FARMING FOLLOWING NATURE’S LEAD
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.