THE bottom line can sometimes be the only yardstick producers grade themselves by, but for one Wellington sheep grazier, that is far from the case.
By his own admission, a regenerative agriculture course in 1994 was "a lightbulb moment" for Peter Barton and gave him clearer focus of how he wanted to manage his family's property Brooklyn.
Rotational grazing was the first step implemented, followed by cutting down the size of paddocks and a nurturing of natural pastures, all of which were targeted at not only benefiting the family operation's sheep herd, as well as the land itself.
"I have an agricultural economics background that I studied at University of New England in Armidale, but when I came back to the farm from school I wanted to start looking at how we could do things differently," Mr Barton said.
"A lot of that was driven by the economics of what the business of farming was like at the time, the Australian wool market was experiencing a crash and commodity prices weren't too high either.
"We started by cutting down on applications such as fertilisers and from there we began to cut down on sprays as well to help with that bottom line.
"From there, we never really looked back and is just a way of life for us now."
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Now homing in on a multi-purpose sheep herd and no longer cropping, Mr Barton said an intent to promote sub-soil moisture in his grazing management was leading to positive results for his property's ecosystem.
"A lot of what we do is about maintaining moisture," he said.
"Like pretty much everyone, the drought hit us pretty hard but we were able to retain most of herd because we looked after our pastures and sub-soil moisture.
"The idea is to try and retain as much rain that falls on the property as possible and while that benefits your livestock operation, it also benefits the native plants and animals on the property as well."
Such have been the benefits of the Barton's approach that ecologists have studied the Central West property and have discovered a rare native plant Swainsona Recta, also known as Small Purple Pea.
"From what I understand, it is the first time the plant has been discovered on country that has been grazed in Australia," Mr Barton said.
"For me, that was really exciting and really solidified in my mind that what we are doing is not only working but is really beneficial to the environment as a whole.
"We've also got a lot of other native plants growing on the place and it isn't unusual to see koalas and other native animals like that around the place as well.
"Most farmers are really committed to not only making decisions that benefit their bottom line but also their properties as well and I think it is great to see when it works."
Currently involved in a stewardship program with Landcare, Mr Barton said he would continue to promote the benefits of a regenerative approach to agriculture in the future.
"There's a lot of momentum in this space at the moment and I can't wait to see where it leads," he said.
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