Funded through the Sustainable Agriculture stream of the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, the Regional Landcare Facilitator works with agricultural industry groups in the Port Phillip and Western Port region, particularly those with existing environmental programs for their industry, to deliver a variety of activities that engage and support their constituent farmers to learn more about sustainable agriculture, indigenous values and the adoption of sustainable practices.
The Regional Landcare Facilitator:
- Works with members of the target industry organisations to identify obstacles to adoption of key sustainable land management practices, opportunities to trial and demonstrate new and emerging practices on-farm
- Deliver events such as field days, workshops and seminars to facilitate peer learning and promote the wider adoption of these practices
- Circulates information on relevant information sessions, learning opportunities producer updates and financial incentives that support adoption of sustainable practices
- Supports the development of industry leaders to increase their knowledge and capacity to trial and promote emerging and innovative sustainable farm practices to a wider audience.
Current and past trials and demonstrations
Compost Under Vines Trial
This three year project aimed is to assess whether the application of compost mulch under vines would reduce weed densities and herbicide use, improve water use efficiency and soil health and reduce vine stress on extreme heat days.
It trialled fine compost and compost mulch from urban green waste (in comparison with a control) in a 100cm wide strip under the vines at four vineyards on the Mornington Peninsula.
The trial was funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and was run in conjunction with the Western Port Catchment Landcare Network, the Mornington Peninsula Vignerons Association and the Australian Organics Recycling Association.
The final year of the trial is now complete and interesting results have been recorded and observed.
Native Insectarium Trial
The concept of planting flowering native vegetation to provide nectar and habitat for beneficial insects is a simple farm practice that can be achieved with relatively low cost. The potential economic gain easily counteracts the short-term outlay with long term financial advantages with reduced labour and pesticide inputs.
With re-vegetation a part of good farm practice, incorporating native plants that provide excellent habitat for beneficial insects into re-vegetation projects will vastly improve conservation biological control as a crucial mechanism for good integrated pest management.
A lot of research on this topic has been done in the past by Retallack Viticulture in South Australia, but other than a single vineyard in the Pyrenese, there didn’t seem to be much known about the practice in Victoria. The PPWCMA’s Regional Landcare Facilitator has used the South Australian research to design a simple on-farm trial with Fielderberry Farm in Cockatoo, with the aim that it could be easily replicated by growers in the Port Phillip and Western Port region.
Native Grass Seed Trial
In partnership with Red Hill Cherry Farm and Native Seeds Pty Ltd and supported by the Australian Government’s National Landcare program, the Regional Landcare Facilitator is running a trial site using native grasses as a mid-row perennial groundcover to improve management practices such as soil stability, herbicide use and pest management.
The trial is using two native grasses in combination to improve groundcover, especially in the winter months when tractor tyres can chew up the annual pasture grasses and weeds and cause problems. Native grasses, being clumping plants will provide better soil stability and can help reduce these problems.
Queensland Fruit Fly awareness
The Queensland Fruit Fly is a devastating horticultural pest. The female fruit fly lays her eggs in fruit and vegetables. The damaged fruit and veggies rot inside while the eggs mature into larvae, making the produce inedible and unsaleable. The lifecycle continues when the larvae move into the ground, pupate, and mature into adult fruit flies. Fruit fly populations can increase in number very quickly and the damage to fruit can extend into neighbouring properties, or even across the region.
The Port Phillip and Western Port region is home to many valuable horticultural production properties (particularly in the Yarra Valley and Mornington Peninsula) and great home gardens with edible produce, which need to be protected. The Regional Landcare Facilitator works peak industry bodies and farmers to educate the community on Queensland Fruit Fly’s impact.
To find out more about the role and work of the Regional Landcare Facilitator, contact Karen Thomas on 8781 7945, 0427 780 170 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The project is supported by the PPWCMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.