From article published in NSW Farmers website blog, Oct 2019.
THIRD-GENERATION farmer Stuart Larsson was greeted with puzzled looks and the occasional “hippie” reference when he ventured into organic farming more than 20 years ago.
Today, he and wife Katina are the proud creators of Mara Seeds, a diverse 3,240-hectare family enterprise that produces certified organic soybeans, livestock feed, fertilisers, pasture seed and beef at Mallanganee, near Casino on the NSW North Coast.
Stuart is now regarded as a pioneer in the NSW organic industry and the modest Larsson farm that started in 1914 now supports the careers of daughters Holly and Louise, and its products are the backbone for businesses operated by son Ross and nephew Paul.
“We replaced the dairy herd with beef cattle in the early 1970s, but the cattle market crash in 1974 forced us to look at other options, and soybeans was the first choice,” Stuart says.
Soybeans were a new crop for the region and proved to be a worthy first choice, he explains. But rising input costs and flat yields eventually led to an investigation into new farming methods.
Inspired by a working holiday on Amish farms in the United States and follow-up discussions with scientists, Stuart’s organic path started with using compost to improve soil biology and structure.
“I learned over time that if you look after the soil it will look after you,” he says. “This is a key principle for organic farming, as it is for good conventional farming systems.
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READ ABOUT WHY WE FARM ORGANICALLY AT WYMAH HERE…