Thursday, September 27, 2007

Permaculture: Lessons from the New England

On Sunday, 23 September 2007, ABC's Landline aired an report titled "Wool industry spreading tree message". The reporter was Pip Courtney.

The New England region of Australia has suffered some wear and tear over the last 150 or so years. This came to a head in the 1980s, with the death of large numbers of mature trees.

Research into the problem has shown that the cause of the problem was an environmental imbalance. Boosted pasture productivity lead to increased insect loads. Some of these species also used and eat tree foliage. Basically, these insect demands overwhelmed the surviving trees, killing them.

The show covered five operations from an in-detail survey of 10 leading landcare leaders from the New England.

The one the interested me the most was ‘Luna’. It’s using a cell grazing system. This system in the result of antidotal observation and research in the grazing impact of the migratory savanna herds of Africa. Basically, heavy graving for short period appeared to be a stable productive grazing pattern. The result is ‘cell grazing’.

Here is the relevant section of the transcript. There are also link to streaming video resources.

TIM WRIGHT, 'LANA', URALLA, NSW: We're sort of realising that it's important to look after the whole. You know, we have more to manage than just pastures and sheep or cattle. You know, there's everything we've got to start to think about.

PIP COURTNEY: The first thing he changed were the fence lines.

TIM WRIGHT: Well, we started in 1990 and we had about 35, 40 paddocks, which was probably a fair few paddocks for that year. And now, 17 years on, we have approximately 270 paddocks.

PIP COURTNEY: Each paddock is grazed lightly four times a year.

TIM WRIGHT: So, that works out roughly eight to 10 days of a year or 95 per cent of the year a paddock is rested, which might sound pretty amazing, but we've increased our carrying capacity, the cost of production has gone down, the soil is in much better shape.

Sadly, there were no figures for the kinds of productivity change that had been produced for this site, over the years.

Cell grazing looks very like tractor grazing of chickens and pigs in permaculture.


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