An ecological report is produced for each case study in the Soils for Life program. To produce an ecological report the Soils for Life team follows a robust formula developed and tested by Richard Thackway, Honorary Associate Professor at The Australian National University and long-term member of the Soils for Life team.
Land managers typically keep production and financial records over time and have no written record of the regenerative management of their farm and outcomes of regenerative practices applied to their farm. Soils For Life ecological assessors use a handbook for preparing ecological reports. An assessment on “Pallerang”, a farm in the Mulloon Creek Catchment, is an example of the approach detailed in the handbook.
The ecological report quantifies what has happened ecologically on a farm over decades. A detailed ecological report consists of 20 to 30 pages.
The Soils for Life ecological assessor supports the land holder to develop a chronology of the production systems for the main land types their land. Production systems include time based paddock grazing, no-till cropping, minimum use and biodiversity protection, revegetation, controlling wildfire, controlling feral animals and weeds, and fencing water points and creek to exclude stock. The ecological assessor can liaise with the farmer remotely via telephone and email.
The land holder completes a graphic response to ten ecological assessment criteria which is the land holder’s interpretation of what has occurred ecologically on the property during their management.
The land manager provides reports, photographs and results of soil tests, and water and biodiversity surveys.
The chronology of production systems and the farmer’s graphic responses indicate the impacts of the land holder’s management decisions on the ecological health of the land.
Satellite imagery verifies the ecological transformation and health of the agricultural landscape. Ground cover and actively photosynthesising vegetation are analysed using satellite imagery. Ground cover on the property is compared to the surrounding district which provides an independent verification of the regenerative capacity of the land.
A three to five-page summary ecological report is produced by the Soils for Life team and included in the case study, promoted on the website and on the social media platforms.
Greg Hosking is an ecologist. Honorary Associate Professor Richard Thackway is a Research Scientist. Both Greg and Richard are members of the Soils for Life team.