This publication explains where pastures fit in a farming system for livestock, cropping and the environment. It’s a farming system that is as much about what farmers want for their family and their leisure time as it is about what animals they run or crops they grow.
If you work your way through much of this book, you will realise that productive, sustainable and profitable pastures don’t just happen. They are the result of careful planning to ensure that all the factors that make up the system dovetail together.
We need to see that the health, productivity and sustainability of pastures influences the whole farm. Here are just some of the ways pastures benefit the farm:
• soil is protected by pastures. Poor soil cover leads to erosion and salinity
• soil can be improved by pastures. Their root systems build up organic matter and bind soil particles together, improving structure
• pastures recycle nutrients, and in the case of legumes, produce high levels of nutrients essential for animal growth and reproduction
• they are the cheapest and most efficient way of getting animal production.
To look at a farming system and think first about the pastures might seem strange, but they do need to be high on your list of ways of making your farm productive and sustainable.