While most of us are hoping next year won’t be as challenging as 2020, the feature article below outlines some lessons we might all learn from the year that was. Also in this edition, two major biosecurity alerts for local landholders with Serpentine leafminer and Fall army worm discovered in the region; have your say on the Western Sydney Aerotropolis plan; learn about the soil quality website and get the latest seasonal outlook for summer as well as longer term climatic trends. If you know someone who might be interested in joining the Greater Sydney Small Farms network, they can register HERE. To view previous newsletters, click HERE. To provide ideas on how the Greater Sydney Small Farms network can help you, please email or phone me on 0436 803 337
I wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas and a prosperous new year!
Richard Stephens Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF)
Lessons from a hard year
Running a small farm is never easy, and the past few years have been particularly challenging. Impacts from severe drought, fire, floods and corona virus have required resilience on a scale we haven't experienced before.
So what are the most valuable lessons rural communities have learned after living through these challenging times? According to ABC News, the lessons are:
Maintain ground cover
Don't fear destocking
'Don't count your chickens'
Look after each other
Some help is hard to come by
Don't be complacent when it rains.
Farmer Jo O'Brien [right], with daughter Harriet, says hard times taught her to "just breathe" and look after yourself, family and friends. "If you look back on what we've come through, I think we can take on just about anything!".
My Landcare Legacy
The ‘My Landcare Legacy’ campaign has been launched and is the first step in building broader recognition of Landcarers who have been developing and supporting adoption of improved practices in Australian agriculture for over 30 years.
By simply recording a video, Australian producers and land managers can share with the community why they are passionate about being good stewards of their land – and their vison for our farming future.
The vision is to collect 250 home videos of Australian producers and land managers telling the community why they are passionate about being good stewards of their land – and their vison for our farming future. The snapshots will be two minutes long and answer three questions: My landcare passion is for? My landcare message to others? My landcare legacy will be?
To get involved, click HERE or contact me via email or phone 0436 803 337:
NSW Seasonal Update Drought recovery continued across most of NSW during November 2020, despite a dryer and warmer than average month. A La Niña event has established and will likely persist into February 2021, resulting in a moderate to high probability of above median rainfall across NSW over the next three months. The NSW State Seasonal Update is now available, click HERE.
Soil health award nominations open Nominations are now open for the General Jeffery Soil Health Award and will close on March 31, 2021. The award recognises an individual’s outstanding contribution to improving soil health through: on-ground management practices; extending knowledge or advocating for improved soil management; educating and raising awareness about soil health; promoting better soil health management practices or by providing a platform to promote/encourage improved soil health. Click HERE.
Operation Stock Check NSW Police launched Operation Stock Check in August 2020, resulting in more monitoring of people trucking horses and other livestock around NSW. Be prepared, you are likely to be pulled over and asked by the NSW Police for a Transported Stock Statement (TSS) for the horse you may be moving. If you do not have a TSS with you, or your horse does not meet any of the TSS exemptions, you may be fined. For detailed information, read THIS or for general stock movement information, click HERE.
Serpentine leafminer infestation NSW DPI and Greater Sydney Local Land Services are responding to a confirmed infestation of serpentine leafminer (SLM)
in Western Sydney. SLM look like little black flies and larvae create squiggle trail patterns on plant leaves. While it has been determined that it is not technically feasible to eradicate SLM, immediate reporting of suspected SLM is required to enable containment. Either call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline 1800 084 881, EMAILa photo and your contact details, complete this ONLINE FORM or for more information, click HERE.
Fall army worm alert Landholders are asked to be on the lookout for fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) after an unconfirmed, possible outbreak in Western Sydney. Populations of fall armyworm have already been established in WA, NT and QLD since first being identified in Australia in early 2020. Fall armyworm larvae feed on more than 350 plant species. For more information, how to identify
fall armyworm and how to report suspected cases, click HERE.
Western Sydney Aerotropolis draft plants Draft plans for the Aerotropolis Core, Badgerys Creek, Wianamatta-South Creek, Agribusiness and Northern Gateway Precincts are now on public exhibition until 26 February 2021. The draft precinct plans describe the strategic vision and general objectives, proposed land uses, performance criteria for development of land, and the approach to both infrastructure and water cycle management. Have your say and make a submission by 26 February 2021. Click HERE.
Are Indigenous foods the future? Juru and Kanaka man Gerald Power cultivates many edible native plants, including bush basil, curry myrtle and river mint, in a community garden in Orange NSW. One of his favourite products is a drink made with lemon myrtle and ironbark honey, but he also speaks highly of the versatile warrigal greens, which can be used in stews. or to make a native pesto. All food gardens can have indigenous food, mixed with traditional food as combining these ingredients takes it to another level. Click HERE.
WEBINARS, SHORT COURSES & EVENTS
Stock and waterways webinar Managing stock around waterways is a priority for anyone wanting to protect water quality and restore their creeks, streams and rivers. In this webinar, Rivers of Carbon Program Manager, Lori Gould, will cover practical ways of managing stock around waterways, including fencing, installation of alternative stock water, stock crossings, revegetation and control of pest plants. Being held 11 December, 11.30am-2.30pm,click HEREto register and/or to access the webinar recording.
Improving soil health webinar
The 'Interventions to improve soil health in Australia' webinar is being held on Thursday, 10 December at 12.30pm. Sue Bestow from the Office of the National Soils Advocate will discuss five interventions that have the potential to improve soil health and will be joined by Mick Taylor, Landcare Farming Program Manager, to facilitate the session. Part of the 2021 Landcare Australia Webinar Program, click HEREto register and/or to access the webinar recording.
Eight day holistic management course Inside Outside Management is offering an 8-day holistic management at Gosford on Eagle Ridge Farm. There are four, two days sessions on: 11-12 March; 29-30 April; 27-28 May; and 24-25 June 2021. Learn how to improve profitability, drought resilience, soil fertility and biodiversity. Presented by Brian Wehlburg, fees apply. Email Kerry at [email protected] or click HERE.
Bushfire community wellbeing grants The 2019/20 bushfires were devastating and community spirit is vital for our recovery. Individuals (not organisations or businesses) directly impacted by the 2019/20 bushfires within the Blue Mts, Hawkesbury and Lithgow areas can apply for up to $1000 to conduct an activity that promotes community-led mental health, social and emotional wellbeing. Activities may include community BBQ's, art classes, music lessons, yoga, social events, DIY classes, playgroup, gardening, working bees, nature walks and more! Click HERE.
Farm Innovation Fund
To help farmers improve productivity, manage adverse seasonal conditions and ensure long term sustainability, the NSW Government has committed $1 billion to the Farm Innovation Fund. Farmers can borrow up to a maximum of $1 million per project, with a total of $1 million outstanding at any one time to build on-farm infrastructure, including stock containment areas. In addition, interest charges on Farm Innovation Fund loans for the 2019-20 financial year will be waived. Click HERE.
Boundary fencing funding The NSW Government will help bushfire-affected landholders with the cost of rebuilding boundary fences adjoining public lands. Private landholders who share a boundary with public land and were impacted by the bushfires of late 2019 and early 2020 are eligible to receive up to $5,000 per kilometre to contribute to the replacement of damaged boundary fences. Grants can be issued retrospectively to cover costs already incurred. Click HEREto complete the form, or call 1300 778 080
Biological control for African lovegrass NSW DPI is considering African lovegrass biological control research and is interested in hearing from landholders who have been affected by this weed. African lovegrass is a densely tufted grass which grows in clumps up to 1.2 metres, has naturalised in all states and competes with native and pasture species. If you would like to input, please contact David Officer, NSW DPI Weeds and Pest Animal Research Unit on phone 02 6640 1659 or email [email protected]For more information on African lovegrass, click HERE.
Ground Cover Monitoring for Australia
Ground or vegetation cover reduces soil erosion, increases water infiltration, enables carbon sequestration and contributes to agricultural production of food and fibre. Using satellite imagery, vegetation cover can now be monitored and reported regularly across Australia using the RAPP Map tool. To set and report against soil erosion protection targets for your region read the 'Setting targets for National Landcare Program monitoring and reporting vegetation cover for Australia' 2020 report, click HERE.
Spring active dung beetles The successful establishment of new dung beetle populations under Australian field conditions is challenging. To facilitate establishment with low beetle numbers, Dung Beetle Solutions International took a different approach and started using on-farm nurseries in 2014. By 2020 two new spring active species had been successfully reared in field nurseries, with more on the way. For more information, clickHERE.
Every seed I plant is a wish for tomorrow Earlier this year, the National Pandemic Gardening survey gained over 9,000 responses from gardeners new and old across Australia. The input demonstrated just how crucial food gardening has been through the height of COVID-19, and how central it must be to our recovery. The recommendations based on the survey findings are that edible gardening is absolutely necessary for our economic, physical, and mental health and wellbeing. Read the survey report HERE.
Soil quality website The 'About soil quality' website provides a variety of information on established benchmarked sites identifying and highlighting the nature and extent of soil biological, chemical and physical constraints to production systems. Review the ongoing soil quality monitoring and education program and read the factsheets that have been developed. Click HERE.
Soil biology under the microscope
Farmers and scientists alike recognise that soil biology is an important component in healthy soil. But selecting what to measure and analyse is difficult. This recorded webinar puts under the microscope some of the key methods for measuring ‘who’s there’ in the soil and ‘what are they doing.’ The methods are being applied to Soil CRC field trials to better understand changes in soil biological properties. Presented by Dr Lukas Van Zwieten from NSW Department of Primary Industries, click HERE.
New app for carbon farming Farmers can now better understand the opportunities from carbon farming activities using a farming tool developed by CSIRO. The LOOC-C (‘Look See’) app gives farmers detailed assessments of how their land and farming practices could be eligible for rebates under the Climate Solutions Fund (CSF). It includes soil carbon measurements and gives abatement estimates for CSF methods in Australian Carbon Credit Units. Click HERE.
Yaama everyone! Native grains videos The University of Sydney have released a series of video clip highlights of their research into farming Australian native grains for food, culture and the environment. Aboriginal people have sustainably produced food from native ecosystems for thousands of years, including the world’s oldest bread. To view the previously held webinars, along with some smaller video-clip highlights on the youtube playlist “Native Grains: from Paddock to Plate”, click HERE.
Agriculture and the energy transition With abundant sunshine and wind, regional Australia has the potential to reap enormous rewards from the clean energy transition. Hear how farmers here are already benefiting as well as new research from America on growing crops under solar panels. Hosted by the Renewables in Agriculture Conference and Farmers for Climate Action, the webinar recording is available HERE.
Soil testing methods manual The global soil doctors program promotes the establishment of a farmer-to-farmer training system and aims to build the capacity of smallholder farmers on the practice of sustainable soil management. It provides a set of tools, educational materials and a soil testing methods (STM) manual for preliminary soil analysis. The STM is a collection of locally relevant, and easy to use, soil analyses procedures that can be selected by each area where the program is implemented. Click HERE.
Reducing food safety risks from irrigation water The 'Pathogen Persistence from Paddock to Plate' project, managed by Hort Innovation, has produced a series of webinar recordings, factsheets and guidelines. These include the Reducing Food safety Risks from manures webinar recording, factsheetandguidelines and the Reducing food safety risks from pre-harvest water webinar recording, factsheetand guidelines.
What's the state of Australia's climate?
Co-developed with the Bureau of Meteorology, the sixth, biennial report draws on the latest climate monitoring, science and projection information. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is rising and in 2019, the global average CO2 concentration reached 410 ppm. Despite a decline in global fossil fuel emissions of CO2 in 2020 associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, this will have negligible impact in terms of climate change. Atmospheric CO2 continues to rise, and fossil fuel emissions will remain the principal driver of this growth. ClickHERE.
Investigating the soil food web Something for the kids during the school holidays, did you know the largest living thing on earth is fungi? 'Investigating the soil food web’ is the latest learning activity in the Junior Landcare Learning Centre. Children can explore a sample of soil searching for living things, identify elements of the soil food web, and understand that healthy soil relies on a diverse range of organisms to recycle nutrients. Click HERE. .
This project is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program.
The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing. However, because of advances in knowledge, users are reminded of the need to ensure that the information upon which they rely is up to date and to check the currency of the information with the appropriate officer of Local Land Services or the user’s independent adviser. For updates go to www.lls.nsw.gov.au
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