Regenerative farming techniques were the hot topic at a pasture walk and tour in Waiwera South late last month.
Visiting regenerative farming consultant Ian Mitchell-Innes, from South Africa, spoke to a group of Clutha district farmers on the property of farmer Mark Anderson, who has successfully employed some of the techniques on his farm.
Mr Mitchell-Innes had some criticisms to make of some common modern methods of farming.
“I’ll go as far as to say that 99.9% of what we have done .. I won’t say that it is wrong but it is faulty,” he said.
He said modern reliance on equipment and chemicals was not only harmful to the environment but hurt a farmer’s bottom line.
“The closer you conform to nature, the more money will be left in your pocket. Right now you need a tractor, you need fertiliser.
“Nature doesn’t need any of this. Nature has its own fertiliser.”
One of the key methods was allowing pastures to regenerate between feeding sessions, to allow nutrientsto restore and carbon to stayin the soil.
“A cow knows where the best source of energy is. The top of the plant. Animals go to a new paddock and eat the tops of the plants.”
Retaining carbon in the soil was important because it prevented drought conditions by enhancing the capacity of soil to hold water.
“Droughts are man-made, no water left. When there’s no carbon, the water comes off the soil into the sea.”
Mr Anderson is a big proponent of the regenerative farming movement.
“Environmentally, it can solve a lot of the negatives or issues that we’re facing in agriculture. That’s our main mission,” he said.
“Next season we’ll implement Ian’s grazing methods. It’s called adaptive grazing .. we’re planting mixed species pastures now.”