Farmer Field Day at McAlpine Farms
It was great to get back out on farm last week to see firsthand how Stuart McAlpine is implementing a range of regenerative farming practices to improve his farms resilience and productive capacity. It was a cool dry (over 60ml of rain in August – so far) day with around 60 people making the trip to Stuarts Buntine property to see a range of great looking crops, including lupins, oats, a perennial pasture crop and a multi-species winter cover crop.
Stuart has advocated many times before that we need to find the soils ‘sweet spot’, where the physical, chemical and biological health of the soil work together to achieve healthy productive soil. The field day provided attendees with an opportunity to see first-hand that Stuart works across all of these to ensure he is working toward optimal soil health.
It’s often said that a farmer’s greatest tool is their shovel, and when we headed out to the paddock, Stuarts also brought his pH test kit, refractometer, garlic crusher, nutrient and element meters and of course his shovel. We were able to test brix levels, potassium, Calcium, pH and Nitrates across the paddocks. These simple tests help create a greater understanding of what the soil has available for the plants to take up. See below the nodulation and rhrizosheaths on the lupin crop.
We were also able to check out his Horsch seeder which had been modified to be able to apply 2 liquid applications with the seed which follows a corrugated disc which creates a furrow for the seed while minimising soil disturbance, with a tamper wheel to close off. Stuart then showed us how he creates his compost tea which he then applies to the crop accordingly.
Farmers in this space acknowledge that it is a continual journey of learning and innovation and that there is more trials and research to be done across many landscapes, where collaboration is key to getting the most benefit. Stuart is a true believer of this, and the field day emphasised all the work he is doing to share his knowledge and learnings with other farmers and stakeholders.
RegenWA looks forward to continuing these farmer field days to help share knowledge and learnings between farmers.