In this episode Charlie interviews regen farming's powerhouse couple Mitch & Nina Bray. Charlie caught up with Mitch and Nina at their Noosa Hinterland farm midway through an Introduction to Biodynamics workshop that they were hosting. It was a lively conversation and is in fact the 'first' couple Charlie has interviewed for the podcast. Prior to meeting Mitch and Nina had led interesting and quite different lives. On meeting their pathways transected & their regenerative journey together began. Through environmental and health challenges they have been transitioning from conventional to regenerative cattle, crop and vegetable farming with great success.
Episode Takeaways :
Bought property in Noosa hinterland in response to a changing climate and seasonal pattern at their property at Ellangowan near Toowoomba in SE Qld, presents the opportunity to grow more food with the greater rainfall, and also presents challenges | Have a licence to grow hemp | Great rapport with a very like minded community on the coast, found their tribe | Together since 2010, Nina is a trained nurse and grew up on a farm, Mitch diesel fitter, who’s family is originally from Condobolin | Started on his small block with Nina | Underlining urge to farm even though both had chosen careers away from farming | Started with an independent agronomist and in the conventional farming space - with sheep, then cattle however due to flooding and trashing of fences decided to focus on cropping | The birth of their first child was the catalyst for change as Nina realised that her choices had far reaching impacts on her family and this was also true for their farming choices | Gained Organic certification for their home farm in 2014-15 which was essentially a trial block using more natural practices | Transitioned half their farm first | First organic crop was wheat | Organic corn out yielding conventional corn | An organic farm can still yield in dry years when conventional might struggle to produce, and in the dry years prices are better | Input costs are lower than conventional | Liquid injection great technique to add inputs | They won the Allan Brimblecombe Shield for the Highest Yielding Variety in a Cotton Seed Distributors (CSD) Variety Dryland Trial 2017 - 2018 | 11.7 bales/ha using their more natural biological inputs like fish and kelp emulsions and compost teas | ‘Less inputs more often’ is a principle that has worked well for them | They are growing on corn, soy sorghum, wheat barley millet, vetch, mung beans on their organic farm | The have tried ‘Relay Cropping’-eg sowing a legume into an already established wheat crop | Tip for farmers wanting to transition to more natural farming practices-stop expecting a clean paddock, managing a mixed of plants has benefits for nutrition and beneficial insects | They use Integrated Pest Management (IPM) techniques to manage insect pests | Livestock are great at targeting unwanted plants in a cropping rotation system | Nina uses homeopathics on the cattle, trough dose-NZ business called Simillimum Health and Homeopathy | They use Buffalo fly traps and a ‘Bos Bag’ w diatomaceous earth | Cattle often get a shower in the yards of saline water, and they also use sulfur to help manage buffalo fly and ticks | Dung beetles came back when they removed much of the synthetic chemicals out of their system | Their Noosa Hinterland farm is 400ac and in conversion to organic now | They both attended our Introduction to Biodynamics workshop in 2018 where their love and use of Biodynamics on their farms started | In 2018 Mitch was very sick, having suffered an occlusion (similar to a stroke), and his speech and movement was impacted - he was in bed for 3 months, and too no medications – Mitch did everything naturally | Biodynamics makes your farms vibrant. Its energetic, palpable and you can almost feel the life force that comes from using Biodynamics | Biodynamics is a way of life. You can’t un-see it once you have seen it. Mitch and Nina think that whatever they grow someone will be healthier from it | Biodynamics is about growing together and working together | They don't believe you have to be a purist to incorporate Biodynamics into your farming practice.
Bray Farms - Mitch & Nina Bray website
FB - Bray Farms
Biodynamics - Short read | Charlie Arnott
Simillimum Health and Homeopathy - NZ animal health company
Bos bag - Fly control measure
John Feahan - Australian dung beetle expert
Kandanga Farm Store - Mary Valley, Sunshine Coast QLD