverse mix in strips and it certainly seems to be better, with no real loss to the main crop, certainly the warm season grasses did very well when the rest was struggling from lack of moisture.

IMG_1566.JPG

You can see the strips well here
IMG_1565.JPG


IMG_1567.JPG


Adding the extra seed cost approx £5-7 an acre.
 

CornishTone

Member
Location
Cornwall
My first attempt at a diver cover crop - predominately stubble turnips and Barseem Clover, with cheap birdseed (Linseed, Sorghum, Millet, Sunflowers, Buckwheat, Safflower and hemp) is starting to look quite good. I am very impressed with this and will be using this again. I sowed the diverse mix in strips and it certainly seems to be better, with no real loss to the main crop, certainly the warm season grasses did very well when the rest was struggling from lack of moisture.

View attachment 827306
You can see the strips well here
View attachment 827305

View attachment 827304

Adding the extra seed cost approx £5-7 an acre.
When did you plant that?
 

Agrispeed

Member
Location
Cornwall
When did you plant that?
Sown with an Einbock on the 26th of June into a powder dry seedbed. Ideally it would've been done at the end of May, but the contractor with a front press and combi capable of doing small seeds couldn't get here, so we ended up getting our usual chap to do it after waiting a month, who came the next day!

Germination was a bit patchy, with consolidation a bit poor, despite heavy rolling, and much better growth in wheelings, with the rain a couple of weeks ago, patches that were previously bare started to germinate, a month later than other patches, but its evened up remarkably well.

It was originally planned to be a summer buffer in July/August during breeding, but as it is we can use it to build covers into the Autumn.

Hopefully we will be able to get some forage rye in after grazing in September. I have found a chap with a Aitchinson so we will probably do that unless we have to maul it in.
 

Poorbuthappy

Member
Location
Devon
My first attempt at a diver cover crop - predominately stubble turnips and Barseem Clover, with cheap birdseed (Linseed, Sorghum, Millet, Sunflowers, Buckwheat, Safflower and hemp) is starting to look quite good. I am very impressed with this and will be using this again. I sowed the diverse mix in strips and it certainly seems to be better, with no real loss to the main crop, certainly the warm season grasses did very well when the rest was struggling from lack of moisture.

View attachment 827306
You can see the strips well here
View attachment 827305

View attachment 827304

Adding the extra seed cost approx £5-7 an acre.
That looks great. What did it follow?
 
View attachment 827296
This year - 5 days ago... below last year from 31st july , just over the crest.
View attachment 827297
last years rest had been a fixed 90 days (although we had the dry spell) and this time im 40ish days (cant rem off the top of my head) since last through.
Lovely view over towards Graigfechan,up towards The shelf and Accre/Llysfasi mountain.

As you have maybe worked out we are around 1 mile over that ridge.
 

onesiedale

Member
Location
Derbyshire
Yep - i really need to start visiting ppl - as a late to the farming game, and not going to a local school duriong teens i missed out on the young farmers connections that are part of the whole community aspect which i think is a vital factor going foward. they will be (i hope) my future market.
You're so right in what you say about growing up in the community you are in. Its something that doesn't normally get considered in farming circles unless you've experienced it.
We moved through 2 council holdings before we got the tenancy here. All three places were new areas to us and iI have no doubt that our life off the farm suffered.
Luckily this holding is where the kids did most of their growing up and this is their home now, probably to the extent that I can't see them ever wanting to move from this area.
 

martian

DD Moderator
Location
N Herts
However...it makes it much easier to change the way you farm if you are an incomer (or just anti-social like me). Young Farmers is a brilliant organisation, but very conservative in outlook. I'm always disappointed whenever we make an effort to get them involved in Groundswell, you get the feeling that they just want to drive enormous tractors about at high speed and not really give much thought to climate change and stuff that most other young people are worried about. The attitude seems to be: Here's a form of farming that the general public can get excited about, so let's turn our backs on it and organise a muck-spreading marathon.
 

bitwrx

Member
However...it makes it much easier to change the way you farm if you are an incomer (or just anti-social like me). Young Farmers is a brilliant organisation, but very conservative in outlook. I'm always disappointed whenever we make an effort to get them involved in Groundswell, you get the feeling that they just want to drive enormous tractors about at high speed and not really give much thought to climate change and stuff that most other young people are worried about. The attitude seems to be: Here's a form of farming that the general public can get excited about, so let's turn our backs on it and organise a muck-spreading marathon.
Funny/depressing in equal measure.
 

onesiedale

Member
Location
Derbyshire
However...it makes it much easier to change the way you farm if you are an incomer (or just anti-social like me). Young Farmers is a brilliant organisation, but very conservative in outlook. I'm always disappointed whenever we make an effort to get them involved in Groundswell, you get the feeling that they just want to drive enormous tractors about at high speed and not really give much thought to climate change and stuff that most other young people are worried about. The attitude seems to be: Here's a form of farming that the general public can get excited about, so let's turn our backs on it and organise a muck-spreading marathon.
Interesting take. I can relate to being the incomer farmer. With no 'baggage' it was relatively easy to do things differently. Whether it be cross breeding the cows, or paddocking the farm up and grazing or even diversifying and adding value to our milk. Locally we have even been "the kiwi farmer on the hill' :ROFLMAO:
With regards to the young farmer bit, maybe that's holding back the younger generation as they do seem more set in their conventional ways than I ever was. Or maybe that's because I never had a formal agricultural education :scratchhead:
 

Agrispeed

Member
Location
Cornwall
That looks great. What did it follow?
Thanks, it took a while to get going but its starting to get there now.

This was a ploughing job on a tired old grass ley, that had seen outwintering of heavy sucklers for 5+ years, although this stopped 7 or so years ago, the field was still very poor. It had about 35t/Ha of fym, mixed with sand. This is an attempt at a summer grazing crop before going into the usual Rye/Brassica/ long term grass rotation, as we often get quite dry here in July/August.

A lot of the older grassland here is in need of renewing, and I don't like grass-grass reseeds so a cereal followed by a brassica seems to help, and you can grow an awful amount of forage from those two crops, with club root tolerant Kale, we can now add another brassica into the rotation, as you get a lot of feed for very low cost.

What would you class as a formal agricultural education ?
do others on here think they had a formal agricultural education ?

I done one day a week for half of two years at ag collage not sure if that counts, apart from that I kept my eyes open
I'm a relative incomer I suppose, having previously studied another subject before doing a BSc in agriculture. However, what I think was really important for me was my course was taught by an excellent lecturers who were also farmers ( the course head is now Organic famer on the Devon coast) and as well as the 'traditional' aspects did a lot on holistic systems. An excellent aspect was that the year group was tiny, with 8 people and several of the others on the course were interested in the more abstract areas of farming and I suppose we steered our year in the direction we wanted more than is possible in larger institutions. We had a lot of visits to other farms, conferences and institutions, which meant I was able to do a lot of networking, which can be very difficult as a complete unknown.
 

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