Issue 45 - 1July 2022
Message from RALF

​​Hi everyone,

You have probably already heard that Varroa mite has been discovered in NSW, and unfortunately it is spreading. All beekeepers need to be vigilant and regularly check the latest update.

Planning amendments to the NSW agritourism and small-scale agricultural development policy are currently being consider and NSW Farmers is conducting a 
survey to gather information from farmers on this issue.

Also in this edition; watch out for your
Annual Land and Stock Return, sign up for a TAFE course in agriculture or conservation and ecosystem management, register your interest for receiving a cash bonus for sustainable farming practices or sign up to the Farmstyle Facebook group.

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

Richard Stephens
Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF) 

Varroa mite

Unfortunately, Varroa mite (Varroa destructor) has been found in NSW. Varroa mite is a bee parasite and has the potential to devastate our honey and pollination industries.

Initially detected near the Port of Newcastle just two weeks ago, it has now been found in Calga, near Gosford, and Bulahdelah.

All beekeepers should regularly check the latest update
HERE, and use the online map to determine if you are in a biosecurity zone.

All beekeepers within the eradication, surveillance and notification zones need to report your hive, preferably online by completing the Beekeeper Notifications - Varroa mite online form

If you detect Varroa mite, call the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline to report your detection on 1800 084 881 (9am to 5pm, 7 days a week).

There are two methods for detecting Varroa mite in hives, an 'Alcohol check' and the 'Sugar shake'. 

Varroa mite (Varroa destructor)
Planning admendmants for Agriculture

Proposed changes to
NSW agritourism and small-scale agricultural development policy is currently under consideration. Businesses that run roadside fruit stalls, pick-your-own, cafes and farm stay accommodation may be affected.

While some farmers has expressed concern around proposed amendments, the NSW Department of Planning and Environment are wanting to make it easier for farmers to use their land in new and innovative ways to complement their existing businesses. 

NSW Farmers are discussing these concerns to make sure that there aren’t unintended or problematic consequences. If these changes may impact you, you can provide NSW Farmers with important information about your specific concerns through their survey.

Farm census day
You should have already received your Annual Land and Stock Return (ALSR) in your letterbox. Essentially they are a ‘farm census’ on 30 June providing information on land use and livestock numbers across NSW to help plan for threats like bushfire, flood, drought, biosecurity concerns. Landholders with no livestock still need to complete the form and livestock over six months old must be counted, whether owned, agisted or even pets. Pigs of any age must be counted, as well as flocks of 100 or more poultry. Click HERE.
Rewarding farmers for environmental improvements

A farmer mutual has been set up to reward producers financially for the environmental improvements they make. The aim is to create tangible ways to benchmark improvements to biodiversity and/or soil on blocks of land. Mapping the land and verifying improvement over time can lead to receiving funds for sequestering carbon and/or biodiversity improvements. Click HERE. 
Drones for planting trees, spot spraying and monitoring pests
Drone technology has improved exponentially over the last few years and can be used for anything from monitoring feral animals, seed dispersal in rough terrain to spot spraying chemicals. However, to use drones effectively for these technical applications, extensive training is required. Click HERE to learn how drones can track feral pigs and other pests, click HERE to read how giant drones can plant 40,000 tree pods a day.
Managing pest animals with coordinated baiting 
Landholders in the Sydney basin have been working together to control wild dogs, foxes and rabbits. For wild dog and fox control, landholders can be issued with 1080 bait if their property is at least 5 hectares and meet various distance restrictions. If you are interested in participating in future baiting programs, please contact your nearest Biosecurity Officer: 0417 235 366 (Central Coast); 0438 073 749 (Hills/Western Sydney/Blue Mountains); 0408 703 049 (Macarthur)
New dung beetle
The third and final dung beetle species imported to Australia as part of the Dung Beetle Ecosystem Engineer project is finally here. The new dung beetle species, Gymnopleurus sturmi, is a roller, which takes a chunk of dung, shapes it into a ball and rolls it away to bury it. The two previous species, O. vacca and O. andalusicus, are tunnellers, which burrow dung straight into the ground to house eggs and feed larva on. Click HERE. 
Can diesel fuel farming for ever?
NSW DPI’s John O’Connor believes substituting renewable diesel for petroleum diesel is a pathway to reduce reliance on imported, high emissions petroleum diesel as it is compatible with many existing diesel-powered farm machinery and vehicles. Other alternative fuels to diesel, such as biodiesel and hydrogen, and battery and hydrogen fuel cell electric technologies are also possibilities. Click
Draft water sharing plan for metropolitan groundwater
Public exhibition of the draft Water Sharing Plan for the Greater Metropolitan Groundwater Sources Plan 2023 will run from Monday, 27 June to Sunday, 7 August 2022.
water sharing plan establishes rules for water management including the limit of the total volume of water that can be extracted from the groundwater sources in the Greater Metropolitan region. click HERE.
TAFE Courses at Richmond  
Beginning in July 2022, TAFE NSW Richmond Campus is offering various courses in agriculture, conservation and ecosystem management. Learn about being a Jillaroo or Jackaroo in Certificate II in Agriculture, discover what is needed in to be farm or station worker in Certificate III in Agriculture or identify weeds and native plants, support biodiversity conservation and learn about revegetation in Certificate III Conservation & Ecosystem Management.
Soil Masterclass 
Learn how to harness the life in your soils for better farming outcomes. The two day masterclass on 8-9 August at Richmond is to be run by Western Sydney University. It will cover: soil biology and agriculture; diversity and functions of soil microbes; nutrient cycling, plant and microbial interactions; soil fauna and integrating soil health methods into practice. Fees apply. Registrations close 20 July, 2022, click
Interested in designing the new Landcare program?
Do you have an interest in Landcare and want to have a say about the next NSW Landcare program, 2023 to 2027? Attend the Parramatta stakeholder engagement workshop, 10am to 2pm, Wednesday 20 July. Open to all stakeholders who have a vested interest in Landcare in NSW. Additionally there is an online workshop on 11 July 2022 available for stakeholder input. Click HERE to register for either session. 

Central Coast Industry Festival
The Central Coast Industry Festival, 22 August to 3 September, will be the largest event for manufacturers and agricultural production companies ever held on the Central Coast. It aims to build business resilience against disruptions such as bushfires, floods and the COVID pandemic. Presentations, workshops, networking opportunities and a 3 day industry expo, 1 to 3 September, will showcase the best Central Coast manufacturers and food producers. Click HERE.
National renewables in Agriculture
This conference and expo will cover on-farm renewables and how farmers can cut costs and emissions. To be held in Albury on 18 August, a wide range of experts will cover future farm vehicles, energy sharing, batteries, grazing under solar, bioenergy and hydrogen. An optional field trip is also planned for 19 August, (limited tickets). For more information, click HERE.
Accounting for Nature
What is 'environmental accounting' and what can it be used for? This one day workshop, 26 August 2022, will be held in the Hawkesbury region. To be presented by Amanda Hansson and Chrissy Elmer from Accounting for Nature. Learn about environmental condition and how is it measured, account stratification, aggregating field data, certification as well as measuring the condition of native vegetation, soils and fauna. Numbers will be limited, register your interest HERE.
2022 National Landcare Conference - Sydney 
“The Power of Landcare - Shaping Our Future” conference has six concurrent streams; Landcare Farming and Emerging Environmental Markets, Environment and Climate Change, Community Partnerships in Action, Landcare Impact, Urban Landcare and First Nations Peoples. Be there at Darling Harbour or join virtually,  24 to 25 August 2022,  and tours will be held on 23 August. Early bird registrations close 10 July, click HERE.


Cash bonus for sustainable farming practices
NSW farmers could access up to $135,000 to adopt sustainable farming practices under a green accreditation scheme that could see their products fetch premium prices in overseas markets. Fencing for dam and riparian areas, restoring habitat, rotating crops and using best-practice feed and fertiliser practices are among farming practices that could earn farmers accreditation.
Details of the program are still being developed, register your interest HERE. 
Community wellbeing grants 
After a difficult few years, the Nepean - Blue Mountains PHN Community Wellbeing and Resilience Grants are now available. These $5,000 grants are designed to build on existing connections as well as create new links and support networks. They will enable communities to choose how to respond to the losses, anxiety and distress they have experienced, as well as actively participate in their recovery. Social connection events, community workshops, information sharing and skills development are examples of eligible activities. Click HERE.
Agmentation 2022 
Agmentation brings together high school students, UNE students and researchers, start-ups and other businesses, producers, innovators and technologists to combine ideas and scope solutions. Teams solve problems that matter to agricultural producers and rural communities. The winning team receives $5000 to take their idea to the next level! Gather at the UNE SMART Farm Innovation Centre on 28&29 July, click 


Pest animal and weed management survey
Owners and managers of agricultural properties are being asked to provide vital information about pest animal and weed management in Australia. The data collected will be used to assist in planning and managing pest animals and weeds across Australia. A wide spread of respondents are required to ensure a good outcome. For further information, click HERE.

Biological defleecing trials
New trials on biological or chemical defleecing suggest it could now be viable. The wool industry has invested $1.4 million into its development and many farmers are now desperate for new ways of harvesting wool amid a shortage of shearers. The process uses a compound to create a weak point in the wool fibre, making it easy to harvest without losing the entire fleece in the paddock. For more information, click HERE.
Eat local produce! Climate impact of food miles greater than previously believed.
Transporting food from where it is produced to our dinner plates creates at least triple the amount of greenhouse gas emissions as previously estimated. Scientists analysed 74 countries/regions and 37 different types of food, finding "food miles” are likely responsible for about 6% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. Richer countries accounted for 46% of the emissions from food miles, serving just 12.5% of the world’s population.
Beef industry making progress on net zero
The Australian  beef industry claims to be making progress on tackling climate change with emissions down by 58 per cent since 2005. Ground cover across farming areas is at 80 per cent, land clearing has slowed, biodiversity is growing and meat processors have diverted 2.39m tonnes of waste from landfill. The Beef Sustainability Framework is a key tool to ensure high-quality beef that is  sustainably produced. Click HERE.
Value adding of local food and agribusiness
The Food and Agribusiness Growth Centre (FIAL) has identified huge growth opportunities in the food and agriculture sector through value adding. The report found the NSW agricultural sector employed 135,000 people as of February last year, but that could grow by 65 per cent if value-adding opportunities were realised. By investing in value-adding, NSW farmers can produce ready-for-sale products instead of raw ingredients, and in turn create more jobs and more economic activity. Click HERE.
Global survey on city region food systems
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aims to identify responses to shocks and stresses that increase the resilience and sustainability of city region food systems. The survey aims to better understand the impacts of the pandemic, identify concrete individual actions and collective initiatives, identify important characteristics of your city region food system and determine what contributes to increasing the resilience and sustainability of your food system. Click 


Farmstyle Australia
Looking for specialised small farm advice? Farmstyle is an online community for small and hobby farmers to learn anything about farming and country living. The Farmstyle Facebook discussion group has over 18,000 members and provides an online forum for you to post your questions. Farmstyle also offers on-farm consulting and even pre purchase inspections. For more information, or to join, click HERE. 
Back to soil basics
Agrifutures have published a series of factsheets on soil basics. Click on these factsheets links:
Land use of Australia

A detailed data package of land use changes across Australia between 2010-11 to 2015-16 has been released. With a resolution down to 250m, it provides a spatial representation of how Australia land resources are be used and what changes are happening. The agricultural land uses are based on the agricultural census data and assisted by spatial constraint layers for cultivation, horticulture, and irrigation. Click HERE.        
Farm biosecurity planner 
The best defence against pests and diseases is to implement sound biosecurity practices on your farm. Quick and simple measures built into everyday practice will help protect your farm and your future. Use the
Farm Biosecurity Action Planner to assess the risks on your farm and to take steps to address them. Refer to the planner periodically to check on progress and prioritise actions. Click HERE. 
Eat Weeds
There is food within 3 metres of your front door. 'Eat Weeds' shows you how to engage with wild food sources, transforming your neighbourhood into an edible adventure. This informative book has 220 pages with 240 images and drawings. There are recipes and a foreword by Costa Georgiadis. Available from local bookstores or online, click HERE.  
Best farming systems webinars 
The latest free webinar recorded by Best Farming Systems & Re-Gen Farming is by Michael Gooden, Advisor for RCS and Owner of Old Man Creek Cattle Stud. In this webinar, Michael talks about his personal and professional experiences with gazing management. Access this webinar or others in the series HERE.
The Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool
DR.SAT, the Drought Resilience Self-Assessment Tool, enables farmers to assess their resilience, monitor land via satellite imagery and remote sensed data, access climate projections and build resilience. Developed by the Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, DR.SAT was co developed with farmers and many other stakeholders. New features are coming in July!. Click HEREor take part in the DR.SAT survey HERE.
Local sustainable food systems 
Regional Development Australia (ACT) has developed  a local sustainable food system for Canberra. Based on extensive national and international research and data, it leverages shorter supply chains to help ensure that high-quality nutritious food can keep flowing without disruption. The approach could be replicated throughout Australia through collaborating local government, businesses, farmers and philanthropy. Click
Managing erosion before and after floods
Flooding can cause significant riverbank erosion, especially if there is limited vegetation  binding the soil. There are a range of measures land managers can do to repair erosion damage that will also ensure riverbanks, floodplains and gullies are better protected against future flooding events. Healthy riparian zones (the land alongside creeks, streams, gullies, rivers and wetlands) can support clean water by filtering and trapping sediment and nutrients, stabilise banks and provide habitat for plants and animals. Click HERE.
Fire and water, healing country and people
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) recently broadcast excerpts from a Landcare Australia film about Traditional Owners and cultural burning practices in Australia. The film includes interviews with Victor Steffensen, a descendant of the Tagalaka people and Indigenous fire practitioner, as he explains how cultural burns can help manage the land while reducing fuel load and destructive wildfires. Watch the film on YouTube
HERE or view the BBC Facebook post 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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