Peter Andrews, a farmer from the Upper Hunter Valley in NSW, has been awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM)
Mr Andrews’ award is for “service to conservation and the environment through the development and promotion of sustainable farming practises”.
He is best known for advocating Natural Sequence Farming (NSF), a technique that restores natural water cycles, even in times of drought, by maintaining a cover of vegetation to stop the soil losing moisture and nutrients.
Restoring the land
Mr Andrews says it’s an honour to receive the medal, and adds that he hopes it might lead to a better understanding of how the Australian landscape works.
“Before European settlement, we had an amazing filtering system and groundwater storage system (based on dense plant cover) that maintained high levels of productivity under the extreme conditions we’ve got, and now we’ve more or less dismantled it.
“The issue that frustrates me is that the whole planet runs on sunlight and that’s got to be converted by plants to a product that everything in the food chain can use.
“These massive changes (we’ve made) in the way a landscape functions is exactly what we’re now experiencing. We just go from drought to excessive rain events, basically because there’s nothing managing those huge thermal energies that are released every day from the sun.”
Mr Andrews visits about 50 properties each year, teaching farmers how the natural system on their property works.
This year he plans to set up a train-the-trainer program so others can also teach about Natural Sequence Farming.
by Abbie Thomas, ABC