When Jody Brown implemented regenerative practices on her family's semi-arid station, the transformations soon spread beyond the paddock gates in the most unexpected ways.

Farmers across Australia are looking for new ways to improve not only the bottom line of their agricultural businesses, but the environment as well. Longreach grazier Jody Brown found her way forward through regenerative farming and is also building a strong peer-to-peer network of like-minded souls.


Farm/Enterprise Name: Latrobe Station & Arlington Park (Central Western Queensland). Dimond Downs Station (Fraser Coast).

Farm/Enterprise Location: Central Western Queensland, Iningai Country / Fraser Coast Butchulla Country

Type of Enterprise: Grazing

Primary Markets Served: Meatworks or to other organic producers via AuctionsPlus

Staffing: Five

Property Size: Central Western Queensland: 18,210ha. Fraser Coast: 680ha.

Property Elevation: 191m

Average Annual Rainfall: 430mm, but extremely variable.

Climate: Semi-arid

Soil Types: Clay

Website: www.facebook.com/people/Latrobe-Station/100063555377640/

Challenge: Regen for drought resilience in arid environments

Jody wanted to learn more about regenerative farming but found it difficult to source accounts of lived experiences in semi-arid climates. She was working on her parents' stations in Central Western Queensland when she became interested in regenerative practices; however, it was hard to picture how the methods she was learning about could apply to her own environment. Her father, Donald Brown, was also keen to explore new ideas, but he needed to see positive results from others operating in similar conditions before he would start to implement changes.

'I knew it was incredibly important to talk to someone from a really hot area with low rainfall and find out how it works and if it works,' Jody says.

I wanted to meet people who were adapting these ideas at scale

While smaller producers were getting excellent results with certain types of rehydration methods, Jody knew that the intensive techniques and infrastructure required were simply unaffordable to large stations in the extensive pastoral zone. 'I wanted to meet people who were adapting these ideas at scale,' Jody explains, 'to get some hints about how to implement them at home.'

Solution: Dial a friend in the desert

The tipping point for the Browns' properties - Latrobe, Arlington Park and Dimond Downs - came in the form of a Skype session with a rancher in Mexico who is reversing desertification in the Chihuahuan desert. Once Jody's father was able to directly ask Alejandro Carrillo questions about regenerative farming practices and know that the answers were coming from someone who was facing similar challenges in a similar environment, his interest was well and truly sparked too.

'At the end of the day, it wasn't my call to make,' Jody says. 'It's all good and well for me to watch a few TED Talks and slideshows, but it's a whole other thing to take a risk like that. Dad has really got on board and has done a lot of his own learning as well.'

Every journey starts with small steps

The Brown family began implementing small changes, and while the two generations don't see eye-to-eye on everything, they have fully embraced collaboration as they make slow but steady progress. The largest changes have been around grazing management, with the introduction of what Jody calls 'an adaptive rotational system' and her father calls 'time-controlled grazing'. Whatever it's called, MaiaGrazing Farm Software helps plan, monitor and manage the grazing system. They are also trialling Cibo Labs' PastureKey, which uses satellite technology to measure pasture biomass and estimate available feed.

Prioritising progress over perfection

Jody is quick to point out that the system isn't perfect and they are always looking at ways to improve. 'If more people were a little bit more open about that and not expecting perfection or massive changes overnight, we might have a few more people putting their hands up and saying they're making that transition,' Jody says.

Finding peers to share their journey with has been a key to the success of the Browns' regeneration story.

Finding peers to share their journey with has been a key to the success of the Browns' regeneration story. Jody has put her hand up to be involved in many community-building activities and has forged a supportive network of like-minded people. Her enthusiasm for wider community engagement has only increased her confidence to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.

Outcome: A landscape nurtured back to health

Latrobe and Arlington Park have been certified organic for more than 20 years and Dimond Downs is transitioning. They feed cattle loose lick with biochar, have introduced dung beetles and are also trialling biological/microbial fertilisers and stimulants. After two eight-year droughts in the past 20 years, the Browns are enjoying what Jody calls 'a magical 18 months'. The properties, and livestock, are looking great.

Videos spread positive messages

Jody studied film, television and creative writing at university and her skills for storytelling have been invaluable in creating peer-to-peer networks and community building. The videos, including some recently created for Landcare, not only tell stories of drought resilience and improving land conditions, but they have brought the community together at events to view them.

'I love learning about regenerative principles and practices but it all starts with community building.'

'At the crux of it, I love learning about regenerative principles and practices but it all starts with community building,' Jody says. 'There are definitely more people out here than anyone had previously thought of that are looking at or starting with regenerative farming.'

Grass roots group set to grow

The pursuit of collaboration has also led Jody to create the Regenerative Rangelands Facebook group, which focuses on improving land management in semi-arid to arid regions with extensive pastoral zones. 'Regenerative Rangelands is an unofficial grassroots community,' Jody explains, 'and it's gaining growing interest from a lot of different people from inland Australia.'

Jody hopes that the group will soon become an official not-for-profit, and at the time of writing she was planning her first-ever event at Latrobe Station at Longreach. Regenerative Rangelands 2023 will focus on healthy soils, pastures and people with a wide variety of producer-led presentations, discussion panels, question-and-answer sessions and field activities. Most importantly, events like this will give like-minded producers a chance to finally meet and share face to face.

From parched pastures to profitability, from watching TED Talks in isolation to creating her own content and events, Jody's regeneration journey has come a long way. And best of all, her commitment to share the improvements on her family's properties and other positive stories of regenerative farming in extensive pastoral areas is inspiring countless farmers to do the same.