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The Canberra Times article

Posted: Fri Jul 11, 2008 1:19 pm
by duane
It’s about the natural sequence of things

The Canberra Times 7/07/2008 6:42:00 am

While farmers around Australia lament the lack of rain, Bungendore farmer Tony Coote says his property is ‘‘well on the way to being droughtproof’’. Mr Coote is prepared to tackle Agriculture Minister Tony Burke’s dire predictions about the increased severity and regularity of droughts head on. He said yesterday that his farm, 10km past Bungendore, could operate on half the region’s average rainfall by using Peter Andrews’ farming methods Those techniques included biological farming and natural sequence farming, which involves slowing water through the landscape. Mr Coote’s 2400ha farm is running at 50 per cent capacity after 10 years of regional drought. Yesterday, Mr Coote and fellow natural sequence farmer Martin Royds shared their expertise with 60 university students from other parts of Australia and India. The lectures were part of a youth forum on sustainability. Mr Coote said natural sequence farming was profitable and sustainable. ‘‘The drought does not have to lead to devastation. During periods of high rain I can increase stocks.’’ Mr Coote runs 500 cattle and 10,000 free-range hens on the property. ‘‘We are planning on rainfall [being] half what it normally is.’’ He said Mr Burke’s predictions were not surprising, but sequence farming could help reverse some of the damage traditional farming did. Mr Royds, who farms near Braidwood, said he was more concerned about rising interest rates and fuel pressures than rain clouds. His property, Jillamatong, uses farming techniques that return carbon to the soil and can help combat climate change. Last year the Carbon Coalition – a national lobby group comprised mainly of farmers and scientists dedicated to promoting carbonaware farming techniques – named Mr Royds its inaugural Carbon Cocky of the Year. Mr Royds said he hoped his methods would become more mainstream. ‘‘A lot of it is returning to techniques used hundreds of years ago. It’s more about reading the landscape and understanding how the systems work and using the techniques. ‘‘Most people are coming to realise we are pumping too much carbon up into the atmosphere by digging up coals and oils, and this is one of the causes of global warming.’’