The Mulloon Creek Natural Farm’s ambitious landscape restoration initiative has expanded to cover the entire catchment in NSW Southern Tablelands where Tony Coote, AM, launched the project on his farm in 2006.
Perched in the coastal hinterland, located between Bungendore and Braidwood, the Mulloon Creek Natural Farms footprint spans some 23,000 hectares in the headwaters of the Shoalhaven River which flows to Tallowa Dam, Sydney’s backup drinking supply.
Drawing on the Natural Sequence Farming work of Peter Andrews at “Tarwyn Park” in the Bylong Valley, among other techniques, the Mulloon project centres on restoration of natural hydrology across the landscape to regenerate natural ecological functions and boost farm productivity.
“We had created a model at our home farm, starting in 2006, that showed monitored scientific results. We were able to show that we increased the production by about 60 per cent carrying capacity,” Mr Coote said.
“We were able to show that we had more water flowing out the bottom of the valley than was going in the top, and that we had increased vegetation and increased precipitation including nearly 100 millimetres a year of just dew.”
Natural Sequence Farming involves re-vegetation and contouring the landscape and and water courses to slow water movement, stabilise erosion, maximise soil moisture and generate mulching to distribute nutrients when watercourse overflow.
Mr Coote said after a decade of work there was now “more water flowing out of the bottom of our catchment than comes in at the top, we have increased vegetation and increased precipitation - which is incredibly important”.
The project was selected as one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network as one of five projects globally to help it develop guidelines for sustainable, profitable and productive farming.
In 2016, nearby Mulloon Farms trailled the use of recycled organic material on pasture for grazing with encouraging results. Sustainable stocking rates at Mulloon rose from 120 head a hectare to 149 head/ha after organic compost was applied.
Feed analysis at Mulloon showed minimal difference in feed quality between treated and untreated pasture on the property, with protein fractions, fibres and solubilities “virtually identical”.
Soil tests showed improvements in all nutrient deficiencies, the marked a four fold increase in available phosphorous.
There was also a 50pc or greater improvement in organic matter and carbon, total nitrogen, nutrient availability, calcium, copper and boron; pH rose 5.52 to 6.07 for 0-10 centimetres and 5.77 to 6.10 for 10 to 30cm.
[Kindly reproduced from Farm Online News. Story by Mike Foley, 27 February 2018.]