Today it is raining where I live and I am pleased to not have to go outside and work, however my girls are feeling a bit house bound and so far today I have knitted a tiny scarf, made pancakes (Peppa Pig style) and now I have snuck off to write this while they watch some garbage on my phone.
Leading on from my last post where I touched on companies making huge profit out of farmers. I want to talk about pastures, my observations, ideas and experiments (some successful, some not). Where we farmed we laser levelled and flood irrigated. We farmed on the same farm for 36 years and I remember when we first moved to that farm we had Paspalum pastures which are pretty thirsty but very hardy and don’t take much to keep it growing. We didn’t oversow our pastures, only our summer pastures of subterranean clover and some years we just tickled (scarified) it up, maybe spread a bit of super here and there, add water and Bob’s your Uncle.
In the last 10 years of farming we oversowed everything, worked up all ground, put massive amounts of fertiliser on, massive amounts of water, heaps of sprays to kill out “weeds” and I noticed the sowing rates for all crops steadily increase. Some crops started at around 20kg/hectare and by the time I finished they were 80kg/hectare. That was for winter crops. My thoughts on that are, if a plant is sown so thick it doesn’t have space to express itself fully. Wheat used to have 5 heads on it which thru genetic engineering and high sowing rates it now only has one head. What a great way to sell more seed. Imagine if all plants expressed themselves fully and in wheats case, had 5 heads how much less seed you would need to buy! Not to mention the fear the companies put in to the farmer of weeds overtaking the planet, therefore spray the hell out of everything. On a side note, I have a suspicion that gluten intolerance is actually a reaction to the Round up Ready wheat. Poor old wheat gets a bad wrap. Possibly if gluten intolerant people ate Organic Wheat they would have no reaction.
Also the winter crops grow much shorter in height now, which in one way is good in case of wild winds bending the crop over but that happens in a good heavy crop anyway. Again if the old varieties were still used they would make a lot more fodder because of the extra stalk. This leads me onto my next point which is biodiversity.
Small weeds are so beneficial in all crops. If the crops were still tall, the small plants would not contaminate the harvest when the crop is being harvested for seed, as the head of the crop would be much higher than the weeds. Therefore you wouldn’t need to use sprays to kill bugs or weeds as the biodiversity creates a healthy environment for the crop. Also the fertiliser would be minimal and non existent over time with the nurturing of biodiversity. Less fertiliser because the mining weeds are allowed to grow and pull up the minerals from way down deep. Organic matter is also allowed to form on the surface because of little or no till and no chemicals or synthetic fertilisers to kill of the bugs. Nature balances herself out. If you look at a roadside or where the crop meets the roadside, that is where the most abundant, lively and healthy part of the crop is because of the plants and animals allowed to grow there.
If we use more natural techniques and plant varieties, that means less hours in the tractor, less machinery needed, less diesel required, less staff or a more available money to employ staff, no chemical transfer into the cows body and the farmers body, happier soils, happy cows, happy farmers.
This is a huge topic, much larger than I thought before I started to type. I haven’t even touched on pastures and maize yet. Not to mention my children sound like they are hurting each other a lot and need my attention, now!
What I propose is for farmers to do small experiments with old varieties. If anyone is interested in experimenting, I would love to help source the seeds.
Tomorrow I will cover pastures and why they create healthy cows.
Have a beautiful happy day, and thanks for taking the time to read.