This week I attended a Grazing Naturally workshop presented by Dick Richardson at Trundle.
I must admit that when I heard the title of the workshop that Dick presents, I was conjuring up all kinds of images that definitely weren’t the case. I guess the use of the word, ‘naturally’ in this sense reflects the need that Dick sees, for landholders to be consciously reading what is happening in their landscape and with their livestock, instead of just sticking to the same old rotation and routine.
Dick’s words probably give the best overview of the grazing naturally concept. To change management events in a case by case constructive way to suit the current situation and desired outcomes.
It is a form of landscape management that seeks to develop landscape function and deliver increased production, an improved natural resource base, healthy nutrient cycling, greater biodiversity and enhanced resilience.
Grazing naturally meets the challenges of salinity, erosion, more erratic and unreliable rainfall, extreme weather events, and higher farming input costs in the face of the increased demand of population growth to produce more food and fibre.
Dick could be seen by some as a tad controversial with some of his concepts, but as I’m sure you would agree, if you don’t listen and gain an understanding of another view, then you are definitely closing yourself off to options and lessening the opportunities to broaden your understanding of land management options.
With a background using regenerative agriculture techniques, particularly Holistic Management, Dick understands the benefits to be gained by utilising the many techniques promoted through holistic management practices. He challenges attendees to consider options beyond sticking to a plan that may have assisted a property to recover initially, but may now be reversing the gains that had been achieved.
The challenge for graziers, and people in general, is that we are all looking for one answer that fixes everything. People with this need for ‘the answer’ Dick refers to as recipests (always searching for the perfect recipe that will fix everything), when we need to be thinking about why we are doing something and what the outcome is, not just finding the perfect recipe that we can rotate and rotate.
With the natural grazing concept, participants were encouraged to think about whether we want regeneration in terms of regenerating back to how the land was before it was heavily utilised or whether we want to promote ‘generation’ to continue in a positive vein to build soil structure, but to not have the end goal of returning to what it was.
After committing to the holistic process with a well-established rotation, there can be a tendency to rely too heavily on the recipe that got you to this point, instead of actively seeking new options for each event as it occurs.
Dick promotes the Grazing Naturally concept as a method to manage events on a case by case basis, reminding landholders that in nature, every season, year, landscape and environmental even are unique.
Dick looked at how grasses build and feed soil, the mineral cycle, vegetation levels and methods to promote new growth, He encouraged landholders to look at the variables of grazing including time/duration, frequency, the type or physiology of stock, their state of mind, grazier intent, root pruning and inputs.
Dick will be holding another workshop at the start of May. Thanks to Trundle, Bruie Plains and District Landcare for their hospitality.
For more information about anything in this article, please contact Central West Lachlan Landcare on 02 6862 4914, firstname.lastname@example.org, facebook or our website at centralwestlachlanlandcare.org
Until next week, happy Landcaring!