Matt and Stephen grow various crops for Kialla, including mung beans, chick peas, barley, white sorghum and millet, on their farm about 50km south west of Springsure (Central Queensland).
After growing up on the farm Matt became a diesel mechanic working in regional towns around the area while his father Stephen continued to grow crops and cattle using conventional farming methods.
When Matt decided he’d had enough of being a mechanic and wanted a lifestyle change for himself and his family he moved back to the farm in 2015. Once back on the land he made the decision that leads many farmers into organics: to drop the chemicals and to seek out ways of farming that supported the health of his soils as well as the health of himself and his family.
It was a new venture and quite a challenge for both himself and his father, who had been using conventional pesticides and artificial fertilisers for many years. They realised their first priority was to restore their soil, as they came to understand all the flow-on benefits from well-nourished soils – including better yields and healthy plants that are naturally resistant to pests.
A regenerative agriculture seminar in a nearby town opened Matt’s eyes to what is possible in organic farming, fuelling his passion for trying new things and designing new equipment to improve farming processes.
New research and leading-edge technology now enable farmers to monitor their crops and treat any issues during the growing period. For example, instead of treating nutritional deficiencies with artificial inputs, Matt utilises inputs from his own farm, such as cow manure and native microbes, to create his own bio-fertilisers. While the processes for producing these bio-fertilisers are complex he sees beneficial results in the quality of his crops, the reduction in pest issues, and the improvement of nitrogen, carbon and complex bio-mineral levels in his soils.
Science-based research can really improve organic farming techniques. However, the success of organic farms also depends on the farmers’ experience gained from their own observations and field trials, as well as their capacity to work with rather than against nature. And it certainly helps to have a firm belief that regenerative farming is the future of food.
Three generations of the family now live on the farm. And while Matt’s 3 young children will likely have to travel up to 50km to go to school, the family is convinced that the healthy lifestyle an organic farm offers beats urban conveniences any day.