06-Mar-2017

SMALL FARMS HAVE A ROLE IN LANDSCAPE REGENERATION TOO

In March, our Chairman Michael Jeffery and Chief of Staff, Natalie Williams, attended a Mardan & Mirboo North Landcare Group field day in South Gippsland, sharing the healthy soil and landscape regeneration message to landholders – including the growing numbers of 'tree changers', who also have a significant role to play in regenerating our landscape…

Host property, Hill Farm

Host property, Hill Farm

Our Chairman and National Advocate for Soil Health, Major General Michael Jeffery, was invited by the Mardan & Mirboo North Landcare Group to be keynote speaker at the first of their series of field days covering Hill Farms, Small Commercial Farms and Lifestyle Farms.

The Hill Farms day was held near Dumbalk in Victoria. It focused on small farms that experience difficult planning due to a landscape formed by steep hills and deep valleys.

The night before the field day, property owners Ian and Helen Anstey hosted a dinner themed around soils and land and agriculture. They talked about their farm and the challenges that they faced as 'tree changers' moving from Melbourne to the country. The evening included discussion on landcare, regenerative land management and Australia’s position in helping to fix both domestic and international agricultural landscape issues.

Dairy milking

The early morning milking ritual.

Natalie joined Helen at 6am on the morning of the field day to visit nearby Frank and Jeannie Derek’s dairy farm to help them milk their 160 Friesian and Jersey cows. A taste of local life.

The field day started at 10am and General Jeffery delivered his opening address to 60 land holders and 17 members of the Mardan & Mirboo North Landcare Group. The marquee was packed full. There were multiple questions asked during the speech, with lively interaction during question time. The speech set the tone of the day and participants commented on how well General Jeffery’s speech gave an overview of the world situation and then focused on fixing the paddock.

Field day participants

Discussing issues involved with hilly properties.

Other field day speakers covered areas such as water and planning for livestock, farm safety, erosion and soil management.

General Jeffery and Natalie were pleased to be inundated with questions and discussions throughout the day. By the end of the day, between then, they managed to speak to most, if not all of the participants.

A mobile sandwich lunch break allowed for ongoing discussion and the afternoon was spent walking the farm looking at areas of concern for Helen and Ian. The erosion expert pointed out areas of tunnel erosion, land slippage and valley regeneration, ground cover and talked about how to address issues in hilly landscapes. The group looked at the cattle yards and water troughs and discussed how the land needs to be managed for best use, as well as discussing the culture of ‘tree changers’ and the issues faced by this new wave of land owners who are coming into agriculture with sometimes limited knowledge of agricultural systems and landscapes.

Michael Jeffery

Michael Jeffery outlines his vision for soils.

It’s great to have the opportunity to attend events such as these to continue to share knowledge and the importance of healthy soils and regenerative landscape management. Good luck to all those ‘tree changers’ out there – if you’re looking for information on how to manage your land, regenerative landscape management is the way to go!


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