On Farm Story | Mike Porter, Lyalldale


At the moment we’re acting like children, around this legislation we are arguing about how to measure things and who should be paying for this and who should be paying for that we’re missing the opportunity of a lifetime to be talking about whole farm systems we have beautiful soils we have a temperate climate and we have relative isolation we need to capitalise on that We are Mike and Lynne Porter we are mixed arable farmers in Lyalldale, South Canterbury We are 480 hectares, dry land, mixed arable but we also run 650 breeding ewes and about 50 trading cattle I guess some a frustrated arable farmer in that I’m growing arable crops on what was traditionally a sheep and beef property because what we’re doing here on the hills is so different to what other people are doing on the flat we’ve got a different set of challenges so we’ve had to adapt and we’ve had to work out a system that’s best for us as we’ve progressed we’ve just problem-solved one-by-one, as we go you notice things like, okay we need to take care of soil erosion so we stopped cultivating we need to try and improve the soil’s moisture holding capacity so we leave the residue there we made the decision not to cultivate and became fully no-till in 1998 we haven’t cultivated anything since and we chop and spread and retain almost all our crop residues everybody’s got a don’t-get-me-started sort of a thing my one is soils and soil quality I’m absolutely passionate about soil quality soils are a living entity, they’re not just a root anchor good amount of livestock in there we talk about planting trees to sequester carbon but they only sequester it in the trees themselves so the only answer there, is that we leave the trees and we don’t do anything with them, ever which technically speaking is retiring the land and that is the wrong answer for good productive farmland it is difficult to measure carbon sequestration in soils because there are so many variables whether it be temperature, the ground conditions, the type of vegetation but if the lawmakers really want to make a difference they owe it to themselves to learn more about soils and soils ability to sequester carbon everything we do is about getting the balance right and that’s what regenerative agriculture measures some may associate it with organic farming but it’s not organic farming it doesn’t measure minimums it doesn’t measure maximums it measures the balance, and that’s what we’re trying to work towards we have at our disposal better mechanical systems we have a better understanding of the soil beneath us if we can combine the two we can come up with an unbeatable system

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