Multi-storey farming

The multi-storey farming system (MSF) was originally developed on Clinton’s family farm, “Camaray Farm”, to address a significant green feed gap during summer and autumn months. However, as the years have passed, multi storey farming has developed a life of its own, taking the integration of trees on farms to a new level and offering a new dimension of benefits to the farmer.

This link prepared in May 2020 provides an update on the progress of both the original and operational multi storey farming sites.

The system works by truly integrating different “storeys“ of soil, pasture/crops, livestock and trees on one land unit to create a diverse system with a mosaic of production opportunities over the short, medium and long term.

Just Add Trees has its roots in the development of this farming system.  Clinton and his family are literally living it!

The original demonstration site – showcasing 1.2ha of trees separated by pasture and crop species (over 70 have been trialled) can be seen at Camaray farm.

Another demonstration was established at Lardner Park (near Warragul, Vic.) in 2016 and more recently an additional 4ha research site has been established at Camaray farm.  This new site (established in 2016) showcases lucerne pasture planted with 25 species of tree including edible nut, evergreen, deciduous and rainforest varieties.

Clinton’s vision is to grow and further develop the system through his own experience and “in-house” and collaborative research so that other farmers may also share and experience the benefits on their land.

The inspiration behind it all

Clinton was privileged to be able to travel to Africa several times as a volunteer with the forestry aid organisation – Beyond Subsistence.

He says ‘these trips were a great revelation.  In Uganda and Zimbabwe, the widespread integration of trees into cropping, pasture and horticulture systems by leading farmers, inspired me to think more broadly about the role of trees on a farm.

On one occasion, a friend from Uganda visited our farm.  I remember being acutely embarrassed as we walked around.

Here we were with over 100 acres of some of the  most productive farming land in Australia and we were simply grazing cattle and feeding one family. The contrast was stark.

This was a critical turning point as I realised that our management was restricting the sustainable, production capacity of the farm.’

An idea was borne

The combination of forestry experience and African influence inspired Clinton to view his own farm in a different light.

He had 1000+mm rainfall, deep soils and was only using the top 30cm for pasture production. Over the dry summer and early autumn months, his farm was unproductive as soil water moved beyond the reach of pasture roots.

How could this be addressed? “Hmmm …. trees have deep roots, as do some pastures and crops. Trees also reduce wind, evaporation and cast shade”.

The idea for a demonstration site was borne!

With assistance from the Western Port Catchment Landcare Network (WPCLN) he established a demonstration site with wide spaced trees amongst 70+ varieties of crops and pastures over a 5-year period.  WPCLN also published a supporting brochure and produced a short video from the field days.

The picture on the right was taken at one of the popular demonstration days run in collaboration with the WPCLN.

The results spoke for themselves

Clinton’s farm productivity and sustainability improved in many tangible ways.

The trees and deeper rooted pasture were using more soil and improving photosynthetic capacity.

Evaporation reduction through wind protection and shade generation was providing feed for cattle through the dry summer and autumn period 18 months after establishment!

Something was always growing even at the driest time of year.

A small part of Camaray farm was being transformed and Multi storey farming was borne.

Larger parts of Clinton’s farm have since been transformed and he wants to share the benefits he’s experienced with other farmers. ‘The story is too good to keep to ourselves!’

About the name

The term “multi storey farming” has its origins in forestry.

A forest in south east Australia is typically comprised of three layers often referred to as “storeys”. The concept of storeys was applied after viewing the results of the first crop and pasture planting in the demonstration site.  The crop initially provided invaluable shelter forth newly planted tree seedling.  Over time the roles of protection reversed, revealing the dynamic aspect of the system.

We now define multi storey farming as a system that integrates different storeys of soil, pasture/crops, livestock and trees on one land unit that creates a range of production opportunities over the short, medium to long term.

What we offer

Drawing on real data and experience from our own multi storey system systems and others we manage, we offer a range of multi storey farming services from system design through to project management.

Soil health is the foundation of the system, therefore our services start with a free site inspection and an independent soil analysis (SWEP ST-1) priced at $132* per sample (plus postage).

* 2019 prices, GST inclusive.

Book a free site inspection and soil analysis

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