(This post can also be seen at www.pastureharmonies.org)
Science has served New Zealand agriculture extremely well. It should and needs to do so in the future.
It is also that pragmatic rationale approach that has delivered and developed a wonderfully integrated on-farm representation of responsible pastoralism.
Put another way, we’ve engineered a farming solution that makes best use of the temperate climate and relatively thin, bony, young soils of New Zealand.
We are one of the few countries in the world where farmers aren’t peasants.
We tend to take it so much for granted, that what we have, what we project from (most of) our farming, is ‘normal’.
In doing so we forget what it looks like.
Now, while some tourists and travellers may complain our countryside looks like a giant golfcourse, in a way it is a bit of a backhand compliment.
Our farms, from Northland to Southland, from the coast to the foothills and high country, look looked after. They look as if someone intelligent is at home and the land, environment and animals are being cared for.
It looks almost bucolic. One of (many) definitions of bucolic is – <em>of, pertaining to, or suggesting an idyllic rural life</em> – which while a large stretch of the actuality, is a pretty good image or association to have.
The fact, supported by billions of dollars of spending over the past 100 years, we have science to utterly back up the picture.
However, this is a synergy we’ve, (I’m arguing) never exploited.
But first and foremost though, we need to control the imagery of what and how our farms and farming looks in the big picture.
pasture Harmonies can truly represent the idea and the ideal of responsible pastoralism.
By inviting consumers to visit, we can also take part in a conversation.
For example, consumers will (probably) always want a standard that in practice is impossible and/or uneconomic to achieve.
If, when we stake our claim to the rotational grazing territory we initially discovered, then we can take part in a conversation, instead of always defensively reacting .
One of our current challenges, is agriculture attempts to defend an amorphous idea.
When we give that idea a name, we are in a much better, stronger position.
Our farming is about much more than the sum of all its parts.
We are picture (almost) perfect.
Let’s start believing, living up to and improving that picture.
To which end, let’s name it, and with it the science behind the image.
(Or, is our image something we should just let look after itself, and by default decay?)