Regenerative farming and threatened species conservation on 'Brooklyn'

Fifteen years ago, Wellington farmer Peter Barton changed his farm management through controlled grazing and adjusting his enterprise's cost structure. His results show us that a commercial farm can be run in a way that is profitable, sustainable and even regenerative. In this short video we talk to Peter on what he has done and the results he has seen to date.

Video transcript

Peter Barton:

My grandfather was a doctor by profession. He owned the place, had a manager, owner it, and he always had the idea that one of the paddocks on the place, he'd have it as a wildlife refuge. So he was obviously, not that

I really never talked to him about it, but he obviously put a strong emphasis on the environment. Over time, I've become attached to that myself.

Vivien Howard:

Today, we're at a 6000 acre grazing property called Brooklyn at twelve Mile, which is near Wellington in central New South Wales. And we are at the property of a farmer called Peter Barton that has been managing his property for biodiversity and conservation values for about 15 years.

And by doing so, he's been able to recover a population of the small purple pea by grazing it in a way that sustainable.

James Barrett:

It really does stand out that he's done a great job here. He's been time controlled grazing with his stock. In other words, a planned rotation giving his country rest. And we've just been up onto one of his paddocks where he's got some rather rare species of plants.

And that's testament to his grazing management and to the system that he's using to monitor his grazing management.

Peter Barton:

Originally, I was sort of interested in the cell grazing idea after reading Alan Savory's book, and it was very, very hard in those days to get any information, except by paying the money and doing the course. So yeah, that's what got me into it.

And what I didn't realize at the course was so much more about economics and a little bit on the cell grazing. The main thing that happened was it started mobbing up, putting livestock into bigger mobs, using infrastructure that I had, changing the cost structure, getting rid of a lot of enterprises that weren't making any money, like growing hay, growing fodder crops, growing other crops and concentrating on a few core enterprises which were profitable. There's a lot of ways to make money, and it doesn't have to be to the detriment of the landscape. I think that's the big thing I've learned, as I've got more involved in agriculture and got a bit older in the system here, that we don't have to push the landscape to the absolute limits to make money out of it.

Vivien Howard:

I think it's just really exciting to see someone like Peter that had so much vision so long ago and the way that he's been able to integrate the management of biodiversity within his farming system, both in terms of the grassy box woodland ecosystems that he's got and the threatened species that he has within those, but also the way that he's managing to recover biodiversity in the productive areas of his farmers.

Peter Barton:

Nature is a wonderful thing in the way it recovers from adversity. And what's exciting me lately is that some of these changes that I'm seeing now, I didn't think I'd ever see in my lifetime, but I'm observing them.

And I think hopefully if I live another 30 years or 20 years, I'll observe them exponentially from now on. I love watching that. I love walking out, I love seeing that. I love observing that it's a I feel as if I'm doing something reasonably right.

And I don't know all the answers, but I'm doing a bit of good. Maybe. Yeah.

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