Bare ground is enemy Number 1The key to a successful, long-lasting and profitable farm business is a crucial but far too often trivialised word. It's called biodiversity. When asked to consider their farm without any birds, bees, insects, plants or animals, most people readily agree there would be no wealth in their business-whether judged biologically or financially. Of course, under those conditions there is no biodiversity.
Conversely, everyone tends to agree that when there is an abundance of birds, bees, insects, plants, animals and micro-organisms there would be biodiversity, meaning biological wealth. They also agree that financial prosperity stands much more chance of surviving.
Take a look at this image. All four of the ecosystem processes interact with each other. When the size of any one of the coloured triangles is altered, in order to maintain the integrity of the entire image, all of the coloured triangles must alter in size. The image represents what happens on your farm or any farm.
For instance, if the “water cycle” on your farm is improving, that's like saying the blue triangle in the graphic is getting bigger. When your water cycle (or any other cycle for that matter) is improving, all four cycles will be improving – although in the real world there may be a bit of a lag time whilst everything kicks in.
Biodiversity occurs when the four ecosystem processes: the water and mineral cycles, solar energy flow, and community dynamics are all highly “effective”.
As managers we choose how effective these processes are by how we manage them. For instance, in Principle No 2 it was revealed that in brittle-tending environments animals must run tightly bunched on a piece of land for just a short period of time, and they should not return before the plants are fully recovered from their previous visit. If these rules are not adhered to in these environments, the land begins to desertify, and productivity begins to drop, as does profitability.
By matching stocking rate to carrying capacity, and at the same time matching speed of animal movement to growth rate, holistic managers are on the way to covering their soil, improving their ecosystem function, and obtaining much improved business performance.
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