• Cover Crop Decision Making Process

    Screen Shot 2020-06-26 at 3.39.42 pm
    Multi-species cover cropping is gaining popularity as more farmers embrace a regenerative path. The feelings that accompany standing amongst a field bursting with a diversity of plant and insect life, can powerfully elicit an immediate reaction straight to source multi-species seeds. It is common to see the decisions about where to buy seeds being the […]
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  • Mycoremediation to the rescue!

    Perhaps you’ve just brought a new piece of land and want to set up a garden, or you’ve had a fire come through your place. Both of these situations’ can be hiding lurking dangers, in the form of heavy metals and toxins. Many home gardeners are unwittingly growing their well-loved home produce in soils potentially […]
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  • Transforming our view of stress

    Stress, it impacts us all to various degrees and with Covid 19 many of us have experienced new challenges in our daily lives. For some it has created an opportunity to pause, reflect and recalibrate our values and actions. A time to be with those we are closest too and enjoy a slower daily rhythm.  […]
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  • 6 keys to successfully using biological stimulants

    Many land managers transitioning to regenerative agriculture become interested in applying bio-stimulants to bring life back into their system.  There are some simple options to explore in this realm that can suddenly have us excited about farming again.   It is SO much more fun than spending our days applying poisons to our landscape!   Bio-stimulants can […]
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  • The thrill of soaring

    The thrill of soaring begins with conquering the fear of falling. Whether it’s as a kid jumping from a willow tree into the river, starting your first job, or regenerating your farm – it takes an act of courage. It begins with defining what you want to achieve, and laying down a clear pathway is […]
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  • Decisions…decisions…

    The rain has finally come! And the grass (and most likely weeds aplenty) start to grow. The air is suddenly full of hope that the struggles of the past months, or perhaps years of either no, or minimal rainfall are going to become nothing more than a bad memory. But are the struggles really over? […]
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  • How speaking up can benefit us all

    One of my favourite trees, Kahikatea (a member of the podocarp family) grow throughout New Zealand.  They are most abundant in high rainfall areas, and are most often seen as residual pockets of what were once large swamp forests. These trees reach up to 60 metres (200ft) in height with a 1.5 metre (6ft) diameter. With […]
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  • Regenerate for the next generation

    Canva - Hands Planting Seedlings
    Restoring soil health through regenerative agricultural practices is the key to success for families who are taking up the challenge to create a future in agriculture for younger generations.   Viable pathways for the intergenerational transfer of agricultural businesses have been diminishing and many intelligent, passionate young people have been leaving the industry in recent times.  The damage created […]
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  • Break it down

    Over 700 dung beetles counted in a single pat on Steve Charters ranch in Montana
    An Excerpt from Nicole Masters book For the Love of Soil: In hotter and drier environments, it’s the ants and termites who fill the niche of earthworms. They are nature’s garbage collectors, taking organic materials into their homes, aerating soil and improving water cycles. By increasing water infiltration and reducing erosion, these insects assist producers […]
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  • Winter grazing with out the mud

    Bale grazing 1
    Winter grazing of livestock in various parts of New Zealand is currently a contentious issue, due to concerns around sediment loss and animal welfare. Various regional councils are tightening up on current methods, but sediment loss is still assumed to be part of the process and there have been few suggestions of any alternative methods. […]
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  • Women in regenerative agriculture

    Image credit: Wendy Millet, Tomkat ranch.
    As a child I never dreamt I would fall so deeply in love with soil. I grew up as an Air Force ‘brat,’ with early dreams of becoming New Zealand’s first woman fighter pilot. As a teenager I joined the youth Air Training Corp and quickly realized, that “no pimply faced boys were going to […]
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  • Tree planting into alien environments

    Canva - Green Leafed Tree
    As people become more aware of the need to modify their environment, so that it may become more hospitable or even more productive, the talk often moves to planting of trees. Trees for shelter, trees for shade and cooling, and trees for sequestering carbon. Easy? (except for the work of course!) Or not? Helping farmers […]
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  • After the fire: recovering, redesigning and rebuilding

    Fire is a fast-moving disaster, unlike the slow burn of drought it can catch us off guard and can destroy what you have taken years, if not a lifetime, to create in just minutes.  With fires burning in so many parts of our planet this year the challenge of regenerating ecosystem and soil health after […]
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  • 8 ways to monitor your soil health

    spade pic
    Monitoring soil health provides us with a valuable opportunity to know how are we doing, if we are making progress toward our respective goals, is “it” working and are things improving?   Here are 8 simple soil health measurements to get you started without the need to purchase expensive equipment, or to send soil samples away […]
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  • Regenerative Rock Stars

    When it comes to regenerative agriculture there is a lot of press and reverence for those that seemingly began this practice. The rock stars. The gurus. The ones that pull a crowd. We could argue who, and when, and how long ago, but these people, and others, get the kudos. Gabe Brown “the greatest roadblock […]
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  • TEAM: Together Everyone Achieves More

    So what is the point of engaging an Integrity Soils Regenerative Agriculture Coach? And perhaps – what could it cost me not to? Most agricultural producers are feeling the pain of rising input costs, climate extremes, low commodity prices, and a declining social status as consumers more critically evaluate ‘farmers / ranchers’ husbandry practices – […]
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  • 8 reasons to monitor your soil health

    What if there was a simple practice that when implemented regularly would provide opportunities for informed decisions, reduced risks, increased profit, improved confidence and act as an early warning system for unintended consequences arising in your land management system?   Monitoring your soil health on a regular basis will provide all of these benefits and yet […]
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  • Critical eyes on winter fodder beet

    dairy mud
    Recent New Zealand media footage of cows grazing beets udder deep in mud is drawing more attention towards degenerative farm practices. Dairy and beef industries are under increasing fire from multiple angles from greenhouse gas emissions to water quality concerns and humane animal treatments. This adds up to more fuel on the fire for an […]
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  • Stress! Creating an environment for animal performance.

    At 22 I moved to London, with no experience of urban or community living other than a few months in Nelson, a small town at the top of the South Island and a short stint in a Hare Krishna community. Not exactly good preparation for big city life. The only other experience I’d had with […]
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  • Do your weeds love fungi?

    I was talking with one my farm forester friends, Doug. He had harvested an area of pines and was noticing weeds growing there that he had never seen on his farm before. Inkweed, woolly mullein and chamomiles. How did that happen? Weeds get a lot of bad press, surely, they’re just there to annoy us, […]
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  • When life gives you wood chips …

    For years we have been attempting to persuade tree mulching companies to drop us a load or two of wood chips to no avail…  Then we learn even more amazing applications for woodchips in the soil building process working with Nicole Masters.  We fell in love with the potential wood chips have as a source of fungal […]
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  • Looking After Your Productive Potential in Times of Adversity

    Here in eastern Australia many of us are experiencing what is being touted as a 1 in 100 year drought that has many people reeling. Some such as in central Queensland have been experiencing this for 6 years, in western NSW for 4 years and those of us slightly more fortunate only for about 2 […]
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  • Is this your biggest limiting factor?

    Is your mindset the key to unlocking your lands potential?   It can often be easy to see how other people’s business and landscape is a direct reflection of their beliefs, values and perspective.  At the same time we can easily be unaware when our own mindset is the limiting factor. “We cannot solve the problems […]
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  • Animal husbandry starts with observation

    cattle calf cow
    Call it ‘ole timers’ lore or good animal husbandry; there is a skill in the ability to read animal coats which is as old as the hills.  Observing visual animal indicators is a handy tool to assess animal health and reproduction.  This traditional wisdom provides an incredibly useful insight into what is happening on a […]
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  • A long term vision comes to life

    Michael Cashmore is a regenerative agriculture coach with Integrity Soils and enjoys helping farmers create a strategy for achieving their goals for their property.  Michael reflects on his personal journey of landscape regeneration where a long term farm forestry enterprise has improved his property, regenerated ecosystem function and restored biodiversity. In 1995 Wendy and Michael […]
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  • The Profit Conversation

    Is your business truly regenerative? It is time to start talking about agricultural business profitability.   Land managers have long measured their success based on production outcomes such as the top price at the cattle sale or the highest yielding, weed free crop rather than discussing openly whether they have made a profit.  This production […]
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  • The Myth of Fertilizer

    We’re told fertilizers are simple; when a crop grows, it draws nutrients from the soil, these nutrients are then removed when you harvest a crop or sell the milk from your goat or take steers to the sales. At least that’s what has been taught to producers and agronomists since Liebig first did his NPK […]
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  • Pulling the wool over New Zealander’s eyes.

    a look out any plane window over NZ reveals the practice of feeding sheep on sprayed out fields
    New Zealand has relied heavily on a brand image provided by our natural environment, sea and mountain scapes.  However this image has been rapidly eroded over the past decade with intensification;  any observant rural tourist can now point out the sickly rivers and the glyphosate flats and hills.  A quick glance out an aircraft window […]
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  • Options for reducing glyphosate

    sheep damage glyphosate
    With growing human health concerns and consumer demands for food produced without glyphosate, some countries in Europe are considering banning its use. What would be the consequence on your farm if it was banned? A major concern from a knee-jerk reaction like banning glyphosate, is that farmers will reach for nastier residual herbicides; like Paraquat, […]
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  • Are cover crops the best fit to address your limiting growth factor?

    haggerty c4 grass 2018 (3)
    Cover crops are gaining in popularity and can be a powerful tool to regenerate soil health but are they the answer for every situation?  It is wise to consider their benefits, the potential problems and whether cover cropping fits with your goals. Cover crops can have many benefits: Increase soil organic matter through incorporation back […]
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  • Carbon Wranglers

    What does an investor, a scientist, a conservationist, a student and a rancher have in common? Why its carbon of course!   On Indreland Ranch, Big Timber, MT this week, I had the privilege of joining an inspiring group of people with a passion for regenerative Ag.  This group included ranchers, investors, sustainability groups, land trusts, students, scientists and […]
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  • TransFARMation: 10 keys to transforming the way you farm

    Kim Deans
    TransFARMation: 10 keys to transforming the way you farm By Kim Deans, Integrity Soils Coach, Eastern Australia Are you feeling called to transform the way you farm to create a vibrantly healthy farm business and life?  If so, these 10 keys can help support your mindset on your farming journey. These keys have evolved from […]
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  • Nicole’s blog … How can we address many of the complex and ‘wicked’ issues facing society and the planet today?  

    Much of the environmental degradation we are seeing across the world is not due to intentional or malicious behaviour by people.  It’s often with the best intentions that producers adopt new technology or quick fixes that carry hidden unintended consequences.  These impacts may extend well beyond the farm gate. Often environmental impacts from agriculture are […]
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  • Diversity, Diversity, Diversity

    nicole cover crop twinrivers cropped
    The challenge for the 21st century is not our ability to produce more food but to be resilient and adaptable in the face of changing climate. Plant diversity is a valuable tool for producers interested in increasing the resilience of their operation; and is one cornerstone for regenerative agriculture. Cover crops are taking off around the world with […]
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  • Working in Sync with Nature

    indreland cattle
    What tools are left once your management is optimal? Management is just one of the 5 legs Regenerative Agriculture stands on; with Microbes, Minerals, OM and Mindset holding the rest of the table steady. Identifying which of these legs is not working so well creates whole new opportunities for any enterprise. Working alongside the Indreland […]
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  • Get more bang from your nitrogen buck.

    If you cut your nitrogen by 80% tomorrow, would you expect your production to drop? Of course it would… if you did nothing else. Optimising nitrogen use is one of the holy grails in a drive to produce food for a booming world population, all whilst looking after the environment. Across the world a growing […]
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  • Hooves, paws and water.

    Last November we had the absolute honour of staying with Jim and Renee Evanoff in Livingston, Montana, USA. Over twenty years ago Jim was the original logistics chief involved in reintroducing the wolf back into Yellowstone National Park. He was responsible for making the wolf pens safe and secure for the “soft release” of the […]
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  • Setting up foliar trials

    Setting up foliar trials - Integrity Soils
    Setting up a foliar trial to assess which products lift the brix the highest. By being able to do this we can more accurately choose our next course of action. We mixed 150mls water with a measured amount of  nine different bio stimulants (plus one control with just water).  Treatments could include, and are not […]
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  • Terrified terrain – Infiltration | Soils | Hydrophobic

    Increasingly I’m seeing properties in New Zealand with broken water cycles, something you’d normally expect to see in sandy, low carbon, semi-arid soils in the US and Australia. Recently we measured the infiltration on a property that took over 36 mins for 5mm of water to enter. These soils are known as non-wetting or hydrophobic soils; […]
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  • Feature Article in Forage Oct 2015 – Can the soil save us

    Nicole Masters Forage Oct 2015
    The money may already be in the bank, just waiting to be cashed out. “Often, we’re sitting on a great big bank account we have no idea is there,” says Nicole. This article gives great detail on the biological soil bank account and how this is beneficial for farmers, ranchers, and growers. Download PDF of […]
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  • Stemple Creek Ranch – USA coverage

    “Opening our eyes to the possibilities that lie beneath the surface…” In September 2015 I visited Stemple Creek Ranch in Tomales where I got to work with 27 ranchers from all over the United States in a three day seminar on soil management. “The valuable insights gained during this process will help us dramatically improve our soil composition […]
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  • The benefits of worms and vermicast

    worms, vermicast, nicole masters, integrity soils
    “If you want something done, ask a busy person” or in this case, a busy worm. Worms have been tirelessly toiling away, building soil in the same manner as their ancestors 600 million years ago.  The work that they do may be one of the most important and undervalued positions, but through their physical action […]
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  • Hyundai Country Calendar Episode

    Integrity Soils Country Calendar
          Watch Integrity Soils episode on Hyundai Country Calendar here. This property will soon be on the market, for more information please contact nicole@integritysoils.co.nz
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  • Country Calendar 23 May 2015

    Country Calendar Integrity Soils1
    We were super excited when Country Calendar came out to film our lifestyle block earlier this year. The show is being screened on 23 May, at 7pm on TV One. Read a little about what to expect on the show here
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  • Mechanical vs. Chemical additions to aerate soil in Hungerford Texas

    Integrity Soils USA Brahman Cattle
    Hungerford Texas Early in May at the start of my USA Trip I had two amazing days of workshops in Hungerford Texas.  The soils here had the hugest worms and an incredible amount of calcium, like over 14,000 kg/ha!  Just like a deficiency, an excess of any element can cause issues.  High calcium can create unconsolidated […]
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  • Does your soil sip, or slump and spill?

    Soil infiltration
    Step by step instructions for a soil infiltration test I’ve been fortunate over the past few months to visit some of New Zealand’s most panoramic farms, assessing soil health and identifying areas which are putting a drag on farm performance and quality. One of the most simple and telling tests we can use to assess […]
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  • Microbes and us – creating a healthier smarter you

    Soil microbes
    We owe our lives to soils and the microbes that inhabit them in more ways than one.  We are literally, standing on a treasure trove of human health and wellbeing.  Humans have evolved hand in hand with microbes; in fact our bodies contain 10 times more microbial cells than human cells, which poses the question: […]
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  • Fall in love with soil – TEDx Tauranga

    Down and Dirty with Soil
    Are you ready to get down and dirty and fall in love with soil?  Check out my TEDx talk.
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  • Food Matters Aotearoa Conference and Speaking Tour

    Food really does matter, especially when it comes to addressing the problems of an increasingly vulnerable global system. Register for the Food Matters Aotearoa conference or speaking tour in a city near you and listen to speakers with different indigenous and international perspectives on solutions to the challenges we face. Tour Cities Speaking Tour, 9-20 Feb […]
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  • The soil thermostat

    What would it mean to your enterprise if your soils were warmer in winter and cooler in summer? Money in the pocket as your growing seasons increase perhaps? Producers I work with commonly report earlier grass growth and longer milking/growing seasons as their soil health improves. There are two major drivers for this; organic matter […]
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  • Huguelkultur

    The farm here is flat, with a pretty nasty hardpan, so when a friend mentioned Hugelkultur we were keen to try it out. Basically they are a type of ‘mega raised’ beds, made from whole tree trunks and wood waste rounds covered with a thin layer of topsoil. Over time the wood decomposes, feeding the […]
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  • Pasture Mealy Bug

    mealy closeup
    I have been meeting farmers confounded by poor grass growth and zero clover, and despite their best intentions and repeat applications of Super and Urea they have been unable to lift their growth. Pulling out the trusty spade and taking a look underground has revealed an army of fluffy white spots through the soil.  I have […]
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  • Droughts and Biology

    Droughts and Biology
    This summer may have been a reprieve for beach lovers following the last few wet ones, but with drought declared across much of the North Island, there’s a lot of farmers hurting out there. In the Hawkes Bay we expect summer-dry conditions; but the dry and cold spring which preceded this year’s summer created the […]
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  • Onehunga Weed

    I love weeds, truly! They are the most amazing indicator of soil conditions, they can offer you far more information than any soil test. The secret to weeds is to observe them in their natural state: does this weed like soils which are wet, exposed, tight, stock camps, old fire sites or highly fertilised? What […]
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  • Biofertilisers

    nicole masters
    There is a growing number of bio-fertilisers now available on the market, and this trend is set to continue with PGP providing $9.75 million to one or NZ’s largest fertiliser companies to help develop biological products. Fortunately many of these biofertilisers are already present in well managed soils; including trichoderma, bacillus, phosphate solubilising bacteria, rhizobacteria, […]
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  • The Use of Refractometers

    I get alot of queries about the use of refractometers and the value of Brix, so here is an overview: REFRACTOMETER THE ESSENTIAL TOOL The planet as we know has been made possible through the action of tiny solar factories located inside plant cells. It may sound farfetched, but the success of our farming enterprises […]
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