On 11 March 2020, Snowy Mountains Grammar School was proud to launch its Environment Education Seminar series. Partnering with the Upper Snowy Landcare Network, the student-led SMGS Environment Committee was delighted to welcome Dr Charles Massy to talk about Regenerative Agriculture.  

Dr Massy has managed his family’s grazing property, Severn Park, for forty-five years and has developed a prominent Merino sheep stud business. He has published a number of books on the Australian Merino and was awarded an Order of Australia medal for his services as chair and director of a number of research organisations and statutory wool boards. Dr Massy began implementing regenerative agricultural techniques after the 1980s drought forced him to radically change his approach to farming. In his most recent book, Call of the Reed Warbler: A new Agriculture – A New Earth, Dr Massy explores the emergence of regenerative agriculture in Australia and provides hope for the future.

To commence the evening, students from the SMGS Environment Committee introduced Dr Massy and shared their experience of recently visiting his property, Severn Park. During the tour, the students were fortunate to have the opportunity to see the different techniques Dr Massy was implementing on his farm, including holistic (rotational) grazing, the planting of tree breaks throughout the land, natural sequence farming and cultural burning.

Dr Massy spoke about Regenerative Agriculture, presenting it as a solution to the Anthropocene challenge and a means of addressing the ‘greatest crisis humanity has ever faced’. This crisis was highlighted through the use of data that illustrated the rapid increases in greenhouse gas emissions, soil temperatures and interruptions to the water cycle. He also raised the need to address the impacts of fertiliser use, the loss of soil microbes and non-compatible agricultural techniques leading to the loss of valuable topsoil.

Dr Massy identified industrial agriculture as the major component responsible for the ongoing damage to the six key biogeophysical Earth systems and the resultant impacts this was having on humans and the environments they depend upon. He presented the science behind his techniques and used numerous case studies to illustrate how healthy landscapes and biologically rich, active soils can address the ever-decreasing levels of nutrients in our food.

It was exceptionally pleasing to see such a large and varied audience in attendance for the inaugural talk. Snowy Mountains Grammar School aims to use the Environment Education Seminar series to share knowledge, generate discussion and drive future initiatives in the local community.