Australia is an innovative country when it comes to regenerative agriculture. Many great concepts and systems came out of the land down under, such as permaculture and the Keyline system. This article will explore the pioneers of these innovations and creative ideas. These individuals are a good starting point to learn more about regenerative agriculture in general.
Bill Mollison and David Holmgren – Permaculture
They founded Permaculture together; Bill was a teacher and David his student. They develop a set of ethics and principals centered on patterns found in nature, a sort of design framework for a sustainable system, which can be applied, to agriculture or society. Permaculture is now widespread across the world thanks to their advocacy work and much information can be found on the Internet about Permaculture.
Christine Jones – Soil Carbon
She is an internationally renowned soil ecologist. She works with landholders to implement regenerative land management techniques, which enhance soil biodiversity; water retention, carbon sequestration and increase productivity of farms. She believes in improving landscape health and farm productivity through the rebuilding of topsoil. Here is a great interview that summarizes her thought about regenerative agriculture and her focused on soil and more specifically soil carbon. Here is her website amazingcarbon.com with most of her published work.
Peter Andrews – Natural Sequence Farming
Peter Andrews developed a system called Natural Sequence Farming which looked at how Australian landscape used to re-hydrate itself and maintain fertility before Aboriginals and European settlers began to disturb it. He used history, his experience as horse race breeder and his ability to read the land to develop a regenerative farming system based on slowing water and vegetation succession. His idea revolves around recreating the Australian system of floodplains and ponds to stop the loss of fertility and re-hydrate the land. He also uses what we call weeds extensively through the concept of plant succession to renew fertility. Here is the Natural Sequence Farming system explained. The ABC also made a good documentary on Australian Story about Peter Andrews’ technique.
Alex Podolinsky – Biodynamic Agriculture
He is considered the father of biodynamic in Australia and has spread the idea successfully among the farming community. He works with farmers since the 1950’s to refine and help them apply Steiner’s concept of Biodynamic agriculture. Through experiments he has developed a more practical method for Biodynamic agriculture now known as the Australian Demeter Bio-Dynamic Method so farmers across the world can apply it easily.
Colin Seis – Pasture Cropping
Colin is a 4th generation farmer, which used to farm conventionally with high chemical inputs until the economic and environmental unsustainability of such system forced him to come up with an alternative. He has develop what he called Pasture Cropping, sowing crops directly into pasture, without first tilling the soil and turning it over. Cereal crops are grown into native pasture for the benefit of both the grass and the cereal crop. Once the cereal is harvested, the native grass can still feed herbivore so he runs cattle through the pastures, which in turn increase fertility for the next crop. Essentially, in one paddock, pasture cropping builds topsoil, produces a grain crop, improves pasture, feed livestock and sequester carbon! Here is a case study of Colin Seis’s farm.
Graeme Hand – Holistic Management
He is a farmer and a holistic management certified educator who learned from Alan Savory, the founder of Holistic Management. He currently works with farmers all over the world who want to switch to holistic management. Heaps of people talk about his philosophy being a little different from Alan Savory but I have trouble finding any information online. I’ll be investigating a little more about Graeme Hand and probably write a post about his unique philosophy later on. Though if you have any information please share.
Percival Yeomans – Keyline system
He developed what we called today the Yoemans’ plower, a cultivation tool which loosen up the soil without turning it over. He also designed the keyline system, which is essentially a sustainable irrigation system based on the topography of the land and the flow of water. This is Percival Yeoman’s book freely available which explains his techniques in details.