Keeping your goals in mind

Youth Exchange formulated new farming ideas

Cropping
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A chance encounter with the difficulty of farming in USA changed a young mans outlook.

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Bruce Maynard reflects upon his challenges. "We are trying to simplify our business and diversify our landscape which is the opposite of standard agriculture which simplifies ecosystems with increasingly complex businesses."

Bruce Maynard reflects upon his challenges. "We are trying to simplify our business and diversify our landscape which is the opposite of standard agriculture which simplifies ecosystems with increasingly complex businesses."

The opportunity of a Rotary youth exchange trip to the USA in 1984 really highlighted the difficulties of farming under apparently opportune conditions for Bruce Maynard.

He had not long left school, but was amazed farmers in the US mid-west were struggling to make a profit as were farmers in Australia and it led him to consider alternatives to current systems of management.

"They seemingly had all the advantages we didn't have here, like wonderful soils, reliable rainfall, government support and lots of research and extension," Mr Maynard said.

"And I thought . . . if only we had those in Australian agriculture, we could be successful, but interestingly the US farmers were going broke at a faster rate than what was happening here at the same time."

Mr Maynard also said the high interest rates during the late 1980s led him to further question accepted agricultural practices.

"The push factors included seasons getting tougher and a bit less predictable, along with low commodity prices and that meant there was a big squeeze," he said.

"We had to make adjustments and I wanted to take a direction that wasn't just working better with the conventional approaches.

"I wanted to head towards something different in the long run."

The journey hasn't been easy for the fourth-generation farmer: Mr Maynard recognised he was not going to be able to change the farming operation overnight but he did set goals towards doing something different rather than intensifying his existing farming systems.

Over time, he has set new directions embracing certain regenerative agricultural concepts including no-kill cropping, stress-free stockmanship and the new field of self-herding.

"There were barriers to taking up many of these new concepts, not the least was my lack of knowledge and I studied as much as I could," Mr Maynard said.

Once he understood the new challenges, Mr Maynard said embracing the concepts of regenerative agriculture has given him a lot of pleasure.

"Barriers for change can certainly be there and sometimes there isn't a particular factor present that can make that happen at that time," he said. "Nevertheless, by always keeping a goal in mind we have had some great success."

Mr Maynard is referring to his interest in social and landscape diversity where the complexity of his natural surrounds is compatible with the basic need of making a decent living from the land.

The story Keeping your goals in mind first appeared on The Land.

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