SWCC rotational grazing field dayPhoto: SWCC
SaltbushPhoto: SWCC
Small landholder pasture management workshopPhoto: SWCC
Oil MalleePhoto: SWCC

Sustainable Agriculture Workshops & Field Days

Our Sustainable Agriculture Program has a series of exciting workshops,field days and extension activities planned for the SWCC region during 2014-18.

Coming up:

Join the Warren Catchments Council on 15 October to compare notes with Professor Jean-Pierre Lumaret on Dung Beetles!

On 18 October, hear from leading industry experts on a range of topics affecting your bottom line, at a Manjimup Soil Health Seminar.

And on 27 October, join Dr Dean Revell to discuss the results of some great saltland restoration at the Restoring Saltland to Productive Pastures Sundowner!

Find out what else have we been up to over the year….

Perennial Pasture Establishment Demonstration – Winterbrook Farm

On March 7& 8 the Wagin Woolarama was held in the state’s beautiful great southern region.  The area holds strong ties and history to wool production and the Merino sheep, hence the town’s icon of the giant ram. In recent years there has been a shift towards broad acre farming of cereals grains including wheat, barley and canola. This has also meant a change in the environmental impacts that farming activities have on land degradation and soil health.

The SWCC Innovation and Sustainable Agriculture teams thought it was a great opportunity to create awareness about the current suite of SWCC projects.  The main emphasis was publicising that the Round 2 of Sustainable Farming funding was open and grants of up to $20,000.00 was available to those wanting to conduct trials to see how effective sustainable agricultural practises were on their farms.  The other focus  was carbon farming and how different agricultural practises can play a large role in this area.  An eye catching and visual display gained much interest from a diverse range of people, many booklets and information pamphlets were handed out ranging in content from funding opportunities to salinity, the Enrich saltbush program, forestry and revegetation, stocking rates and carbon farming.

This year’s Balingup Small Farm Field Day included some great displays from six local Landcare and natural resource management groups.   Soil health and carbon farming were the focus for South West Catchments Council (SWCC) Sustainable Agriculture Project Managers, Peter Clifton and Wendy Wilkins.

The SA Team talked to locals about the characteristics of healthy soils such as soil structure, balanced nutrients and soil microbes and even some of the threats such as soil acidity.  A healthy soil is one that can capture and retain water and nutrients without excessive inputs.  They also provided landholders with a free book with soil health references and discussion on issues such as soil acidity and water repellent soils.

The Carbon Farming fact sheets, developed by DAFWA with funding from Royalties for Regions, were also available at the Landcare Tent.  These fact sheets describe the potential for activities to reduce greenhouse gases and/or store CO₂ and to also highlight the potential risks and opportunities for land managers.  The 16 sheets cover soil, cattle, sheep, fuels and planting.  Of particular interest were the biochar, environmental plantings and soil related fact sheets.  Many of the activities described not only reduce greenhouse gases but have production benefits – so they are certainly worth considering.

In June 2014, soil acidity workshops were held in Cuballing and Kojonup introducing the practice of “crop grazing”, where cereal crops are grazed during winter to allow annual pastures a chance to establish. Following on from the initial workshops we have a series of paddock walks during June and July looking at the various stages of grazing crops.

On July 15 and 16, 2014 workshops entitled Agriculture and NRM Extension Training were held in Bunbury and Narrogin respectively.  SWCC engaged Bruce Howie of C-Qual Agritelligence Pty Ltd to run this training.  Bruce has considerable experience in agricultural RD & E and has delivered training for GRDC, Grower Groups and NRM Organisations.  The training focussed on how to become an effective extension  worker and covered the principles of good extension—understanding client motivation, how to engage and communicate to clients and extension methodologies.

Please contact Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager, Mike Christensen on 08 9761 4184 or mike.christensen@swccnrm.org.au if you would like more information about any of our upcoming events.