The Sustainable Agriculture project builds the capacity of farmers to adopt sustainable agricultural and land management practices in the Port Phillip and Western Port region. The five year project running between 2013-18 is funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme.
The project engages predominantly grazing farmers in the identification of obstacles to adoption of sustainable agricultural practices that offer the greatest potential for ecosystem service benefits in the region and improve productivity on farm. This is done by working with farmer discussion groups, establishing on-farm trails and demonstrations coupled with farmer engagement and capacity building activities to increase their adoption rates of practices that primarily prevent livestock damage to native vegetation.
The project has seven project focus areas, which were identified based on national, state and regional environmental priorities, as well as agricultural land use assessments. It is also prject into two regions, east and west, and each have their own dedicated project coordinator.
The Port Phillip & Westernport CMA has established a number of farmer discussion groups across the region. The farmer discussion groups give local farmers the opportunity to meet regularly and discuss sustainable land management practices, as well as share information on their own work and experiences and provide support for one another.
Farmers that have joined a group have enjoyed the experience of being able to discuss issues, concerns and new innovative farming practices with one another and applying new techniques to their own properties in order to make them more efficient and sustainable.
Demonstrations and trials showcase sustainable farming methods located throughout the region. The results of the trials are communicated through field days, discussion group activities and case studies.
Trials and demonstrations sites are selected through an expression of interest process. Potential sites need to complete a Sustainable agriculture demonstration trial site expression of interest form (Word – 621KB) and are assessed by a committee to ensure they meet the criteria.
Capacity building activities
Capacity building activities such as workshops and field days are held regularly to engage and educate farmers on sustainable land management practices that provide an alternative to grazing livestock in native vegetation. Some topics have included:
- Shade and shelter for livestock
- Preparing for dry conditions
- Regenerative farming
- Biodiversity on farms
- Native pasture
- Farm planning.
Other capacity building activities are also undertaken with farmer discussion groups to increase leadership capacity and build skills, knowledge and confidence of farmers to promote sustainable agriculture practices.
To find out more about Sustainable Agriculture in the Port Phillip and Western Port catchment, contact Anthony Dufty (West) on 03 9971 6506 or Sarah Halligan (East) on 03 8781 7900.