A ripper sustainable agriculture field day for people with small blocks

“Positive changes on even a single small acre can make a big difference to the environment, and pasture or weed management in particular can provide many benefits, no matter how big or small the property is.”

These were the words that resonated among the participants at the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council’s recent small landholders sustainable field day in Greenough.

The event, hosted for a second time by Nic and Jen de Vries, attracted a knowledgeable and experienced line-up of speakers who were joined by a small group of avid life stylers and hobby farmers keen to learn more about sustainable farming and land management of small blocks.

The half day event kicked-off with an excellent presentation by Nic de Vries – who shared his experience on pasture management and weed control, and how his family had built their homestead with straw-bales powered by large solar panels. Nic also spoke about the numerous rainwater tanks situated on the property that can store up to 25,000 gallons of water in one rainy season – not only saving energy, but also helping to make their property as environmentally-friendly as possible.

Nic then led the workshop participants on a field walk on perennial pasture paddocks where they discussed some of the best ways to establish and manage pastures to increase farm production.

Another highlight of the day was a presentation by Tony Rosser, of Great Northern Rural Services (CRT), who talked more specifically about weed control.

“In order to control problem weeds on your property, it is important to identify them correctly, and to consider all of your options – such as mechanical or biological control – before reaching for the chemical drum,” he said.

“Don’t forget that prevention is better than cure, so make sure that your farm hygiene is on target, and control problem weeds when they first appear.”

Tony also presented about livestock management, and further explained that when it comes to livestock management, the same rules apply to having just one animal, as they do to having a herd or flock of 1,000 animals.

“It is your responsibility to provide a safe, healthy environment for your livestock.” He said. “If you are new to the game, then make sure that you sit down with someone qualified to discuss your options.”

Tony was followed-up by John McKay, also from Great Northern Rural Services (CRT), who gave the participants comprehensive tips on the best available options to manage water on small properties. John said that water played a key role on rural lifestyle properties, where it is often needed for a wide range of functions, such as stock and human drinking water, in the household, for firefighting, garden watering, weed spraying, and for washing machinery.

“Securing and distributing water for a small property can be a complex task,” he said.

“Many factors need to be considered, such as licensing requirements, water resources and water quality available on the property, environmental considerations, determining farm water requirements, as well as the distribution, storage and pumping options.”

The day concluded with a talk by Murray Smith from the City of Greater Geraldton. Murray spoke about the city’s fire management requirements – particularly in relation to owners of smaller properties.

Murray said all owners and occupiers of land within the City of Greater Geraldton local government area were required by law to undertake and maintain fire prevention measures. These are designed to help prevent fire from breaking-out, to slow the rate of spreading fire, and to allow clear lines of vision, safer access and navigation for volunteer bush fire fighters whilst firefighting.

The event closed with a widely-appreciated sausage sizzle which – generously provided by the Great Northern Rural Services (CRT).

NACC Regional Landcare Facilitator Stanley Yokwe, who organised the event, said the workshop was especially organised for owners of small properties because “often people with small blocks don’t know the best people and places to go for advice which was relevant to them”.

“Having an event like this – with a broad range of topics and expertise – gives these landowners a single ‘go-to’ point for information and support,” he said.

 

This event was supported by NACC with funding from the State NRM Program. 

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