One mans weed another mans pasture

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

We do not endorse any answers from anyone in this forum except Peter Andrews himself.

Please remember, Natural Sequence Farming has to be tailored for your specific problem and to follow general advice may create more problems for you.

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One mans weed another mans pasture

Post by Dan » Tue Nov 13, 2007 11:40 am

I thoroughly enjoyed the report by Ray Martin on Peters ideas, i only wish it could have gone longer. Its great to see Peter and his ideas are getting the recognition they clearly deserve. My interest in NSF is relatively recent but i have observed several of the ideas and theories long before i discovered NSF.

Patersons curse is a welcome addition to our pasture on our farm, often when i move cattle into a new paddock they will completley ignore the fresh young clover and devour the paterson curse or capeweed until all that left is a short stump of taproot. I've seen cattle eat poisonous plants such as bracken fern and ignore pasture to eat the leaves of she oaks. Cattle are particularly clever in there diet selection knowing exactly what they need, and how much to eat particularly of poisonous plants.

I have begun building several leaky weirs to slow down water flow through a seasonal creek, they are contructed out of rock from on farm and so are relatively cheap however the springs on the farm trailer are taking a hell of a beating. On the high side of these weirs i've planted reeds specifically bullrush and feather grass (Phragmites australis). The feather grass is great its tough and can easily stand the wet dry nature of the creek, i've seen it growing in areas that may only get inundated once a year for a few weeks. I've also seen them grow in the brackish water of estuaries so they may be able to grow in your creek Ian. I collect the seed heads of the feather grass and put them in the rocks of the leaky weir where hopefully they will grow and germinate. Also a tip to any one creating wetlands, billabongs or even ponded creeks, try and get some water couch it grows incredibly fast in summer and cattle love it, i recently read that it can produce up to 150kg dry matter/ha/day.

One of the other creeks on our farms is very flat spanning up to 50m wide , water never flows very deep through it only about 20cm deep. This area is contantly green due to the flow patterns and underground water flow i believe it would have been a large marsh long ago. What do you think would be the best way to slow the water down?, i thought perhaps a series of log that are secured so they don't move.

Does anyone remember when plantain was considered a weed and was commonly sprayed, seed companies now sell the seed and promote it as an essential part of pastures.

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Post by duane » Tue Nov 13, 2007 1:19 pm

Great post Dan.... thank you.

With regard to the flat creek....if you can keep the cattle out....consider planting the whole thing out with Phagmites spp. This would definitely achieve what you want but the cattle love the reeds.

The water couch (native) you mention would be great to plant on the floodplains along the creek once it was choked....cattle do exceptionally well on it and they do love it...after a flood it can grow to 1m.

This is the same system we witnessed in the Macquarie Marshes last week and the graziers there swear by it.

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Post by muzza » Tue Nov 13, 2007 9:28 pm

Good on ya dan, good first post and welcome. Wonder if i will find more info on feather grass by google? too right about plantain and what about chicory??!! I find it invaluable here and such a close relation to that "terrible" thing called dock
Remember.... no success or failure need be necessarily final!

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Post by duane » Wed Nov 14, 2007 9:03 am

People may want to read the classic "Weeds- Guardians of the Soil" where manyof these plants and their roles are discussed in detail and their biological/ecological function.

Click on ... %20(3).pdf

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Post by damo » Thu Nov 22, 2007 11:27 am

Giday all, MY first post as I only stumbled on NSfarming after watching Ray Martin a few weks ago, I was that overwelmed by what I saw and heard I could hardly sleep! I have ordered the book , and have booked in to vistit a field day.
Could some one share with me what Peter,s ideas are when it comes to dealing with berry bush, as the block we bought had been flogged out in the past and has plenty of it!!! not to mention eroision issues.

The grass is slowly coming back as we have it very lightly stocked.

Can not wait to learn more and promote NSFarming

Thank you

Damion McLaren

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Post by duane » Thu Nov 22, 2007 6:20 pm

G'day Damo,

You have really answered your own question in a way...these woody weeds are there only because the land has been flogged...fertility and C has been removed and these plants are there trying to restore the system. They are Natures successful primary colonisers and as such are trying to perform a role to rebuild soil C and fertility.
Nature does nothing uselessly. So if you let these plants grow out...fully...then slash and use them as mulch you will have started the process that happens in nature...recycling.

Its a progression we all need to understand.

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Post by Dan » Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:16 pm

What a difference a month can make first were looking down the barrel of another dry hot spring/summer and now good rain has provided good late spring growth i only hope rain falls in all the areas needed.

A few weeks ago i constructed a log weir within one of our creeks logs were interlocked in a < pattern pointing upstream large gaps within the structure were reduced with sand which also helped lock the logs together. This particular site suffers from salinity either side of the creek.

One week after contruction we recieved 17mm in a thunderstorm as if on order. Already i have seen the effects of the weir, the water was spread over a larger area. Water plants such as water couch have taken of, fescue beside the creek is flourishing and for the first time in 15 years i saw white clover growing on our property. I will eagerly watch the lone red gums response to the weir construction, this gum has looked for a long time in poor health. I have posted a before and after picture on ... lbum=49839
hopefully they will be posted. I will endeavour to keep a month by month photographic record of the site. The success of this weir has spurred me on to create several more, and hopefully i will begin plantings of bullrush, feather grass and she oaks in the near future.

Just a thought has anyone thought of using old tyres to contruct a leaky weir in lower flow creeks, there readily available and usually cost nothing but would they release harmful residues.

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Post by duane » Tue Dec 11, 2007 8:30 am

Dan, there is to be a NSF project set up next year in Jacqua Creek which is in your area. Let me know if you are interested and I can put in touch with the people would be a good op for some capacity building.

I checked with Peter re the tyres....they are of course a Carbon sink, which is a plus, and could be used potentially. But the ideal weir is made from plants and that is Peter's preferred option. It is also the cheapest although the tyres would be cheap as well. Not sure if there are any hidden harmful residues in them though.

A small nursery growing phragmites, reeds etc., would be a good start....Nature itself never had the benefit of recycled rubber tyres...they can be used but not sure how you would secure them etc etc.,

Perhaps you could run a small experiment and trial using tyres, yourself and report your active research here on the forum?? Of course, this can not be done in any grade 3 streams (named) without permits from the relevant authorities.

It is important to remember that where you get ponding upstream you create a -ve hydraulic only certain plant spp will grow, such as phragmites sp. Downstream from the weired ponding the pressure is reversed i.e., it becomes +ve. This is the riffle area of the pool/riffle sequence. Here you can grow grass. she oaks etc.. Note these plants WILL NOT GROW in the -ve zone.

The explanation of -ve and +ve hydraulic pressures is pretty simple.... water held back by ponding (pool) is at a higher level than the immediate area downstream (the riffle)....the mass of water in the pond exerts downward pressure in the pond (-ve pressure) forcing an upward (+ve) pressure and upward movement of water into the riffle area.

This is part of a natural landscape component and sequence which once operated universally in intact systems.

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Post by Dan » Mon Jan 14, 2008 5:00 pm

Duane, it would be greatly appreciated if you could send me the details about the NSF project on Jacqua Creek.

Its been several months since i constructed my log weir in the creek, and things are changing. Several species of reeds are now growing in the creek including cumbungi, the pond created by the weir is almost completely covered buy water couch which our young bull enjoyed immensely. The couch is particularly thick directly behind the weir probably due to reduce water velocity. I have already noticed that several small flushes of water have been forced onto the floodplain due to the weir, they also spread some residue over the plain. The fescue on the plain has responded well looking much thicker and greener.

I have begun construction of a second weir using old railway sleeper. As of yet no flushes have come down the creek but if things progress as fast as in the first weir i expect changes soon, weather permitting.

Hoping everyone gets good rains in 2008.


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Post by duane » Sat Jan 19, 2008 8:03 pm


give me a call or email me for details of Jacqua Creek.

Details at

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Post by Dan » Tue Apr 08, 2008 8:36 pm

Things are starting to slow down now with the colder weather, we had our first frost of the year last week. My log weir held up well against several flushes after a few initial patch ups it has moved in months, i have planted cumbungi in it to help secure it. We now have four different types of reeds growing in the pond as well as several floating plants i have never seen before. The biodiversity this pond has created is incredible it is a magnet for water birds including ducks, ibis and herons, the water is teeming with fish and tadpoles and i often see the remnants of a yabbies left over from a birds meal. The salty area adjacent to the creek are being reinvaded by less salt tolerant plants. I have planted some willow trees to help stabilise the banks and they have taken of they look great.

I was digging some holes for fence post last week in the flood plain, i dug down three feet the soil was completely full of water, i have never dug a post hole so fast.

We recently slashed a paddock with lost of thistles, where the thistles were thickest we had mulch several inches thick, these area responded so well to an inch of rain they grew feed twice the height and density of areas without thistle mulch. I collected lots of thistle seed of the slasher deck which i have spread to new areas.

One of our major problems plants is serrated tussock, i was thinking of spreading chook manure on the problem area to reduce its dominance. Has anyone had experience controlling using mulch or manure we've tried the chemical approach and they keep coming back thicker and faster each year.

Ian James
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Post by Ian James » Wed Apr 09, 2008 6:06 am

Hi Dan, a very belated welcome from me to you, welcome to the Blog world. :D

Congrats on the progress you have made in the months since you began your projects.

It really sounds like an interesting landscape and environment.

Your description of the result of thistle mulching is most interesting to me at this time.

Of course it is exactly what Peter is continually telling us, but to hear that you have had a visible response so rapidly is very heartening that we are on the right track.

I will be trying to get hold of some feather grass seeds first chance I get Dan, we have had a very early break to the season here and we are about to commence our seeding program for the farm, any seeds should get an excellent start during the next two months so I will be busy scattering anything I can get my hands on.

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Post by duane » Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:59 pm

Hey Dan

Peter was here last night after returning from WA and SA. I showed him your post....he had a smile from ear to ear.

What a fantastic post Dan. Unsolicited, accurate, clear and unequivical evidence that in your experience what Peter has been saying for 30 years WORKS. Not just at Peter's place but anywhere.

And as a reward for being such a good boy he said for me to post this about your serrated tussock problem. In fact, you have already hit on part of the solution...what I am about to tell you is just fine tuning a little.

ST is indicative of a soil flogged of all its nutients. These are the recovery plants of a desertified environment.
What you need to do to get rid of it is simple and cheap.

On the high side of the hydrology ie above where the ST is growing build a small trial area to test this.
1. build a contour above the ST to capture any runoff.
2.part fill/fill the chicken manure and mulch
3. if you have a dam close or nearby and you can run a hose trickle feed water into the contour where the manure and mulch are.
4.WAIT and watch. As the nutients moves down the hydrology and fertility is raised the ST will die and be out competed.
5. spray the ST with a sugar solution
6.keep us informed of your progress.

Ian James
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Post by Ian James » Wed Apr 09, 2008 10:27 pm

I have been spraying my crops with what we call worm piss.

It is the drained water that is produced in a worm farm.

The worms are fed all sorts of food scraps and watered daily

At the bottem is a small drain which is blead daily to capture the water which is excess.

It is very high in ammonia or N.

After being ridiculed and admonished by my trusted agronomist and fertiliser agent I decided to do some trials on my valuable wheat crops.

I cancelled an order of $25 000.00 of Urea and ordered the equivalent dose of worm piss from a supplier to treat the same area of crop.

The cost was only $15000.00 a considerable saving.

I sprayed a few paddocks completely and withheld their planned dose of Urea.

In another paddock I sprayed in strips hoping to see with my eye any difference in colour and performance.

After five weeks I was certain I could see no difference so I sent all the worm piss back to the supplier and made a reluctant call to the fertiliser agent who laughed at me and patronised me for not listening to his earlier recommendations.

Later in the year when the crop was in head and soon to ripen I walked through to see if I could identify any difference at all from the treatment.

To my astonishment I found walking from the worm piss treated area to the urea treated area a very considerable difference in plant health.

The worm piss treated strips were a dark healthy green with many strong tall tillers and large wheat heads, in contrast the urea treated area was suffering from a much higher density of grass weeds and also a heavy infection of leaf disease, the stems were leaning left and right instead of being tall and straight up and the heads where visibly shorter and less filled with grain.

The crops which I had sprayed with worm piss over the entire paddock yielded one third better than I expected.

My fertiliser rep. made the comment that it would be impossible for the worm piss to contain the amount of N per litre as advertised, I did a little experiment whereby I filled a 7 litre bucked with the worm piss and left it in the sun to evaporate.

It is nearly complete and the bucket is now full of solid white crystallised N.

Worm piss.

I am now designing my own super sized worm farm which will be housed in an old unused cement water tank.

I will feed the worms damaged and moldy hay and water the farm and capture the excess.

I hope to be able to produce my own high concentrate fertliser from my damaged hay which is a by product of my hay enterprise.

This could be a way of managing the very expensive imported fertiliser compounds,

Hopefully it might also help me eradicat areas of ST which have begun to dominate some areas of my farm which have been badly wind eroded in the past.

Angela Helleren
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Post by Angela Helleren » Thu May 01, 2008 2:44 pm

Thanks for sharing your 'worm pee' experiment with us Ian. Fascinating, even to a city slicker like me. :D

I did a google on Urea and found this article also interesting.

Under the section Soil Application etc is this paragraph -

When a urea particle dissolves, the area around it becomes a zone of high pH and ammonia concentration. This zone can be quite toxic for a few hours. Seed and seedling roots within this zone can be killed by the free ammonia that has formed. Fortunately, this toxic zone becomes neutralized in most soils as the ammonia converts to ammonium. Usually it's just a few days before plants can effectively use the nitrogen.

I wondered what you have found from past experience using the Urea and did you notice a difference when applying the worm pee?

Also -Slow Release Of Urea

Urea fertilizer can be coated with certain materials, such as sulfur, to reduce the rate at which the nitrogen becomes available to plants. Under certain conditions these slow-release materials result in more efficient use by growing plants. Urea in a slow-release form is popular for use on golf courses, parks, and other special lawn situations.

If a saving of $10,000 on one crop can be made by using 'worm pee', imagine the savings country wide, crops and above mentioned enterprises

Urea Do's and Don'ts

Store separately from ammonium nitrate.
Do not use small, fast-moving augers to move the urea.
Do not exceed a spreading width of 50 feet when urea is applied.
Do not place in direct contact with corn seed.
Keep rates of nitrogen applied together with small grain in drill to 10 1b. on dry soils, 20 lb. when soil is moist.
Apply urea on sod crops when atmospheric temperature is below 60 degrees F.
When urea is broadcast on soils of high pH (above 7.5), the material should be incorporated into the soil as soon as possible. ... C0636.html

Love to hear more as you get your worm farm going!
Many hands make light work.
Unfortunately, too many hands stirring anti clockwise, has spoiled mother natures recipe.
Back to basics.

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