Agriculture contributes strongly to the South Coast region’s economy and primary production is one of the most diverse agricultural sectors in Western Australia. Sustainable farming practices are critical to meeting the changing environmental, social and economic conditions. Farmers are diversifying into a range of business opportunities and production including livestock, poultry, grain, viticulture, horticulture, small crops, farm forestry, orchards and other small scale but highly profitable niche sectors.
Sustainability means something different for every land manager and depends on many factors related to location, topography, land use and climate.
At the farm level, the current focus is on improving soil health and tackling the threats from soil acidity, salinity, water repellence, wind erosion, groundwater issues and to increase soil organic carbon levels. The team are also working on the impact of climate change to farm businesses, feral animal control, water quality and food innovation.
South Coast NRM’s priority areas are:-
- soil health
- integrated farm planning for natural resource management
- adapting to climate change
- meeting market demands for provenance
- marginal land management
- sustainable regional fisheries management
- critical fencing projects to restore and protect natural resources and biodiversity
- increasing best practice management, technical knowledge and skills of all land managers.
Farmers helping farmers to maximise soil-moisture and production from Australia’s most prolonged drought area
We have received funding from the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund to deliver a project in the Cranbrook and Ravensthorpe areas to deliver a project to provide farmers with the knowledge and skills to:
• address changes in rainfall
• fundamentally re-frame perspectives on the value of water
• mitigate negative impacts of drought.
• Help 30 farmers in water deficient areas on the south coast to develop farm drought mitigation management plans.
• Prepare shovel-ready projects for future funding programs.
• Implement on-ground innovative fail-safe demonstration activities.
• Address key drought mitigation knowledge gaps of 100 farmers.
Drought is an enduring feature of the Australian landscape. It has significant economic, social and environmental impacts. The long-term climate in WA’s south coast has changed more dramatically than most places in Australia with the rainfall declining by 20% and temperature rising by 1°C. Despite this the region has significant production potential, being responsible for up to 46% of WA’s grain production when sufficient soil moisture exists. However, since 2018 many farmers have received less than 40% of normal annual rainfall and have been unable to retain enough for normal businesses-as-usual activities.
A change in how farmers manage their farms, water and associated infrastructure needs to occur to fit in with this change in rainfall.
Using established and previously successful peer to peer adult learning techniques, on-ground demonstrations and mobilising social networks, this project will provide farmers with the knowledge and skills to implement management changes to address the changes in rainfall, fundamentally re-frame broadacre farmers perspectives on the value of water to best utilise it on their farms, and mitigate negative impacts of drought. It will capitalise on existing trusted partnerships and networks to quickly identify project participants and share information throughout the agricultural industry.
For more information about the Future Drought Fund, visit: https://www.agriculture.gov.au/ag-farm-food/drought
Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitators
South Coast NRM is the regional hub for transferring sustainable agriculture knowledge and experience to the community. We are working with landholders to increase the awareness and adoption of best practice land management to protect and enhance our region’s soils, biodiversity and vegetation.
Our Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitators (RALF) are helping agricultural enterprises increase the quality of their land, while becoming more agile in responding to challenges from climate change and market fluctuations. They promote Landcare principles to assist farmers to incorporate ecosystem services into their production strategies to increase profitability, improve soil health and to preserve biodiversity.
RALF staff work one-on-one with farmers on issues specific to their land and activity and also provide a range of regional engagement events including workshops, on-farm demonstrations, field days and group learning opportunities. Their knowledge and experience are also assisting farmers in niche agricultural markets and meeting the increasing demands for proof of the sustainable production of high quality, safe agricultural products.
The Southern Soils website aims to provide the South Coast community with a resources relating to sustainable agriculture. It includes information to help understand climate predictions for the region, how they might impact farming enterprises and what farmers can do to manage the risk. The website includes case studies and short films.
The website is also an information portal to learn about addressing soil acidity in the landscape. Access current information relating to the importance of testing your lime, application and research on ameliorating soil acidity. This component is funded by the Goldfields-Esperance Development Commission and the Western Australian Government.
Land for Wildlife
Releasing the rabbit virus on your property
So you’re interested in releasing the rabbit virus on your
Release of the K5 rabbit virus is one method of controlling the
impacts of rabbits. Sometimes it may be possible to get a vial of the
virus through South Coast NRM or your local community group.
However, if there isn’t any virus available, here’s the steps you can go
through to get the virus and release it on your property.
You can download the information sheet on the rabbit virus here.