Australia may only contribute 1.3 % to Carbon Dioxide, but collectively with all the other 'small' emitting countries we combine to make up 41%... I liked Charlie Pickering's segment last night on "The Weekly". https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=295288728074680
(Just a note of clarification- Carbon is often bandied around when people should be saying Carbon dioxide. Carbon is good it has huge water holding capacity and gives our soil microbes food and enables the sol to function well... Carbon Dioxide is a necessary and natural gas, however needs to be in balance)
I am also interested why everyone thinks the government has to 'fix' this... we as individuals make decisions everyday that either reduce or increase our emissions and impact on the environment- some days are better than others.. how we live, what we buy, how much we consume, replace, reuse, recycle- who we buy from, as consumers we have huge capacity to bring companies and brands up to speed with what is acceptable and what is not.
The government policy role needs to enable the change for people to be easier, supported with the carrot not the stick. This includes a transitional pathway from coal to renewables... there is no way Australia can just drop Coal overnight- I am not hearing a strategic transition process from any policy makers, a journey that supports Australian's in making the change aswell.
Farming has been and still some practices are contributors however regenerative farming practices cycle sequest carbon dioxide in the soil, young trees also absorb carbon dioxide and give us oxygen, however as trees get older trees they slow their cycling capacity and actually add to the carbon dioxide issue, when they are dead- old and grey. ( why then is the Qld Govt locking up old trees- instead of enabling producers to manage their timber with silviculture and good timber practices- keeping the timber growing and Carbon Dioxide/ Carbon cycle functioning. .
Here on Picots Farm we have 4.5% ( the average is 1-1.5%) soil carbon thanks to our grazing practices. We plan our grazing- meaning animals stay for a planned period of time in a paddock, based on volume of feed then are moved and don't come back to the first paddock until the grasses are recovered/ ready to graze. Animals are the only tool available to cycle grass into carbon ( nb; grass plants do not defoliate their own leaves- they have to be grazed or mown as we all now with our gardens- if we don't mow it will just keep growing and become rank and grey like on the side of the road- and this grey old grass is sending carbon dioxide into the atmosphere) so by grazing grass we awaken the roots and they send messages to the microbes through the fungi for their orders- if you can visualise a restaurant underground- the plant roots are the customers and the fungi are the waiters and the microbes/ fertility is the kitchen making the order. Soil is the best place to store carbon- most stable and most useful, this is why seasonal environments ( ie most of Australia) need livestock to keep our grassland functioning and soil living and producing nutrient rich plants, which provides animals with nutrients and then to use- it is called nutrient integrity.
Now there is talk about methane- that is a burp that is also natural and necessary gas in our environment- but keeping it in balance and usually is only in excess when animals have poor gut health... we could go into the hard hooves of livestock- damaging the land- can I just say that is a matter of time not numbers and probably worth another post.
Bareground cropping has been reduced with less burning of stubble and improved practices of minimum till, precision ag, and now direct drilling into stubble/pasture and cover cropping - this is an exciting development- We are embarking on a 12 species Cover crop into our flood plain country.. when we get some rain we plan to mulch it in and increase soil cover and carbon.. making this area highly productive. All without artificial chemicals and fertiliser.
Farmers across Australia aren't intentionally damaging land, we need healthy land to make a living. Like the spectrum of most communities- everyone is on their own journey and some are more curious or more willing to try new things... As consumers we can ask good questions about our food and consumables and cause a shift in practice by our choices.
I am writing this Blog as I believe we need to document our journey on Picots Farm as we go, so we capture the magnitude of the realities and the rewards because we are writing about them as they happen- not reflecting on them 15 years with some-what rose coloured glasses because that deep feelings of that struggle or reward have been diluted by time. To offer real learning and insight into regenerative farming we have to capture life in the moment as things happen - by sharing our experiences- we give other farmers or people looking to enter farming support( you are not alone) and a pathway forward with ideas and learning, you can join us in celebrating the wins, also in the hope I can offer some insight for those seeking to understand the life of a farmer. ( mad as we may be)
My perspective of regenerative Farming is based on healthy soil = healthy food. As farmers make their livelihood from agriculture- the soil, no farmer is deliberately or consciously trying to damage the land. All farmers are on a spectrum of knowledge and experiences... from intensive industrialised Ag through to Regenerative Ag- which has an array of practices.
Industrial Ag is systemised- managing nature- input in- product out- it is linear, efficient, high production model and also high expenses.High yields and consistent products are rewarded by the buyers.
Regenerative Ag is based on natural processes- working with nature ( this allows you to reduce input costs), adapting to conditions- you can be quite nimble, understanding the root causes of problem and consequences of management tools on our specific environments. Products & yields vary and the foods quality and artificial input/chemical free status is rewarded by consumers.
There are a variety of Regenerative practices- we manage holistically- Holistic Management is a values based decision making process- with clarity about which tools enhance our ecosystem -such as properly managed livestock, cover cropping, and we plan for a profit first. We have articulated our values and described what our preferred future looks like- what we are working towards-
Preferred Future- When aspects are their best
Passionate, compassionate, forward thinking, fun, genuine, adaptive, open, intelligent, relaxed, content, energetic, encouraging, generous.
Home must be: open into nature, a hub for people, warm, attractive and practical, with a sense of space, safe & relaxed, orderly.
Our garden is productive, relaxing, cool, fun and aesthetically pleasing.
Work must be: stimulating, making a difference, flexible, profitable, fun, productive, regenerative, stable.
Our Community- is creative, open minded, friendly, safe, proud, positive, supportive, thriving.
Our infrastructure- up to date, multipurpose, accessible, reliable, safe, easy to use, durable, fit for purpose
Our Land is- regenerative, healthy, diverse, productive, natural seeps/ springs flowing, our water supply is flexible. A balance of livestock and wildlife . Diverse plants from grass to trees, Perennial pastures- full bodied, thick broad leaf, diversity of species, 100% groundcover, grassed savannah, good shade. Healthy, happy stock, Dams to swim in that are healthy & clean.
We are 25km west of Warwick have flood plain flats, up to hills and then into traprock - shallow soil- we are starting with lots of timber, our organic matter at our monitoring sites Dec 2017 5.4% & 5.8%. ( Average for our area is 1.5%)
We have been on Picots Farm for 7 years- . after moving a removal house up from Brisbane- (I have always loved recycling so why not recycle a house?) We were able to settle on Picots farm with our then 2yr old( Isobel) and 4 yr old ( Archie) . Ian was working full time as a Surveyor in Toowoomba and I continued working as an Holistic Management Educator- training people in values based decisions making and as General Manager of the Outback Way project from home. We purchased our paddocks from Ian's parents- Total 1000 acres.
(Vendor finance is a great tool to get started without the debt loading)
We did the weekend warrior farming thing for the following 6 years... in that time we created our Aged Grass Fed Beef business and Ian managed the livestock- moving them regularly to ensure they had fresh feed and we minimised over grazing. I have been biologically monitoring for 8 years every Feb/March to take a snap shot of what is happening on soil surface.
In the coming blogs I will outline this last year on the farm- Ian being a full time farmer, drought, rain, the result of being too optimistic and our plan for the coming winter. I will also provide more detail about the different Regenerative practices.
if you have any specific questions- please email me at email@example.com or leave a comment on the page
.. until next time- Be the best you can be!