The Problem: Concerns about declining profitability, poor soil structure, dry land salinity, soil acidification and increasing numbers of herbicide resistance weeds prompted Colin Seis to look at changing his farming practices.
What Did Colin Do?: Colin developed a system which is now called Pasture cropping. With his friend Daryl Cluff, they initiated over 15 years ago a technique of sewing crops into living perennial pastures and having these crops grow symbiotically with existing pastures.
The Results: By maintaining year round ground cover. Colin has reduced wind and water erosion, improved soil structure. reduced weed numbers, increased nutrient availability and increased levels of soil organic carbon.
As you watch and listen to this video many benefits will become apparent as Colin shares how he has been perfecting his technique over the years. From a farm economic point of view the potential for good profit is excellent because the costs of growing crops in this manner are a fraction of conventional cropping.
We’d like to thank Colin Seis for his generosity in sharing his valuable experiences about pasture cropping and no-kill cropping. A special thanks also to Maarten Stapper for sharing his insights, knowledge and time.
For all farmers who are in declining profitability, poor soil structure, dryland salinity, soil acidification and increasing chemical inputs.
Modern agriculture certainly lacks resilience and it lacks ecological function, which is the reason why the wheels have fallen off. There's a bit of a pattern starting to happen here – more artificial fertiliser, more insecticide and more fungicide. I like to call that the 'more-on' principle. As things go wrong, we just put more and more product on to fix the problem. We never fix the basic problem. We just put more and more product on, which sends us broke and makes 'other' people wealthy.
The principles that he had: natures way, no mechanical disturbance, armour around the soil, diversity, leaving root in the ground as long as possible and then species integration are just critical. They’ll work anywhere in the world. That’s what it’s about. It’s as simple as that.
With a common goal of maintaining biodiversity, the Maurice’s have applied 2 systems. The regeneration of native grasses is there No. 1 focus within these systems. Firstly, they have taken up the practice of pasture cropping and secondly the practice of No Kill cropping. They now have a very flexible approach to cropping and grazing, have significantly reduced their costs and above all have a stable system. There is virtually no run-off unless they over graze which is rare. They can plan and look ahead with this shared vision of caring for the landscape. Angus is now part of a consultancy delivering 2 day lectures on these farming practices.
Short term popular practices that lead to lowering soil structure and fertility, although expedient and relatively cheap – like using weedicides,have been proven to create a long-term loss of profit. In fact, any practice that reduces plant cover minimises taking advantage of the free sun energy and your chance of building up a healthy soil that is able to store water and carbon.This is particularly important in times when times are tough. Rod is following all the steps to build his soil health and that will establish a very good foundation for generations to come. Right now Rod needs to have the confidence to stick with what he’s doing and the knowledge to know that what he’s doing is in fact creating a long term benefit, although this is very challenging and at times crushing when you just don’t see the results coming through.
Colin Seis and his son Nicholas own and run the 2000-acre property “Winona” which is situated North of Gulgong on the central slopes of NSW. The Seis family was one of the early pioneering families in the Gulgong district and has been farming and grazing there since the 1860s. Winona runs around four thousand, 18.5 – micron merino sheep, which includes a 58 year old Merino Stud and “Pasture crops” around 500 acres annually to oats, wheat and cereal rye.