New approach to an old problem

Returning life and productivity to otherwise unproductive farmland is the focus of this innovative local farmer.

And a group of locals and visitors recently took a tour to check out an innovative farming approach at his property at Gimlet Ridge, East of Perenjori.

Local farmer, Rod Butler is focusing on soil health and low-input farming techniques to return productivity otherwise unproductive farmland.

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A combination of no-kill cropping techniques and high density short duration grazing (HDSDG) are being demonstrated at Gimlet Ridge, with most work taking place at the beginning of the farming season, in April.

Rod, a participant of NACC’s Round 4 of Farming Demonstration Grants, guided participants on Friday through the NACC Innovative Practices Farm Demonstration project sites on his farm and explained the concepts around no-kill cropping and high density short duration grazing, demonstrating the positive results that he has achieved.

An innovative approach

No-kill cropping encourages seedlings and low succession plants, together with a seeded grains mix to grow in nutrient-poor soils, increasing ground cover and ideally returning moisture and nutrients to the soil.

Rod has conducted this across his farm and in some cases combined it with HDSDG which aims to mimic nature and the way large animal herds move over large areas as packs, flattening the grass, covering the soil surface with mulch and dung, allowing biological decay before the next growing season and the affected area to rest.

The movement of hooves which loosens the capped soils and increases water infiltration in soils is also hypothesized to stimulate seed germination and plant growth.

The road to success

Success was particularly evident in paddocks previously dominated by dry, capped soils supporting little to no life.

These paddocks are now blooming with biodiversity, including a number of native grasses and herbs that had not been seen in those paddocks for many years prior to receiving treatment.

Perenjori Farming Forward’s Phil Logue, stated that it was inspiring to see the positive change in the landscape of Gimlet Ridge since the introduction of Rod’s alternative farming practices, particularly considering that when Rod first began, his methods were quite unusual compared to common practice in the region.

Key take home ideas from the event were the importance of plant life and ground cover for soil health alongside the challenge of shifting our views of traditional farming practices and the role and impacts of livestock in a changing agricultural climate.

Rod’s demonstration has been conducted with support from NACC’s Sustainable Agriculture program, thanks to funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

For more information, visit NACC’s Farm Demonstrations web page. If you have an idea for an innovative and sustainable farm demonstration that you would like to run on your farm, keep an eye on the website to find out when Round 6 of the Farm Demonstration grants will open.

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