I also wanted to share today about a great book I am reading. Back from the Brink by Peter Andrews. His story was shown on Australian Story earlier this year as a follow up to a story done a couple of years ago and when I was on the Permaculture stand at the Royal Easter Show this year probably 30% of people were talking about this story. I watched the show on the internet (either youtube or the ABC website - can't remember) and was challenged by his ideas, that fit in with my own. Recently I was in the post office and saw his book for sale, and had to buy it. Then I had a nice surprise when I went to pay for it and it was half price.
I had an early meeting this morning and had some time before work so I took the book down to the river and read for a while. He is talking in the bit I have read so far of his observations of the different conditions at two properties his family owned, one very rural and large and dry (a few thousand acres) and the other smaller (50 acres) and irrigated and fertilised. He noticed that the stock on the irrigated property would deteriorate and there were stock losses from illness, whereas stock on the other property occasionally died from thirst or fire but did not require the level of maintenance. Gradually he came to an understanding through observation of the properties and travel to America and England to look at horse properties there that biodiversity and no tilling made a difference to the ongoing success of the property. I loved the remark he quoted from an english farmer that pasture was not healthy unless it had over 40 and preferably closer to 80 species of plants growing in it.
From watching the show I know that there is more to come about him buying a property that was very run down, saline and eroded and applying what seemed crazy techniques to most other agriculturalists but as the photo on the cover of the book shows he was able to bring land that was dead back to life, and his farm is a green belt through a surrounding brown landscape.
Just thought I'd share a photo of where I was reading. Nowra, the town where I live, lies along the Shoalhaven River, which is a beautiful river in the Shoalhaven. It is lined with rocky cliffs with some of the best rockclimbing in Australia until the town where it opens to a flood plain. Where I was sitting was just at the end of the cliffline and there is a lovely spot that catches the morning sun with a comfy rock to sit on.