Kate Sherren

Landscapes - People - Global change

Tag: farm trees

Chapter out on resilience and HM

Archtypal land sparing in the Australian southeastern grazing landscape.

Archetypal land sparing in the southeastern Australian grazing landscape.

Back in 2014 colleagues at Leuphana and I had a chapter accepted in a volume of Ecological Reviews on Agricultural Resilience: perspectives from ecology and economics. I’m delighted to be able to report that the volume is finally published, five years later. Our chapter looks at the resilience implications of land sharing and land sparing, using as a case study the southeastern sheep-wheat belt where co-author Joern Fischer and I did our postdocs back at ANU in the late 2000s.  We compared grazing archetypes of land sparing (fencing out dense woodlands for protection while continuously grazing the rest; see above) and land sharing (farmers using HM, who grazed intensively and rotationally pretty much everywhere on their farms, supporting scattered trees and their recruitment but few dense woodlands; see below). The resilience implications of these options are analyzed, integrating ecology, economics and social dimensions, and consistent with where the broader sharing/sparing debate has settled, reached the conclusion that a diversity of approaches is needed for system-wide sustainability.

Archetypal land sharing in the Australian southeastern grazing landscape, thanks to HM

Archetypal land sharing in the southeastern Australian grazing landscape thanks to HM to the left of the fence.

Some of my favourite parts of the chapter are the sample quotes included on the social challenges of adopting HM practices that draw from my 2008 photo-elicitation interviews with graziers across a range of practices. They speak to the mundane yet powerful barriers of change that come from our need for relationships and respect: for instance,  not having anything to talk to conventional farmers about at BBQs (“what will I open with?”), or having people think they’ve “lost the plot” and feeling the pressure after HM training to “go like a sheep and follow the rest” rather than convert. Such pressures align with some of what we’re hearing from HM trainers, too.

Seedling news from Allendale

Volunteer eucalypt seedlings under holistic management on Allendale, in Southeastern Australia. photo: David Marsh

Volunteer eucalypt seedlings under holistic management on Allendale, in Southeastern Australia. Photo: David Marsh.

Lovely to get an email this week from David Marsh, one of the collaborators in my post-doctoral research on scattered trees under grazing in Australia, from a 40 degree day in NSW, to share news of spontaneous seedling recruitment under his rotational livestock grazing regime:

I thought you may be interested in this pic of regenerating volunteer eucalypts, e. Blakelyii and e. Melliodora. This never happened with constant grazing. We have about three hundred volunteers like this dotted around the place and have managed to protect them from cattle with temporary electric tape when we are grazing those paddocks. Note the paddock in the background full of thistles compared to foreground with not many. Dominance in the community can be influenced by grazing and appropriate recovery. However, we also have some big thistle paddocks this year and my observation is that where they are worst is in our old cropping paddocks. Lots of introduced inorganic fertilisers, chemicals and disturbance. It takes land a long time to get over that.

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