Holistic best way, seminar told

Sally HincksCountryman

Don’t ever rotate graze if you don’t want to go broke.

Those were the words of Allan Savory, of the Savory Institute and originator of the holistic management concept, at a seminar last Friday.

Mr Savory, who is also a biologist and farmer from Zimbabwe, was the keynote speaker at the seminar convened by the Bugs & Biology Grower Group and held at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle.

A total of 185 people registered — mostly farmers — and the interest was such that people were turned away at the door because of limited seats.

Instead of rotation grazing, Mr Savory advocates planned grazing which stops over-grazing.

An essential part of planned grazing was the grazing chart to get animals into the right place, in the right season and at the right time, he said.

The chart shows each month of the year and what is happening on all paddocks of the property, for example, if it is de-stocked, burnt, if feed is not available, if it is frost-prone or flood-prone.

“Over-grazing is solved by holistic planned grazing, ” Mr Savory said.

“It’s not that there are too many animals grazing, it is the time of animals’ exposure to the plants. It’s time, not numbers.”

He also spoke on the desertification of the planet.

“Deserts are advancing because of mass burning of grasslands and forests, ” he said.

“Agriculture and fossil fuels are causing climate change and agriculture will have to adapt to this change.”

Also speaking at the seminar were former Governor-General Major General Michael Jeffery and Professor Lyn Abbott.

Maj-Gen. Michael Jeffrey established Future Directions International.

He is also chairman of Outcomes Australia and Soil for Life where the members concentrate on bullet-proof data.

“I am passionate about the regeneration of landscapes, ” he said. “And I am a very, very worried citizen.

“ We’re told we have to double food production by 2050 and with water for food production, it is of major concern that the majority of rivers in the world are in poor condition.”

He said many farmers attending the seminar were already practising sustainable farming.

“We need to harness the expertise of farmers and pass on the knowledge of managing the change, ” he said.

“You are seen as the looker-afters, the custodians of the soil. If we save the soil, we save the planet.”

Professor Abbott, of the University of WA school of earth and environment, said her interest was in soil health, in building and maintaining the soil.

She urged farmers to look at the soil under a microscope.

“You’ll be amazed by the enormous variety of organisms most abundant in the surface layers, so soil erosion should be minimised, ” she said.

“Some tillage practices decrease the soil’s suitability for soil pathogens.

“If we can marry biofertilsers with chemical inputs we can have a sustainable soil in the long term.”

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