Burning: Resources lost

Any questions or comments you have about Natural Sequence Farming processes. These could include general questions or ones about your personal problems.

We do not endorse any answers from anyone in this forum except Peter Andrews himself.

Please remember, Natural Sequence Farming has to be tailored for your specific problem and to follow general advice may create more problems for you.

Moderator: webmaster

Post Reply
Posts: 1161
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:44 pm
Location: Central Coast, NSW

Burning: Resources lost

Post by duane » Sat Dec 11, 2010 2:07 pm

The recent flooding across much of SE Australia along with the past 10 years of willow eradication has had two disastrous consequences.

The first is: Those streams and rivers where willows have been removed have suffered massive bank and streambed erosion.

The second is: Those cut, poisoned willows left in situ have now been deposited in huge piles across the land and heavy machines are working overtime to push them up into piles and burn them.

What councils and authorities fail to understand is that these piles are the result of years of productivity by plants converting sunlight into a product, which when recycled by Nature helps to re-aggrade the ecosystem quickly.

Burning does TWO disastrous things:

1. Burning puts more CO2 into the atmosphere, which we are told is a bad thing because it adds to anthropogenic warming of the climate and

2. All of willows contain Carbon, cells, minerals etc etc which if properly recycled could rebuild those damaged landscapes very quickly. Burning destroys all that. Every gardener knows that recycling plants as compost produces healthy gardens and soils. Recycling all this willow debris would produce and enhance our farming ecosystems.

All burning will achieve is ash with 1-2% of the minerals left. All the Carbon, the building block of life, goes up as smoke into hot air.

Most recently, the Pacific Highway near Johns Crossing, had a new expansion to the highway. Kilometres of mature gums were cleared. None was wasted or burnt. They were mulched by huge tubmulchers and recycled back into the landscape.

THIS IS WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WITH ALL THE WILLOW AND OTHER PLANT DEBRIS. It could then be spread in contour heaps to benefit farms and the landscape.

Sure, its a little slower. Maybe a bit more expensive. But the heavy earth moving equipment is there already pushing up the piles. All they need are some heavy duty mulchers.

And when you think mulch like this costs $30-4/m3, the value and benefit to the community could be in the tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Burning is just the cheap and lazy option with little or no environmental benefits.

Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Mar 17, 2009 8:59 am
Location: Kyogle

Re: Burning: Resources lost

Post by Heidi » Sun Aug 21, 2011 11:25 pm

Hi Duane,
I am such a huge fan of this forum! I have 400 acres in far north NSW and run a cattle breeding business. I am taking a break from my full time job for a year to concentrate on my neglected farm. I have lots of steep country and permanent wet gullies. The steep country has bracken fern, lantana, crofton weed and so much bladey grass it's horrifying. I have reduced my herd in the past few years to rejuvenate the place. 2 years ago a lightning strike caused 80% of the place to burn to a crisp and this year's wet season was monumental. Result? Steep country that's way overgrown with stuff. Last week I burnt one of the hills ( I know it's against all the principles) just so I could SEE where the original tracks were. Now I am slashing the burnt stems using a Stihl FS550 which is an unbelievable machine but quite difficult to manoeuvre on a steep hill when the arms of dead lantana wrap around you as you try to balance! My plan is to lay these branches as best I can on the sides of the steep country to act as terraces? Would that work? Surely when it's so overgrown that you can't see (and it's way too steep for a tractor) burning would be better than a whole lot of chemical?
Again can I say how helpful this site is!

Posts: 48
Joined: Thu Jan 21, 2010 6:20 pm
Location: victoria and southern nsw

Re: Burning: Resources lost

Post by matto » Sun Aug 28, 2011 5:18 pm

G'day Heidi,
The lantana you are burning is creating excellent soil properties on land that has been damaged by one means or another. Unfortunately both burning and chemicals will degenerate the work being done to the soil community and will only leave bare pateches to be invaded by other percieved weeds or the lantana itself.
I have seen work done by David Holmgren that works with blackberries on what could be done the same with lantana. He is also slashing the blackberry with hand tools and laying them down in the gullies, and also doing some clearing work with eucalypts and laying them down on contour, as you are suggesting. These create damp areas and slow the nutrient runoff.
The lantana doesnt like shade and the lantana can protect any trees that you might want to grow there. Steep slopes should be given support by tree roots, so there might be an opportunity to use the problem as a solution, with fast growing trees to shade out the lantana.
Or maybe you would like to bring in pigs to root out the lantana and fertilise the land ready for use?
Its great you are thinking about different ideas and how they could be applied to your area. Sounds like you need more hands on deck, like most farmers.
All the best

Post Reply