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Visit to Mara Seeds

posted 11 Aug 2017, 04:19 by D Graves   [ updated 11 Aug 2017, 04:39 ]
On Tuesday, we had a day off and visited Mara Seeds on a GBLC organised tour. "Mara Seeds Pty Ltd is a family owned business started in 1967, located at Mallanganee in the foothills of the Richmond Range in northern New South Wales."

The tour was hosted by the owner Stuart Larsson - a self professed "crazy man"! He started by showing us a presentation outlining the history of his family farm and business and how it transformed to Organics in the mid-1990s due to the diminishing returns on artificial fertiliser and chemical systems and increased costs, both financially and health related. He says he is crazy because of following the ideas he has despite nay-sayers around him. He clearly has lots of innovative projects going on (grass seed, soy, wheat, maize, cattle, compost, biochar, livestock feeds, gluten free foods, hemp seed growing and processing)!

After the talk, Stuart took us on a tour of the factory where they make the livestock feeds, out back to the composting, and to various places on the farm to see how it's being managed or newly acquired properties are being transformed:

livestock feed factory

BioChar is a key element in all the feeds. The research is showing reduction in odour, increase in productivity, and better health (no dead birds in the large poultry operations):
green chicken feed

Chatting about compost and biochar production (biochar is used in the compost):
chat about compost

Stuart loves this Weston fencing that he now only uses. This is a new property recently purchased. I asked if they plough before each crop. To my surprise, they are a no-till enterprise! After harvest, the stubble is smashed up and left on the surface. This is then direct seeded - the weeds are minimised because they overseed to outcompete the weeds. Biologically active sprays are used to get the soil alive with microbiology. Interesting how broadscale grains can be done organically:
Weston fencing

The soils are re-mineralised through cattle licks. This is dispensed as a powder and they take 500g a day in the beginning which reduces down to around 200g a day after a couple of weeks or so. Once paddocks are re-mineralised the cattle don't use the lick that much at all:
cattle lick

We didn't get to hear that much about the hemp projects, but the plans are to process hemp seed for human consumption - much needed in Australia!! We found the day to be very interesting. Thank you Stuart for taking the time to spend with us!