Making Australian Agriculture Sustainable – conference
Michelle Young, Director of Sustainable Farms, will make the case for protecting and restoring natural assets on farms at the Fenner Conference on Environment – Making Australian Agriculture Sustainable – next week in Canberra.
Farm dams, creeks, remnant vegetation, native grasses and rocky outcrops are all features of farming landscapes. These valuable natural assets need protection and restoration, not only to conserve biodiversity and landscape function, but also to underpin agricultural production.
“At Sustainable Farms we work with farmers to build natural capital including biodiversity on their farms, says Ms Young. “We support them by providing access to a range of experts, not least a regional team of ecologists, to help them manage their farms’ natural assets.”
The Sustainable Farms project works with farmers on the NSW South West Slopes, in the Central West, Murray-Riverina and North East Victoria.
“Our approach is called ‘Natural Asset farming’ and includes small, quick projects such as fencing a rocky outcrop, to longer-term investments such as planting a native shelterbelt,” says Ms Young.
“It’s not just about conserving biodiversity, however, we also address economics and mental health, as the welfare and financial security of farmers are an essential part of sustainable farming.”
Ms Young says the management recommendations they propose have an extensive history of practical application by thousands of farmers with support from groups like Landcare and Greening Australia. The long-running biodiversity surveys undertaken on farms by the Sustainable Farms team provide the evidence to show the impact of these management changes.
“Core to our outreach program is that it is farmer driven,” she says. “By bringing a range of experts to the farmer, it allows dialogue between different groups. This supports innovative thinking and the uptake of new practices.
“We all have a common goal: healthy farms, healthy farmers and healthy profits.”
The Fenner Conference on Environment – Making Australian Agriculture Sustainable – will be held at the Shine Dome in Canberra on 17 and 18 March 2022. Information and registration can be found on the website www.sustainableag.org.au.