Stacking in regenerative agriculture
In stacking, in regenerative agriculture, we concentrate on making the soil more resilient to drought, improve water penetration and retention. We aim to build up soil carbon and the soil organic matter to the benefit of the microbial health in the soil as well as the health of the plants, animals and humans. We produce nutrient dense food, because we have taken care of the soil.
It does not matter if you are a secondary producer like a feed lot or a chicken farmer producing broiler chickens or layers or a pig farmer. The better the quality of your food, the healthier your animal will be and the better quality your product will be.
There are a few things that all farmers who farm with animals and who practice regenerative agriculture regret when changing over to UHDG. Firstly they regret that they did not start earlier. They regret that they did not reduce the grazing area quicker, to be able to move more frequently every day in order for the animals to get fresh food serval times a day.
The second regret is that they did not increase their animal diversity earlier. Adding more animals to your farming enterprise increases the interaction on more biological systems than we can comprehend.
We are working with three living systems, that are so closely interlinked, and interdependent on each other for survival.
These systems are:
- The soil
- The plant
- The variety of animals, and with this I mean all living species that live above the ground
All three systems are biological systems where the bacteria, through various systems, release the necessary chemicals on an on-demand system.
Everything revolves around diversity. Nowhere in nature do you find a monocrop with no animals. We have changed this to suit our limited mindset. Humans cannot comprehend the complexity of natural systems therefore we have reduced our production systems into something that we can comprehend. Monocrops with pesticides and herbicides, to eliminate everything that stands in the way of our crop production. The same can be said about animal production. We want to eliminate every internal and external parasite, but we cannot comprehend the unforeseen consequence and effect that our management systems have.
How can stacking positively influence our production unit? One of the first advantages is that you are harvesting more than one protein source of the same piece of land. The other advantage is that the parasites are often host specific, meaning that the parasites cannot survive on the other host.
Remember that in nature there is always a predator-prey relationship. These systems must be restored, so that the natural predator becomes stable again. That is where the diversity of insect and bird life is enhanced. We cannot wake up in the morning and wonder what to kill next.
The stacking of various animals on the soil has different effects. The digestive tracts of the various animals are different, either monogastric, ruminants, or hind-gut fermenters. The faecal material of these three different digestive systems each has a different effect on the soil.
The different forms of grazing methods also vary within the different digestive systems. A cow tears, the sheep nibbles, and the goat is more of a browser. Each method has a different effect on the grass plant or shrub.
The positive effect grazing has on veld recovery, especially if it rains, is well documented. The increase in root exudates, which is the sugar that is excreted via the roots of the plant. That is part of the process of photosynthesis. This is also a symbiotic relationship between the soil microbes and the plant. The plant gives food to the microbes, and the microbes make minerals more bioavailable to the plant. This in return increases the aboveground biomass of the plant.
Various animals can be used for stacking like cows, sheep, goats, chickens both broilers and layers, pigs, just to name a few.
Pasture raised chicken, are highly effective fertilisers of the soil, especially where they sleep. There are enough examples on the internet of various egg mobiles and chicken mobiles where the birds are kept inhouse during the night. These mobiles must just be moved daily so that the concentration of dung is not on the same spot every day. This will burn the soil.
Chickens are also great in parasite control since they are omnivores. They will consume animal protein including various insects and parasites, from the animals that were on the veld previously.
Pigs are destructive and not suitable for all application, but they are also one of the best tools to build soil through their burrowing and their faecal material.
Green Bio products provide all the probiotics your animals need.
Everything in farming revolves around soil health. No farmer is exempt from looking after his soil. Using various animals on the same plot of land is crucial, and remarkably effective.
Gandhi said – “The future depends on what you do today”