Regenerative Farming

25 Aug 2017 by The Million Metres team Auckland Council Northland

These days we constantly hear how farming is degrading the environment. But what about the farmers doing things differently? There are farmers out there who aren't following conventional practices.  They use creative solutions to restore soil and waterway health.

There is an emerging name for this group - The Regenerators.

Greg and Rachel from The Family Farm are one of many farming families leading the way in New Zealand. Their Hawke's Bay farm uses regenerative agriculture and holistic grazing practices. This improves soil health, minimizes run-off and erosion and sequesters carbon in our soils.

Their core practice is holistic grazing. It is a management technique developed by a Zimbabwean man, Allen Savory. He observed large herds of wild buffalo and bison move constantly onto tall pasture. The Family Farm is mimicking this wild behaviour.

Under this management technique the grass is grown long. Large amounts of pasture are trampled into the soil rather than eaten. This protects the soil from the sun, wind and rain. The combination of dung, urine and trampled grass plays an important role in feeding soil biology, which is important to maintain and improve.

Conventional farming is often about keeping grass short in a vigorous growth phase, supported by imported and synthetic fertilizers. This process can degrade the soil. Regenerative farming focuses first and foremost on improving the natural fertility and productivity of soils and plants. When managed well this flows through to improved animal health, animal performance and farm profits.

Greg says:

"Other farmers might think the uneaten grass is a waste. My response is that waste is a human concept, nature doesn't do waste. We use the pasture as part of our fertilizer program. It goes back down into the ground, breaks down and helps build soil."

The Family Farm has also planted more than 100,000 native trees on their farm. A partnership with Air New Zealand in 2008 led to a planting of 85,000 native trees to complement the existing block of virgin native forest.

Million Metres also helped raise funds in 2016 to plant around Horseshoe Lake. Over the last two years 5,500 native trees have been planted.

Greg says: "At the end of the day I want to be able to look my children in the eye and say we gave it our best shot."

Million Metres is a proud supporter of The Family Farm. If you think the way they farm should be the future of agriculture in New Zealand, show your support by ordering a Meat Box. Or you can become a 'Friend of the Farm'. See the Family Farm Produce for more information.