Beef + Lamb NZ's recent finding that tall pasture produced during longer rotations grows cattle faster in Northland is just the tip of the iceberg, says regenerative farming expert John King.
The Christchurch farm consultant, writer and public speaker is coming to Whangarei next Tuesday to hold a daytime seminar sponsored by the Avoca Lime Company when he will explain the benefits of longer rotations, not just for livestock performance but also for environment health and farm profits.
In the evening he will present a public video evening called Farmacology. Based on the book by San Francisco doctor Daphne Miller, the video examines how she visited nine alternative farms in the United States and found the principles they used to regenerate land could be successfully applied to human medical use.
Mr King told The Country that women seemed to understand the multi-use of these alternative principles more readily than men. Women were "the more courageous gender" with "a huge role in agriculture".
The regenerative farming movement sought to change the way farmers looked at their finances. Mr King said that would require "changes at the kitchen table and, dare I say it, in the bedroom".
After the seminar on Tuesday (details below), a public video evening will run from 7pm-8.30pm, also at the Barge Events Centre, with a gold coin entry.
Mr King said longer rotations meant more mature feed, which was exactly what livestock needed to produce fats.
"Fats in meat and milk store medicine - fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E, and K," he said.
"Furthermore, cancer fighting compounds like conjugated linoleic acids come from livestock grazing diverse pastures.
"While Fonterra raises its milk fat price due to global shortages of butter, imagine if it advertised health qualities of natural products like butter over processed substitutes? Farmers are yet to be paid for being the first stop in human nutrition."
Mr King said any farm must do three things - reduce labour, lift profits, and improve soil function. Around the globe farmers were discovering techniques which reduced production costs, such as no-till cultivation, cover crops, cocktail crops, tall pasture, carbon based soil conditioners which were challenging standard reach-for-the-shelf solutions farmers relied on.
Many innovations came from farmers in drought prone areas looking beyond expensive, off farm, and risky solutions touted as best practice. Investing in biodiverse pastures and enhancing landscape function improved profitability through better production and lower costs over longer term. It also boosts outcomes initiated by environmental plans.
Many observations and skills farmers require to have confidence in trying new approaches like tall pasture have been long forgotten by mainstream industry, Mr King said.
Focusing solely on pasture quality using kgDM and MJME overlooked how livestock, plants, and soils worked together to enhance livestock performance and environmental health.
The Avoca Lime seminar will be held at the Barge Park Events Centre in Whangarei from 10am until 2pm on Tuesday.
If interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Venee on 4335720 by tomorrow.