Building the soil carbon sponge at Murray Wells - July 2020
Peter and Wendy Bradshaw's farm is 25km west of Tambellup in the Great Southern region of Western Australia, with an annual rainfall of 450mm. They produce wool, prime lambs, oats and barley. Normally, around 70% of the farm is under pasture each year.
Peter and Wendy, driven by a desire to produce healthy food and minimise harm to the natural environment, have trialled and adopted a wide range of regenerative farming practices. Many of these practices are established ‘good farming’ practices used throughout the Great Southern.
Practices used on the farm to protect soil biological function and farm profitability include:
- perennial pastures
- multi-species cover crops
- min-till seeding operation using disc openers
- minimising the use of pesticides and synthetic fertilisers
- managing pastures to maximise ground cover
- biodiverse shelterbelts
- protecting and buffering creek-lines.
Peter and Wendy have a strong focus on the relationship between soil health and plant nutrition. They test their soil regularly and design their nutritional inputs to overcome key limitations to productivity – allowing the soil biology to do the heavy lifting. They supplement nutritional inputs with humic/fulvic acid, compost extract, liquid fish and other bio-stimulants, to maintain and enhance a diverse and thriving soil microbiome.
‘Our lifestyle and wellbeing has dramatically improved as a result of practicing regenerative agriculture, an approach to farming that aligns with our value framework. Economically it has been challenging, with many ups and downs. It is important to immerse yourself and be constantly questioning whether you are addressing the key limitations to making the system work. It is not easy – but it is exciting! It is a constant journey of discovery involving collaboration with others for mutual learning’.
Managing dryland salinity - case studies
Some of the practices used to manage salinity in Western Australia are regenerative in nature. Practices such as the use of perennial pastures, fodder shrubs such as saltbush and grazing with livestock can contribute to overall soil health and improve production on saline areas. DPIRD and other organisations have documented a number of case studies of salinity management. These case studies may be useful to farmers considering options to address saline land on their farms.