Uduc farmer sows the seed of sustainable farming
She is a universal farmer with a love of animals and a passion for regenerative agriculture.
Uduc farmer Blythe Calnan has worked on farms in Russia, Mexico, USA, Indonesia and the Middle East.
Her knowledge is extensive and enthusiasm for the struggling industry is both commendable and inspiring.
However, the 36-year-old got her start in agriculture a lot closer to home.
She grew up on a cattle station in the Pilbara and spent her days frolicking in North West paddocks with her friends.
I think I spent more time at the cattle station than at home.
“From a young age, I always loved learning about natural systems and the way they worked.
“Animals can’t communicate directly, so farmers always had to be on-the-ball and think outside the box.”
Blythe was doing her meat and livestock training and travelling between countries when she met her partner Gregg.
He was a helicopter engineer who was fixing a chopper on one of the stations Blythe was working on.
“We got talking and discovered we had similar aspirations and quite a lot in common,” she said.
The pair eventually decided to move to the South West and purchased 25ha on Runnymede Farm in Binningup.
While attempting to set up her own farm from scratch, Blythe began milking for another local dairy farmer, Graham Manning.
His family had been dairy farming for more than 150 years. The Mannings were one of the Harvey area’s pioneering families with their residence home to the family for several generations.
However, at the end of 2016, Brownes dropped many dairy producers in several devastating contract cuts.
“It was so tough and the farmers were pretty hard done by,” Blythe said.
“Milk had to be poured down the drain, it was honestly so heartbreaking.
I remember we all cried as they took the cows away.
After the contract cuts Mr Manning put the property on the market. He later approached Blythe and Gregg to see if they were interested in purchasing the farm that was so close to his heart.
The pair were extremely honoured and accepted the challenge.
“It is a really special place and I think we will be here forever,” Blythe said.
The pair are now practising regenerative agriculture on their Uduc farm — a system of farming principles that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves water cycles and gives back to the earth while leaving it in a better condition.
“We are interested in holistic management and restoring the natural farming ecosystem,” she said.
It is a sustainable method of farming aimed at balance and reducing inputs.
It includes regularly rotating grazing animals and reducing the chemicals used on the land.
They also believe in layering their farm and have beef, chickens and vegetables growing and grazing in the same vicinity.
Blythe said she was fortunate to live in an era where people valued ethical farming practices and made an effort to understand more about where their food was coming from.
“We would love to give consumers the opportunity to connect with their food and know who was producing it,” she said.
The Runnymede farmer said regenerative agriculture would be a major game-changer in the world of farming and believed the balanced approach could help shift the industry.
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