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WELCOME!
Issue 14 - 15 April 2020
Message from RALF

Hello again,

I hope everyone is coping with the new ways we interact with each other to help minimise the spread of COVID-19 (Coronavirus).


In this edition, I have included an update of information on assistance available as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic along with details on how to have your say on the new Wollondilly Rural Lands Strategy and links to resources, webinars and funding opportunities relevant to small farms.

If you know someone who might be interested in joining the Greater Sydney Small Farms network, they can registe
HERE. To provide ideas on how the Greater Sydney Small Farms network can help you, please email or phone me on 0436 803 337
Regards,

Richard Stephens
Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF) 
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COVID-19 assistance

For the latest Coronavirus news, updates and advice from government agencies across Australia, click HERE.

The NSW Government has announced three economic packages aimed at keeping people in jobs, helping businesses and supporting our most vulnerable. The key elements include:
  • Package One includes $450 million for the waiver of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million for three months (the rest of 2019-20) and $56 million to bring forward the next round of payroll tax cuts by raising the threshold limit to $1 million in 2020-21.
  • Package Two contains: the creation of a $1 billion Working for NSW fund to sustain business, create new jobs and retrain employees; an additional three-month deferral of payroll tax for businesses with payrolls of up to $10 million; deferral of payroll tax for business with payrolls over $10 million for six months (up to $4 billion deferred); and a range of other support packages for business, health and the community.
  • Package Three includes $750 million into the Small Business Support Fund to help keep small businesses afloat. Eligible small businesses can receive grants of up to $10,000. 
For more information on these packages and eligibility criteria, click HERE or call Service NSW 24/7 on 13 77 88.

The Australian Government Business website provides Coronavirus information and support for business, including financial assistance, eligibility and timing for the new government support for Australian businesses while the Australian Taxation Office website provides details of available taxation relieve.

Hort Innovation, website, has compiled information and resources to help growers in the horticulture industry including: Confirmation that agriculture is an essential service, Continuing to operate in these circumstances for horticulture businesses and workers, Safety of horticultural produce, and more.

Beyond Blue, website, has a number of tailored resources  to assist people, including a dedicated ‘Coping with the Corona Virus’ thread in online forums and 'Practical tips and advice' about managing feelings of uncertainty, stress and anxiety associated with COVID-19. You can also call 1300 22 4636.
NEWS
Building resilient landscapes after fire, drought and erosion
While most landholders have been enjoying relatively good rainfall recently, many are now trying to remediate damage caused by fire, drought and/or erosion. These issues were covered in a workshop held on the Southern Tablelands (before Coronavirus physical distancing restrictions came into force), with one of the most common questions being “How do I prioritise my erosion control activities?”

Andy Taylor from South East Local Land Services suggested using Six Maps to calculate the catchment size above an erosion point and prioritising groundworks on the gullies with the largest catchment. You can slow water higher in the landscape by using grazing management to maintain ground cover and sediment traps to slow water run off.

Also, understanding your soil type is vital for remediating erosion. Sodic soils are highly erodible, and protecting the topsoil is critical to preventing erosion. Information about your soil type can be looked up on eSpade along with soil testing results for your area.

In some instances, dams and rivers were adversely affected by debris from ash, soil and dung after extreme climatic events. Sediment traps above dams that use  vegetation, rocks or a sediment fence to slow down the movement of water ensure debris is dropped in the trap before the water reaches the dam, improving water quality.

The intensity of the recent bushfires may have depleted the seed bank within the soil. Generally speaking, native grasses have evolved with fire and will recover better than introduced species of grasses. Perennial grasses with deeper root system can also recover well, depending on how hot the soil surface became.

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Click HERE for a handy guide to managing erosion after fire, written by Andy Taylor. 
Click HERE for a selection of workshops notes and handy hints regarding building resilient landscapes after fire and drought.
Farmers protecting food security during COVID-19
Australian farmers and people working in agriculture are scrambling to protect food and fibre production from the threat of a COVID-19 shutdown. COVID-19 restrictions are a challenge for all businesses, especially those requiring itinerant and seasonal labour. Safe Work Australia  recommends splitting workers' shifts, staggering meal breaks, communicating using mobile phones or two-ways and reviewing tasks that require people to work in close proximity. Click HERE.
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Wollondilly Rural Lands Strategy
Wollondilly Shire Council has engaged Localé Consulting to develop a Rural Lands Strategy to help with planning policy and decisions  for rural lands. A range of issues will be considered in the Strategy, including agricultural and rural land-use, transport and infrastructure while incorporating social, cultural, economic and environmental values. Wollondilly landholders are encouraged to complete a simple survey and have their say in their Rural Lands Strategy, click HERE.
Love the smell of healthy soil?
We all recognise the delicious, earthy smell of healthy soil or recoil when we smell a soil that we just know isn’t right. Using these aromas, researchers from the University of Tasmania (UTAS) are working with farmers and leading a Soil CRC project to develop an electronic nose (the ‘eNose’) to help monitor and diagnose soil health. This project will provide an important new way to assess and monitor the health of soil microbial communities on-farm. For more information, click HERE. 
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LLS board elections 2020
Voting to elect Local Land Service (LLS) board members, including for the Greater Sydney region, is now open. Rural ratepayers can have their say on who represents them on their local LLS Board. While all LLS ratepayers are eligible to vote, you need to let LLS know that you want to receive an electronic voting pack, which can be requested up until 5:00 pm Wednesday 6 May 2020. Click 
HERE. Voting closes 5:00 pm Friday 8 May 2020.
WEBINARS, SHORT COURSES & EVENTS
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Free online short courses by TAFE
TAFE NSW are offering 21 free online short courses to assist job seekers and workers looking to diversify their skills, and businesses in hibernation to up skill their workers.  Short courses include: eMarketing for Small Business; Engaging Customers Using Social Media; Writing and Presentation Skills; Computing Skills; Team Leader Skill Set; Administration Skills for Team Leader. Click HERE.
Online Farm Biodiversity Forums
Funding for an Australian Farm Biodiversity Scheme has been announced which aims to reward farmers for managing biodiversity on farm through market-based mechanisms. Phase one involves a series of online consultative forums from now until 7 May 2020 to identify critical success factors. Click HERE.
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Producer 'Back to Business' Webinar Series
Hosted by Meat and Livestock (MLA), Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and AWI Sheep Connect NSW, 12 webinars are being provided to  support livestock producers during these challenging times. The 12 hour-long webinars have already started and will be held every Tuesday at 1:00 pm over 12 weeks and offer resources and support to help those impacted by recent events to get "Back to Business". Click
HERE  for the schedule of topics and click HERE to register.
Natural Sequence Farming
Expressions of interest are being taken for a partly sponsored ($1500) place on a
Tarwyn Park Training Natural Sequence Farming course held at Mulloon Creek. The sponsorship is a generous donation from Cheryl Whittaker in memory of Alan Eagle and in recognition of his work and leadership of the Hawkesbury Harvest. Eligible farmers need to be from the Hawkesbury region and currently farming in the Greater Sydney basin.
To apply please complete the
Expression of Interest form.
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FUNDING

NOTE: Significant government funding is available to help business and individuals deal with the COVID-19 outbreak. Please refer to the first article in this newsletter.
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Post bushfire habitat restoration grants
WIRES and Landcare Australia have announced a $1million partnership supporting the recovery of wildlife habitats impacted by bushfire and drought across Australia. These grants provide eligible Landcare networks and community groups access to grants of up to $20,000 for activities such as 
post fire habitat restoration, installation and monitoring of nest boxes and revegetation of habitat and food trees for native fauna. Applications close 30 April, click HERE.
Churchill fellowships​​
Applications are now open for the 2020 Churchill Fellowships that supports people from diverse backgrounds to explore best practice anywhere in the world for up to eight weeks. Over 100 Fellowships are awarded each year. In 2020 two recipients interested in agriculture will also receive additional mentoring, networking and development opportunities from the NFF. Applications close 30 April, click HERE.
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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. To apply for the grant simply click HERE, complete the form, or call 1300 778 080.

RESEARCH

NSW Pig Health and Biosecurity project 
NSW Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Services are keen to understand what is important to pig owners and producers when thinking about protecting their pigs from pests and diseases.The findings of the survey will be used to develop practical and tailored tools to boost on-farm biosecurity tools and practices to prevent the introduction and spread of pests, weeds and diseases. The 10 minute survey is for owners of pet pigs and/or producers, click HERE.
https://thebridgehub.co/problem
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Birds in backyards
Now we all have more time at home, why not help BirdLife Australia find out how our urban birds are doing by submitting a Birds in Backyards survey?  Birds in Backyards surveys can be submitted at any time, and as often as you like. To get involved, or download the free Birdata app, click HERE.
Farm Biosecurity Program
Every couple of years the Farm Biosecurity Program, run by Plant Health Australia and Animal Health Australia, conducts a national phone survey of about 1200 producers. Both crop and livestock producers are asked what they think about biosecurity, what kind of information they need and how they like to receive it. To be involved or to learn what  biosecurity measures are being used on farm, click HERE.
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RESOURCES

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Visualising Australasia's Soils
Visualising Australasia's Soils (VAS) is a place to discover and share soils information, activities and research from Australia and New Zealand. VAS is a community resource and welcomes input and contribution. VAS brings together soil related datasets and information created and managed by government agencies and organisations, industry groups, community groups and individuals. Search for soil data in the Greater Sydney region by clicking 
HERE. 
Soil carbon simple guide
The Clean Energy Regulator has released a soil carbon simple guide to support farmers in running a soil carbon project. It provides step-by-step instructions on how to register, run and report on a soil carbon project and shows how farmers and landholders can regenerate their land, grow soil carbon stocks and earn an income from carbon credits. Land management practices, such as rejuvenating pasture, changing to holistic grazing practices or reduced tilling can provide a financial return. 
For more information, click
HERE.
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5 Tools to connect online while in lockdown 
As COVID-19 forces more people to stay home, technology is helping everyone to connect. Five online conference and chat forums include:
Microsoft Teams combines workplace chat, video meetings, file storage, and more. Skype offers free online calls, messaging and low cost international phone calls. FaceTime is a video/phone app for apple users on iOS mobile devices and Macintosh computers. Google Hangouts is the android equivalent of FaceTime. Houseparty is a social networking service enabling group video chatting through mobile and desktop apps for both iOS and Android users. For an overview, click HERE.
Peri-urban Environmental Biosecurity Network (PEBN)
The PEBN provides a platform to connect small landholders in peri-urban communities and experts in environmental biosecurity to work together in protecting our environment. The network helps learning  about exotic pests and diseases that may show up on your farm or local native patch and provides reporting tools, apps and activities so you and your family can get involved. Join the network HERE, or via Facebook HERE.
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This project is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program. 
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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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Lvl 4, 2-6 Station Street
Penrith
NSW
2750
Australia
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