Quatre Saisons - natural sustainable farming
Quatre Saisons

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Yass River Road
YASS NSW 2582
P: 0411 093 035
F: 02 6123 6111
E: Quatre Saisions
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Natural Sequence Farming is an approach developed in the Hunter Valley of NSW to control the flow of stream water using low-key diversion structures developed by Peter Andrews.

The structures slow the water allowing it to spread over flood plains and recharge the groundwater. The freshwater accumulates on top of salt aquifers and provides continuous moisture for deep rooted plants.

The method includes techniques for encouraging stock to high areas at night where the nutrients from their droppings can flow down to benefit the pasture. Hills and ridges are revegetated as a priority for shelter and control of run-off. Small earthworks built along contours slow the flow of water on upper slopes.

Controversially, weeds are not sprayed; they are treated as a stage in the natural succession of species on degraded land. Weeds are also used for their nutrients; they are slashed and used on the upper parts of the property as mulch.

These ideas are intended to mimic the natural systems that evolved in Australia which were inherently adapted to drought. Information about Natural Sequence Farming is available at www.nsfarming.com

More broadly, the concept of imitating and recreating natural systems can be researched internationally on the internet using search terms such as 'biomimicry' and 'agriculture'.

 

Hear Alan Savory talk about grazing, climate change and his philosophy of holistic management here. This TED recording is current, being recorded in February, 2013.

Peter Andrews, founder of Natural Sequence Farming

Peter Andrews, founder of Natural Sequence Farming, as featured on ABC's Australian Story

Peter discusses the creek

Peter discusses the creek

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Peter talks to 100+ participants

Quatre Saison Family

Special thanks to great team of helpers who made the day a resounding success!

August 2009 Field Day with The Natural Sequence Association was a Success

After such a brilliant early spring day on Friday, last Saturday was glum. Cold, wet and windy. I thought it would be a really poor end to a lot of planning.

Peter Andrews arrived around 7.30 and together with local excavators, father and son team Jim and Andrew Field we took a look at some of the key areas I had concerns about on the property.

I was armed with the list that I had been given by Catchment Management Authority, what was considered a weed and in need of ‘management’ and the expectations for preserving my forested areas.

Peter challenged all my thinking on how to move forward. He stunned me with a view that eucalypt are a pest species and a tongue in cheek suggestion that we should be clearing the forest rather than remove Cootamundra wattle as I have been ordered to do.

Lively and illustrated discussions about natural sequence farming

(Of course, I will not be clearing anything- what would you replace it with? I know his view is that eucalypts become a monoculture, but I don’t think that is true either-the forest floor is alive with wildflowers at the moment, and so many creatures live there- it wouldn’t make any sense to destroy it. And I must stress-Peter encouraged me to observe and think sequentially, plan and determine the right course of action for Quatre Saisons. I don’t think that removal of the forest is really what he was saying anyway. I think he is challenging the way the ‘authorities’ prioritise their conservation efforts. )

It was invaluable to have the contractors who would be undertaking the earthworks participate in this part of the review process. Peter, Jim and Andrew spoke a different language- I recognised a few engineering terms- with long and involved discussions of the benefit or impacts of particular ways of contouring, how to slow water movement down using Archimedes principles and animated conversation about trees and their value.

After looking at a particularly sensitive area, around the plunge pools where we have seen platypus play in the summer, we came out of a clearing on the Briars School House block about 9.30- with the rain falling steadily. I was stunned to see a line of cars down the driveway and out the gate.

People were arriving in number.

Back at the house more than 80 people were huddled under a marquee, dressed in wet weather gear patiently sipping hot drinks, waiting. I was astonished that so many had come out on such a bleak and very wet day. Hail started to shower down on us...

Peter had a quick dry off with a towel, a hot cup of tea and then started to address the more than 100 folk who had come out to meet him.

Ironically, the heavy rain, and subsequent runoff, made the conditions at the back of the property very muddy and unsuited to having large numbers of people or vehicles traverse. There were flowing creeks, where none had been before-we saw more water than the district had seen in months that day.

The morning field walk was cancelled and replaced with a forum where Peter spoke and a conversation about the Natural Sequence approach was initiated.

The discussion very quickly involved everyone, with questions coming from the floor, interjections and ‘yes-buts’ explanations and pictorial modelling of the answers by Peter

It was amazing- so much good will and sharing of local knowledge by all present.

Peter challenged all with his assertion that no plant is a weed in nature. A lively discussion around the value of willow trees lasted well over an hour.

Lively and illustrated discussions about natural sequence farming

Over lunch, we enjoyed more conversation with members of Landcare groups and farmers of small and large properties; people who had travelled across the state to join us for the day and hear Peter speak. We hosted visitors from Cooma, Wagga, Northern Victoria and Coonabarabran. It was amazing to compare notes on our collective farming experiences!

Around 1.30 (yes still raining) most of the participants made their way to a shuttle bus to be taken to the front of the property. A hardy group set off on the 2km walk on foot.

Assembled once again on the school house block, Peter illustrated his understanding of how the water moved over this part of the place and the evidence he saw in the pattern of tree growth and species establishment.

Guided by Peter we worked through an action plan for the creek area and sustaining native grass cover on the property.

Around 2.30, the rain had eased and the sun came out again so we were buoyed by the renewed warmth.

Over the afternoon, Peter’s points of discussion on the ground continued to be focused on the processes of plant sequences and hydrological patterns, but also took in the broader issues of recycling of nutrients and water.

Many clusters of people talking and sharing contact details continued until after dusk, when I was able to send Peter on his way with a box of leftover risotto. Such a long day, and he was driving back home to the Hunter. This environmental warrior seems to me to be indefatigable.

I would like to pay tribute to the great team of helpers who made the day a resounding success. Thanks especially to David, Matt, Simon, Kate, Michaela, Kate, Stephen and Aaron

Congratulations!! To the winner of the lucky gate /registration prize, Michael and Michelle Da Roza of ‘Ranora’ Michelago-they have won a 12 month subscription to ‘Small Farms’ magazine courtesy of Media Mate Publishers in Bowral.

Contouring work on selected parts of Quatre Saisons will begin in October, and I hope to have a pictorial diary on line for you all to follow our progress.

A huge thank you to the organisations that supported our day with information and displays of great products, Yarrh Wines, The Divine Ewe, Turners Plants, Media Mate Publishers, Nutrisoil, Whites of Goulburn, Fodder Solutions and of course a big thank you to Yass Earthmovers. Thank you to Jim Arnold, local Upper-Murrumbidgee chapter president of the Natural Sequence Association, (The Peter Andrews System) Inc.

Please support the educational work of the Natural Sequence Association by becoming a member.

Thank you to all the attendees –thank you for your overwhelming interest and I encourage you to visit our website and come to Quatre Saisons again.