Soils for Life and the Rotary Club of Sydney building resilient landscapes in the Western Division of NSW


We are partnering with the Rotary Club of Sydney and Local Land Services Western to encourage the wider adoption of regenerative landscape management. Our joint project, the Western Division Resilient Landscapes Project focuses on the drought-prone Western Division of NSW and aims to help farmers learn how to manage their properties to minimise the impact of drought on production and landscape health. 

Would you like to take part in the program? Applications are open until 29 September 2017. For more information download the program overview. To submit expressions of interest visit the Local Land Services (Western) website. 

read the case studies

Showcasing farmers in the Western Division whose practices add resilience to their properties, helping to maintain a degree of production on the property during times of drought and assisting in rapidly restoring landscape productivity and health when drought breaks.

demonstration and information

Promoting wide understanding of resilience-building practices to assist all farmers in the Western Division better manage the effects of drought.

mentoring program

Partnering with Local Land Services Western Region to provide mentoring and specialist advice to selected properties as to assist them in adopting regenerative practices that add resilience to their properties.


We believe that increased resilience and productivity of farming enterprises over time will lead to prosperous and healthy rural communities in the Western Division.


Map indicating Gilgunnia and Wyndham Stations


The property management practices of the McMurtrie family of Gilgunnia Station near Cobar and the Whyte family of Wyndham Station near Wentworth have been documented in two Soils for Life case studies. These case studies illustrate that active management can restore healthy landscape function, extending production in the face of drought and ensuring that the landscape recovers more quickly when drought breaks.

They show that:

  • Increasing and maintaining groundcover, (preferably palatable perennial species) is priority for building resilience.
  • To improve groundcover, pastures/forage needs time for rest and recovery from grazing, both by domestic and feral animals.
  • Overall total grazing pressure needs to be controlled and planned rotational grazing (also known as Holistic planned grazing) in conjunction with total grazing pressure (TGP) fencing (where required) facilitates this.
  • It is rest time, not number of stock that is key to increasing groundcover.
  • Increasing stock mob sizes provides beneficial animal impact on soils and vegetation - disturbing compacted surfaces, crushing litter, spreading fertiliser.
  • Organic matter in the soil increases as a result of above actions, improving water infiltration and retention.
  • Landscape engineering (for example, constructing contour and water-spreading banks) complements regenerative activities by slowing the flow of water and distributing it across the landscape. This also reduces erosion.
  • Landscape engineering alone is not sufficient, and rest and recovery from grazing/TGP control is essential to give groundcover the opportunity to improve.
  • Stocking rates need to be matched to carrying capacity and stock numbers should be reduced before conditions deteriorate too much.
  • Starting small in the best part of the landscape to develop one reliable area goes a long way towards enterprise and landscape resilience and the ability to further invest in property improvement.


image of healthy pasture on Gilgunnia Station

Ashley McMurtrie of Gilgunnia explains to John Leggett of Soils for Life how he's converted bare claypan into perennial pasture.


image of cattle on Wyndham Station

Angus Whyte of Wyndham, and his son, Mitchell, look over the cattle which are being actively managed to help regenerate their landscape.


The second component of our project involves demonstration and information actvities to showcase regenerative practices such as those applied on Gilgunnia and Wyndham Stations.

In partnership with Local Land Services Western Region we are hosting a number of field days to share these and other regenerative practices with other landholders in the Western Division to help them to understand the benefits of, and how to adopt such practices on their own properties.

Michael Jeffery at a field day on Glenace Station


The third component of our project commenced in 2015 and involves a number of enterprises - as selected through an open Expression of Interest process - receiving mentoring and specialist advice aimed at building resilience for their properties. In 2017, thanks to additional funding from the Rotary Clubs of Sydney and Sydney Cove, we are expanding the program to mentor more land managers in the region.

images of Mentors: Glenn Humbert, James Leigo, Ashley McMurtrie and Gus Whyte

The Mentoring Program is being delivered in partnership with Local Land Services Western Region. We have established partnerships between our experienced mentors and positive, forward-thinking landholders who are adopting and establishing sustainable land management practices to build production and socio-economic resilience into their landscapes and enterprises.

The mentors are providing support for elements such as:

  • Developing a property plan
  • Identifying suitable training
  • Using grazing practices and animal impact as farm and ecosystem development tools
  • Managing total grazing pressure to increase available groundcover and forage
  • Constructing landscape engineering interventions in the landscape or waterways to slow or capture the flow of water
  • Fencing off water ways and water storage and implementing water reticulation for stock
  • Investing in tree and understorey revegetation and controlling invasive native species (INS)
  • Maximising species diversity
  • Reducing or discontinuing synthetic chemical inputs
  • Integrating farm-based enterprises
  • Monitoring and measuring outcomes

The Mentoring Program is providing intensive coaching to landholders to support on-farm innovation and practice change in property management leading to improved management of soil, water, vegetation and biodiversity, to achieve sustainable land use and production.


Read the Soils for Life case studies for stories of farmers and land managers who have adopted regenerative practices and improved the resilience of their landscapes and enterprises.

Download Program Overview, or for further information on this project call Gemma Turnbull of Local Land Services Western Region on (02) 6872 2144.


About Glenn Humbert

Glenn Humbert talks about what it would mean to him to share his knowledge.

About James Leigo

James Leigo talks about why he's keen to be involved.

About Gus Whyte

Angus Whyte from Wyndham Station talks about what he has to offer to the program.

About Ashley McMurtrie

Program mentor Ashley McMurtrie of Gilgunnia Station.

Rotary Club of Sydney Cove logo Western LLS logo

This project is also supported by Local Land Services Western Region and the Rotary Club of Sydney Cove.