August 15, 2018
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Land Management

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The four pillars of primary production at Duck Creek QLD

Soils, Water, Carbon and Biodiversity

Land Management From Below Grass Roots

Land Management Jingeri

At our Duck Creek Rd property ‘Jingeri’ we are passionate about maintaining healthy ecosystems to ensure the highest quality product, from the bottom up. We understand that to produce high quality beef, our cattle need to be eating the best quality pastures, these are generated from healthy soils.

To ensure our soil performs consistently at its peak, the natural environment at Jingeri is preserved and encouraged through soil biology, native wildlife and vegetation. Below are some of the great resources we have found that help us provide the best foundation for the most profitable land and cattle.

LAND Stewardship

What is land stewardship?

“The single most important component of LAND STEWARDSHIP is to make the farm capable of withstanding the vagaries of nature” Joel Salatin, ‘Forgiveness Farming’ (2006)

Land stewardship requires a dynamic and adaptive management model that does not attempt to break, bend or restrain nature, rather it evolves in an organic way, basing itself on the type of nature that exists within a specific area. It recognises that one size does not fit all, or that just because something works in one local environment it will not necessarily transcribe to another. To be a land steward one must be prepared to innovate, experiment and take calculated risks, whilst basing all decisions on sound observation of how the land works at the specific local level.

Land stewardship recognises that there are specific elements within the natural environment (economists call them natural capital, environmentalists call them ecosystems services and we like to call them Pillars), that are paramount in any successful farming or conservation system:

  1. Soil ecosystems
  2. Water cycling
  3. Carbon and Nutrient cycling
  4. Biodiversity

1. Soil Ecosystems

Fungi_Land_ManagementI cannot stress enough the importance of soils to the health and survival of Human Beings as a species. Soils constitute the terrestrial surfaces (land) that we require as space to live on and operate our economic systems. They cycle and recycle the wastes we produce within our socio-economic systems and become storage vessels (sinks) for the wastes that are toxic or cannot be assimilated back into the natural systems. These wastes directly threaten the health and success of all species, humans included.


Most importantly though, when soils are functioning as unpolluted, biologically healthy, mineral and nutrient dense growing mediums, they become the primary source of every vitamin, antioxidant and trace mineral, humans require for optimal health and the prevention of disease. At the same time they are home to the largest and most biologically diverse ecosystems that support some of the least studied organisms on our planet.

2. Water Cycling

Water is arguably the most critical component of all life on Earth. It is certainly the most critical component of all farming regimes and must be preserved and protected given that water availability is severely limited in many geographical locations. This is especially the case in Australia where we have some of the most brittle environments[1] in the world. We are not the driest continent on Earth (Antarctica is), but we have the most sporadic and highly variable rainfall patterns.

The concept of water cycling is fairly simple.

  • Water accumulates in the atmosphere to the point of saturation,
  • It rains
  • The rain is taken up by plant life; and
  • The plants release water back into the atmosphere
  • At the same time the sun heats the earth’s surface and water is evaporated back into the atmosphere.
  • When the point of saturation is reached it rains again.

Plants in this regime are quite simply rain factories. It is the slow uptake of water into the plant and the subsequent slow release of water into the atmosphere that assists in keeping the cycle in balance.

Four Pillars_watercycle

Some interesting facts about water:

  • Adults need around 2-3 litres of water per day to be healthy:
  • The human brain is around 73% water, the lungs 83%, kidneys 79%, skin 64% and bones 31%
  • 50% of our total water usage across the globe is embedded in the food we eat
  • It takes 3 litres of water to produce 1 litre of bottled water
  • It takes 140 litres of water to produce 1 cup of coffee across the value chain

3. Carbon & Nutrient Cycling

Man has always fought fiercely to preserve his ignorance”. Robert Quillen

Four Pillars_FungiCarbon is the basic building block of all organic matter living and dead. Carbon like water also persists within Earth’s atmosphere and while its volume is miniscule in percentage terms, the function of carbon in the atmosphere (as carbon dioxide and equivalent gases) is profound. I like to use this analogy: if we compare carbon to the radioactive compounds used in nuclear devices, it takes a miniscule amount to create unimaginable devastation. For instance it took only around 64kgs of highly enriched uranium-235 to cause the devastation of Hiroshima at the end of WWII.

Carbon in the atmosphere traps heat and warms our planet, making the atmosphere a massive greenhouse (hence the term Greenhouse Effect), however too much of this effect and the atmosphere  will warm past a point where nature and humans can cope. This is why climate change is a significant problem that mankind faces both now and into the not so distant future.

Carbon is also a critical component of healthy soils. Like water, carbon cycles in and out of the atmosphere via plants, but its storage in soils through the decomposition of dead organic matter forms the basis for living soils and the ability of soils to retain moisture and nutrients.

4. Biodiversity

Exactly what is biodiversity? Directly translated the term literally means living (Bio) many things (Diversity). Often these days the term is used (somewhat incorrectly) to describe endangered species, plant and non-human animal species and plants and animals that are considered important and or desirable. The point here is that we do not often relate this word back to human cultures and communities, when in reality these too are part of our global systems of biodiversity and are not as some may believe, separate or different.

The important thing to always remember is that the more diversity we have, the more complex the system in which it exists; the more complex the system, the more connections and interrelationships; the more connections and interrelationships, the more resilient the systems is to change and therefore more likely to survive a sudden and profound change or impact.


Economics and market systems are a good way of visualising this. Normal economic principles require a few essential components for the success of economic markets and can be correlated with concepts from Ecological theory:

  • Many sellers and many buyers (biodiversity in Population Ecology theory)
  • Efficient allocation of resources through a balance between supply and demand (Competition, Cooperation, Symbiosis and Mutualism in Community Ecology theory)
  • A level of equilibrium that is achieved by how the market operates as a whole, not as its individual parts (Systems Thinking theory/Ecosystems theory)
  • Comparative Advantage and Opportunity Cost (Niche specialisation, Predator/Prey Relationships in Community Ecology theory)


[1] Brittle environments: Defined originally by Allan Savory this concept explains environments that sit somewhere on a continuum of how often rain events occur and how much rain falls, rather than a focus on total rainfall

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