Above Fraser Pogue in a cover crop on his property at Ardmona.
Irrigated cropping farmer Fraser Pogue demonstrates excellence and leadership in sustainable farm practices on his 400-hectare property at Ardmona, near Shepparton.
Fraser has been at the forefront of regenerative and innovative cropping practices as an early adopter of minimum tillage, multispecies cover cropping, sub-surface drip irrigation, little-to-no insecticide or fungicide use, and biological liquid fertilisers.
Fraser is motivated by a strong desire to learn as much as he can about soil biology and the natural systems at work on his land.
“I’m always keen to try something new. I’m looking at ways of producing healthy and productive landscapes from soils diminished by flood irrigation and continual cropping. I’ve recently reintroduced cattle on to the property to help manage high stubble loads,” Fraser said.
Fraser’s farming system involves growing irrigated corn, wheat and legume-cereal mixes in rotation with multispecies cover crops and minimum tillage to maintain groundcover all year. This strategy also helps increase the diversity of plants and soil biology on and below his paddocks.
He is passionate about understanding the processes of soil microbes and how he can maintain an environment that helps these vital organisms do their jobs, namely cycling nutrients so the plants can access what is required for optimal growth.
Fraser continually investigates and trials different farming techniques on the property, all with the intention of increasing biomass and species diversity to limit disturbance and to maintain living roots and soil cover at all times. He believes in pulling apart what does and doesn’t work and developing his own systems.
There have been some challenges along the way. The move to stubble retention has produced large crop residue loads he has been learning to manage. Dealing with waterlogging and seasonal variations also requires looking closely at which plants will survive these conditions.
Fraser credits a holistic management course in 2016 for helping him to take the emotion out of his decision making and be more flexible.
“It comes down to doing what’s best for you, your soils and your farming future,” Fraser said.
Fraser is generous with his time and knowledge by hosting field days, workshops and open days at his property. He is also involved with the Goulburn Murray Landcare Network, the Victorian No-Till Farmers Association and the Goulburn Broken CMA.
Fraser features in Damon Gameau’s recently released feature documentary 2040, which focuses on solutions to climate change. Fraser talks about the importance of soil health in the documentary and explains how his cover crops are working to pump carbon into the soil.
Fraser Pogue will represent Victoria at the 2020 National Landcare Awards in the Landcare Farming Award category.