Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Natural Sequence Farming in Organic Gardener, Autumn 2006

There is an article in this quarters issue called ‘Catching the Flow’. It runs from page 34 to 39.

It was written by Stephanie Alt and Hogan Gleeson.

The article has some interesting quotes too. Stuff I’ve heard people say and talk about, but never so succinctly!

The introduction talks about the authors’ journey to Gerry Harvey’s property, ‘Baramul’. It also goes into brief outline of how we arrived at the current situation.

There are two quotes that clash with popular understanding in the bulk of the community.

Aboriginal people once used fire to control game and increase the productive capacity of the land, creating in effect, a farmed landscape. Many of us imagine there was once simply a great expanse of forest. Some of the forests and woodland that were cleared by later generation of farmers appeared after the land came under British control, disrupting thousands of years of Aboriginal stewardship. Many perennial grasslands, previously maintained by the fire stick, became thick, woody scrubland, which shaded out the grasses, leaving the ground bare beneath.

There is lore in my family about these long term changes in both central NSW and southern Queensland. People should be aware that the Pilliga is not a natural forest.

It’s important to remember that ‘opening up’ the land was carried out with good intensions, using the accepted knowledge of the day. The gradual nature of these changes in the landscape meant each generation experienced it’s own ‘normal’, masking steady but fundamental degradation of the ecosystem.

Indeed, often land clearing was a condition of leases, you couldn’t upgrade a lease without meeting these conditions. Unlike commercial leases, the unstated aim of crown leases was to move land into private ownership, once the land had been developed as the government saw fit. These conditions were laid out in the lease and/or lease conversion regs.

With improved travel and increasing rates of change, it’s become far easier for people generally and farmer in particular to see these changes. Old farmers have some interesting stories about ‘the way we were’.

The next paragraphs talked about initial presentations at 'Bamamul'. The head of the research team, Dr Richard Bush and then by Peter Andrews himself talked. It's noted that what is being studied is NSF, in its application to river rehabilitation. This being only part of NSF as a "whole farm approach".

The tour of the property is outlined. A few of the earthworks a described, the changes in flows and finally the water table & soil moisture are noted.

The tour also visited 'Tarwyn Park', where Peter's son now farms. The differences with most of the neighbouring properties are clear. A neighbour, Grant Fleming, who father owned 'Tarwyn Park' in the 1950, talks about what the area was like then and how NSF has changed it and late his own family farm. It's also noted that ground water salt level have dropped from 1200 to 450 parts per million.

Ecological concerns about fish movements are outlined and its notes that legislation controlling in-stream structures means that NSF structures are illegal.

Peter's use of non-indigenous plants has also been questioned. They are used as they are volunteer species that fill the niches in the early sequences.

Looking at the opposite bank, he points out places where native vegetation is coming back naturally once willows have stabilised the banks.

Natives are regarded as a better option.

While the major ‘wet fully’ recharge the floodplain aquifers, less water flows down stream. When recharge is achieved, the system is in a new equal equilibrium. Flows should return to a level with lower peak flows, but with an increased duration.

here is a link

I’d link to the article too, but it’s published by are a subsidiary of "Dinosaur Press Inc".

1 comment:

Nextstep said...

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