The South West Sustainable Farming project aims to improve agricultural soil health, production and profits, and the quality of broader environmental services, through supporting farmers to demonstrate how farming practices affect soil health and production.
Small-scale trials are designed to demonstrate whether the practice is appropriate for particular farming systems and if it is environmentally and financially beneficial. If proven beneficial, the farmer can incorporate the sustainable practice across a larger area with confidence.
The trials and demonstrations have been initiated by the farmers themselves and are supported by local community and Landcare groups. Therefore, they are relevant to the local area and conditions, and have been designed with local soil constraints in mind.
Some 19 demonstrations have been funded under this project across 27 farms throughout the South West, covering an area of 1062 hectares. Practices being trialled include: under-sowing kikuyu under cereal crops; grazing rotations to improve groundcover; trialling various salt tolerant perennials; using feedlot waste to increase organic matter in saline areas; using keyline farming to improve soil moisture and reduce erosion; using sheep and chickens to control pests and weeds in an organic vineyard; using perennial pastures to fill the autumn feed gap; trialling new salt tolerant annual messina; composting; and implementing biological farming practices on a network of farms.
All demonstrations have a strong focus on communicating the demonstration results to other farmers via field days, workshops and case studies. These events and resources are designed to support and assist additional farmers to adopt these practices.
Host farmers, 86 other farmers and 51 community members have attended nine field days and workshops. All events have had strong community support and interest from farmers who are eagerly awaiting the second year results. The project has also engaged or partnered with 21 community and industry groups, which has significantly strengthened engagement and resulted in the dissemination of information to a wide range of farmers.
A further 11 events will be held in 2015-16 focusing on the design and results of the existing demonstration sites. The events will include crop walks, field days, workshops and agricultural show stands.
“It’s been interesting – in my lifetime we have gone from the tillage time now to the minimum till and chemical time and they are all starting to go back to, and discover, tillage actually kills the resistant grass weeds and breaks up compaction. It’s a matter of getting the balance of everything.”
Ian McDougall, Wagin farmer.
- Busselton Marybrook Grower Group
- DE King & VJ Nix
- Dumbleyung Landcare Zone
- Evergreen Farming
- Intuit Earth
- Katanning LCDC
- Kuser Singe Trust
- Myalup Trust
- North Stirling Pallinup Natural Resources
- Primary Business Services
- Shire West Arthur
- TG & RC Browne
- Wagin Woodanilling Landcare Zone
- Warren Catchments Council
- Winterbrook Farm
22 farms adopting practices
27 farms adopting practices
660ha with improved practices
1062ha with improved practices