South Otago farmer and PNBHS Old Boy Hamish Bielski (1990-94) believes regenerative farming can provide answers to being more sustainable. After attending a seminar two years ago and hearing Australian ecologist Dr Christine Jones he realised the way he was farming was unsustainable.
“As farmers, we replace the nutrients that have gone off our farm with fertiliser. But then I thought, where is our phosphate and potassium coming from? A mine-and is that replaced? Is that sustainable?”
Hamish and his wife Amy, farm 280ha between Balclutha and Clinton in an equity partnership with 2300 breeding ewes and 200 trading cattle. They used to do some cropping as well but decided their farm would be more sustainable if they focused on sheep and beef through regenerative farming. Instead of planting a single crop or pastures, he now plants a variety of seeds in one paddock to produce diverse forage. Hamish says the greater variety of crops produce more root mass which increased nutrient-holding and water-holding capacity. The biggest problem was now producing too much feed, so he was looking to increase his stocking rates. After two years he is not sustainable yet but heading in the right direction.
Above is Hamish’s presentation at the 2020 Organic Dairy Pastoral Group Conference.
Below: Hamish and his wife Amy
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