FARM­ING FOL­LOW­ING NA­TURE’S LEAD

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Your Letters - Gary Jeffrey, West Coast (abridged)

JUST RE­CEIVED this month’s NZ Lifestyle Block with your story about or­gan­ics (6 ways it’s go­ing to be eas­ier to be cer­ti­fied or­ganic, July 2015).

Many years ago (per­haps 50) when I lived in To­tara, near Oa­maru, a neigh­bour was fol­low­ing an or­ganic style of farm­ing, long be­fore it was fash­ion­able. Lin­coln Univer­sity used to send their over­seas stu­dents to stay with him to see how it would fit into their sit­u­a­tion when re­turn­ing home.

Mr Ni­chols would plant wheat in a pad­dock the first year, then bar­ley the next, and in the third year he would plant broad beans. Next was grass, then start the cy­cle again in another of his pad­docks. With the grain crops he broke the straw up and ploughed it in.

His pad­docks seemed to with­stand the lo­cal droughts bet­ter than the neigh­bours’, per­haps be­cause the straw held the mois­ture. The broad beans re­placed the ni­tro­gen con­tent re­moved by the grain crops, and were ground up to give him feed for his an­i­mals, in ad­di­tion to the other grain he fed them to sup­ple­ment the grass diet.

His graz­ing pro­gram was to put pigs on a long grass pad­dock (rings in noses), then cat­tle, fol­lowed by sheep which could graze the shorter grass. Then he put his horse in the pad­dock which ate some of the weeds ig­nored by the first graz­ers.

Fi­nally, he put a mob of young pigs into the pad­dock with­out nose rings. The young pigs would dig up ev­ery­thing, get­ting rid of weeds like twitch and this­tles. It was then ready to plant his next wheat crop af­ter lev­el­ling it out. No need for sprays at any stage.

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