Building Resilient Agricultural Systems on Kangaroo Island Project
This four year project (2019–23) is using a holistic, systems approach to improving soil health as the basis for building resilient grazing and cropping systems on the Island. It will demonstrate practices and systems that increase ground cover and improve soil carbon and organic matter, which in turn improve water infiltration and plant nutrient availability.
This work also explores and promotes new tools and technologies to improve on-farm decision making and practices, building resilience for a changing climate and helping farming systems to adapt to market demands for more sustainably and ethically-grown food.
The Landscape Board helping improve soil health and supporting agriculture on KI by:
• Tackling Soil Acidity – continuing to support soil testing, providing interpretation and technical advice on what this means for productivity and management action, and maintaining the KI soils database and lime sands sale database.
• Building Soil Health – continuing the strong focus on exploring cost-effective ways of improving soil structure while building soil carbon and soil microbiota for improved production and profitability. Establishing four demonstration sites to enable the monitoring and evaluation of practice change, recording any challenges encountered and how they were addressed, assessing the outcomes and sharing this knowledge.
• Refining grazing management systems – investigating and promoting different approaches to building more diverse, resilient and productive pastures - based on the latest knowledge and science.
• Optimising native vegetation - maintaining and enhancing native vegetation so that it continues to deliver multiple production benefits, including shelter for stock, wind breaks, erosion and runoff control, pest suppression, landscape level resilience, and social amenity benefits.
• Adapting to a changing climate – building local capacity and knowledge, supporting innovative approaches, trialling new technologies, identifying opportunities, and support transition.
• Adapting to a changing market – exploring and promoting ways that local producers can benefit from increasing investor and consumer demand for sustainably and ethically-produced food and fibre. Capitalising on KI’s brand image and maintaining social license to farm.
• Natural Sequence Farming and Keyline Contouring – exploring options for landscape management using contouring and native vegetation to slow water flows, maintaining hydration and nutrients, and restoring ecological function to improve long-term production.
• Tools & Tech – showcasing and promoting the uptake of existing and emerging tools and tech to improve on-farm decision making. Improving production and profitability, as well as environmental outcomes.
• Integrated Pest Management (IPM) – increasing knowledge and capacity relating to IPM principles and practices and how they can be used on KI to drive increased profitability and improved environmental outcomes.
Ongoing and upcoming activities and events for 2020 / 2021
Building Farm Business Resilience with Chris Minnehan
The Board will be supporting three workshops in Easter 2021, focusing on building resilient farm businesses. A resilient farm business has a strong and sustainable production system, and resilient business, personal and family practices.
Integrated Pest Management
The Board will be providing KI producers with the opportunity to learn more about the benefits of integrated pest management in grazing and cropping systems, and how to put it into action to reduce pest treatment costs and improve environmental outcomes on-farm. More details to follow shortly.
Healthy Soils KI
Participants at Nicole Masters’ Building Healthy Soils workshop are receiving ongoing coaching from Kim Dean of Integrity Soils, working under Nicole’s leadership. Members of the group participate in regular online coaching sessions and periodic site visits. Four demonstration farms have also been set up to monitor and share the journey these farmers are on as they transition from a conventional to a regenerative farming approach. Lessons learned, challenges, solutions and more will be shared with the KI farming community through site visits, case studies and presentations over the course of the project.
Grazing Naturally with Dick Richardson
Grazing naturally means changing management events in a proactive and constructive way to suit the current and emerging situation, and desired outcomes. It is a form of landscape management that seeks to restore landscape function and deliver improved production, an improved natural resource base, healthy nutrient cycling, greater biodiversity and enhanced resilience. Grazing naturally meets the challenges of salinity, erosion, more erratic and unreliable rainfall, extreme weather events, and higher farming input costs.
The Board has facilitated a Grazing Planning Workshop and an Advanced Implementation Workshop with Dick Richardson this year. Dick Richardson is providing ongoing coaching to workshop participants, including field visits to assess on-ground progress and provide further advice. Participants have also signed up to the online MAIA Grazing Technology Platform that supports farmers to plan and implement their stock movement, feed budgeting, record management actions, record inputs and outputs, and conduct scenario planning.
Above: Dick Richardson during a field visit in 2020
Gra$$ to Dollars with Tim Prance
Based on the highly successful Prograze course, this grazing management course is available to permanent pastures in the western/southern Australia temperate rainfall zone and is being delivered over 11-12 months. During this time, each participant is being encouraged to take messages from the program and apply to their own farm, review what has or has not worked and discuss this with other participants to collectively work through possible solutions.
For more information, contact Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitator, Damon Cusack on 0437 172 877.
Biochar and Dung Beetles
Melissa Rebbeck of Agriculture and Climate Support Pty Ltd provided local farmers with a presentation on the multiple benefits of using biochar for animal, soil and plant health and for improved production and profitability, and the role that dung beetles can play in incorporating the biochar into the soil. For more information, please see Melissa’s presentation here.
Building Healthy Soil with Nicole Masters
Nicole Masters and Integrity Soils specialise in biological farming systems and their management in New Zealand, Australia and North America. For over 15 years, Nicole has been helping, teaching and inspiring farmers, ranchers and the organisations that support and supply them. Their workshops are practical, educational, interactive, and guaranteed to deepen farmers' understanding of regenerative farming practices and how to build and maintain soil health for improved production and environmental outcomes.
Farming Tools & Tech Day
The day provided KI farmers with the opportunity to get acquainted with the latest farming tools and technologies.
Natural Sequence Farming with Peter Andrews
Peter Andrews visited the Island in late August 2019 to chat with producers about Natural Sequence Farming and its production benefits. He also conducted field visits to assess local conditions and get a better idea of local challenges. A key aspect of this approach is holding and storing more water and nutrients in the landscape for longer, increasing on-farm plant diversity and building farm and landscape resilience. For more info, visit the Tarwyn Park Training website.
Land to Market with Brian Marshall and Brian Wehlburg
Land to Market Australia visited KI in October 2019. Run by the Australian Holistic Management Cooperative Limited, this unique project is being driven by producers and farmers, creating a global network of people committed to farming practices that measurably regenerate the land, while providing ethically-minded consumers the ability to choose sustainable products through clear branding.
KI Landscape Board