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Hello rain

Shane Joyce

I’m in a “preppers” mode. Yes, now that La Nina and the wet years are behind us, and all the predictions are for El Nino to take centre stage…I’ve moved into “Prepare for low rainfall years!” frame of mind.

So what does the proactive biodynamic farmer/gardener do to prepare?

  1. Begin to act on a sequential spraying programme! Like praying, it’s better to act, than wait till we’re into “the biggest drought in recorded history!”. Next dates for spraying out a Rain Plus sequential series: 26 – 28 October. Order online from BAA.
  2. Prioritise farm/garden actions. Here at Kumbartcho I’ve shifted to a Natural Sequence Farming focus to better manage the water, vegetation and fertility on-farm. This of course comes with a biodynamic bias as I’m incorporating my biodynamic preparations in seed dressings, tubestock and seedling plantings; and of course into my contours and waterways. 
  3. Pasture management. As they say, “sell them before you smell them!” Match stocking rate to carrying capacity. Allow adequate rest for pastures to recover from grazing events. 
  4. Trees. I’m focusing on managing the trees on farm. What are my browse trees? What trees collect more dew at night to hydrate the system? What is adequate shelter for both livestock, and pastures/crops. Bear in mind that shelter belts can reduce surface evaporation by up to 70%! Here with 700mm average annual rainfall and 2000 mm surface evaporation…a quick back of the envelope sum says I can prevent 1400 mm of evaporation! That’s 2x my rainfall. Which can we manage?
  5. Now to rainfall infiltration and soil water holding capacity. Perennial grass will infiltrate 7x as much as bare ground, and 3.5x as litter covered ground.
  6. Once infiltrated, then water holding capacity comes into play! Soil with 4 to 5% organic matter will hold 4.5x as much water as soil with 1.5 to 2% organic matter.
  7. All stuff we as proactive managers can do!

Let’s do it biodynamic people! Let’s shout out these messages and not get caught up in the news media doom and gloom hype!

Create rain, infiltrate it, hold it!

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