Taranaki Farm regenerative agriculture

Name of case study

Taranaki Farm regenerative agriculture

Location

 Central Victoria, Australia

Year

2005

Scale

Landscape scale

Area / size

160ha

NbS employed

Keyline design

Type of NbS

Hybrid living/engineered interventions

Initiator

Private company, family farm (Ben Falloon)

Funder

Falloon Pastoral Pty Ltd. (Ben Falloon)

Budget

n/a

Design group

  • Ben Falloon
  • Darren Doherty
Keyline Irrigation Taranaki farm showing the opening of the lock pipe of a dam, allowing water to flood into a keyline irrigation ditch that runs along the contour. Students observe. Photo by Deepbiosoil, CC BY-SA 4.0.
“Moving the hens to fresh pasture this morning offers them lots of forage, new dust bath opportunities, a migration away from last week’s manure and gives the pasture they cultivated and fertilised earlier an opportunity to regenerate and flourish before they return to that spot – sometimes longer than a full year.” Showing mobile infrastructure for hens. Photo by Taranaki farm.
Climate change benefits
  • Changes in rainfall
  • Desertification
  • Drought
  • Freshwater flooding
  • Increased incidence / distribution of disease
  • Increased pests or spread of weeds
  • Increased temperatures
  • Indirect health, social, cultural climate change impacts
  • Loss of food production
  • Loss of other ecosystem services
  • Reduced soil quality
  • Reduced water quality
Societal / socio-cultural benefits
  • Climate change adaptation
  • Disaster risk reduction
  • Economic and social development
  • Food security and quality
Ecological benefits
  • Biological control (regulation of pests and disease)
  • Climate regulation
  • Decomposition
  • Disturbance prevention (erosion, storm damage, flooding etc.)
  • Food production (for humans)
  • Fresh water
  • Habitat provision
  • Nutrient cycling
  • Soil building

Summary of case study

Taranaki farm is a 160ha farm in Woodend, Central Victoria, Australia. This area is at risk of desertification and is adjacent to large areas suffering from desertification. After farming in the family for four generations, Ben Falloon began to transition the farm to a holistic management framework in 2005, using polyculture planned grazing including cattle, chickens, sheep, pigs, and ducks alongside vegetable and fruit production (City of Whittlesea, 2015).

Techniques used on the farm are characterised by integrating keyline design, permaculture, biomimicry, and holistic management. These include capture and use of resources, including nutrients and water (passive and nighttime irrigation and natural fertilisation through animal manure), soil building, mobile infrastructure (this enables movement of animals and milking equipment avoiding accumulation of waste and disease that would not happen in nature), and sale direct from site to the community (Duncan, 2016). Despite economic, climatic, and regulatory barriers, Taranaki Farm is a precedent of resilient, holistic management, increased productivity, and economic viability. Biodiversity benefits of the practices used on Taranaki farm include increased natural vegetation and natural corridors, encouragement of native grassland and the habitat provided by this, and beneficial pest management, which in turn increases crop and production rates.

Keyline design techniques used on the farm include a series of keyline ponds and drains, that channel and catch water for use on the land. An improved version of the ‘keyline plow’ is also used along contour, to perform subsoil ripping while simultaneously sowing diverse grass species, and injecting biochar, bone-char, and bio-fertilisers into the soil (Duncan, 2016). This practice improves carbon capture, organic matter, and soil-based water capacity of the pasture providing both mitigation of and adaption to climate change impacts, such as increasing drought. The farm provides food through both community-supported agriculture subscription (CSA) and buying club sale structures, giving the farm financial security and the ability to invest seasonally. This gives consumers in the community the availability of food direct from source, and builds confidence in the product and contributes to a better, more direct relationship with the producer.

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“Really pleased with the late Spring conditions on the farm. Kicking fire risk preparations into full gear will further transform conditions.” Aerial photo showing keyline ripping, keyline dams, water conveyance swales, native revegetation, and mobile farm infrastructure. Photo by Taranaki farm.
References
  • City of Whittlesea. (2015, November 30). Small blocks, bigideas – Ben Falloon – Taranaki farm. YouTube. https://youtu.be/98KxqiczUBU?si=LYwXLJgVSYofNdXS
  • Duncan, T. (2016). Case study: Taranaki farm regenerative agriculture. Pathways to integrated ecological farming. In Land Restoration (pp. 271–287). Elsevier. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-801231-4.00022-7

Further resources

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