Australian farmers and land managers have long been recognised for their resilience and adaptability. Harness these characteristics to ensure wide adoption of regenerative approaches to landscape management to support sustainable production and address degradation of the Australian landscape.
Together, by better managing our soil, water, vegetation, biodiversity and animal systems through improved knowledge and a capacity to mimic, as far as possible, Australia’s highly effective natural processes, we CAN regenerate our landscape and enjoy healthy, profitable farming.
All of us, particularly those concerned with the landscape, must become landscape literate. We can start change from the ground up - in the paddock - and hopefully bring about a paradigm shift in thinking by research institutions, rural communities, funding agencies and governments to support regenerative landscape management practices across Australia.
PRINCIPLES FOR REGENERATIVE LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT
In adopting regenerative landscape management practices, the following principles emerged across the Soils for Life case studies, regardless of enterprise or location - once they made the decision to act.
Perhaps they will help you to get started on your regenerative journey?
Think of the entire system in managing your property. Establish and work towards your own environmental, financial, and personal/social goals. Seek to understand and address underlying causes rather than just dealing with visible symptoms, and work to maximise natural system functioning.
Care about the land as a resource
Understand and value the natural resources which contribute to your production (eg. healthy soils, pasture). Manage production demands to suit the capacity of your land. Adjust stocking rates or change or integrate enterprises to enable regenerative practices and sustainable production.
Commit to education and constant learning
Research widely, try different things and don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Adapt practices to suit your own circumstances.
Search out communities of interest for help and advice
Not everyone is comfortable talking about or trying regenerative landscape management practices – but there are many who are and they are also willing to share ideas and provide support. These communities are an invaluable resource.
Improve the structure and overall health of soil, starting by enhancing organic matter content
A healthy soil underlies everything – literally. Learn about soil and seek to restore its physical, mineral and biological balance. Start with increasing organic matter to build soil organic carbon and stimulate biological activity. Minimise soil disturbance and keep soil permanently covered with vegetation or crop residue.
Use and conserve rain where it falls and improve hydrological function
Improved soil structures and increased vegetation will enable you to capture rainfall and have it infiltrate the soil to support your plants and animals for longer. Work to slow the flow of water across and through your landscape and minimise evaporation.
Strive for a diversity of vegetation, including maximum ground cover, for the majority of the time
Groundcover and vegetation not only protect the soil from erosion and loss, but also build more soil. A diversity of vegetation provides resilience against climate variation and minimises the impact of pests and weeds. Manage your stock and landscape to ensure pastures have adequate rest and recovery time to thrive.
Work on best land first and extend from there
Maximise production on the best performing areas of the property first. Use additional income to invest in poorer performing areas without compromising cashflow.
Manage in times of plenty for times of shortage
Conditions will always change. By enhancing your landscape through improving soil health, water-use efficiency, maintaining groundcover and adjusting your stocking rate to match your land’s carrying capacity, you will build resilience to a changing climate and enable sustainable production.
Reduce reliance on inputs
Reduce or cease the use of chemical fertilisers and bio-cides (herbicides, pesticides, etc.) to support biodiversity and enable healthy biological functioning and nutrient cycling. Save money too!
Observe, measure and respond
Keep records and photos to show incremental changes and inform you which practices are working and which are not so you can extend or change them for best effect.
A PERSONAL EXPERIENCE OF CHANGING FARMING PRACTICES
DEALING WITH THE CHALLENGE OF CHANGE
We all appreciate that change is difficult, but it seems to be particularly so in landscape management. The number of farmers who have successfully transitioned to regenerative landscape management practices is small - but growing.
The farmers and land managers in the Soils for Life case studies serve as great role models, as they have seen the need for change, dealt with challenges and successfully managed changes to the operation of their enterprises.
Our case study farmers highlight the challenges encountered and overcome in changing behaviours and adopting regenerative landscape management practices. These include:
- breaking away from the status quo
- challenging their own knowledge and mindset
- learning new and different theories, techniques and approaches
- maintaining confidence and persistence in applying regenerative practices against their own and others’ traditional value
YOU CAN DO IT!
Make the decision to manage your landscape, produce quality and nutrient-dense food and fibre and build resilience against a changing climate and market fluctuations.
Get started now...