Sustainable farming practices are vital to improving our soils, capturing carbon, and improving the quality of our food. They are key to producing enough food for the growing population in the future while save declining biodiversity and mitigating climate change. But what exactly are these farming practices and how do they work?
Sustainable farming practices include crop rotation, cover crops, better water management, polyculture and agroforestry Tend’s farms have adopted many sustainable and organic practices that use holistic approaches to grow and rear delicious food, while benefiting the environment.
Mob grazing is an old approach to raising livestock that is gaining increasing popularity amongst the regenerative and sustainable farming communities. The approach uses animals to maintain pastures and encourage the growth of grasses and herbs within them. Mob grazing rotates animals between different areas of the farm. Animals are rotated frequently, sometimes every day and usually within a week, and don’t return to the area for over a month.
The short time spent by the animals in each area prevents them from overgrazing the land and cutting the grass too short. This means there is enough of a leaf remaining for it to absorb sunlight and quickly grow back. As the grass grows, they develop longer roots which act as a store of carbon in the soil for the carbon dioxide that the plants convert into sugars during photosynthesis.
Soil health is also encouraged with mob grazing. Due to the regular movement between areas, there is never enough time for trampling to occur. The heavy weight of the animals as they move around the pasture pushes down and compacts the soil. This reduces the soil’s porosity, impacting its ability to hold water (vital to preventing flooding) and affecting plant growth as it is harder for the roots to push through the gaps in the soil. The movement of animals also enables their manure to be spread more consistently, acting as a natural fertiliser and enriching the soil with nutrients that benefits the health of the crops (and you!).
The benefits of mob grazing have been seen by many of Tend’s farms. The Pasture Raised Egg Company has rebuilt soil organic matter through its holistic farming and mob grazing practice. Dairy cows from their sister farm are moved daily across the land, grazing on the pasture. Once they’re moved, the hens move into the field, feeding on the insects and worms that break down the cow manure. The chickens help spread the manure as they scratch around for bugs which fertilises the soil evenly and allows plants to grow long roots and sequester carbon effectively.
Mob grazing is an ancient practice that is having a revival in sustainable farming circles. It’s ability to improve soil health and sequester carbon, all while reducing the use of artificial chemicals and carbon guzzling machinery, makes it one of the cornerstone practices of a sustainable farm and ecosystem.