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Goal setting essential for future farming
4 Mar 2015
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Over 100 farmers and agricultural industry staff attended the third annual Future Farming Expo held in Moama on Wednesday 4 March. A partnership between the North Central CMA, Goulburn Broken CMA and Murray Landcare, the Expo explored a range of sustainable farming topics. Bush poet Tammy Muir from Barmah was the MC for the day and entertained participants with his gift for spinning a yarn.

Wool industry legend and farmer Charlie Massy (OAM) was the first speaker for the day and discussed the challenges facing farmers and communities today from climate variability to unhealthy eating to inappropriate farming methods. Charlie suggested regenerative agricultural practices as a way of building farm resilience, enhancing our natural resources and benefitting our communities. Practices included holistic grazing management, biological agriculture, pasture cropping, water management approaches such as natural sequence farming, integrated agroforestry and edible shrubs. A key to achieving regenerative farming systems is for farmers to focus on their ideas and goals, rather than just technology, as they will have the most influence on the future of farming.

Soil scientist Declan McDonald was the second keynote speaker for the day and also presented on regenerative agriculture. Declan suggested that farmers, researchers and industry needed to be more proactive and focus on regenerating agriculture to increase soil health and farm profitability, rather than just putting bandaids on the problems of declining natural resources, high input costs and decreasing terms of trade. Firstly, farmers need to get strategic about where they want to be and understand their soils so they can make profitable decisions. Soils are critical to sustainable and profitable farming systems, as they are the main resource upon which a farm is built. When you buy a farm you may get a few fences and buildings but what you’re really buying is the soil.  

Nutrient use efficiency in farming systems is low. For example, nitrogen use efficiency on Victorian dairy farmers is only about 35%, which means we’re not fully capitalising on our investments in fertilisers as more than half of the nutrients applied are lost. Well-structured soils with good groundcover will hold onto nutrients and cycle them.  Enhancing nutrient use efficiency in the long term through increased organic matter and improved soil structure will help farmers feed more people with less.

Following the keynote presentations, participants split into groups attending concurrent sessions on nine different topics including the secrets of climate models, visual soil assessments, rabbit management and irrigation modernisation. Local farmer Katrina Myers from Barham Avocados discussed marketing your farm business online, from building your brand to selling online using social media, websites and blogging. A key to success online is to develop your story, as consumers crave information on where their food comes from, who grows it and how it’s grown.  Online marketing and sales also improves your wholesale price as your brand is more widely recognised.

 

Tags
Climate change Resilience Rural Agriculture Community Education Farming NRM
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