Green Planet FM: Darren J Doherty: Regrarians – “A deeper evolution and reconnection to the land – including biota management”

by Tim Lynch | April 4, 2019

This was a very insightful interview with a talented and gifted communicator who at heart, is deeply embedded into the land and nature.

Nature is our teacher

Darren as a child was influenced very much by his grandfather who had a wide ranging understanding of farming in the rural sector of sun affected Australia, where water was a major priority as well as the need for trees and the protection they offered.

So this early education, became critical in his connection to nature and recognising what this hardy land produced. Especially his relationship to the Australian flora and fauna, and with the added factor that he was quite well read – played a large part in his life when growing up.

He now sees his life learnings and that of the ‘Regrarian’ revolution as becoming the broad church of ‘regenerative agriculture’ – that focuses a wealth of attention on forestry (trees) and water. Added to this was that central Victoria, the region that he lived in happened to be the epicentre of organic farming.

Becoming Knowledgeable

During his calling, he has over the years given about 250 Regrarian courses around the world – in about 50 countries – he calls himself as basically ‘a sink’ having been able to take in a huge amount of information as well as glean knowledge from the many people he has rubbed shoulders with. He says that this has been his intention as he feels that he has very good observational skills, which are very important – in that when we look at what a farmer is – they have to be very good at working the land, engaging in drainage, creating swales, tree visioning, fencing, crop rotation. Plus the need to observe the weather, wind direction, the movement of birds flying – aware of temperatures, barometric pressure, sniff the air, and feel the texture of the soil in one’s hands etc. It’s grokking every nuance of the natural world.Becoming Knowledgeable

Internet a Critical Component of Rural Communication

Darren says that the internet now is becoming a very critical component in sharing not only ideas but connecting farmers over a huge distance and can constantly keep them in the loop as to very current happenings as they occur, especially sharing critical information be it drought resistant methods, or establishing innovative ways of feeding plants, including making compost or and humus in critical weather events and other untimely occurrences that may quickly appear.Internet a Critical Component of Rural Communication

He also says that the most successful pathways will be from farmer to farmer – sharing tips etc as opposed to going through a consultant or a Govt official – and the costs that are involved, can be heavily reduced.

He emoted that he and others in the movement are very excited that they can facilitate the rapid movement of information to assist farmers. Especially producer to producer

Holistic Perspectives are Important.

Being involved in the ‘holistic land management movement’ and the methods of integrating with the ‘key line’ plan and design – by the late PA Yoeman’s and by extension Allan Savory – has extended his observation and understanding of grazing cattle and ruminants.

He also talks about the holistic way of being able to self determine what you want out of your future and what to do with your land in relationship to the whole. He said you have to recognise where you are at, (and not at) how resourced you are internally and where your land is at. Is it broken in land, or is it ,say bush and scrub, with no fences, cattle races, drainage etc.

Restructuring One’s Life

He talks about debt and ratio that can lead to serfdom, if you are not aware as to how to handle this. Like, it’s about restructuring ones life.

These are practical matters that he sees and that farmers to be have to get a handle on – they need to be talked about and talked out.

10% of Australian farmers are now doing ecological agriculture but a good percentage are still waiting on the evidence as well as the market to change. This other 90% group find it difficult due to their debt to equity ratio as well as their inability to finance the transition – and if your soil is lifeless – this can be quite a challenge. Same for the availability of water.

In the US the biggest movement that has been identified is that there are 3 different strands of Regenerative Agriculture.

These are the Regrarians and Permaculture practices.

Then the Savory Institute with its holistic management system and then there is the cover cropping and soil knowledge – led by Gabe Brown –

The third still focuses on wheat, so the change is not as great as they can still use the tech that they uses – ie. harvesters and seed sowers etc

For grazers the change too is not a big change – fencing being a important component – electric fence developed in 1936–1937 by New Zealand inventor Bill Gallagher.

But, for a cereal grower to go from non organic to organic that is a huge change and very challenging.

Darren emphasises that we have to be very honest with yourself around being self determined and have all the available information – to make all of your decisions from being very well informed. He does not want people to diss-enable themselves by making decisions that have not been fully understood and researched. That the following generation on that land need to have the best possible start in this new land management system.

Keyline Method.

There are 10 points of Regrarian agriculture of which two have been added to P. A. Yeomans

One to 8 as the scale of permanence. Yoemans work not really holistic, but definitely broke into new territory that excuse the pun. was groundbreaking.

Other Topics Covered.

Greg & Rachel Hart in there Southern Hawkes Bay Farm – that they are brave going outside the box – and doing a deal with Air NZ to plant trees and sequester aircraft carbon dioxide.

Darren maintains that NZ agriculture is very innovative by world standards.

European Farmers are Heavily Subsidised

Within the OECD – The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development NZ farmers receive the least subsidies. Where as the EU farmers get 50% of their farm income from Government subsidies. This is why Darren is impressed with the resiliency of the kiwi farmer.

He also mentions that farming has entered a new phase of rural resettlement and it is happening globally.

Far more people are doing degrees and diplomas and as a result farming is increasing. With 7.7 billion people and 5 5 billion hectares of agricultural land = about 7,000 square meters for each person. However, one figure is going up and the is other going down, yet he says we need more people in the production of food, fibre and energy crops.

He mentions Harry Weir of KiwiTech International in Bulls, NZ as very capable – a genius in productivity – based around land, family, and society

Nutrient dense foods Jairo Estrepo from Columbia and his use of Chromatography to give you a soil/element read out

Cost is about $1.00 a sample – It gives you a read out about the minerals and living organism in the soil and can assess the mineral availability that comes from our food. Darren says this tech bridges both chemistry and biology and it’s an important tech to assist us. That humans and their needs are more complex – and Darren talks to that. That new fertilisers are now being put together to address all sorts of soil conditions .

Darren talks with clients about honesty – it’s a big question – especially that we don’t use claims of others – unless you can verify by testing these claims yourself.

Key line plan – is a farm planning method that in Yoemans words – controls water which is to control a greater part of your agricultural destiny … listen

Even if you only get 8 inches of rainfall, Yoeman reckoned that you could survive on a farm – that’s a lot of acreage of water – what are you doing with it?

Dr Rattan Lal, who is known as the soil god from University of Ohio in the USA – If we increase the soil carbon content by about one and half % in all of the world’s arable soils where we basically have the greatest influence – then that would draw down and sequester about 100 parts per million of Co2 which would bring us down to pre industrial levels – but have we the will?

In finishing Darren said that humans must start behaving like perennial species – not annuals – and look further ahead in time.

That we also can take agriculture into more innovative areas by doing novel seed coatings and adding mycorrhiza fungimixtures to soils etc – plus compost teas …

My final question to Darren, was that seeing he is constantly on the land, does he get a sense of our planet as a greater being – like indigenous peoples do? And he said that yes – there is a far greater presence than is acknowledged by the so called Western understanding of the world – or words to this affect – have a listen – his answer will delight you