What is Natural Sequence Farming?

An introduction to Natural Sequence Farming, a regenerative practice that restores landscape function, soil health, water retention, and biodiversity by working with natural processes. It explores the principles, emphasises the role of plants and water, and provides practical insights for implementing these principles in your own landscapes.

Hamish Andrews

A common question we receive is. What is Natural Sequence Farming?

Fifty years ago, Peter Andrews moved from South Australia to “Tarwyn Park”, a property in the Bylong Valley of New South Wales, to set up a horse stud at the rundown property, which had a rich history of producing thoroughbreds.

Having grown up in the dusty, dry outback of Broken Hill, Peter had grown up around the harsh realities of the Australian landscape whilst also seeing the potential it held when the season was right.

After travelling and hearing the opinions of other farmers around the world, he had a burning desire to try new ideas at Tarwyn Park and use the horses as an experiment. The aim was to produce the toughest, best-performing horses; how? By building a resilient, functioning landscape to raise them on.

The front entrance of Tarwyn Park
"Tarwyn Park"

For the next thirty years, Peter spent his time working on everything and anything to do with the landscape. Learning to read the landscape, understand the way in which it functions and how to restore that function back into degraded landscapes.

People often think of Natural Sequence Farming as that lunatic farmer (Peter Andrews) who runs around putting these structures in the creek to slow water. While that is a small part of Natural Sequence Farming, it’s also much more.

Whilst at Tarwyn Park, Peter did more than just push the banks of the creek in and build leaky weirs. There were trees planted, contours constructed on the slopes, and wetlands recreated on the floodplain, and then Peter’s son Stuart continued on finalising many of the works left unfinished as well as starting entirely new ones.

A contour built at Tarwyn Park
A contour at Tarwyn Park reconnecting the landscape.

To get a better understanding of what Natural Sequence Farming is all about, we like to break it down into three parts.


The focus is on working with nature rather than against it. It is about looking at how a landscape naturally functioned and getting that working again. To do this, we look at the natural patterns and processes found in the landscape whilst always thinking in wholes.


Nature always works by following a natural sequence; in some parts of the world, it works on a freeze-and-thaw sequence and in other parts, like Australia, it is based around rain events.

In learning to understand the functioning of a landscape, it is critical to understand the sequence of processes started by a rain event. In doing this, we can begin to understand why we want a landscape to be always rain-ready and how we can go about ensuring that is the case.


And the final piece is farming. How can we overlay our farming practices onto the natural sequence of the landscape? How can we work in unison with the natural patterns and processes?

By answering these two questions, we can ensure that our landscape is regenerating and our farming systems are productive and profitable. We can utilise the natural sequence of a landscape to our advantage and use it to improve our farming systems.

How does Natural Sequence Farming work

The key to NSF is that plants manage water; that's what built all the environments we see. Plants are the engineers that build everything, and water is the carrier of the nutrients that feed them.

Our landscapes operate in a continuous feedback loop connecting three main areas:

🌳 Accumulation - The highest area where fertility is built.

🐂 Production - The area where production takes place.

🌱 Filtration - The lowest area where fertility is recycled.

Our landscape no longer operates like this; it has become disconnected due to the way humans have managed their land.

Natural Sequence Farming is the solution to that. It is about understanding how this system works and implementing works to reconnect the pieces like a puzzle. We need to understand the landscape first. And once we recognise the landscape and how it functions, it is about setting it up to work correctly once again.

Plants and water are the pillars of the environment we see around us. They are critical to understanding Natural Sequence Farming.

Plants drive our landscape; they manage the solar energy that comes from the sun every day; they manage the loss of water and matter by defying gravity.

In our landscape, the thing that does the most damage is unmanaged energy, one of which is gravity-moving water; thus, if the water isn't managed, it causes chaos.

Plants manage how the water moves over and through the landscape to counter this. But, plants don't grow without water. They are symbiotically connected; plants are the landscape managers, but they cannot do that without water. So, when looking at repairing a landscape, the first thing that must be managed is hydrology. Once that is complete, you can leave nature to run the rest or assist it using Natural Sequence Farming.

How can I get started with Natural Sequence Farming?

When developing our first course, we wanted to create something quick and easy to remember. So that when people went home from the course, they could easily share what it was they learnt about in a couple of minutes.

From that, the pillars of NSF were developed, and what started out as three has grown to the five pillars of Natural Sequence Farming.

  1. Slow The Flow
  2. Let All Plants Grow
  3. Careful Where The Animals Go
  4. Filtration Is A Must Know
  5. Return To The Top To Recycle The Lot
The Five Pillars of Natural Sequence Farming as developed by Tarwyn Park Training
The Five Pillars of Natural Sequence Farming

The five pillars not only recap what people have learnt, but also act as a checklist to follow. When looking at your own landscape, if you can check off the five pillars and they are all being completed, then your landscape will be building; it will be getting restored.

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