Liz Clarke, CEO Soils For Life

The new financial year heralds the start of a number of new initiatives for Soils for Life. Firstly, we have refreshed our approach to our long-running case study program (funded through the National Landcare Program) – launching what is, in effect, our third series.

Case studies will now focus on groups of farmers rather than individuals. This is an important shift for a number of reasons. Firstly, we recognise that innovation for regeneration of soils starts with farmer boots on the ground and it is generally a social process shared with colleagues and neighbours. Secondly, this expands the focus beyond individual farm family or manager and provides a broader range of experiences. Thirdly, the case study program will now provide active support to groups to assist them to address a key challenge or issue.

Our first case study in the new series will be the 8 Families group – in the Holbrook-Wagga Wagga area. This group of farm families have been working together to change practices, rebuild their landscapes and their business profitability over a number of years. The 8 Families group have generously offered to share with us their insights, experiences and learnings about working as a collaborative group for the benefit of other farmers who would like to start out on the soil regeneration journey but would prefer to do it in good company.

We will continue to report on the ecological, economic and social transformational journeys of case study participants and showcase their efforts to build natural capital at the same time as they are improving profitability, wellbeing and community resilience. Most importantly, we will continue to explore what resilience to short-term shocks and longer term stresses looks like in farming systems. To see more detail on how the new case study format works click here.

In South Australia, we are launching a new project in partnership with the Australian Government (Future Drought Fund) and regional stakeholders. The South Australian Paddock Labs project focuses on building drought resilience through fostering innovation in land management using an innovative citizen-science model. Groups of around 25 farmers and advisors will be established in each region and the group will work together to determine priority challenges to address. Soils for Life will broker input from key technical experts as required.

Supporting the development of social, ecological and financial resilience in farming systems is a central pillar of our work at Soils for Life, as climate becomes more variable, and as natural disasters (such as droughts, floods and fires) and other shocks and stresses intensify. Last month, we participated in an Upper Murrumbidgee Catchment Network (UMCN) mini-forum and shared the podium with Colin Seis to talk about Production and Biodiversity: Landscape, Community and Personal Resilience.

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