WA Landcare unites on regenerative farming

Western Australia’s seven natural resource management (NRM) regions have united to launch a new regenerative farming research project to ultimately help more farmers protect the environment and their bottom line.

Regenerative farming practices are known to improve on-farm biodiversity and soil health; reduce herbicide, pesticide and synthetic fertiliser use; increase farm resilience as well as improve food and water quality.

However, few farmers have transitioned to these “alternative” management practices due to perceived risks and a lack of solid science.

Awarded a $99,325 State Government Community Stewardship Grant this month, the South West Catchments Council (SWCC) will now collaborate with South Coast Natural Resource Management, Wheatbelt NRM, Peel-Harvey Catchment Council, Perth NRM, Northern Agricultural Catchments Council and Rangelands NRM to determine the information that farmers, farm advisors, banks and insurers need to transition to regenerative farming.

SWCC program manager Dr Mike Christensen said regenerative agriculture was gaining momentum internationally and was a “no-brainer” resulting in reduced input costs, improved soil health and food quality, combined with only slightly reduced production.

“Any number of practices have been proposed, but in truth we have little understanding of what specific research is required to provide what farmers need to make the transition,” Dr Christensen explained.

“SWCC and our project partners will work with a broad spectrum of stakeholders to identify the key information gaps and provide strategic guidance on what research should be given priority government investment.”

The eight-month project will begin with intensive consultation by each of WA’s seven NRM regions to determine the specific research needs of transitioning farmers in their respective regions.

A specialist panel of NRM regional representatives, key farmers, agronomists, industry groups, the banking and insurance industries, and university researchers will then be convened to prioritise the information gathered by the regions for the key agriculture industries (broadacre cropping, orchards, vegetable cropping, livestock) and produce a strategic research investment plan based on robust community consultation.

Dr Christensen said the capability of all NRM regions and their partners would be improved by having access to this plan, resulting in better targeted research investment and improved management advice.

“The final outcome will be that farmers will feel confident in making the transition to regenerative farming which will have substantial flow-on effects for the broader community in food quality and food security,” he said.

For further information about the project, contact SWCC on 9724 2400 or [email protected]

This project has been supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State Natural Resource Management Program, supported by Royalties for Regions.

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