Proof is in the pudding

Adopting regenerative farming practices can improve soil fertility.

Since the late 1940s, farmers have used industrialised farming methods to grow crops and pastures worldwide, in particular, using chemicals and synthetic fertilisers to maximise crop yields.

This has led to degraded soils, poor cropping outcomes, increased inputs and expenses and environmental damage while reducing soil fertility.

Adopting regenerative farming practices — particularly ones that increase and add biology, reduce chemical fertiliser inputs and build soil structure — can reverse these problems.

Farmers and agronomists alike have long held the school of thought that if you fertilise, replace minerals season to season and have adequate water and sunlight, you are most of the way to a successful crop. And for many decades, this was the case.

During the past 40 years, since The Rodale Institute first started using the term ‘regenerative farming’, along with significant advancements in soil science and agri-products, we have discovered the missing links have been soil structure, organic matter and, most importantly, soil biology.

Overuse of chemical fertilisers over decades has seen reductions in productivity and increases in fertiliser use just to maintain crop yields. This is due to the destruction of soil microbes and soil health.

During the past 14 years, I have been involved in regenerating farms across Australia and the United States, using biological methods.

Over this time, I have met thousands of farmers and one of the biggest roadblocks to regenerative farming is training, lack of knowledge and confidence in regenerative farming practices.

In 2021, I had a dairy farmer send me a picture of his pasture in Gippsland, Victoria, stating “where have you been all my life” two years into adopting regenerative farming through the use of biology, while reducing chemical fertiliser use across his whole farm.

He reduced his fertilisers by more than 50 per cent and had a significant improvement in his feed test results while growing far more consistent pastures throughout the year.

The more you damage your soils and microbes, the more you need to provide the minerals, at your expense, for your crops that were previously mined from your soils by microorganisms.

Replacing these microorganisms, feeding them and repairing your soils will reduce your expenses, improve your crops, improve animal health and contribute to climate and environmental repair.

Peter Briscoe, Greenmate Agriculture

For more information, drop by the Greenmate site at the South Gippsland Dairy Expo.