The Art of Farming Ecologically – Maddara


Liam Bergin – u5177163

From Productivity to Sustainability The Green Revolution incorporated a wave of funding to increase the use of technology available to stimulate productivity. Productivity became the central focus due to a high demand for produce – famine was crippling nations. Investment produced widespread use and acceptance of pesticides, treatment methods,damming and irrigation, hybrid and genetically modified seeds including synthetic nitrogen fertiliser. This movement was correctly implemented for the challenges we were facing in the 1940’s – 60’s, however, this had an impact on the quality of land. The time has now come to refocus technology and techniques to work with earth’s natural processes rather than controlling it. This incorporates the argument that humans should be stewards not owners of the land. Land holders have a unique opportunity to decide what type of management approach they would like to take on board.

Reed Beds

The Maddara farm has established a reed bed within the septic system. This is an alternate method to paying for septic removal where the contents are then processed through sewage plants using filtration and treatment using chemicals. The reed bed septic system balances water flow so that the microbiology within the root system can convert ammonium into nitrates. The nitrates are absorbed by the plants and used for growth. This is a mutualistic relationship where both species (microbes and reeds) are benefiting from the process. To manage this system work I completed included weed removal, structural maintenance to the top soil and some replanting. Benefits to establishing reed growth include buffering for agricultural runoff to begin closing system processes where waste can be reused for ecosystem development. Acknowledging and maintaining hidden variables such as waste runoff prevent the system from reaching undesired thresholds. farm 01

Top Soil Upon original purchase of the property the top soil had low quality and depth. Weed slashing, grass cutting and cell grazing has been used to increase the organic matter in the soil. This begins to strengthen natural processes of organic breakdown, therefore, increasing the health and fertility of the soil. Such a management process begins to redefine what waste is. With balance and proper maintenance natural earth cycles can be used to strengthen the productivity of the farm system rather than controlling and manipulating them with fertilisers and pesticides. To manage this system work I completed included weed slashing and dispersawaste products which will promote further grassland growth. Benefits to this approach include restocking of soil nutrients so promote longevity of the system.

farm 02

Conclusion This work experience has given me first-hand knowledge and skills of how to manage a farm from the viewpoint of a land steward who increases the productivity of ecosystem processes ecologically. Technology and techniques have been used to strengthen and work within ecosystem processes that already exist. Waste and undesired plant growth has been used as an input to provide life to the system. A land use example such as this provides a perfect starting point towards sustainable food production on farms.

About Biodiversity Conservation Blog

I am an Associate Professor at The Australian National University and convene a (very awesome) course called Biodiversity Conservation. Myself and students in the course contribute to this blog.
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One Response to The Art of Farming Ecologically – Maddara

  1. Liam, I’m wondering if these would work in urban settings – either at the scale of an individual house or at a broader scale? Would save alot of water! Phil

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