Farm Planning

Hi Everyone! Well after 3 years I thought I had better do some work and write something on the blog, so here goes.

We recently completed the Regrarians Online Farm Planning Course and found it very helpful in structuring and prioritising where we are heading with the farm. The course is structured around the Regrarians Platform which is a design system Darren Doherty has developed from PA Yeomans Keyline design principles and methods. Some of you older folk may know of PA Yeomans; he was a wealthy mining engineer who, amongst other things, did a lot of work with dams and moving water through the landscape to drought proof farms. His nephew also founded Ausplow and invented the DBS seeding bar which was based around PA Yeomans work with his Yeomans Plow (I will do another post which goes deeper into this later).

The Regrarians Platform layers consists of the following and are organised in order of permanence i.e how difficult it is to change them:29939732_182936922356936_1059512765_n

With this as the base we started developing the farm plan, looking at each layer and what’s needed. The first 3 weeks focused on defining our context, which is basically, our specific piece of land, its climate, topography and resources, who we are, what we like, our finances and how we envision our future landscape and lifestyle. This took a lot of brain power and many hours of discussion but was very worthwhile. It enabled us to see the bigger picture of what we want to do with the farm and why. The basis of looking at holistic context is integral to the farm planning process and sorted out our dreams from the realities. If we want the farm to be producing enough income to cover a mortgage and cost of living then our production systems need to reflect this. Once we weighed up how much money we have to play with, then the best options started to become clearer. For anyone who wants to find out more about this process, this website provides a good overview.

The next stage of the process looked at understanding keyline geography/geometry and creating our farm map using google earth. I found the keyline geometry quite hard to understand however after a while you start to get the hang of it. Yeoman’s states that all landscapes are divided up into primary land units and all have the same basic land shapes and flows. His basic premise was spreading water through the landscape, ultimately from the valleys to the ridges through use of dams with flood irrigation and subsoiling in a specific pattern relative to the contours. After having a survey done I identified the keyline cultivation patterns. I have managed to locate a yeomans plow and will be subsoiling the entire farm in the next couple of months. Here’s a look at how the keyline patterns are applied on the farm:

Keyline contour map

The next couple of weeks moved through the Regrarians platform layers and developing the concept plan based on what was needed and relevant to what we want to do on the farm. We developed a basic concept plan using google earth which is very much still a work in progress. We are currently working through the business planning and budgeting so I won’t go into exactly what we are going to be doing at this stage as it may still change. But here’s a sneak preview below:

Farm concept plan

The last few weeks of the course looked at what our priorities were to move forward and working through any problems we had with the various elements of the concept plan. We developed a hit list of what needs to be done and by when. A lot of research, budgeting and planning still to go but it definitely feels like we have a bit of traction now; we just need to keep things rolling even if it is at a slow pace!!

All in all we found the course very worthwhile and extremely good value for money given you would pay thousands in consultant’s fees if you were to get someone in to do it for you. If you are interested, here are the details of Regrarians. Next post from me will be around the keyline subsoiling, stay tuned!!