Working with and respecting nature was the focus of Fundamentals of Soil, a field day held at Danthonia Bruderhof, a small Christian farming community on the outskirts of Inverell.
Well over 100 farmers and agricultural workers travelled to the field day on Wednesday, September 26, to hear from internationally renowned groundcover and soils ecologist Dr Christine Jones and grazing industry innovator Terry McCosker.
Danthonia land manager Johannes Meier was also on hand to explain the community’s approach to farming, and how they were able to keep their land healthy in the face of the drought.
“I’ve been talking about how everything is connected, absolutely everything,” Dr Jones said. “You can’t look at anything in isolation, that absolutely everything is connected to everything else.” She said soil management was connected to rivers, the climate and human health.
Mr Meier agreed. “What we’ve learned over the years is that the key is that we have to work with nature,” he said.
“We focus on also encouraging plant life.”
Danthonia’s tools for improving soil health
Intensive grazing: Danthonia has fenced the property to allow intensive grazing, which manages pastures to maximise plant growth year round. This results in increased ground cover, which in turn builds soil carbon, increases soil biology and leads to increased nutrient cycling – a positive feedback loop that is continually improving.
Diverse vegetation: Danthonia has planted over 100,000 trees and shrubs to date, and seeded perennial pastures. Plants decrease water evaporation from the landscape and keep soil temperatures down while contributing to soil carbon. When rains fall, abundant plant-life slows the flow of water across the landscape, and (through soil carbon) helps store it in the soil.
“Plants are the key to everything good that happens across our property. Our focus is on improving energy cycles – solar, water, and nutrient – and that all starts with having diverse and abundant growing plants,” land manager Johannes Meier said.