Reading Landscapes #01

Edition 1 of our new monthly newsletter series

Good morning, and welcome to the very first edition of our new monthly newsletter, Reading Landscapes.

Why have we created a newsletter?

This newsletter is born out of a desire to get more people thinking about their landscapes.

Our mission has always been to build and restore resilient landscapes whilst empowering people with an understanding of Natural Sequence Farming and landscape function.

To further progress this knowledge, we want to make the information more accessible to a larger audience, and we feel a digital newsletter is a great way to do just that! It provides an easy and simple way to share some of our most important concepts with everyone, no matter where you’re located or what you do.

Every month, you can have a new piece of information arrive in your inbox.

How the newsletter will run

The Reading Landscapes newsletter will be a monthly newsletter arriving in your inbox on the first Monday of every month. Look out for the next one coming to you on Monday the 4th of March.

It will be split into five parts;

🔎 Looking at the Landscape

Every month, we will look at a photo of a landscape and discuss some of the key patterns and processes that can be seen in the landscape. This will provide you with a general overview of some of the key features in our landscapes and what you can start to look for yourselves.

🌳 Learning from Plants

Every month, we will look at a different plant and discuss;

  • Where does it fit in our succession?

  • What it’s telling us about the landscape and how to manage that

  • And how to make the most of its growth

🙋 Answering your Questions

Every month, we will answer a question that an audience member has submitted to us. This gives you the opportunity to ask the questions you’d like answered.

🧩 Trivia Time

For a little fun, we will drop a landscape-related trivia question in every edition for you to have a go at answering.

📚 What We’ve Been Learning

Finally, we will share some things that we’ve enjoyed learning from over the past month. This will include a wide range of things that we were intrigued by and thought worthy of sharing with our community.

Every section will be split with this divider

Here’s what we’ve got for you today:

  • Looking at nature’s contouring

  • Farmer’s friend, and why it can actually be our friend

  • One of the most common questions we’re asked

  • What we’ve been learning

🔎 Looking at the Landscape

Like us to discuss a photo of your landscape? Share it with us here. 

Nature’s Contouring

Nature’s Contouring

Nature is always showing you how it manages water. As you can see in the photo above, nature has built its own contours out of organic materials.

They have been built in a way that looks to;

  • ⚡️ Take the energy out of the water

  • ↔️ Spread the water across the landscape

  • 🪜 And step the water down a landscape

You can see these examples in action regularly after a rain event when the flowing water builds its own structures.

In the example we’ve got here, you can see the twigs and leaves at the top of the image have built their own bank, and when the water was there, it would have created its own pond.

Eventually, this water level built up and spread sideways and started running down the landscape again. As it picked up speed and collected materials, it eventually hit some sort of block that meant some of the water’s energy was removed, and it began to drop the materials it was carrying, which then started to build another bank and create another pond.

Once water is ponded, its energy is removed, and its ability to erode is gone. Once a pond is formed, it creates an effect called Water on Water (WoW), where when a body of water hits another body of water, its energy is removed.

After the bottom pond in the image, it would have stepped down the landscape again and created another pond, copying the same process, and it will continue to do this down the landscape.

This is a micro example of how nature looks to manage water and hold it in the landscape instead of it running off and being lost.

🌳 Learning from Plants

Have a plant you’d like to discuss? Share it with us here.

Farmer’s Friend

Common Names: Cobbler’s Peg, Sticky Beak, Pitch Forks

Scientific Name: Bidens pilosa

Where in the Succession: Late Succession Accumulator

What is it telling me about my landscape?

Farmer’s Friend is a late succession accumulator. They live on the edge between accumulators and exploiters, and often, you’ll find them growing together in a mix with grass species.

Farmer’s Friend is very opportunistic and will regularly colonise areas of disturbed ground. But in doing this, they are completing several key roles;

  • 🏖️ Ensuring ground cover

  • ☀️ Managing energy from the sun

  • ⬆️ Bringing fertility back to the surface and;

  • ⛏️ Breaking up the ground and any compaction with their tap roots, preparing for the next generation of plants

As a plant, they are a softer and more palatable species than many other accumulators. Livestock have no issues grazing them, especially when they are young, soft, and leafy.

As they end their growing cycle, like in the image below, you can use your livestock to trample them down to the ground or machinery like a slasher. This process will complete their cycle and make way for the next generation of plants.

An example of the succession moving forward. Changing from Farmer’s Friend to Grass species. The middle section of the image has just had the succession sped up by slashing.

How to make the most of your Farmer’s Friend

🪨 As a Soil Indicator: Very low Calcium, Very low Phosphorus, High Potassium, High Magnesium, High Manganese, and High Boron.

🐮 Livestock: The palatability of Farmer’s Friend for livestock can be quite high, with stock often happily grazing on it as part of a pasture mix. One research paper found its protein levels to be as high as 25%, which suggests it has a high level of nutritional quality for stock feed.

💊 Medicinal: The “roots, leaves and seeds have been reported to possess anti-bacterial, anti-dysenteric, anti-inflammatory, anti-malarial, anti-septic, anti-cancer, antipyretic, liver-protective, blood-lowering, hypoglycemic, diuretic, anti-diabetic, and hepato-protective effects”.

It is estimated that approximately 700 tons of fresh-weight Farmer’s Friend is consumed or marketed for diabetes treatment per year

🍽️ Consumption: Farmer’s Friend can be consumed and is listed as an excellent source of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Iron, and Zinc. Interestingly, because of its nutritional qualities, it was recommended by the United Nations FAO as a staple food option in Africa.

Diego Bonetto, a forager, likes to use them for a variety of purposes - “I use the young leaves as a herb, cooked in sauces, casseroles or raw in salsa verde.”

Learn Natural Sequence Farming in 2024

Upcoming events open for enrolment

Learn Natural Sequence Farming 4-Day Course

Avenel VIC 25 - 28 March

Sunshine Coast QLD 17 - 20 June

Charleville QLD 29 July - 1 August

Inverell NSW 2 - 5 September

Springsure QLD 23 - 26 September

Introduction to Natural Sequence Farming Field Day

Ripple Farm TAS 15 March

Kyneton VIC 22 March

🙋 Answering your Questions

Ask the Team! Share your question here, and we’ll answer it in a future newsletter.

As this is our first edition, we thought we’d answer one of the most common questions that’s been asked over the years.

💬 Everyone Asks:

What is Natural Sequence Farming?

🎙️ Hamish’s Answer:

Natural Sequence Farming is a system of landscape restoration focused on understanding the natural patterns and processes and implementing management practices to regenerate their natural function.

It is about understanding how this system works and implementing works to reconnect the pieces like a puzzle.

The key behind all of it is learning to manage water and maximise plant growth.

Check out our article What is Natural Sequence Farming? to get all the details.

🧩 Trivia Time

Have a crack at this week’s question!

🍂 How much litter is dropped by trees annually per acre?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

📚 What We’ve Been Learning

A quick list of our favourite things we’ve been watching, reading, listening, and writing.

New Blog - What is Natural Sequence Farming?: An introduction to Natural Sequence Farming, a regenerative practice that restores landscape function, soil health, water retention, and biodiversity by working with natural processes. It explores the principles, emphasises the role of plants and water, and provides practical insights for implementing these principles in your own landscapes.

Episode 96: Revolutionizing the Chicken Industry with Paul Greive: A super interesting episode giving a dive into the world of pasture-raised poultry. Paul shares how he looks towards the growth of better quality food and a way to make it more accessible to the masses.

A Bold Return to Giving a Damn: Will Harris’ memoir-meets-manifesto on betting the farm on a better future for our food, animals, land, local communities, and our climate. It is an excellent book sharing the story of change from conventional farmers to regenerative and the creation of what is White Oak Pastures. I listened to the Audiobook version of this, and it was great.

#710 - Jim Kwik - 10 Hacks To Improve Your Memory, Focus & Attention: A podcast episode with the renowned Jim Kwik on how to master new skills and improve your mind. This episode will leave you with some hacks that can be implemented into your own processes to improve memory, focus and attention, something I’m sure we’d all like to be a little better at.

New Blog - What is a Plant Succession?: A comprehensive introduction to understanding plant succession. It explores the process of change in the composition of plant species in a landscape over time and highlights its significance in managing landscapes for optimal productivity and biodiversity.

That’s all for this edition. Thanks for stopping by.

Looking to learn more? Check out our blog

⛰️ Take the next steps to restore your landscape with our on-ground Learn Natural Sequence Farming course, or add your name to the waitlist for our upcoming online course.

👋 New to Reading Landscapes? Subscribe or read our previous editions

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