Research rationale - Marion Johnson

I became involved in research because I wanted answers. I could see that the simplification of our farming systems was damaging the soils and water upon which we depend, our animals and pastures were getting sicker and diversity was diminishing.

A few years back I was managing a farm on which we celebrated biodiversity and I wanted to understand how to make the farm really sing, and benefit multiple species above and below ground. I could see the stock changing their diets and I wanted to know what to plant to provide them with the most benefit and of course to deal with parasites.

This has led me to a firm conviction that we need to revisit diverse pastures, hedges or browse bars (call them what you will) shelter, swales, ponds, clean creeks their banks planted with multipurpose species. We need to once again create a web of diversity which supports the farm.

As we think about land we need to ask ourselves how does this action benefit us and future generations. When we plant for example, will this species contribute to animal health, habitat for beneficial insects or birds, conservation, firewood or high value timber?

With increasing levels of antibiotic resistance and ill health it is vital that we revisit the way we farm. How can we support health naturally? Animals have an innate knowledge if we give them the opportunity they can self-medicate (I can send a list of articles if you are interested) and there are many plants we can use to treat them. Plants we can easily grow and which provide a myriad of other benefits.

On a number of projects I have worked with GIS and mapping experts, we can develop, for example, maps and interactive white boards so that you can visualise and discuss options for change

On the two properties owned by GEGF we are monitoring all the changes we make. Jim has 10 years of results, Firgrove is just starting out. The results are all available under the Agroecology tab and will be updated in the blog.


I am happy to partner, lead, support or develop research projects on a wide range of topics.

Also available for literature searches or editing.

View our Knowledge base of New Zealand native plants for Natural Animal Health.

Please click here to download Marion Johnson's CV.


Please click here to see our full list of publications.

Current Projects

Dairy Goat Supply Systems - Funder: MBIE/AgReseach

Analysis of the Cultural, Ethical, Research, Legal and Scientific (CERLS) issues inherent in Rongoā Māori research  - Funder: Nga Pae o te Maramatanga

International Dark Sky Communities  - Funder: Otago Participatory Science Platform

Review and edit Congress proceedings 2017 IFOAM Animal Husbandry Alliance - Voluntary