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

Discussion in 'Holistic Farming' started by Kiwi Pete, Apr 21, 2018.

  1. Henarar

    Henarar Member

    ZumerZet Somerset
    My opinion for what its worth is that last 10 or 20% of production is not worth the fecking effort
    like an engine you will last longer at 3/4 throttle than you will flat out
    Treg, Crofter64, SilliamWhale and 7 others like this.
  2. On Farm

    Carbon farming is a priority for these North Star croppers who are resurrecting crop production with better soil.
    Jamie Brown
    20 Jul 2018, 3 p.m.

    Cropping on North Star vertisol requires an injection of carbon if it is to remain the golden triangle, says a producer who is learning to retain rain.

    Most of North Star is black with fallow or failed crop as a result of the worst summer season since 1956. But at Leyland there are paddocks under cover multi-species cover crops designed to hold soil in place and provide microbes with sustenance.

    The golden triangle around North Star has lost its shine with only a lack of rain to blame.

    But a keen team of grain producers is banking on improved soil carbon to help lift their situation when the season breaks.

    Ran Mitchell, Rod Farrow and Peter Dillon, “Leyland”, on the banks of Mungle Creek at North Star, have been thinking outside the square when it comes to increasing consistent productivity through soil health.

    “Sustainability all starts with your organic carbon level” property owner Mr. Mitchell said, at the recent Moree Next Crop Forum, hosted by The Land and Good Fruit and Vegetables. Here he advocated for the retention of straw left over from harvested crop and crimping it back into the soil. Certainly livestock with manure and hooves do a good job, he said.

    Mr Mitchell’s father gained the lease of Leyland’s chocolate vertisol country in 1936, following the successful introduction of the Cactoblastis Insect which had decimated an invasive prickly pear which previously dominated the Brigalow-Belah scrub.

    At the time a requirement by the Lands Department demanded control of the remaining cactus and ringbarking scrub. Of the 1200 hectares cleared, a remnant remains, after Aboriginal labourers decided to move on.

    I have always said the difference between a good farmer and a poor one was 25mm of rain. Perhaps we are nearly half way to being good farmers - Ran Mitchell

    In the years since there has been change. Livestock left the property in favour of broad acre farming. After the introduction of intensive cropping practice in the 1980s there was a noticeable loss of yield and protein in their grain. But Mr Mitchell was on the case a decade before that.

    About 40 years ago he started to get serious about soil health and adopted no-till, with no stubble burning-off or baling.

    “We did a simple soil absorption test at the time and filled bottomless drums with water on cropping land and the Brigalow scrub”, recalled Mr Mitchell. “Soil under the trees drained twice as fast as on our cultivated paddocks.”

    When Ran’s father came to North Star soil carbon levels at Leyland probably were 3-5 percent and later when cultivation commenced there were so many worms that their long bodies tangled in the planting tynes.

    No till and no stubble burn-off or baling.

    After the introduction of four-wheel drive tractors and larger equipment which prepared land with more chemical fertilisers and sprays, soil carbon levels began to fall below one per cent and worms were hard to find. Where once Mungle Creek flowed serenely after rain, it began to run rapid and noisy from sudden in-flow.

    While no-till cultivation has slowed the loss of carbon the situation remains far from stable, admits Mr Mitchell, who continues to experiment with best practice.

    Application of worm juice began 19 years ago. There has been zero urea application for the past decade, although at Leyland they have been injecting liquid nutrient at sowing for the past eight seasons and applying nutrient foliars at key phases.

    There are no fungicides sprayed on their cereal crops and insecticide use is minimal. In fact, they chase greater diversity of fungal spores by harvesting mulched bark and soil from a remnant woodland next to Mungle Creek and use that for bedding in the worm farm.

    Worm production is run by long-time employee Rod Farrow who left the farm and district for almost a decade in the mid 1980s and on his return was shocked at the decline in yield and protein in crops right across the Golden Triangle.

    Mr Farrow began experimenting with compost teas and worm juice, as advised by Dr Elaine Ingham’s Soil Food Web Institute, at Lismore, which works closely with Southern Cross University.

    Another employee, Peter Dillon, recalls how the use of glyphosate on these prosperous self-mulching soils ramped up during the same period with application rates climbing from 250 to 500 millilitres per hectare to today’s rate of 2 litres per hectare.

    North Star cropping is dormant this season and did not benefit much from mid-winter showers.

    It was clear to the Leyland team that agricultural methods had to be altered towards greater good.

    Other innovations include crimping cereal straw, with farm-built unit, that helps lay the bulky material flat on the ground-for easy access to microbes.

    Mr Mitchell has not been tempted to sell his straw off-farm, even in a season like this one where there is high demand and prices for straw.

    The benefit to his soil by leaving it is simply too great.

    “It is difficult to prove but I believe our yields have been about average in the district, however our protein is up”, he said.

    “Our costs are down, our paddocks have evened-out quite a lot, and there is less variation in yield, protein, weight and screenings across the various soil types. We have had to spray less for disease and insects.

    “In saying that, soil moisture is critical.”

    A 2016 soil test showed 0.83% organic carbon in the top 10 centimetres. This year, during drought, the same paddock was tested and revealed a rise of 0.25% to 1.08% per hectare which indicated Leyland soil to contain 14 tonnes of carbon per hectare in that top 10cm layer.

    As rule of thumb Mr Mitchell reckons his soil is now capable of holding 11.8mm more rainfall than in 2016.

    “I have always said that the difference between a good farmer and a poor one was 25mm of rain,” mused Mr Mitchell. “Perhaps we are nearly half-way to being good.”
    Treg, Crofter64, awkward and 5 others like this.
  3. Moved the cows half an hour ago and they can now reach some overhanging willows. They immediately tucked into the leaves they could reach. I hadn't thought about feeding it to them but I might start doing so as there's plenty of willow here.
  4. Henarar

    Henarar Member

    ZumerZet Somerset
    If things get really bad invest in a tree shear
  5. DanM

    DanM Member

    We’re allowing cattle access to all hedges and trees currently. They’re doing a great job of tidying them all up - should mean no need for the hedge trimmer this year!
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018
  6. Henarar

    Henarar Member

    ZumerZet Somerset
    Where do they pin the badges :D
  7. Ive said it before either here or on another thread i took on 50 acres of very rough grazing this spring that had a lot of overgrown willow hedges in it. I turned my ewe lambs that werent rearing because they hadnt taken the ram there and they just grazed the grass. I picked out the ewe lambs that had lost lambs and generally had a hard time bei g heavily pregnant in the snow then rearing or trying to rear lambs in the crappy weather that followed and some of them looked pretty miserable and poor. They went to the rough groijd and the first thing they did was eat all the willow they could reach but they havent touched any of the other trees. They all ate dandelions on the way up there on the side of the roads too but none ate any grass. I was thinking if they were self medicating on things that they needed either mineral wise or the asprin ingredient (salicilic acid?) That is in the willow. They look great now.
    Sharpy, Crofter64, Osca and 6 others like this.
  8. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Owaka, New Zealand
    You can spend all you like but if it doesn't rain or some tit in another country starts a trade war then what?

    You spent your money. He didn't.

    You see it time after time on TFF - farmers playing the blame game, but they never blame their competition, or even really seem to acknowledge they are in competition with one another - unless a kiwi pipes up :rolleyes:

    The one person who they aren't competing with..... :whistle:
  9. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Owaka, New Zealand
    Literally - trees and hedges and scrub and weeds are your mineral pumps.
    They take things that are much deeper than the pasture species and store them up - all you have to do is find a way to get them cycling and they are beneficial, because then those minerals are in the cycle.
    Any excess is deposited where the pasture can utilise it.

    Or, you can just eliminate everything other than ryegrass and poke the animals with needles or put it down their throats, whatever works...

    It's lack of diversity and lack of unity that is a farmer problem, all these things would soon become present in the landscape given enough time and a lack of "good farming"
    Hence the issues that become apparent, deficiencies and costs being the main two.

    There's usually an abundance of minerals, farming often cuts itself off from them simply by growing the wrong stuff - I feel for the new member on here with the survey about planting trees, did you know that land that has trees can NEVER be used for farming again? :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
  10. Henarar

    Henarar Member

    ZumerZet Somerset
    Your corectar
    You lads are no competition
    Kiwi Pete likes this.
  11. Henarar

    Henarar Member

    ZumerZet Somerset
    Here they are just as likely to slap a tpo on them so you cant even trim them up let alone cut hem down
    Happend to a mate of mine for no good reason a chap that had let lots of trees go up in the hedges ans planted some then the sneaky barstewards done that to him to scupper his plans
  12. Kiwi Pete

    Kiwi Pete Member

    Owaka, New Zealand
    That's true - I have to say we don't even try to be.
    Nobody is forcing anyone to farm - I thought that was the idea behind basic area payments :confused::confused: to just look after the place and make sure it is ready to go in future

    I think some stuff got lost in translation but I get it, and I am 12000 miles away....

    Same scenario here, we aren't paid to give our sheep away, so we breed from them and sell the lambs at a fair price on the same market that is open to anyone in the world with meat to sell.

    The world loves good meat, at the right price. :)
    Who doesn't?
    Oh, the veggie brigade, that's fine by me. More for everyone else (y)
  13. Sharpy, Farmer Roy and Crofter64 like this.
  14. Looks like He's right that it was patented as an aniti-microbial at least:
    awkward likes this.
  15. Henarar

    Henarar Member

    ZumerZet Somerset
    try telling some that
    good luck
    ive been doing just that since the SFP came in
    and yes you can claim BPS if you are not a farmer or a land owner but what do I know nothing apparently
    not going to tell them how though or they will all be at it :ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO::ROFLMAO:
    Kiwi Pete and CornishTone like this.
  16. Sheila Cooke

    Sheila Cooke Member

    Hi Everyone,

    I've been absent for a while. I am in America this summer, caring for my mom who has breast cancer, and my father passed away with late stage Parkinson's in June. The good news is that mom has finished radiation and has a very good prognosis.

    I've been using this time to redo our 3LM website. There is a new Resources page.

    I posted a new blog today, Green Oasis, about a farmer in Germany who has transformed their farm after just 8 months of Holistic Management.

    Please check it all out, and be sure to sign up for our virtual Open House on the 16th of August at 20:00 UK.

    Best regards,

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  17. thanks for the update sheila
    Sheila Cooke, Kiwi Pete and Crofter64 like this.
  18. Crofter64

    Crofter64 Member

    Eastern Canada
    It’s amazing how much we see when we understand what we are
    looking at.
    I am grateful for this thread which allows us all to widen our observation and understandiing of what is hiding in plain sight on our farms.
    I have been planting trees on my open, flat heavy clay land for 20years so that in the spring as a tonic and vermifuge and during drought there is something to eat. In between there is the benefit of shade, and more complicated soil interactions .
    Treg, CornishTone, Blaithin and 5 others like this.
  19. Glad the outlook is better for your mum Sheila.
    Treg, Sheila Cooke, hendrebc and 2 others like this.
  20. Its funny you should say that about understanding what we are looking at. Ive mentioned about the ewe lambs eating the willow to several of my farmer friends and they all more or less dismissed it as me overthinking things and said theyrr sheep theyre too dumb to know what theyre eating they just like the taste of leaves :rolleyes::banghead::facepalm:

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