GREG'S LEGACY

Specialising in the human experience of Living with prostate cancer – warts and all

Exploring Peter Andrews ‘Drought Proofing’ system

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The “Natural Sequence Farming” drought-proofing philosophy was developed by Peter Andrews and explained in his book, “Back from the Brink” published by ABC Books in October 2006. A basic understanding can be had by visiting the Natural Sequence Farming website

In essence, the concept revolves around biodiversity (trees/plants that add fertility to the soil) and hydrology (managing the movement of water on and in the soil).

Each of his techniques enhances the biodiversity and/or the management of the land’s hydrology. His techniques include:

  • Planting deciduous trees on the high land – to provide decaying organic matter that can be carried downhill by gravity and rain.
  • Planting reeds and willows in creek beds – to slow the flow of water retaining it as long as possible on the property.
  • Contouring channels – to collect rainwater on the high ground for slow release through mulch beds to the flood plain below.
  • Mulch Farming – to add organic matter and act as a slow release water storage after rains.

Caringbush is an ideal candidate to explore Peter Andrews methodology as it is located on and in a natural gully being the floodplain for Stoney Creek. From the high ground, one can see the layout of the creek and can photographically record the results of the works.

Stoney Creek is a spring fed stream that runs in an eroded channel up to 3 metres deep averaging about 1.5 metres deep. During the 1993 floods, landslides occurred at the bottom of the property and below the house. Another flood of that magnitude could place the house in jeopardy. Natural Sequence farming techniques will de-energise the creek flow preventing further erosion to the banks. The water table can never be higher than the creek level as it will drain out into the creek bed. At that level, the ground water is inaccessible to the ground cover.

The water table needs to be at a height where it can travel through the topsoil – typically over a metre deep on the floodplain – by capillary action. Water availability can also be enhanced through surface mulching and contouring.

To achieve sustainability at Caringbush Natural Sequence Farming will be utilised:

  • The flow of the creek needs to be slowed down to keep the water on the property for the longest available time.
  • Contouring to collect and distribute surface runoff from the paddock above Caringbush
  • Windrow mulching across the floodplain to store rainwater runoff
  • Selective bank bulldozing to raise creek bed levels.
  • Planting of deciduous trees along the hilltops and gully slopes to increase organic matter for fertility enhancement

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Written by Greg Naylor

26 November 2006 at 4:57 pm

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