Message from Alasdair Macleod,
Chair of the Soils For Life Board
Narelle mentioned in her newsletter last month, the Soils For Life team has been busy during lockdown. Of course, it has not been possible to carry out any fieldwork, but a great deal has been achieved recently to strengthen the organisation and equip it to provide even more support to those farmers who are considering some changes to their management practices. In fact this month’s newsletter is full of resources and information from the Soils For Life team including a catch up with Rhonda and Bill Daly around the recent performance of their case study property Milgadara as well as education resources around bird surveying and water management strategies.
We are also sharing our submission to the Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act review.
Case study catch up:
How is Milgadara performing in 2020?
Bill and Rhonda Daly were one of the first Soils For Life case studies in 2013. They are fourth generation farmers growing sheep, cattle and crops on their property Milgadara in Young, NSW, as well as running YLAD Living Soils – a composting business that allows them to enrich not just the soils on their property but many others across the whole country.
Birds: How and why to measure them on your property
Results of repeated bird surveys, like repeated soil tests, can provide land managers with valuable information on how their land management is performing over time. In fact, the number and different types of birds found in different types of vegetation on a property can be used as a measure of management performance. Consistently recording the bird communities found on your property can provide you with valuable information about how the quality and extent of bird habitat has changed over time.
We encourage land managers to use the same bird survey technique
each time that they survey birds.
To assist you to conduct robust and repeatable bird surveys, we have produced an easy to use bird survey template. Filling it out over seasons will provide more detailed and useful information about the bird life on your property than a simple species list.
Are you the next Soils For Life Case Study?
We are currently inviting farmers and land managers from across Australia to apply to be case studies. Although we are interested in applications from all enterprises, we are particularly looking for more representation of farmers working in horticulture, viticulture, dairying and cropping enterprises. If you think your property is a good example of the environmental, social, economic and production benefits brought about by your regenerative practices, please fill out our updated application form.
Water management in the land of droughts
and flooding rains:
Lessons from our case studies low rainfall areas
The list of challenges facing agricultural land managers could go on and on, but arguably the beast always lurking out there is water. Sometimes there is too much of it, but that is rare in our land of droughts and flooding rains. Usually the problem is that there isn’t enough. It is evident from the range of approaches mentioned across all our case studies that there are creative ways to make the most of big rains, with the ways and means depending on the land itself and resources available.
The Environment Protection Biodiversity Conservation Act is currently undergoing independent review and recently sought input on a discussion paper. Soils For Life prepared a submission that reflects a consolidated perspective from our engagement with our case study participants and the broader agricultural community interested in regenerating agricultural landscapes and the expertise of the SFL scientists.
A draft report of the review is expected this month and the final report is due to be handed on down in October.
Landcare tribute to Major General Michael Jeffery
Our patron, Major General the Hon. Michael Jeffery, is honoured in the latest issue of Landcare in Focus. Landcare Australia presents a special tribute to a man who has long and passionately advocated for improvements in the health of our agricultural landscape.
Talking point: Regenerate Australia
Future Directions International, also established by our founder Major General Michael Jeffery, has recognised the strategic importance of soils and bio-systems in Australia. It has highlighted the declining health of soils as a national issue, and in their latest paper discuss the importance of restorating our soils to improve the productivity and resilience of our landscapes.