Monday, October 22, 2012

And the winner is...... drumroll....

The National Carbon Cocky Award is judged each year during Carbon Farming Week. It was inaugurated in 2007 as a way to acknowledge pioneering Carbon Farmers and put a spotlight on new techniques for avoiding or absorbing Greenhouse Gas emissions. Finalists are thought-leaders of Carbon Farming. When the world’s leaders cannot agree, the people must lead. In their everyday working life Carbon Farmers point the way forward. They are our hope for the future. Winners will be announced at the Gala Awards Dinner, Dubbo RSL Club, 23rd October, 2012.

Shane and Shan Joyce
“Dukes Plains” near Theodore, Qld.

• Shane and Shan Joyce came to Dukes Plain, south of Theodore, Qld. in 1982 with a background in organic farming and permaculture. In 1993 Dukes Plain moved from continuous grazing in seven paddocks to a cell grazing system across almost 100 paddocks. The production bottom line became kilograms of beef per hectare of available pasture. Production increases were experienced within two years. Later they applied organic and biodynamic methods.
• Dukes Plain is a 7900 hectare sub-tropical property of which 3000 hectares is used as grazing land for beef cattle. This country was formerly dominated by brigalow scrubs and semi-evergreen vine thicket, endangered ecosystems. The remaining hectares are sandstone escarpment of virgin native vegetation, a wildlife corridor.
The ‘cow tractor’ is now the most used piece of farming equipment. Single wire electric fences, sub-divide the property into what are 97 paddocks of 20-40 hectares each.
• Maintaining a minimum pasture height and having sufficient leaf allows grasses to grow from sunlight energy rather than from root reserves makes pastures are more resilient and recover quickly with minimum impact on the root system.
• Shane developed an innovative and organic way of increasing the nutrients in his soil. He developed a biodynamic preparation drawing components from the field to produce a ‘soil activator’. Shane noted that the stock responded favourably when diluted supplement was added to the drinking troughs, and thought that the preparation could also act as a tonic for the animal of a ‘tea bag’ made from shade cloth, filled with the soil activator and placed by the inlet valve of water troughs. As a result, the product was ‘steeped’ every time the cattle drank, passing through their digestive systems and eventually ending up on the soil in their waste.
• Areas of natural revegetation with 40% canopy cover are yielding nearly 40% greater return than those areas that were completely cleared Trees are providing protection to the pastures and soils, allowing for much better growth and increased fodder for the cattle. Water loss through evaporation is betterrolled, and the trees – notably the narrower corridors more so than the wide ones – protect the pastures from wind and frost damage. Increased diversity in grasses is also evident. Up to 50% of previously cleared land on Dukes Plain has now retained regrowth.
• Shane and Shan are being approached by resource companies seeking to purchase environmental offsets, attracted by the high levels of regrowth on the previously cleared endangered brigalow and semi-evergreen vine thicket land types. Shane and Shan see the potential for possible future sale of soil carbon credits.  District averages for soil organic matter are less than 1%. Measured in 2003, Dukes Plain showed around 4% soil organic matter.
Adapted from Soils For Life Repor

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