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Cover crops and species diversity key to soil health success

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Sustainable Industries

In 2014 Holland Track farmer Nick Kelly cleaned out his super shed for the last time and refilled it with compost, worms and water spray.

This is the key message 50 people came away with when they visited Nick’s farm as part of the Talkin’ Soil Conference in early March.

Committed to multi species cover crops, plant diversity, composting and rotational grazing Nick has managed to do away with synthetic fertilisers.

Enterprise stacking is part of the Kelly family’s philosophy, good for farm and good for community.

Multispecies cover crops crowd out weeds and with diversity of root structures and lengths they break up compaction in the soils.  Participants were able to see Lucerne and chicory persisting despite extreme drought conditions.  Digging with a shovel revealed the ease with which the dry soils can be dug.

Nick spoke of his mixed grains commanding premium prices for high-quality animal feed where growers are recognising the nutritional value from multi-species grains grown cleanly and green.

Nick says “It very nice not to have to have a bank to farm,” demonstrating that good soil health can drive profit.

Later in the day, the road trip moved on to Harrismith where the Facey Group talked through a series of trials on summer pastures including serradella, lebekia, tedera and anemeka saltbush.

Participants really appreciated Nick’s well-considered answers backed up by real and solid experience as well as him sharing his motivation and his journey. Inspiring!

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