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"The McIntoshs at Border Park Organics"

An Australian CROPPING CASE STUDY

Meet Josh and Peri McIntosh who manage Border Park Organics. Farming at Border Park has thrown many challenges their way, but Josh and Peri are resourceful people, guided by shared values, a strong sense of community and a can-do approach to life. While Josh and Peri value the legacy they inherited and see great benefits in organic farming, the choices they have made since taking over the farm reflect a shift in thinking toward a systems health and systems management approach. The changes and their observations of impact have contributed to a sense of renewed hope for the future.

The McIntoshs took over the farm in 2014, after a 3-year mentorship with John and Jenny Schwarz. The Schwarzes began converting to organic farming in the 1990s, and Border Park Organics was fully certified in 1998. 

Border Park Organics is located on very dry land. Much of it is sandy loam, and so the availability of water is critical. The McIntoshs learned early on that improving soil health would improve water availability for their crops. The 2018-20 drought was a real challenge for the family, and reinforced their commitment to managing the land and water cycles to prevent soil erosion and enhance nutrient retention.

Josh and Peri have learned that good nutrition is about more than excluding harmful inputs, and they now see a clear connection between healthy food, landscapes and soil. Now with their understanding of a nourishing diet, their approach to cropping has 

expanded beyond wheat to include a diverse mix of cereals and grains. They are confident that diversifying what they grow can meet changing consumer appetites.

Today they shift their ratio between cropping and animals to suit conditions. For the long term, they recognise there are more opportunities with cropping on their farm, especially when matched with the improvements to soil health they have been making and the long-term potential outcomes from practice change.

The McIntoshs’ approach to farming now involves ‘encouraging growth, no matter what that looks like’. Instead of always chasing weeds, they now recognise the role of all plants in regenerating soil health, and do this by supporting plant growth. Their three-year rotation includes a cover crop in the second year, in which minerals are added to be assimilated into the soil in time for the following cash crop season. Slashing and grazing of the cover are used to cycle nutrients back to the soil. 

Check back soon.

We’ll soon release the full case study which will include practice changes, soil health and building outcomes. Follow us on social media or subscribe to our newsletter to hear the latest.

Farm Facts

Location
Ngintait and Ngarkat Country | Taplan, SA
Annual Rainfall
260-280mm, ranging between 90mm and 550mm annual total (1915 - 2021)
Agro-climatic region
Hot dry summer, cool winter
Property Size
2,390 Ha
Elevation
28 - 58m
Social Structure
Family owned and operated
Enterprise Type
Organic cropping: wheat, rye, barley, oats, triticale, peas, hay. Organic livestock: beef cattle, sheep for wool and fat lambs
Soils*
Undulating sandy loam over calcareous gravel and calcrete sheet rock. Red clay-loam flats intersected by yellow and orange sandy ridges*

*Learn more about soil classifications at Soil Science Australia

Location
Ngintait and Ngarkat Country | Taplan, SA
Annual rainfall
260-280mm, ranging between 90mm and 550mm annual total (1915 – 2021)
Agro-climatic region
Hot dry summer, cool winter
Property size
2,390 Ha
Elevation
28 – 58m
Social structure
Family owned and operated
Enterprise type
Organic cropping: wheat, rye, barley, oats, triticale, peas, hay. Organic livestock: beef cattle, sheep for wool and fat lambs.
Soils
Undulating sandy loam over calcareous gravel and calcrete sheet rock. Red clay-loam flats intersected by yellow and orange sandy ridges*

*Learn more about soil classifications at Soil Science Australia

Videos

This project is supported by the Australian Government’s Smart Farms Program.
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