New book outlines grass roots experiences in pasture cropping

 

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Pasture cropping founder and Gulgong farmer Colin Seis with the new handbook.

June 17, 2013

First hand farmer accounts of experiences with pasture cropping have been released in a handbook by grass-roots Landcare network, Gecko ClaN.

The collection of interviews with seven farming families from throughout the North-East was commissioned by Gecko ClaN Catchment Landcare Network, and compiled by Albury journalist Kim Woods.

Pasture cropping is a technique of sowing zero-till annual crops directly into living perennial pastures.

Gecko ClaN have conducted pasture cropping trials using Caring for Our Country grants from the Federal Government since 2008.

The handbook was launched last week at Benalla, with the event attended by the founding father of pasture cropping, Colin Seis, a farmer from Gulgong, in central NSW.

Pasture Cropping project officer Jacci Campbell said it was pleasing to see so many farmers had found the technique offered positive improvements to their business.

“It has also stimulated interest in the benefits of retaining and managing native grasses,’’ Mrs Campbell said.

She said a Gecko ClaN survey had found farmers reporting biodiversity, farm health and lifestyle improvements under pasture cropping systems.

The farmers featured in the handbook are Doug and Steve James, Bungeet; Russell and Helen Ellis, Chesney Vale; Cam and Kathy Barrett-Lennard, Violet Town; Bob and Marj Falconer, Meadow Creek; Belinda Steers and Mark Goodman, Avenel; Tony and Trish Burke, Lake Rowan, and Kevin Mitchell, Devenish.

Colin Seis used low-cost pasture cropping techniques to turn around the biologically dead soils on his own property, Winona.

He said the average nutrient increase in his soils had been 172 per cent, with calcium lifting by 8t/ha and phosphorus by 800kg/ha.

“I grew up in high input agriculture and I am now saving annually $80,000 on reduced inputs,’’ Mr Seis said.

“We are running the same number of sheep but wool quality is better, biodiversity has increased on the farm and I am now harvesting and selling native grass seed.’’

Gecko ClaN chairman David Dore said the pasture cropping trials had drawn international interest from Europe and the network was a finalist at the 2012 National Landcare Awards.

For a copy of the handbook phone (03) 5761 1560.

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