The decisions we make about how we manage our land will tell a story for years to come.
Most landholders would agree that they want their land to be healthy; I, at least, have never met a farmer or property owner who wants their property to degrade and lose ecological or financial value.
But do we always keep what’s best for the whole in mind when dealing with a problematic part?
Here at Old Hill Farm we want to feed our local community, live in a healthy landscape, and make a living from our farm. That’s the direction we’re aiming in, that’s where we gear all our decision-making.
Say we have a feed issue: too much bracken fern in the pasture that’s limiting what our sheep can eat. How do we manage that? Well we could burn the problem paddock, we could spray the bracken, we could slash, we could seed in desirable species, we could bunch our animals tightly with electric fencing to trample the offending ferns. There are dozens of options — but how do we decide on the best one?
This is regenerative land management or regenerative agriculture comes in.
It’s acknowledging that our natural capital (biodiversity, water cycle, mineral cycle, and photosynthesis capability) is equally as important as our bank balance. You don’t have to be a “greenie” to have a vested interest in a healthy and resilient farm ecology. You don’t have to be a commercial farmer to search for ways of managing your land that are both environmentally and financially savvy.
We all have a responsibility to manage the ground we’re on in a way that ensures future generations are as blessed with green hills as we are.
Land to Market Australia is an organisation that is working towards helping farmers account for this. They explain;
“The ‘natural capital’ concept positions the environment a place beside other forms of economic management. ANU research shows that natural capital accounting lets farmers maintain profits while enhancing biodiversity, and offers them physical and mental health benefits.
“Key organisations are already focusing on farmland health, such as the Red Meat Advisory Council of Australia, which states that ‘advancing our sustainability frameworks and … expanding our role in environmental stewardship,’ is one of their top six priorities in their Red Meat 2030 strategic plan. Expert adviser Climate Works Australia has a range of projects to help build natural capital, such as growing low carbon markets by ‘carbon farming’, using soil carbon to generate carbon credits.”
This is increasingly important for us here in Australia as our erratic weather makes each year more challenging for those of us living on the land. Improving your natural capital can give you more resilience in the face of uncontrollable events such as drought, flooding, bush fires, and disease. There is a growing body of research that is showing higher biodiversity and healthily functioning water and minerals cycles mean higher drought and flood resilience, quicker and more robust recovery after a fire or storm, and very low risk of devastation via disease or pests.
Don’t just take my word for it!
On the 23 and 24 of March, Land to Market Australia have organised what is becoming a very exciting conference on this very topic: Farming Matters – For Our Love of Our Land.
Located down in Albury, it’s a fair drive but well worth the journey. Presentations and field trips will examine how to make better decisions during tough times; restore water catchments; increase forage, livestock and wildlife production; raise crop yields through concentrated animal impact; restore damaged or degraded land; implement the highest animal welfare standards; and create vibrant supportive community groups.
Some of our Mid Coast young farmers will be in attendance under the scholarships available through the Young Farmer’s Connect (details below). This is an opportunity to bring some much needed revitalisation to our still recovering communities (the people and plant kind). The decisions we make now about how we manage our land will tell a story for years to come. We owe it to future generations to tell the best story we know how to.
Young Farmer’s Connect. We are a national not-for-profit organisation committed to cultivating networks, resources and community for young farmers state and nation-wide. Through our network we provide educational platforms and community connections that encourage our young agrarians to farm for the future, supporting the use of regenerative, holistic & sustainable agricultural practices.
Interested in our scholarship to the regenerative agriculture conference? https://www.youngfarmersconnect.com/education-fund
For more information about Young Farmer’s Connect, our projects, or becoming a member, please visit: https://www.youngfarmersconnect.com/
Manager at Old Hill Farm, Bobin.