Cattle ‘not the problem'
FOR MOST of his life, Bangalow landowner and environmentalist Steve Dover thought cows and livestock were the enemy of land rehabilitation.
"I was a vegetarian for seven years ... I remember seeing all the trees chopped down on farms and thought the animals were wrecking the place," Mr Dover said.
This idea drove him to rid his 40ha Possum Creek farm of the cattle. He even pulled down all the stockyards.
Yet the pasture needed constant mowing and chemical sprays without grazing animals. It didn't meet the criteria of a sustainable ecosystem.
There had to be a better way.
The perception that livestock is bad for the environment is now being relegated to the dustbin with a new holistic management approach which is teaching farmers and environmentalists to emulate nature's use of cattle to rehabilitate land while improving their bottom line.
It all goes back to the natural principles seen at work on the great plains of the world, where large-hoofed animals moved rapidly across swathes of land made vibrant through the beating of their hoofs and the fertiliser of their excrement.
"They rehabilitate the soil by cracking the crust, urinating, defecating, which builds the biodiversity in the soils, as long as the cattle keep moving," Mr Dover said.
"Once you start rebuilding the soils, you allow species which are lying dormant in the ground to become active again, and all the native animals start coming back."
After doing a course in holistic management, Mr Dover has a long-term plan to rehabilitate his pasture and run up to 75 head of cattle.
Holistic management instructor Brian Wehlburg said the system enabled graziers to break the worm and weed cycle on their property and reduce chemical and herbicide usage.
"Often farmers might be making a profit, but they're losing their land ... destroying the soil's ability to be fertile."