Pasture renovation project

Scope of the project

The purpose of this project is to rehydrate the landscape and improve the grazing capacity in a dry, compacted and previously overgrazed paddock by conditioning the soil, implementing swales and applying the principles of regenerative agriculture.

Design Process

1. Base Map:
It is done to acknowledge the existing elements to work with.

2. Project Analysis & Assessment:

We collect data and perform an assessment of the following elements to understand the ecological and physical influences on the property. This includes developing a sector analysis & micro-climate map:

– Bioregion
– Climate
– Topography
– Soil
– Rainfall
– Humidity
– Sunshine
– Temperatures
– Wind Patterns

3. Concept Design

In this step, we offer 2-3 initial options to choose from to then pursue the detailed design work.

4. Detailed Design

We first perform a Functional Analysis that lists all inputs and outputs of each element in scope, and then create a network diagram of closed-loop systems where the output of an element becomes the input to another one. We then develop a Detailed Design Map that summarises the project goals, assessment results, existing elements and new components of the design.

We explain the Design Elements & Strategies (why swales, why silvopasture, what they will achieve), and then detail the Design Specifications for each element in scope. In our case:

– Wildlife Corridor (in collaboration with Yarra Ranges Council’s Ribbons of Green program)
– Swales & Pond
– Fencing & Gates
– Silvopasture & Grazing Cells

This includes the plan of action to successfully implement the proposed design. In our case, we suggested soil conditioning measures, a plant list for each system, and a rotational grazing plan. We then provide an Implementation plan including a job list, estimated budget and timeline. And last, we suggest an Ongoing Usage and Maintenance Plan for each element.

Design Implementation

Autumn 2021:

 – Decompaction of the soil at 20-40cm with a Yeoman’s keyline plough (no tilling)

 – pH adjustment via addition of pelletised lime and dolomite (expected to raise pH by 0.5)

 – Over-seeding of a green manure crop with a winter seed mix (peas, clover, grasses, chicory and more)

 – Brewing and spraying of compost tea to increase microbial diversity and activity

Spring 2021:

 – Slashing of winter green manure cover crop

 – Testing of pH and second application of lime and dolomite as needed

 – 2nd brewing and spraying of compost tea

 – 2nd seed sowing for pasture establishment

Autumn 2022:

 – Earthworks for swales and pond, as needed (decompaction might be enough for rehydration)

 – Fencing for rotational grazing (permanent and mobile electrical)

 – Swales and silvopasture tree plantings (incl. tree guards / protection from livestock)

 – 3rd & 4th brewing and spraying of compost tea (respectively summer and autumn)

 – Re-introduction of animals

Decompaction on contour with Yeomans plough
Lime, dolomite and seed broadcasting
Compost tea brewing and spraying
Pond & swales earthworks
Soil organic content
Increase in pasture diversity
Silvopasture tree planting
Fencing of swales and Wildlife corridor plantings

A True Permaculture Community Effort

Many people have participated in this project, making it a success thus far. I’d like to particularly thank:

– Graeme George for his valuable insights and help on the existing plant identification and contour marking
– Stuart Ryder for his constructive criticisms, advice and special help teaching me about compost tea system setup and brewing
– Josh Tucker and Tobias Mager from Silvertine Farm at ECOSS for hiring-out their Yeomans’ plough
– John Williams for doing the ploughing on steep terrain
– Rhys Taber from Yarra Valley Agriculture for sowing, slashing and other services
– The property owners for their commitment to taking care of the land, for being fantastic to work with, and for joining PYV and becoming part of the permaculture community

Looking forward to seeing the progress and results in 6 months, 1 year, 5 years and 10 years’ time !

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