Mulloon Creek Natural Farms, following nature

Natural Sequence Farming

What is it?

Natural Sequence Farming is a system of farming based on principles developed by Peter Andrews OAM from a holistic view of water, air, soil, plant and animal interactions in the landscape. It uses natural functions where possible, or careful mimicry of them and their natural sequences, to address soil and water degradation and biodiversity loss. Interventions to restore or enhance natural function are made either through implementation of structures or by changes to farm layout and animal management.

In the case of stream and floodplain function, Peter believes that where streams (such as the Mulloon Creek) have become incised, some reversal of the incision as well as the health of the stream and the floodplain can be significantly restored by slowing the rate of water flow. Slowing the flow of water in large rain events and creating areas of still water or vegetation to prevent erosion and promote sedimentation assists the re-establishment of vegetation and habitat for animals and insects.

The implementation of Natural Sequence Farming on the Mulloon Creek at Mulloon Creek Natural Farms is using Peter’s techniques to recreate the chain of ponds that would have existed in its undisturbed state, and through this raising the streambed and the level of water in the floodplain.

Results from the monitoring by ANU show that the structures are successfully tranquilising water during storm-flow events and subsequently releasing more sustained baseflows. This means that these structures are not holding back water from the downstream neighbours and that even if no water is entering the creek from the upper valley, there is clean, quality water being released to our neighbours. The reestablishment of the chain of ponds function is also increasing the plant and animal biodiversity and abundance of the creek.

By studying and comparing the aquatic macro invertebrates to an intact natural chain of ponds close by, we have shown that the Mulloon Creek now has more diverse species and more abundant populations of these invertebrates and this can be attributed to our Natural Sequence Farming practices.

Click here to read an article by Peter Andrews on Weeds

Implementation and Research

The implementation of the Natural Sequence Farming (NSF) demonstration on the Mulloon Creek at Mulloon Creek Natural Farm (MCNF) required a partnership between several stakeholders including the local Catchment Management Authority (CMA), the Federal Government, downstream neighbours and Landcare members and the owner of MCNF (the landholder) and Peter Andrews. These stakeholders agreed that NSF should be implemented on the Mulloon Creek and monitored to inform decisions by policy-makers and natural resource managers about how to restore creek function.

14 Leaky Weir constructions were implemented along the creek on the Home Farm of MCNF. As well as depth monitors, flow monitoring stations were also installed; one where the creek flows into the valley, one where it leaves they valley and one on MCNF's Duralla property 9km downstream of the Home Farm. Piezometers on transects in the floodplain allow us to measure the depth of the water table.

An automatic weather station monitors all changes of moisture and wind on the Home Farm property.

More information about our research projects related to Natural Sequence Farming can be found here.

References

  • Beyond the Brink, Peter Andrews
  • Back from the Brink, Peter Andrews

Links

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