Grass Groups

Dick developed the Grass Group concept to assist small groups of four to five grazing businesses to fine-tune their grazing management skills. As facilitator of the Grass Group, Dick attends four meetings a year with each group, to help work through grazing problems/opportunities identified within the group. In short, you learn and receive support from Dick, from other board members, and you in turn provide support and learning to the other Grass Group members. Each meeting the group identifies problems/opportunities for your (grass) business; sets tasks for you to complete before the next meeting; you report back to your group; you assist other group members with their problems/opportunities.

The Aim

Dick has observed a common trend among grazing businesses that have been rotationally grazing for a while - ‘stocking rate stagnation’ and ‘monocultures of perennial plants’. He has found that the cause is ‘set patterns of grazing’ – particularly with ‘holistic grazing with cell grazing’.

Another common issue nowadays is low levels of profit, often as a result of low levels of income derived from the land (that may be over-valued for the productive capacity). Low income levels are often related to ‘production’ (or turnover) but in which areas does production need to increase? Capital always needs to be invested to get the best return on investment (ROI), and being part of a Grass Group assists in identifying the best ROI for often scarce capital.

Dick assists Grass Group members to identify and pick the so-called ‘low hanging fruit’ returns. Time and again, fine-tuning  produces the most sustainable and immediate dollar return. 


Healthy soils are essential for healthy plant growth, human nutrition, ecosystem services such as water filtration and supporting a landscape that is more resilient to the impacts of drought, flood or fire. Healthy soil helps to regulate the Earth’s climate and stores more carbon than all of the world’s forests combined. Healthy soils are fundamental to our survival.

However, many of our land management practices, including agriculture, forestry and fire, have caused significant damage to our landscape, resulting in widespread degradation and depletion of soil health. Soil carbon content has been severely reduced, due to a lack of organic matter, and resultant water-holding capacity is poor. Nutrient availability for plants and animals has been compromised by poor soil health and structure and the ever-increasing reliance on chemical inputs.

This then compromises the health and wellbeing of every one of us world-wide.


For the past 10,000 and particularly the past 100 years, we have drastically compromised soil health for yield and profitability, and have:

  • mined and degraded soils and natural resources from our land and ocean
  • cleared 75% of the earth’s primary forests and their carbon draw down
  • depleted over 8 billion hectares of our former deep organic soils
  • created over 4 billion hectares of man-made deserts
  • applied ever increasing amounts of chemical fertilizer particularly in monoculture farming enterprises, and,
  • in the process, used 150% of the sustainable resources of the planet*.

We can restore our soil health - the physical, mineral and biological condition of the soil - through a combination of sound water management and a biodiversity of functional vegetation.

Together, supported by the constant flow of solar energy, soil, water and vegetation are the process drivers for a healthy regenerative landscape. We must change our current practices and learn to manage these resources in an integrated way.

image of degraded soil


The realities of an increasingly arid and degraded landscape will impact significantly not only on the productivity and viability of agricultural enterprises but also on the health of our environment and the wellbeing of us all. Signs of degradation include:

  • salinity
  • erosion by wind or water
  • declining soil health
  • diminishing river flows
  • high evaporation rates
  • decreasing availability of groundwater
  • rising input costs for fuel and non-organic fertilisers

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates that one quarter of the world’s 13 billion hectares of land is degraded.


Even in Australia we are facing the reality of climate extremes and interrelated challenges including:

  • an increasingly arid landscape - particularly in the southern half of the continent, where much of our farming land is degraded
  • more salinity and erosion - in WA, salinity has been spreading at the rate of about a football ground per hour
  • increased erosion – over 1 million kilometres of Australia’s rivers have been incised
  • more erratic and unreliable rainfall, excessive evaporation, diminishing river flows and decreasing dam storage
  • longer drought - and consequently more bushfires
  • more severe storms, cyclones and flooding
  • population growth with more demand on resources and the need for more food production
  • higher farming input costs
  • ...and a changing climate full of contrasts.

Australia - and the world - needs to redesign itself to ensure resilience of our agriculture systems and the ecosystem on which it depends.

Dick Richardson

Mob 0429069001