Using Weeds and Water to Restore Degraded Land (Video)

how weeds work photo
Migrated Image

When I wrote about one farmer's approach to encouraging a selective community of :"weeds", it seemed to touch a nerve with many readers. Rather than pursue weed eradication at all costs, it seemed so much more sensible to understand the role that weeds play in our farm/garden ecosystems, and to adapt our weed control methodologies accordingly.

For one Australian farmer, it's as simple as mowing the lawn. But that's just one part of a renegade farmer's mission to understand the land.

The video above from Ecofilms Australia—the same guys who brought us footage of a DIY rocket stove water heater and a suburban strawbale coop for a rooster—features Peter Andrews, the creator of Natural Sequence Farming (NSF).

As explained on the Natural Sequence Farming wikipedia entry, the method involves building major earthworks to mimic the impact of natural water courses on the land, and maintaining a diverse ground cover of both grasses and traditional "weeds" to prevent erosion, and to maintain fertility in the top layer of the soil. Having begun developing his methods in the 1970s, Andrews was ridiculed and ignored for many years before finally achiving considerable recognition for his work including a major television documentary.

Here's a short ABC story on Peter Andrews' pioneering work. As always with such pioneers, it's not just his specific methods that are of such importance. It's the notion that before we do something, we should perhaps stand back and see what nature herself would do. Often, the solution is staring us right in the face.