NSF is working in WA

Any questions or comments you have about Natural Sequence Farming processes. These could include general questions or ones about your personal problems.

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Ian James
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:31 am
Location: Avon West Australia

Postby Ian James » Sun Jul 29, 2007 8:24 am

Over the last week the very welcome resumption of "normal" winter rain systems over the state has meant that my ponds have been inundated by constant downstream flows.

Recent inspection has shown that my highest hopes and expectations have been easily exceeded by the performance of the new natural sequence I initiated.

The pond has spread out into the bulrushes on either side of the bank I built.

It almost seems as if the water level amongst the bull rushes is higher than that in the middle of the pond where the bank sits.

I cannot explain how this could be except by some sort of mini terrace that has formed through the bull rushes which grow in the banks of the creek on the sides of the pond.

The raised level of the creek pond has inundated the bulrushes by water flowing down from upstream but in addition to this there seems to be a flow of water that I had not previously recognised which is flowing out from the earth on the banks of the stream on the sides of the ponds.

This water is my water, not that from upstream.

This is the water that is now forming a sort of second tier pond slightly above the main pond and along the sides of the main pond right along the length of the main pond which has now extended further upstream by nearly 50% of the original pond which formed when I first built the bank less than two weeks ago.

I find this unexpected formation of a 2nd tier absolutely fascinating. The questions it raises are far more numerous than the answers it provides.

On tasting I note that the salt content in the 2nd tier pond to be similar to that at the surface of the pond at the creek pond surface level.

I believe that we have raised the water table level at the base of the original creek by as much as 1000 mm.

As the paddocks on each side of the creek I estimate to be 2500 mm above the old creek bed then by raising the level in the creek by 1000mm we now have a new drainage level below the surface of the paddock which would be gradually spreading away from the creek up the valley sides, much in the way that water is slowly absorbed by paper with one end in a bowl.
I think this is called osmosis.

With the recent rain I can visualise that the moisture that fell on the paddock would now be moving through the soil profile- root zone- at a slower rate as it would feel the presence of the now raised and more stable water table sooner.

This must allow my crop roots to absorb nutrients for an extended period of time and promote more vigorous growth, greater root systems, greater ability to utilise the moisture and so on.

It is possible to see how this could begin a self perpetuating natural sequence of events.

Ian James
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:31 am
Location: Avon West Australia

Postby Ian James » Sun Jul 29, 2007 8:55 am

It is possible to see how this could begin a self perpetuating natural sequence of events.



The effect of water being absorbed by paper or any material where it moves against gravity is not osmosis but capillary action.
Is that right?
Feel free to enlighten me.
If you have ever watched a grain bin empty from an outlet at the bottom, below the level of the grain you will have seen how the grain slowly avalanches down in a wave like formation or as a terrace.
The same can be seen at the beach on the edge of a sand dune.
As children we all marvelled at this display of physics.
This action of emptying is basically the opposite of filling, which is what I am describing with my project.

With the raised level in the creek pond I am now seeing a sequential effect slowly climbing up towards the very top of the catchment.

In some way it is extending from the point of my project like the rings created from a stone thrown into a pond as they make their way to the extent of the water surface.

This must be what is referred to as hydrology.

This is what I am seeing on my farm.

duane
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Location: Central Coast, NSW
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Reading the landscape and NSA Local Chapter

Postby duane » Sun Jul 29, 2007 11:35 am

Ian

It sounds to me like you are getting to know your landscape. This plan of yours should be documented and photographed fully...it will be a very important case study for everyone not only in your area but right across the country.

I have probably a dozen names of people who are/may be interested in joining your local chapter. If you can get the LC up and running your learning experiences could be shared by what you are doing on your place thereby building both capacity and knowledge in nsf.

Ian James
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:31 am
Location: Avon West Australia

Postby Ian James » Sun Jul 29, 2007 12:00 pm

That is my primary goal Duane.
At present I have stalled for lack of participants.
Any person at all would be most welcome. They would not have to be landholders or even have an accedmic qualification.
The most important criterion is that they are willing and keen to take part and to learn and to share that knowlege.

duane
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Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:44 pm
Location: Central Coast, NSW
Contact:

Postby duane » Tue Jul 31, 2007 9:06 pm

Hi Ian

One of the +ve's for vetiver is that it is sterile.
Therefore you can only buy/get the plants already growing.
Google Vetiver....they have a very extensive website with lots of info.

Ian James
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:31 am
Location: Avon West Australia

Postby Ian James » Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:38 am

The season has taken a turn for the better.
The last week of July we received more than our July average, with more predicted we may just make a fist of it.

I managed to build a third step in the creek.

This is about a km down stream from my earlier efforts.

I chose a site with a rock base and with a rock wall on the southern bank.

If I didn't mention earlier the creek is running through the farm running downstream east to west.

So I am 1 km west and downstream.

This site is where the banks are close together, i.e. the creek is narrow, and the banks are high on each side and where there is good rock support to combat erosion during futer flood events.

I was able to pick all the rocks off the paddock that the creek runs through here without having to raid the rock piles from earlier rock picking.

This was good as the paddock is in crop to lupins and my minimum till points had dug up a lot of rocks which would be a harvester hazard later in the year.

I picked about 6m3 of rocks mostly around size 1 (fist) and size 2 (football) with a few size three.

I did not use any earth mix with the rocks.
The bank I built leaked a lot because of the steady flow of water flowing at a depth of 25 cm through a 2m wide channel between the rock and sand bank and the fact that I did not include gravel in the mix with the rock.

This was done because of the design of this bank.

The bank is not complete at this stage.

The rocks that I have laid are the foundation of the bank. I will continue to lay more and more rocks on the bank until I have the size and breadth of bank that I am aiming for.

The bank will be leaking profusely during this building phase.

Once the rock foundation is complete I will return with large quantities of earth and gravel to lie on the upstream side of the bank.

This earth and gravel is excellent plugging material and will wash through into the rocks and will plug the wall completely.

One this phase is complete I will seed the bank with all sorts of annual and perennial plants.

This will hold the earth in place once the pond level rises to the overflow point or spillway which will again be located in the centre of the original water course


I chose a site with a rock base and with a rock wall on the southern bank.

If I didn't mention earlier the creek is running through the farm running downstream east to west.

So I am 1 km west and downstream.

This site is where the banks are close together, ie the creek is narrow, and the banks are high on each side and where there is good rock support to combat erosion during futer flood events.

I was able to pick all the rocks off the paddock that the creek runs through here without having to raid the rock piles from earlier rock picking.

This was good as the paddock is in crop to lupins and my minimum till points had dug up a lot of rocks which would be a harvester hazard later in the year.

I picked about 6m3 of rocks mostly around size 1 (fist) and size 2 (football) with a few size three.

I did not use any earth mix with the rocks.
The bank I built leaked a lot because of the steady flow of water flowing at a depth of 25 cm through a 2m wide chanel between the rock and sand bank and the fact that I did not incude gravel in the mix with the rock.

This was done because of the design of this bank.

The bank is not complete at this stage.

The rocks that I have layed are the foundation of the bank. I will continue to lay more and more rocks on the bank untill I have the size and breadth of bank that I am aiming for.

The bank will be leaking profusely during this building phase.

Once the rock foundation is complete I will return with large quantities of earth and gravel to lay on the upstream side of the bank.

This earth and gravel is execelent plugging material and will wash through into the rocks and will plug the wall completely.

One this phase is complete I will seed the bank with all sorts of annual and perenial plants.

This will hold the earth in place once the pond level rises to the overflow point or spillway which will again be located in the center of the original water course

Ian James
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:31 am
Location: Avon West Australia

Postby Ian James » Fri Aug 03, 2007 9:55 am

My desire to start a WA chapter of NSF in the Avon on the Mortlock catchment has progressed.

I have been contacted by a couple of locals who have read this Blog.

Also Duane has sent me a group of contacts from WA who I will soon contact to intro. myself and my goals to see if any of them may be interested in joining this exciting initiative.

In my local area I have been to this point keeping a low profile.

This is because I believe the locals will be quick to judge and I expect their initial reaction to be one of deep scepticism.

It is very important that I lay the correct groundwork and seed carefully the ideas I am following to ensure that I am judged positively.

Once my projects are up and performing I will invite a few of my neighbours and show them what I have done and explain to them the theories behind NSF.

I believe that it is crucial that I gain the approval of my local neighbours first and foremost if I am to establish a broad corrective NSF program on the scale I envision.

I am leaving overseas for a week and on my return I will contact all who have shown interest and those on the contact list that Duane has very kindly forwarded to me.

I will attempt to spark the ignition of the Avon/Mortlock Chapter of NSF.

Ian James
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:31 am
Location: Avon West Australia

Postby Ian James » Fri Aug 03, 2007 10:07 am

Today I have my interview with the Nuffield scholarship selection panel.

I will attempt to explain to them everything that NSF can achieve and what I believe I can do to promote and expedite that success.

If successful in my application I will be required to travel over the globe to study a range of environment catastrophes on a similar scale to that here in Australia.

I would like to ask anyone who reads this to bring to my attention any site that they may have seen on their overseas travels that they think would be beneficial for me to see and study to better understand the efforts and successes that have been across the globe.

Ian James
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:31 am
Location: Avon West Australia

Postby Ian James » Fri Aug 03, 2007 10:19 am

I don't think I mentioned earlier that I have seen in my pond a mass of what look like mosquito larvae.

This would have been impossible previously as the water was sterile due to massive saline levels.

Also I now have a pair of ducks nesting in the rushes on my pond along with another pair of the long legged black and white birds which I have yet to ID

duane
Posts: 1159
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:44 pm
Location: Central Coast, NSW
Contact:

Postby duane » Fri Aug 03, 2007 12:15 pm

What you are witnessing Ian is the genesis of all life.... water creates life. You are seeing biodiversity building, Nature will now run its ecological course because you 'kick started' with the intervention...you biomimicked what happens naturally. You now have the greatest engineer working for you...Mother Nature.

You are in a wonderfully fortuitous position and I thank you for describing and sharing this journey of yours. I hope others in WA and elsewhere will follow your role as an early adopter.

Remember that as a farmer you are harvesting a product produced by the Sun. The more green surface area you have the greater the harvest.

As a farmer you get the Sun for nothing, you get the air for nothing, and if you can trap and hold the rainfall in the landscape you will get a plentiful supply of water for nothing.

In racing parlance that's called the trifecta...but if you manage your landscape as Nature once did you will also trap and manage your lands fertility and salinity...and when that happens you have won the quadrella and as any racegoer knows that pays the biggest dividend.

duane
Posts: 1159
Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:44 pm
Location: Central Coast, NSW
Contact:

Postby duane » Fri Aug 03, 2007 12:21 pm

Best wishes for today Ian with the Nuffield interview...if you are successful and I truly hope you are, I can give you a number of overseas contacts who can advise you on where you can go and look at projects OS.

GOOD LUCK!!!!

Ian James
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:31 am
Location: Avon West Australia

Postby Ian James » Sat Aug 04, 2007 12:17 am

Thank you Duane for your support.

I have just returned home and I am quietly confident.

The selection panel listened with interest to my explanations of NSF and one asked if I was aware if the system I was advocating was in direct contrast to the conventional wisdom which predominates, that of drainage to solve salinity.

I explained that the idea of drainage should not be viewed as the only available solution and that the ideas of NSF should be fully investigated if only to balance the approach.

They were interested that I planned to attempt to begin a WA chapter of NSF.

If successful I will progress to the next interview stage scheduled for October 3.

Ian James
Posts: 253
Joined: Sun Jul 01, 2007 12:31 am
Location: Avon West Australia

Nuffield scholarship

Postby Ian James » Wed Aug 15, 2007 12:29 am

An update on my Nuffield scholarship application on the topic NSF

I was notified on the weekend that I was not successful in passing through to the next elimination stage.
I was feeling very confident that I had made a good impression on the interviewers and I must say I allowed myself to dream that I had it in the bag.

Reality bites.

I have since been able to hold a conversation with the chairman of Nuffield WA branch who was present at the interview and he informed me that my topic "NSF" was the main reason that I did not progress.

Although apparently a few on the panel were strongly in my favour, the majority seemed to feel that NSF as a research topic was too "new" or "left field" and "not widely accepted in agriculture as a viable practice"

The key word though was "Yet"

The challenge has been thrown to me to bring NSF onto the agenda in WA agriculture in a visible and legitimate way.

This is what I will now attempt to do, along with a number of WA people who have recently shown an interest in NSF, the challenge is to organise ourselves and present in a loud and clear voice to the agricultural community in WA that NSF is the best practice in land care and the combat against degradation of our land.

I intend to reapply in 12 months and to be able to show conclusively that NSF is relevant to everyone in Agriculture in Australia and that it has become widely accepted as a viable method of landcare by many well established land conservation and local catchment groups throughout Australia.

Angela Helleren
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Joined: Sat May 19, 2007 6:45 am
Location: Victoria

Postby Angela Helleren » Thu Aug 16, 2007 1:42 am

quote-
Although apparently a few on the panel were strongly in my favour, the majority seemed to feel that NSF as a research topic was too "new" or "left field" and "not widely accepted in agriculture as a viable practice" :oops:

That's exactly why it would be an excellent choice as a research topic. They just wouldn't know how to cross examine you at the end of the course, Ian :roll: ...and the world was flat 'til... :D
Many hands make light work.
Unfortunately, too many hands stirring anti clockwise, has spoiled mother natures recipe.
Back to basics.

duane
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Joined: Fri Apr 20, 2007 1:44 pm
Location: Central Coast, NSW
Contact:

Postby duane » Thu Aug 16, 2007 2:53 pm

Ian

Everything that happens is related to time and space.

May I suggest that you continue to champion the NSF position in the Avon....parts of WA are a cot case on the verge of complete collapse.

If you lead the'charge' and show by example how the restorative processes of NSF can return your landscape to a healthy productive level the other doubting Thomases can make their own judgement.

And you will be miles and streets ahead.

And that's why the establishment of a local chapter there in WA in essential.

We need to continue to raise awareness of how this landscape developed and functions...so that the solutions to our degrading landscapes will come from the grass roots understanding and implemention.

Bring on the Avon LC of NSA....this is gaining a groundswell of momentum.

Become a part of the SOLUTION not a part of the PROBLEM.


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