By Paul Homewood
h/t Dave Ward
Ozzie farmer has the answer to Norfolk’s “extreme weather”!!
An Australian farmer who has found green ways to grow crops in extreme heat and droughts has given advice to his Norfolk counterparts.
Grant Sims spoke at a virtual online meeting hosted by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association and its Yield (Young, Innovative, Enterprising, Learning and Developing) rural business network.
With extreme weather becoming more common in East Anglia, he explained how he has optimised the health and resilience of his soils to cope with the rigours of an Australian summer.
He farms 8,500 acres in Victoria, including a 300-strong herd of Angus cattle.
He also runs Down Under Covers, a business which sells seasonal multi-species cover crop mixes to farmers across Australia.
And keeping soil covered with plants between commercial crops is one of the key “guiding principles” on his farm, which can receive less than 200mm of rain during the growing season, and often sees 40-degree heat and heavy storms in summer.
He said “cover is king”, helping insulate the soil and improve its biology, while a variety of root depths breaks up compaction and increase the water-holding capacity.
“One thing we are really focused on in our soil health is to improve that infiltration and water-holding capacity,” he said.
“Most of the time we look at the area we are farming two-dimensionally, but really we are farming a three-dimensional plane.
“So if we can increase the rooting depth and the water-holding capacity, we can make use of this out-of-season rainfall, store it, or grow something over the summer which has traditionally not been done – and that is where we implement our cover crops to get the diversity in.”
Somehow, I don’t quite see Norfolk turning into Victoria anytime soon!
But what about all of this extreme weather and drought, I hear you say!
As far as April to September rainfall is concerned, there is no trend whatsoever in East Anglia. Dry summers were just as common in the past:
Neither are there any trends in October to March rainfall, nor evidence of unusually dry or wet years:
And with summer daytime temperatures averaging less than 23C, I would suggest Norfolk’s farmers have more things to worry about than the weather!