At this webinar we discussed regenerative agriculture with Vince Heffernan from Moorlands Biodynamic Lamb, Vince shared his extensive knowledge of natural systems farming, discussed the principles of regenerative agriculture and how they can be applied on small farms.
The webinar was recorded and can be viewed on the Small Farms Network Capital Region YouTube Channel.
This is a summary of the key points from the webinar and links to further information.
- Vince discussed the four aspects of holistic management that he uses on his farm - grazing a herd with lots of mouths, for a short duration, with long rest periods in between, with the correct carrying capacity. Vince manages his pasture at around 5cm long in a high growth phase. This is optimum for pasture production and protein content, animal weight gains and for maximizing the fertility of the soil. He manages the stocking rate on the farm to maintain ground cover and destocks in drought periods if necessary.
- Vince does not use herbicides, he carries a hoe on his quadbike to manually remove weeds, he uses biodynamic preparations to inoculate the soil with microorganisms. Soil health, social fairness, five freedoms for animals and not using synthetic fertilisers are some of the management principles that Vince uses on his farm.
- Plan for diversity and plant a wide range of native plants suitable to the area, look at what is growing in the region to get an idea of what to plant and join a Landcare Group for advice. Use this knowledge to fill the gaps on your property, the ‘gaps’ could be revegetating or smaller actions to increase biodiversity on your farm. Plant trees, shrubs and groundcovers. Wide wind breaks, whole of paddock restoration and fencing remnant trees, dams and rocky outcrops are some of the techniques you could try. Twenty percent of Vince’s farm is revegetated, some species such as wattle are used for supplementary feed, others are specifically planted for insects and birds.
- Vince talked about the concept of ‘fair food’ and how farm certification can be beneficial for customers who are remote to you. Some of the methods you can use on a smaller scale include permaculture, backgrounding or livestock agistment, using portable electric fencing and water troughs for grazing management and growing native plants for seed. You can own a farm but not be a farmer, consider leasing part of your farm for more intensive agriculture or market gardening. Share with your neighbours, by loaning equipment and planning cross boundary revegetation projects.
- To benchmark your progress consider taking a bird/bat survey, take photos from the same place, same time every year and monitor soil test results for improvements in soil carbon, cation exchange capacity and microbial activity.
These are some of the resources that Vince suggested during the webinar.
Darren Aitken – Vortex Veggies
Alex Podolinsky – Biodynamic Farming
Allan Savoury – Holistic Management
Collin Seils – Pasture Cropping
Lamb Pro – Holbrook – Lamb benchmarking
Soil Knowledge Network
Sustainable Farms ANU
Fire Country – How Indigenous Fire Management Could Help Save Australia by Victor Steffensen
Regenesis by George Monbiot
This webinar was made possible with funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program.