what is biological farming?
e have commenced using biological farming management practises across the 65 acres at Jamberoo Valley Farm. Biological farming is complementary to Permaculture. With the luxury of high rainfall and plenty of escarpment supplied water our pastures always look green and lush. Deceivingly though our soils were compacted and out of balance micro florally speaking with essential minerals either locked up or/out of balance, this is typical after many generations of high impact dairy farming.
What this has produced is a lack of naturally thriving plant diversity in pastures and a retarded ability to build humus and topsoil. All of this we need to produce a healthy balanced nutrient mix for animal fodder and to provide a sponge to give the water a chance to soak in and not lie on top or run off after heavy rain episodes.
When soils are out of balance and minerals are unavailable to plants what typically happens in the short term is domination by a particular species, like in our case Kykuyu or weeds or crop failure or erosion or bare earth or loss of top soil. Eventually nature would fix all this but probably not quickly enough for our requirements.
Contemporary and massive broad scale factory farming relies heavily on the use of chemicals for managing pests and spiking productivity. Sure, these practises might increase production in the short term but they put nothing back to deliver sustainability. The outcome is that farmers end up on a merry go round of continually increasing cost of inputs required to maintain production levels whilst not contributing to building the natural capital of their land. The taking out isn’t balanced by the putting back.
Thankfully some farm and land managers are aware of all this and the peculiarities of the Australian environment and are using best practise sustainable systems. Many however are not. Typically after years of too much reliance on chemical inputs (a relatively new regime by the way) and working against rather than with nature, Australian farming landscapes are typified by degraded unbalanced soils, inefficient water harvesting and farming communities in crisis. Under the increasing stress of changing climate we have to learn how to drought proof our farms and build resilience naturally.
Transitioning to biological farming methods are a way of achieving all this and can be applied on broad or small scales. As we give our soil biology a little kick along we hope to return our soils to balance, increase diversity in our pastures, build humus and ultimately increase our carrying capacity and quality of the animals who graze on the pastures. The “Trust Nature” system that we use at Jamberoo Valley Farm sees us inexpensively and easily making on farm, three components for fertilising our plants and soils and returning balance.
hese are: an inoculum compost; a fermented biological fertiliser; and a brewed pro-biotic tea. All of which we combine to spray on the paddocks and gardens. The results thus far have been incredible compared to historical figures. As an example, silage yield went from 8 bales to 21 bales from the same paddock in a season and cattle growth and condition increased by over 200% increase over a 12 month period.
We believe that widespread employment of this system could be the saviour of many Australian farms and we intend to do our upmost to spread the word. We conduct training programs at the farm and are working with other farmers initially in our own region, testing the system and tracking results more scientifically.
It seems logical that consuming plants and animals raised on healthy balanced soils without chemicals will lead to health benefits for humans. There is a large amount of scientific and anecdotal data to support this premise. Specifically it appears that healthily balanced constitution of micro flora and mineralogy in soils transferred through the food produced from them contributes to a balance in human gut bacteria and ultimately brain function. Dietary changes that take account of this seem to be contributing to the elimination and/or reduction of allergies, and is believed to play a part in improving management of disorders like autism and more.
Considerable research has and is being conducted to explore these relationships.
You might be interested to check out:
www.gilgaifarms.com.au – a permanent green farm in Dubbo
www.trustnature.com.au – we collaborate with Paul Taylor as our soil fertility expert.
“Sustainability Through Involvement”