My introduction to Holistic Management proved to be the magic of Dunblane. HM taught me to make decisions that influenced not only the profitability of the operation, it also required that the landscape remained environmentally sound. A third requirement
is titled " socially sound" That means before any decision is implemented, I am required to evaluate its impact on the social aspects of our life. All of these decision are designed to drive us towards our written goals ( In HM this is referred to as
"your context") Most people want a life that filled with joy and happiness, free of fear. Free of worry and always in pursuit of worthwhile dreams and goals. Holistic management, through a structured framework of decision making steers us towards whatever
it is you have written down as your context.
My big takeaway after pretty close to 10 years of Holistic Management, is the secret lies in a "functioning ecosystem" Once this was established at Dunblane, the changes were like magic. Without any expensive
inputs, cattle and sheep flourished. The farm became profitable. The soils continued to improve resulting in beautiful, nutrient dense, biodiverse grasslands that supported not only the cattle and sheep but a variety of native animals. Our children loved
to visit with us because we always had time to do fun things.
What HM taught me, was that there are FOUR very important components to a functioning ecosystem. The water cycle, the mineral cycle, solar energy flow and what they call biological succession.
( referring to the microbes in the soil) These four entities are not only dynamic they are totally interdependent with each other. That means ( and this is the magic) if you improve one, you improve all but if you degrade one, you degrade all. In practice,
when you work towards aligning these components ( and you don't have to be perfect) nature takes over and changes occur before your very eyes. Changes you find hard to believe.
I'm writing this review of a functioning ecosystem, to share my thinking
of how best to progress at our new property, Sandown Farm. The goal has to be to create a healthy functioning ecosystem.
We bought this 100acres from a dear couple, Les and Stephanie. Both are in their mid 80's yet still live independently. They
bought the property as a blank canvas some 30 years ago. They retired from their Sydney based business, built the house, sheds, put up fences, drilled a bore, put in underground water systems, dug two dams. Improved some of the pasture. They did
a lot for which I am most grateful.
Advancing years and failing health reduced their activities on the land. What we bought is an example of what happens to a landscape that is just left idle. In non brittle climates the landscape
regenerates and overgrows. In brittle environments the opposite takes place. The landscape degrades. We purchased Sandown Farm in November 2020. That year the rainfall was 200mm above average (800mm is average. 1000mm fell) so, rspecially in the presence of
good rainfall, if this is a non brittle environment, then this long period of "rest" should have recovered the landscape. Everything would have been flourishing. If it is a brittle environment, then the landscape would have degraded.