Case study catch up: How is Milgadara performing in 2020?
Bill and Rhonda Daly were one of the first Soils For Life case studies in 2013. They are fourth generation farmers growing sheep, cattle and crops on their property Milgadara in Young, NSW, as well as running YLAD Living Soils – a composting business that allows them to enrich not just the soils on their property but many others across the whole country.
‘Courage, passion and never giving up’
When Soils For Life first profiled them in 2013, Bill and Rhonda told their story of change, outlining how they had started questioning conventional practices in the mid-1990s. Their search for alternatives led them to investigate biological, regenerative and biodynamic practices. After Rhonda was diagnosed with chronic meningitis and heavy mental poisoning in 2001 they knew they had to act. Twenty years on, they are reaping the benefits of shifting their mindset and adopting a regenerative, more mindful approach to their work.
“The resilience of our country has probably been the incredible thing that we’ve noticed since we’ve changed so many of our practices. It just bounces back so quickly after a big dry,” says Bill when Soils For Life caught up with the pair recently. They had managed to sow multi-species crops just before the rain in February and watched them grow to a meter high after the rain. “That’s what was really noticeable in this drought, it was really a lead-in drought of three years. And within four weeks after that rain, we had green. It’s just incredible.”
Resilient soils, resilient people
As the whole Daly family (Bill and Rhonda’s daughter, her partner and children all live on the farm) have sought to enrich the soils under their feet, they have also been enriched personally by the changes they have made on their farm.
“I think resilience in soils and people is probably one of our greatest attributes – our past practices were able to give us the hope and the assurance that things were going to recover and come back again,” says Rhonda. And Bill agrees: “I know with the changes that we have made on the farm and in our own lives, that simplification of our system and the understanding of the way the countryside works, allows your mindset to be more relaxed in lots of respects. You’re not putting out fires all the time.”
Reaping the rewards
Recent ABARES data confirms that Bill and Rhonda’s biological, regenerative and biodynamic approach is a profitable one. Farming operations at Milgadara have been compared with other properties in the same region using ABARES data. This benchmarking process allows the business implications of management decisions to be compared using industry standard metrics.
At $278/ha Milgadara produces 61% more profit per hectare than the region average of $173. This is due to significantly higher income of $795/ha compared to $485/ha (Figure 1).
Wool production is a big contributor to profitability. Shearing occurs when the wool gets to 70mm, which is usually after around seven or eight months. Bill says that this actually makes the sheep operation a lot easier as they no longer have fly impacts, only drench on average once a year and often do not have to crutch sheep. Milgadara cut more than double the average amount of high quality wool per sheep with a corresponding increase in wool income (figure 2). Maintaining ground cover and feed budgeting is a big focus at Milgadara; “I made a very conscious decision to spell certain countries [rest certain areas] right from basically the beginning of the spring time last year. We didn’t have any stock on that right up until basically even into late April this year.” These paddocks were then used for this seasons lambing, giving other pastures a chance to recover.
A prime lamb operation remains part of the livestock system to maintain a strong cash flow. “It just makes that huge difference to how your yearly income is balanced rather than having to wait for one cheque a year,” says Bill. Cattle production is a trading operation with stock brought in when market and farm conditions are favourable. “I’d rather have the feed grow and allow it to make a healthy soil rather than lose money on cattle.”
With the Covid19 restrictions easing in NSW, Soils For Life will visit Milgadara in July to gain an understanding of how Bill and Rhonda’s practices are impacting the ecology and soil of the property. For more information on the Daly’s story of change, see our first case study here.
In the 1980s, portions of Salisbury were fit for one
thing and one thing only: landing an aeroplane. Since then, the MacAlpine family
has rehabilitated much of this scalded land and developed a number of
strategies to make their property ready for both the droughts and flooding
rains that this part of the country is prone to.
The Salisbury property is
located on the floodplain and associated relict red duplex terraces of the
Marra Creek, to the west of the Macquarie Marshes about 160 km north-west of
Warren in north-central New South Wales. The Queensland border is about 160 km
further north. Carinda – the nearest town – is about 60 km north-east. Marra
Creek runs through the region. It adjoins Salisbury on the property’s western
side and potentially flows north into the Barwon River, a tributary of the
Salisbury is about 20,000 hectares. The MacAlpines consider that area can support a self-replacing merino flock totalling about 10,000 dry sheep equivalents, typically comprising 5000 breeding ewes (1.5 DSE each) and 2500 ewe lambs, on average in the long term (and allowing for the kangaroos!). The property is subdivided into 22 main paddocks and a few holding yards and transport routes.
Salisbury was previously part
of the Womboin Station, which was owned by the Dalgety company. Womboin was
subdivided in 1972. The MacAlpine family purchased the Salisbury part in 1977
and added two adjoining blocks soon after. Half of Salisbury is on dark heavy
clay soil that is relatively impervious to erosion. This rest is red soil that
has a better natural potential for grazing has been degraded by wind and water
Salisbury, The Marra, NSW
ENTERPRISE: Self-replacing merino flock
PROPERTY SIZE: 20,000 hectares
AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: Approximately 450 mm
ELEVATION: 133 m
MOTIVATION FOR CHANGE
Improve the health and condition of the sheep, primarily through improving the health and condition of the pastures
Reclaiming scalded red duplex country through “waterponding”
Manage total grazing pressure with wildlife-proof fencing
Manage sheep numbers via trigger point assessments at key points in the annual cycle
Manage water infrastructure
Supplementary feeding to assist breeding
Approximately a quarter of the property (most of the scalded red country) has been treated with waterponds.
Several paddocks have been enclosed with wildlife proof fencing.
Sheep numbers are being managed via decisions on numbers to join and disposal to sale or to brother’s property at Grenfell, NSW.
Three of the four artesian bores on the property have been capped and piped to tanks – each with two troughs.
Supplementary feeding infrastructure established.
Ready for drought, ready for rain
Salisbury is typical of
Dorothea McKellar’s ‘land of droughts and
flooding rains’. There are no permanent watercourses on Salisbury. Water
supply is rain and bores that tap the Great Artesian Basin. Average annual
rainfall is about 450 mm on the property or 405 mm as measured at the nearest
meteorological station, perhaps indicating high local variability. The average
and median monthly rainfall sometimes falls in a single day, sometimes causing
regional flooding. Conversely, very little rain falls for substantial periods.
Will MacAlpine is clear that
for the grazing business to cope, obtaining maximum benefit from rainfall events
and minimum damage during dry periods, ‘we
must be ready for drought, and we must be ready for rain’. The strategy to
achieve that comprises a number of tactics:
Increase the area of
productive grazing land by rehabilitating scalded land.
Cap the artesian bores
to control water supply.
Manage sheep grazing
pressure in dry periods by moving sheep to holding pens and hand feeding them,
and by deferring joining young ewes.
In practice, these tactics
are interlinked or interdependent.
Although rehabilitation work was begun on Salisbury in the 1970s by the previous owners, when the MacAlpines took over the property Grant MacAlpine could land his light plane almost anywhere on the property. After seeing promising results on properties nearby, the MacAlpine family continued rehabilitation in the 1980s and 1990s. Works ramped up in 2009 and 2012 when government grants were available.
The methods that have been used successfully for several years on Salisbury involve using a grader to build low ponding banks to hold rainwater to a depth of 10 cm or so. These are circular on flat ground and semi-circular (a ‘horseshoe’ shape) on scald with a mild slope. The opening of the horseshoe is to the up-slope side, so that run-off collects within the banks. Each pond covers about 0.4 hectares. The grader used to construct the banks is also used to disturb the soil surface within the ponds in strategic locations (Thompson 2008). Saltbush seed – some of it collected on the property – is sown over the disturbed surface. Running cattle over the ponded area after the surface had been softened by rain was used to disturb the soil surface in a previous Soils for Life case study of a property near Brewarrina.
The effect of the ponding banks and disturbance is to hold water from the intermittent heavy falls. This then infiltrates – albeit slowly – to leach salts from the surface and provide moisture down the soil profile. The banks and disturbance within them provide a barrier to wind-blown sediments and plant material, which collects and starts to form an organic-rich surface layer. The saltbush seed, together with whatever seed is delivered by wind, sheep and birds, then has somewhere to germinate and moisture to tap in the soil profile. The natural processes of ecological succession have effectively been given a ‘kick-start’ and can take their course. To date, about half of the scalded areas on Salisbury have been treated in this way.
Four artesian bores that were installed early in the 20th century and have been flowing ever since supplement Salisbury’s intermittent water supply from rainfall. The aggregate potential flow rate is 9 L/second (284 ML/year, or about 114 Olympic swimming pools). However, the volume required to support grazing stock is estimated at around 1 L/second, so the rest (around 250 ML/year) runs away to waste via bore drains. The wasted water supports a kangaroo population far in excess of what would be there naturally, whereas a tank and trough system can be managed to restrict water supply.
Capping the bores maintained the pressure of the underground artesian aquifer and used only the amount of water needed for stock. A threat by governments to charge for water used in excess of stock requirements focused the MacAlpines’ action. A subsidy from the NSW Government  helped too. Following the mandated specifications, each tank supplies two nearby troughs – the second being presumably for backup in case one failed. So far, two of the four bores on Salisbury have been capped.
This is the biggest concern
for the viability of the Salisbury business is a seemingly endless supply of
kangaroos willing to move on to the property. Generally, they come from the
north and arguably in far higher numbers than would have been possible before
graziers started providing water sources.
Managing the kangaroo population requires a massive investment in specifically designed fencing. Fences like that will also exclude wild dogs that be-devil sheep graziers elsewhere and that the MacAlpines expect in the Marra region before long.
The cost of kangaroo-proof
fencing is around $4,000/km for materials and the property boundary is about 50
km, so a substantial investment is required. Fortunately, the NSW Government
has provided a low-interest loan for this.
Sheep grazing pressure is managed in dry periods by moving sheep to holding pens and hand feeding them with grain and straw. This is especially useful for ensuring that ewes chosen for breeding have optimum nutrition.
Further tactics to reduce
grazing pressure include:
deferring joining young
ewes so that their grazing requirements are minimised; and
selling older ewes or
passing them on to the farm run by Alex MacAlpine at Grenfell, NSW.
Will and Grant MacAlpine make these decisions from time to time , taking particular note of animal and pasture health.
In summary, the grazing enterprise at Salisbury is well adapted to the highly variable, semi-arid climate. Amongst their many benefits, the water ponds bring more areas into production and generally improve the appearance of the property. Capping the bore, erecting wildlife-proof fencing and managing stock numbers controls the total grazing pressure and ensures sustainability so that the MacAlpines are ready for drought and ready for rain.
 Not as generous as the subsidy in Queensland.
 Especially over the summer period when a “feed gap” would develop if rain was inadequate.
Cunningham, G.M. 1987.
Reclamation of scalded land in western New South Wales. Journal of Soil
Conservation New South Wales, Vol. 3, number 2. Soil Conservation Service of
Rhodes, D. 1987. Waterponding
banks – design, layout and construction. Journal of Soil Conservation New South
Wales, Vol. 3, number 2. Soil Conservation Service of NSW, Sydney.
Herczeg, A.L. and Love, A.J.
2007. Review of Recharge Mechanisms for the Great Artesian Basin. CSIRO Land
and Water, Glen Osmond, South Australia.
Thompson, R. 2008.
Waterponding: Reclamation technique for scalded duplex soils in western New
South Wales rangelands. Ecological Management and Restoration 9:
170-181. doi: 10.1111/j.1442-8903.2008.00415.x
Garry Kadwell has been managing Rosedale and neighbouring property Fairhalt since the 1970s. His family acquired the first parcels of the properties in 1901. The properties are located on the Great Dividing Range south of Crookwell, New South Wales. Up until 1980 the main enterprise of the Kadwell family was an apple orchard. Under Garry’s management the enterprise of the property has changed to producing seed stock potatoes and fat lambs.
Over the years Garry has worked tirelessly protecting remnant stands of vegetation as well as planting habitat corridors to connect stands of vegetation across the properties. Currently 32% of Fairhalt is protected for conservation. Garry has also created numerous wetlands across the property providing vital habitat for birds and other fauna, such as the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus).
Fairhalt, Crookwell, NSW
ENTERPRISE: Seed stock potatoes and fat lambs
PROPERTY SIZE: 730 acres
AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 813 mm
ELEVATION: 1000 m
MOTIVATION FOR CHANGE
An awareness about the environmental health of the property and its values was instilled in Garry during his youth by his father and grandfather, this helped shape the management strategies and regimes that Garry has implemented.
Regenerative landscape and livestock management regimes, including:
Increased time between potato crop rotations to allow soil health to repair.
Lucerne and grass species cropping post-potato crop to improve soil health. Compost and lime applications to provide soil nutrients and fix pH levels.
Utilisation of a “one pass” tilling machine to reduce tilling impact on soil.
Habitat corridors planted across the property to link stands of remnant vegetation.
Set aside 32% of the property for conservation purposes.
Constructed wetlands on the property to provide habitat for birds and other fauna.
Rotationally grazing fat lambs to maintain ground cover.
Significant increases in production, now one of the largest potato producers in the region. High levels of organic matter and carbon are stored within the soil profile. Conservation works have provided critical habitat for endangered species of flora and fauna.
Garry Kadwell’s family have managed Fairhalt for over 100
years. Garry’s early ancestors conserved remnant stands of vegetation from land
clearing across the property. Some of Garry’s earliest memories are of planting
trees with his grandfather and being instructed of their value in the landscape.
Garry has continued on planting trees and other vegetation throughout Fairhalt.
Currently 32% of Fairhalt is protected for conservation purposes.
Garry has significantly increased production levels on the property in the form of seed stock potatoes and fat lambs. The increases in production levels have coincided with improvements to soil health and ecosystem health of the entire property. Garry has achieved this through careful management and understanding of the many layers of the system that comprise Fairhalt.
The conservation work Garry Kadwell conducted has provided significant natural capital benefits to Fairhalt. Threatened and vulnerable species of flora and fauna are thriving within the bounds of Fairhalt.
Throughout our analysis, we noted that the regenerative practices Garry has implemented on Fairhalt have led to significantly increased production levels when compared to the Average Farm. With increased productivity, the income generated on Fairhalt is also significantly higher than that of the average Farm. In addition, the increased productivity has allowed Garry to deploy a more diversified production mix – leading to a more sustainable enterprise as a whole.
Garry’s first recollection is of planting trees with his grandfather. In the early 1970s, they planted Yellow Box together, and the elder Kadwell said, ‘Garry, when you look at these trees you will remember me, and we will have made a difference.’
See the difference this attitude has made in our photo essay of Fairhalt.
Niels and Marja Olsen with the help of their three sons Shaun, Jamie and Shane through careful management and the invention of the “SoilKee Renovator” have developed a property in Hallora, West Gippsland which produces healthy pasture year round. In 2019 the family were recognised for their exploits in sequestering soil carbon by being the first farm in Australia to be awarded carbon credits for doing so.
The Olsen family is focused on improving the health of their land to its maximum capacity, they are willing to share this journey with many land holders visiting their property each year to gain insight into how the Olsen’s have achieved spectacular soil and pasture improvements.
Olsen Family Farm, Hallora VIC
ENTERPRISE: Angus cross cattle breeding
PROPERTY SIZE: 124 ha
AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 1000 mm
ELEVATION: 135 m
MOTIVATION FOR CHANGE
The over application of superphosphate fertilisers over the course of two years and the subsequent damage caused to their soil was the catalyst for Niels and Marja Olsen to reassess their farming strategy. Realising that healthy soil produces healthy food was a major factor in influencing their journey in becoming regenerate land managers.
Regenerative landscape and livestock management regimes, including:
Increase paddock numbers to facilitate rotational grazing
Multi species pasture cropping
Carbon and nitrogen soil sequestration
Pasture growth improved to negate biannual “feed gaps”
Utilisation of the “SoilKee Renovator Machine”
Significant improvements in soil health measures such as moisture content, biological activity and soil carbon levels. Pasture growth has increased significantly with up to 20 tonnes of dry biomass per hectare grown each year. Observations of biodiversity have increased on the farm with the number of birds, frogs and other reptiles seen greatly increasing. Landslips and washouts have stopped occurring.
The Hallora Story
Niels and Marja Olsen with the help of their three sons Shane, Jamie and Shaun have been managing and operating the family farm in Hallora, Gippsland, Victoria since 1985. Previously, the property was used for dairy cattle with Niels making the switch to a herd of breeder cattle in 2008. Over the years Niels has worked a number of off-farm jobs, supplementing farm income. In 2012 Niels with the help of his family designed and patented a machine to improve soil health on his farm, the machine was named the SoilKee Renovator.
Niels grew up on a farm not far from his current property;
for many years he lived the life of a typical dairy farmer, milking twice daily
365 days a year. Niels farmed the way he had learnt in his youth, the traditional
West Gippsland way: growing pastures in the good seasons of the year to harvest
and store later to be fed out during the other seasons. This method of farming
was labour and time intensive.
In the 1990’s Niels started and managed an earth
moving business whilst keeping the farm running. The earth moving business
proved to be quite successful and Niels made the decision to invest some of the
profits back into the farm in the form of superphosphate fertiliser. In 1999
upon consultation from a local agronomist Niels purchased and applied a large
quantity of super on his farm. The results were fantastic; pastures looked
green and grew significantly more than they had the previous year. Niels
decided to increase the dosage of super the following year expecting to achieve
better pasture growth results. However, the complete opposite occurred; after
applying the super the Olsen’s paddocks turned brown and stopped growing whilst
his neighbour’s paddocks were green with fresh pasture growth.
This was the catalyst for the Olsen’s to recognise these
practices were harming the landscape and seemed unsustainable in the long term.
Marja and Niels were horrified at the damage they had inflicted upon their soil.
Their response was to seek out guidance and training, they started attending
workshops and field days focused on improving soil health. Armed with the
knowledge they had gained from the numerous workshops and field days they set
about regenerating soil health on their farm.
The property is comprised of 124 hectares split
into 28 paddocks, the water supply consisting of dams and an ephemeral creek
running through the property. The property sits at an elevation of 135m above
sea level with an average annual rainfall of 1000 mm. Prior to land clearing in
the late 19th century for agricultural purposes the landscape would
have consisted of what is now classified as a damp/ wet sclerophyll forest.
Numerous species of eucalyptus and acacia trees would have been present in the
landscape, only Messmate (Eucalyptus
obliqua) is present today.
The property consists of low slopes and rolling
hills with an acidic red ferrosol soil. The pasture species at the time of
purchase were mostly rye grasses and clovers with no native grass species
present. Signs of ecological health in the soil such as worms were rarely
observed prior to 2002. The pH of the soil ranged from 3.7-4.5 across the farm.
Prior to the use of the “SoilKee Renovator” landslips and washouts regularly
occurred across the property. Since the implementation of the “SoilKee
Renovator”, no landslips or washouts have occurred on the property. The soil
structure on the farm was improved by sowing deep rooted pasture species such
as legumes, improving the structure of the soil which greatly reduced the risk
of landslips and washouts.
Indicators of ecological health such as reptiles
and frogs were not regularly observed on the farm prior to adoption of some regenerative
management techniques, especially soil health, high soil carbon content, cover
and hydration. In recent years frog numbers have increased significantly and
they are now observed regularly. The dominant snake species on the property
used to be the Eastern Brown (Pseudonaja
textilis), since the increase in frog numbers Eastern Brown snakes are
rarely sighted on the property instead Tiger snakes (Notechis scutatus) have become common. Frogs are the preferred
food of Tiger snakes. The increase in frog numbers on the property directly coincided
with the ceasing of chemical inputs.
Birds such as Ibis’s were commonly observed in the
paddocks eating slugs and cockchafers, since adopting regenerative management
techniques Ibis’s are rarely if ever seen on the farm. During a short walk on
the property in November 2019 a Soils For Life ecologist observed 22 different
species of birds. These species included birds from most of the trophic levels including
raptors suggesting that the health of the landscape is in excellent condition.
From 1985 till 2008 Niels operated the property as
a dairy farm with a herd size of around 150, in 2008 Olsens stopped dairying
and started a breeder operation and selling steers for slaughter. Initially they
kept the same herd of dairy cattle and used them as a breeder herd due to the
cost of replacing their herd entirely. In 2018 they replaced the herd of dairy
cattle with a herd of angus crosses. Niels and Marja have utilised rotational
grazing on the property from 2003 onwards, prior to 2015 the total yearly
grazing time per paddock was eight weeks. This has increased the grazing time
since 2015 to 12 weeks of the year due to increases in pasture production
gained from sowing multi-species utilising the SoilKee Renovator. Niels has
altered his production system from an animal-first perspective to soil first. Olsen’s
focus is on improving the health of their soil through methods such as multi
species cropping to encourage root growth and nitrogen and carbon intake from
the air. Olsens consider fungal activity to be vitally important in improving
soil health. They ensure that the soil is never deep ripped which can damage
and stop fungal activity from occurring.
Prior to 2012 Niels had a concept in his mind which
he thought could be the ideal method of farming for his property. However, he
did not have the tools to trial the concept. His idea was that by utilising a
machine which lightly disturbed the soil and planted crops concurrently, and
twice a year, he could grow enough pasture biomass to feed his cattle year-round
without having to cut and store fodder to be fed in the feed gaps of each
season. In 2012 this idea came to fruition, Niels had built and designed a
machine which he named the “SoilKee Renovator”. The machine consisted of
angular blades which “broke” the earth rather than “cutting” it at minimal
depth. The machine is utilised after grazing with 15-20% of biomass left from
the grazing mulched straight into the soil speeding up the process. Essentially
Niels had designed a machine which converted his pasture biomass directly into
mulch after grazing. This completely reduced the need for any fertiliser
application on the property.
Since 2012 Niels has not had to supplementary feed his livestock. The method of multi species pasture and cropping combined with the accelerated mulching enabled by the SoilKee Renovator, has significantly improved the health of the soil and the amount of pasture biomass produced each year. Niels has been able to grow 20 tonnes of dry biomass per hectare per year on some of his best paddocks, the less fertile areas of the property achieve 15 tonnes per hectare per year. The pasture growing season is now 9 months of the year. Undesirable pasture species such as kikuyu grass (Pennisetum clandestinum) which used to be present across the property has been out-competed by desirable species planted sowed with the SoilKee machine.
The Olsen Farm is an unusual farm in the sense that
all three of Niels and Marja’s adult sons still work on the farm and in the
family business. A lot of the production of the SoilKee machine is done on farm
by the eldest son Shane, who is interested in manufacturing and design
improvement. The middle son Jamie manages the farm with his father Niels and
does contracting work driving the SoilKee Renovator on other properties. The
youngest son Shaun helps in all aspects of the farm and family business. Marja
manages the administration side of the farm and the business whilst Niels
oversees operations. The sons are happy that they get to keep working on the
family farm, Niels and Marja are pleased that their sons continue to play an
active role in their lives.
Soil Health and Soil Carbon
Commencing in 2016 detailed soil tests were undertaken on Hallora to meet the reporting requirements of the Australian Government’s Emissions Reduction Fund carbon abatement reporting requirements. Results for the 2017 reporting period showed Hallora measured 12.2 t/CO2e/ha and in 2018 this had increased to 13.7 tCO2e/ha.In early 2019 the Soilkee Farm became the first farm in the world (as far as we can ascertain) to be awarded carbon credits for sequestering carbon with their soil.
Increased carbon in the soil has correlated with
increases in organic matter, water infiltration and holding capacity. Moisture
and organic material were previously measured to reach a depth of 50cm in the
soil, currently on some parts of the farm that depth has increased to 650cm.
The pH of the soil has also improved from 3.7-4.5 prior to 2003 to currently
measure at 5.5-7.9.
Nitrogen nodules on the roots of peas planted in the pasture are numerous and large in size and commonly observed. Worm castings are evident across the property and the soil structure has altered to feel spongey under foot. During autumn the fruit of fungi in the form of mushrooms and toadstools are visible across the paddocks indicating a healthy fungal biota existing beneath the soil.
Over 34 years of management the Olsens have
continued learning about their landscape and the importance of the soil
underneath it. Niels and family have altered their management practices to
focus on building soil health and resilience across the farm to ensure long
term viability. The most significant innovation that Niels has implemented on
the farm is the use of the SoilKee Renovator, which has improved the health of their
soil in conjunction with growing significantly more pasture biomass across the
property. Other innovations include monitoring soil, introducing multi-species
pasture and switching from dairy to beef.
The improvements the Olsen family have made to the
property are an outstanding example of land holders implementing and practicing
innovative regenerative management techniques particularly focused on nurturing
soil health. The Olsen’s have achieved:
Soil microbiology enhancements
Soil hydration improvements
Improvements in carrying capacity of land
No low season feed inputs
Air penetration of soils
Carbon sequestration in the soils
Australian Carbon Credit Units which can be traded.
The Olsen’s started viewing and managing their property as a system and as a result the ecology of the farm has improved dramatically, so too have the social benefits as the family that works together, stays together.
The ecology of the Olsen Family Farm speaks for itself, the soil is thriving, full of worms and root systems packed with nitrogen nodules and soil carbon levels are excellent and still rising. Above the ground a diverse range of birds and frogs are now regularly seen in the grassy paddocks.
Despite the publicity about the Olsen Family Farm being the first in Australia to acquire ACCU’s under the federal governments Emissions Reduction Fund, the fact remains an integrated approach to regenerative agriculture pays off. Increasing natural capital and the resultant ecosystem service benefits provides greater productivity and landscape resilience, the ACCU’s are the cream on top!
The entire family works together on managing the property and their associated business ventures. Being able to work on the family farm into adulthood provides each of the three sons a great deal of job satisfaction. Needless to say Niels and Marja are pleased to have all three of their sons around.
Are you our next case study? If you have a story of change to tell about your regenerative landscape practices, we’d love to hear from you! Find out more here.
Richard Daugherty and Sarah Burrows set out to find a property that provided the lifestyle and outdoor experiences they so desired. With a young family they chose to move from South Africa and settle in the New England district of northern NSW. Having done their research they settled on Balala Station which just happened to be up for sale for only the second time since establishment.
Whilst drought has been a setback, this determined couple are forging ahead setting the property up for a time when rains return. New business ventures and further plans keep these two firmly planted on the ground.
Balala Station, Balala NSW
ENTERPRISE: Merino sheep and Angus cattle breeding
PROPERTY SIZE: 1250 ha
AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 760 mm
ELEVATION: 860 – 1000 m
MOTIVATION FOR CHANGE
Richard’s background in South Africa observing wild animals on their annual migration and learning about holistic grazing practices that mimic these natural processes influenced the choice to implement regenerative agriculture and matched Sarah’s commitment to healthy, ethical food production systems.
Regenerative landscape and livestock management regimes, including:
Increase paddock numbers to facilitate rotational grazing
Water infrastructure including dams and water reticulation points
Soil testing to identify key nutrient deficiencies
Restoration of biodiversity through tree thinning
Conservation work with the Bells turtle and Regent honeyeater Projects
Fence out riparian zones
Complimentary sheep and cattle grazing on a rotational plan.
Natural capital enhancement leading to improved biodiversity and drought resilience.
Connections through the University of New England on sustainability and land management issues.
From a regenerative perspective Balala Station may have been a blank canvas which makes the work undertaken and the transition story more intriguing. With minimal farming experience and a desire to learn from others, relationships with the broader community have blossomed and so too has the family.
From the formative years of Australian agriculture, this once vast station stocked 44,000 sheep. There we no dams and few paddocks. Over a century of set stocking had exacted a toll on the landscape. The turn around and potential thereafter looks promising.
Education, training, goal setting, trading strategies, infrastructure, cashflow, productivity and on and on it goes…
A farmers lot is never easy, taking the time to plan your approach and not go in boots ‘n all is an effective strategy.
Intent on farming, the political landscape in South Africa was judged too risky, alternatively Australia looked promising. Richard and Sarah settled on a property in the New England area, it had “good bones” but there was work to be done…
Taking over the family farm can be challenging in itself. Leaving a secure job in the public service, a young family and relatives watching over a farm that extends back generations, now that’s a challenge!
History of the Kane family runs deep in Coleraine, Western Victoria. Since 1878 four generations have farmed this area. John and family made a tree change in 1996 to take over the farm from his uncles and thus began a journey of transformation.
Through self education, independent thinking and the support of immediate family, John was able to turn Collingwood around to be the thriving black Angus cattle breeding property that it is today. A focus on soil through an integrated approach to managing physical, chemical and biological processes has seen Collingwood get the balance between soils, water, plants and animals just right.
CollingwoodFarm, Coleraine VIC
ENTERPRISE: Cattle breeding
PROPERTY SIZE: 242 hectares
AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 620 mm
ELEVATION: 90-100 m
MOTIVATION FOR CHANGE
Opportunity to embrace biological farming to regenerate run down enterprise with potential for improved profit and farm landscape improvement.
Fencing of stock water and improved fencing along creek line
Stock medication (supplements added to water troughs)
Stock mineral supplement powders
Effective weed management
Consistently high levels of ground cover all year round
Improved extent of tree and shrub cover along the creek
Significant reduction in input costs
High level of consistency of cattle breeding
Rotational grazing of high quality pastures
Cash flow all year round
High level of personal satisfaction in outcomes achieved
John Kane, his wife Jenny and their three children, Andrew,
Christopher and Melissa took up an offer from two elderly uncles to manage
their farming enterprise, Collingwood, near Coleraine in western Victoria in
1996. The family moved onto the property, but John also undertook work from the
local council while he found his feet in managing the farm.
The property consisted of two main blocks comprising a
complex set of titles left over from the World War 1 Soldier Settlement Scheme.
One block, Evestons, is 102Ha and the other, Collingwood, is 140 Ha. There were
thirteen paddocks that were set stocked with sheep and cattle. Some fences were
run down and dams and watering points did not match the paddock subdivisions, a
must if rotational grazing was to be introduced.
There were three paddocks totalling 36 ha under hay when
John took over the property. He increased that to four paddocks totalling 48 ha
as part of his feeding out strategy.
Kanes Creek runs through the property and poor land
management in the 1930-40s led to the formation of a 12 metre deep erosion
gully. In the 1960’s, as part of Soil Conservation Service work, the creek was
fenced-off and partially revegetated. Its intermittent flow carried water and
soil nutrients off the property to the Glenelg River and out to sea. The creek
bed was a haven for rabbits and foxes and home to a considerable number of
snakes which prey on the proliferation of frogs which share the habitat.
In 1996, the enterprise carried 12 DSE set stocked on
pastures heavily infested with Cape Weed and lesser infestations of Onion Weed,
Rush, Wild Geranium and Dandelion. About one third of the stock was sheep and
two thirds cattle. Poor quality grazing combined with poor cattle genetics and
underweight calves being dropped at inopportune times of the year.
Planning and Implementing Change
Initially, John opted to improve the cattle genetics. He
soon realised that he had the wrong strategy. Even with top quality bulls, poor
pasture was leading to poor returns from cows grazing sub-standard pastures and
dropping underweight calves. Above and
beyond soil test results, poor quality pasture indicated poor nutrient density
and nutrient deficient soils. John decided to improve the soil as a first
In 2000, at some risk to the economic viability of the
enterprise, John decided to streamline his workload by selling off his sheep
and concentrating on breeding Black Angus cattle. The strategy has paid off,
but he now has two fully function shearing sheds to maintain in case of a
future decision to bring back sheep.
Today John’s annual production cycle is geared to producing
consistent numbers of high grade weaner steers (calves) that are sold locally.
John’s cattle are finished on farms in NSW and Queensland.
Soils and Soil Fertility
John first conducted his soil tests in 1996 to establish a baseline. Initial tests and associated observation and research highlighted an average pH of 4, an imbalance of the Calcium (Ca) and Magnesium (Mg) ratio, soil compaction, indications of over-use of superphosphate, poor soil hydrology and considerable bare ground after broad leafed annuals died off. Since that time subsequent soil tests have been used to inform progress and to adjust management regimes to improve soil condition. John dispensed with the services of the agronomist and took over the fertiliser program himself. He opted for a program of mineral fertilisers and foliates. He introduced Bubas bison dung beetles, in addition to extant native varieties for greater aeration, water penetration and nutrient sequestration of the soils.
In the early years John used a soil aerator to break through the hard pan that had established historically through ploughing with a mouldboard plough. Soil compaction is a thing of the past.
The fertiliser program includes regular applications of lime and recent soil testing indicates an average pH of 6. Organic matter content has increased significantly. Water infiltration has increased considerably due to physical soil aeration, dung beetle activity and rotationally resting paddocks that are dominated by deep rooted perennials such as cocksfoot and phalaris. Periodically, John renovates the pasture to increase diversity of species by direct drilling of clovers and ryegrass.
Vegetation and Ground Cover
When John took over management of the farm in 1996, the
pastures were run down, they were weed infested and fertilised with
John’s new fertiliser program has dramatically changed that
situation. John describes himself as a biological farmer with a strong focus on
soil function (refer to the annual production cycle below). As a result, his
pastures have high nutrient mixed species of high density pastures with very
little weed burden.
Most paddocks comprise improved pasture including phalaris,
clover and rye. One paddock is set aside and managed as native pasture including
Kangaroo Grass, Wallaby Grass and Weeping Grass.
John’s uncles had begun a program of tree planting (Red Gum
and Blackwood) and had, with the assistance of the Soil Conservation Service,
planted some 7,000 trees. John and Jenny continued this program and planted a
further 10,000 trees and shrubs of a variety of species.
In the early years, annual weeds and seasonal bare ground
favoured outbreaks of the red legged earth mite and the Lucerne Flea. While weeds
are much less of a problem today, John addresses the annual weeds with a targeted
program of spraying with a broad leaf herbicide mixed with fulvic acid. John
advises that “It is important to spray in Autumn when plants are small – the
clover at two leaf stage – to gain maximum effect using low spraying rates”.
The hay paddocks are sprayed annually with foliar sprays,
trace elements, biologic agents and kelp. This spraying program encourages the
growth of the pasture grasses and tends to effectively control the annual weeds
When John first came to the property, the watering
infrastructure consisted only of a number of dams. Kane Creek was fenced off from grazing and was
not used as a source of reticulated water. Only half the paddocks had water and the fenced
dams did not coincide with the number of paddocks which made John’s intention
of introducing rotational grazing somewhat problematic.
John has established a system of troughs in each paddock. Potable
water is pumped from the dams by solar power to storage tanks on the high
ground, holding 80,000 litres and 120,000 litres, respectively. This allows all
troughs to be gravity fed. John achieved
this through the purchase of a “Ditch Witch” machine to trench piped water 650
mm under the ground.
John’s water infrastructure hosts his program of water
medication. Trace elements and food
supplements are fed into the drinking water by vacuum pumps that are worked by
water pressure. The pumps require a 2 metre head of water to operate and on
average they are situated some 200m below the water storage tanks. The medication is fed into the stock watering
system 3 to 4 times a year. When the water medication is operating, this
program ensures that each animal gets the required amount of trace elements and
John has a highly disciplined approach to farm management with his task organisation and time management of a very high order. This approach is essential as Collingwood is a one-person operation. An example of the Collingwood production management program is at Annex A to this report.
The days of a stocking rate of 12 DSE faded into memory. In the really good
seasons of 2000 to 2010, the stocking rate peaked at 18 DSE. John has reduced
that to a modest 15DSE as a conservative hedge in case of a down turn in stock
prices or seasonal conditions.
High Impact Hay
were three paddocks totalling 36ha under hay when John came to the property. He
has increased that by four more paddocks totalling 48ha as part of his feeding
out strategy. John pays great attention to the fertility of the soil in
the hay paddocks and to the nutrient density of the phalaris, clover and rye
that comprises the makeup of the hay cut in October each year. The resulting hay production of some 600
large round bales is fundamental to John’s animal nutrition and soil biology
strategy. All of the hay produced on the property is retained on the property
as part of this strategy.
John feeds out daily from mid-February to the end of July,
covering the crucial calving period from March to April. The dung reflects the
soil fertility of the hay paddocks and the nutrient density of the hay, and is
transferred into the grazing paddock soil by the dung beetles, notably the
imported Bubas Bison. This is a flying variety that scents andflies to new dung pats, therefore
expediting the burial of dung across the paddocks. This cycle is critical to
John’s biological farming.
Over the years, the burgeoning rabbit
problem has been tackled by local landholders using at different times, Sodium
fluoroacetate (“1080”) impregnated carrots, Myxomatosis and Calici Virus. These
operations have reduced the rabbits to negligible numbers and the foxes that
also inhabit the creek bed keep them that way. There are no other pests
affecting the management of the property.
Outcomes and End State
John Kane has worked both hard and smart for 22 years and
Jenny was part of that effort for 18 of those years. John started with little
knowledge and little standing as a farmer in the eyes, not only of his uncles,
but also many of his peers. He sought knowledge through training courses, field
days and practiced what he learned innovating on the farm.
John can now look across pastures and vegetation that
represent his goal of 100% ground cover 100% of the time. He can see healthy,
unstressed cattle in good condition grazing on pastures of high nutrient
density. This ideal situation has eventuated from his initial adoption of a
fertility-first strategy for his soils all those years ago.
Over a century of conventional farming practices had caused deep erosion gullies and a hardpan 200 mm below the soil surface. Through perseverance, education and a little ingenuity the ecological assessment for this farm leaves no doubt about the improvements and ongoing resilience of Collingwood.
Collingwood is productive and profitable, but it wasn’t always like that. Through an investment in soil health and the smart acquisition of some second hand machinery, the returns from this farm and the potential for future capital gain look promising.
Health and wellbeing
The potential of Collingwood was evident but you had to look beyond the weeds and erosion gullies. A cursory look back then would never have foreseen what is evident today. If John had his time again, what would he change? “Nothing”
A fish kill in 1987/88, caused by leaching from acid sulphate soils, and a divided community set the scene for Robert Quirk’s journey as a cane farmer turned “accidental, but willing, scientist”.
He’s since developed, and implemented, a set of regenerative practices that are recognised as best management for cane farming. Robert uses a holistic approach, combining engineering and agronomic solutions, to drainage, soil health and nutrient management.
Prevent release of sulphuric acid from farm into the Tweed River and reduce waterlogged soil impact on sugar cane productivity.
Laser levelling and automatic pumping system to stop flooding
Leaving cane trash to decompose after harvest
Applied urea to cane trash to assist in decomposition
Introduced mounding/raised beds to grow sugar cane
Utilised a ‘bed renovator’ machine to prepare for planting
Introduced winter cover crops into the crop rotation
Significant reduction in input costs.
Increased soil organic carbon levels from 1% up to 8.8%.
Improved pH from 1.8 to 5.6.
Increased number of harvests (ratoons) from 4 -6 years.
Understand causes and mitigate sulphuric acid from releasing into waterways impacting aquatic life.
Robert Quirk implemented innovations such as laser levelling his cane fields and mounding the cane rows to ensure that water drained correctly off his property and didn’t mobilise the acid sulphates in the soil.
During this time Robert Quirk became aware of the danger of climate change, this caused Robert Quirk to alter his management practices in an attempt to build carbon in his soil and reduce inputs. Robert Quirk reduced the amount of fertilisers, insecticides and pesticides used on the property as well as leaving the cane trash to lie on the field post-harvest. Robert Quirk also introduced other innovations such as an automatic pumping system to remove flood water from the cane fields and a bed renovator machine to prepare the cane fields.
Robert Quirk found that through his innovations soil organic carbon levels increased from 1% in the 1960’s to currently 8.8% on different points of the property. The pH of the property also increased from 1.8 in the 1980’s to currently stand at 5.6. Robert Quirk’s innovations have greatly improved the health of his soil whilst managing to control the threat of the acid sulphates underneath his cane fields.
THE QUIRK FARM STORY
The practices Robert Quirk has implemented on his property have led the way for sugar cane farming around the world.
In 1987 Robert Quirk set out on a path to improve the ecological health of his property and the nearby waterways.
Robert Quirk has significantly reduced the cost of his inputs whilst maintaining good production levels.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Robert Quirk has gained immense satisfaction through reinventing himself and his management strategies.
Maddy Coleman grew up in the city, and her love of horses introduced her to agriculture. Years of experience working in diverse farming practice and ongoing training and education followed. Maddy has made changes to their initial Rothesay business model, proving that flexibility, formal and applied education and conversations with mentors are key factors in managing ongoing drought conditions.
Management changes on Rothesay include preserving ground cover using a different stocking model and fencing to allow rehabilitation of creeks and gullies. Maddy shares her experience in managing Rothesay using regenerative farming practices in this transition case study.
Rothesay, Blackville NSW
ENTERPRISE: Cattle trading
PROPERTY SIZE: 1,620 hectares
AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 691 mm
ELEVATION: 426 m
MOTIVATION FOR CHANGE
Maintaining a high level of ground cover
Optimising soil hydrology
Conservative stocking rates
Delivering cash flow in drought
Maddy and Malcolm Coleman (her father) purchased Rothesay in 2016. They added the adjoining Springfield block two years later and now the combined Rothesay property comprises 1,629 hectares. While Malcolm visits to help occasionally, Maddy makes all the day-to-day decisions about managing the farm.
Rothesay is located on the foothills and lower slopes of the Liverpool Ranges, in the catchment of the Mooki River. Omaleah Creek and Black Creek run through and join on the property. The creeks only flow intermittently, so water for stock is obtained from bores. The long-term average annual rainfall as recorded at Blackville (2 km south of the farm) is 691 mm, with summer dominant rainfall pattern.
Deep cracking clay soils found on Rothesay
Subdividing paddocks cost-effectively; one new trough can water up to four or more paddocks depending how paddocks are set up. Electric tapes are used to separate paddocks as required. Turning off water to the trough when the cattle have been moved on removes the attraction for kangaroos, and therefore helps reduce grazing pressure.
Carefully planned grazing enables paddocks adjoining creek lines to be rested long enough for tree regeneration to become established. The build-up of vegetation then retards storm flows, prevents erosion and leads to increased infiltration of run-off into the water table.
Shallow level channels carry water from the gully and allow it to disperse across the paddocks where it can infiltrate, rehydrating the soil.
Ground cover on Rothesay after two drought years. Maintaining ground cover during a drought ensures that topsoil is protected and rain that falls is able to penetrate, meaning pastures will grow back rapidly.
THE ROTHESAY STORY
While it is early in the story, indications are that Maddy Coleman is showing the way to considerably improve the resilience of her farm business.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Looking back, Maddy recognises that she made mistakes, but also knows they were learning experiences.
This is a common story in the history of Queensland farming, but it’s an inspirational story too. It’s a story of persistence, resourcefulness and resilience, self-sufficiency, acute observation of nature, the adoption of practical and cost-effective innovations and resilience to droughts and floods due to the property’s conservative grazing system.
Soils For Life has chosen Glenelg as a case study because it presents strong arguments for conservative stocking, comprehensive ground cover, soil hydrology and available water, thus preserving soil and biodiversity. The result is a profitable and productive enterprise. Our study took place when Glenelg had been in drought for 6 years.
Glenelg, Mungallala QLD
ENTERPRISE: Sheep, cattle grazing
PROPERTY SIZE: 4,000 hectares
AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 504 mm
ELEVATION: 432 m
MOTIVATION FOR CHANGE
Need to reduce grazing pressure and improve pasture
Introduction of Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris)
An exclusion fence
Commitment to permanent pasture cover
Management of kangaroos and wild dogs
Dramatically improved and sustainable pasture
No supplementary feeding for stock during drought
Reduction in desertification
This is hard country – prone to desertification – but the Chambers family saw that it could be profitable with some major changes, including the introduction of Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris), an exclusion fence and a commitment to permanent pasture cover.
Glenelg is near Mungallala, in a semi-arid part of Australia with pastoral activities being the dominant land use. Most rain falls in the summer months. The main pre-1750 (pre-European) vegetation types were Poplar Box, False Sandalwood, Wilga and various acacias, notably Mulga, Bendee and Bowyakka. The property carries sheep and cattle, with kangaroos contributing to total grazing pressure.
In line with State Government extension advice at the time, large areas of Glenelg were cleared by pulling a chain between two bulldozers from 1978 to 1981, and again in 1989, to control regrowth and promote pasture growth. These practices helped make the property a viable grazing operation and can be compared with many other properties in similar landscapes in Queensland and New South Wales where “woody weeds” rendered much of the landscape only suitable for goats.
During the 1980s, poisoning by Pimelea (probably P. trichostachya – Flaxweed, Spiked Riceflower) led to the loss of cattle. The maintenance of good ground cover was found to control the problem. In the late 1980s, Buffel grass (Cenchrus ciliaris) became well established over much of the property. This is in line with existing pastoral practice across large areas of northern and arid Australia.
Between 2014 and 2017, the Chambers constructed an exclusion/predator proof fence around the property. Kangaroos were herded off the property before sealing the fence and the remaining population was controlled and maintained at a sustainable level. This has resulted in a dramatic reduction in total grazing pressure and improved maintenance of pasture cover. The parts of the fence across Mungallala Creek are hinged, such that the fence lies flat in floods and can be easily restored to vertical afterwards.
This is a story of persistence and resourcefulness of the Chambers family (Harry and later Graham and Jan) over five decades on Glenelg station, Mungallala. The property exhibits remarkable resilience to the current drought – even posting a profit in adverse circumstances.
THE GLENELG STORY
In line with State Government extension advice at the time, large areas of Glenelg were cleared by pulling a chain between two bulldozers from 1978 to 1981, and again in 1989, to control regrowth and promote pasture growth.
This ecological assessment commences in 1970, when Harry Chambers purchased the first parcel of Glenelg.
The Chambers’ deliberate decision to maintain a consistent level of productivity through conservative stocking rates has translated into improved profitability despite poor seasonal conditions.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
For Jan and Graham Chambers, 2019 is looking good, with the expectation of a bumper profit in this tax year.
Bryan Ward’s property, Illawong, comprises 160 hectares and carries up to 140 beef cattle at any one time. While this is a relatively small property, it is perhaps typical of thousands of farms producing beef in Australia. There’s a trend to smaller holdings, many operated by people with little farming background.
But Bryan’s achievements over 24 years of managing Illawong provide valuable lessons for producers seeking to maintain production while also regenerating and improving the condition of the land. Watch a 1-minute summary of Bryan’s key practices and achievements here.
ENTERPRISE: Grass-fed cattle finishing
PROPERTY SIZE: 160 hectares
AVERAGE ANNUAL RAINFALL: 650 mm
ELEVATION: 205 m
MOTIVATION FOR CHANGE
Turning two paddocks of neglected hill country into a profitable, pasture rich operation
Contour ripping; direct drilling of eucalypts, acacias and understory species in fenced off remnant vegetation patches
Rehydrating the landscape
Removal of rabbits
Establishment of perennial pasture
Illawong cattle now consistently achieve amongst the highest level of compliance, earning Bryan an award from Meat and Livestock Australia for being one of the Top 100 producers in New South Wales.
Bryan found two paddocks of neglected hill country, a small part of a large sheep grazing property called Table Top Station located at Bowna, about 10 km north of Lake Hume and 20 km north-east of Albury. In late 1994, these run-down paddocks, comprising undulating slopes with clay loam soils rising to rocky granitic soils on steep slopes, became Illawong.
After decades of set stocking on annual pastures, Patterson’s curse, rabbits and gully erosion were prevalent on Illawong and the remaining woody vegetation comprised remnant red box, yellow box, red stringybark, Blakely’s red gum and long-leaf box trees. Average annual rainfall in the area is a respectable 650 mm, but that is little use if it falls on bare impenetrable soil and most of it rushes down the gullies, taking topsoil with it.
Carrying capacity was a low 1.5 DSE. This was the condition of the property when Bryan acquired it. 1996 was around the beginning of the ‘millennium drought’, which saw 10 years of severely below average rainfall across southern Australia.
When the drought set in, Bryan feared that massive soil erosion would ensue when the rain returned. He was keen to contour-rip so that when rain eventually came it would penetrate, rather than run off, be wasted and exacerbate the gully erosion. That work was assisted by a drought relief program subsidy available at the time from the Commonwealth Government through the Natural Heritage Trust. Today the contour ripping is indistinguishable, but the dams constantly have water because the rain that falls infiltrates and seeps in to the dams from the water table.
Over a ten-year period, the fencing was re-designed using electric fences so that rotational grazing could be introduced, rotating the stock around seven paddocks, leaving the pasture height at least 100 mm (1500 kg dry matter per hectare). Cattle spend 5 to 7 days in each paddock at a time, fewer in the unimproved pasture paddocks, at a stocking rate of 36 DSE/ha. This ensures that the cattle receive sufficient nutrition and provides time for pastures to recover.
Bryan buys Angus trade steers, selecting from producers whose stock he has found suitable for finishing on pasture. Three different genetic lines typically make up the annual herd. These arrive in spring at an average live weight of around 370 to 400 kg and leave by the following winter at around 630 kg live weight. The number of steers bought each year depends on seasonal conditions, ensuring that the pasture available at the time can sustain the grazing pressure.
Over 24 years of changing from sheep to cattle, introducing rotational grazing, establishing perennial pastures and improving stock shelter, productivity has increased from 1.5 DSE to 12–14 DSE. Cattle growth rates of over 2 kg live weight per day have been recorded in winter. Most importantly, the business can adjust to seasonal conditions so that pastures do not suffer from over-grazing in dry periods and there is no loss of soil capital.
THE ILLAWONG STORY
The practices adopted by Bryan at Illawong are not ground breaking or revolutionary. It is simply common sense land management based on self-evident principles.
In 1995, Bryan developed a farm plan for Illawong by matching the establishment and development of pasture types to land capability classes.
Bryan has achieved the same level of productivity and efficiency on Illawong as other farming enterprises, with significantly larger footprints.
HEALTH AND WELLBEING
Bryan has transformed Illawong with great satisfaction and, the result he says is, “the pinnacle of total improvement of landscape, and restoration to its original state”.