Bright future for natural farming in the NAR

Enthusiasm and passion for sustainable agriculture abounded in the NACC NRM region recently, when landholders and industry professionals from far and wide gathered in Dandaragan for a “natural farming” workshop. The focus of the two-day workshop was on how to produce profitable farming systems with healthy soils.

Organised by the Soil Restoration Farming, with support from NACC, the event featured Australian-renowned soil scientist and biological farming advocate, Dr Maarten Stapper.

Dr Stapper provided participants with in-depth knowledge on the importance of soil biology, and the benefits it brings to soil health and farm production – with presentations on soil food webs, agroecology farming principles, and strategies for managing sustainable farming systems.

The two-day event was boosted by very interactive discussions among participants about their own hands-on soil-root-plant experiences. The event showcased a number of natural management systems already being used by local producers that have contributed to healthier soils and greater farming profitability on their properties.

“Our current farming system is degrading soils and lowering fertility, leading to a dependency on fertilisers and chemicals to obtain the highest yields,” said Dr Stapper.

“Production practices have gradually led to foods with lower nutrient density and chemical residue contamination, affecting human health and increasing chronic disease.”

NACC Regional Landcare Facilitator Stanley Yokwe said he’d received a lot of good feedback from workshop participants.

“We are lucky to have Dr Maarten Stapper visit our region and share his practical and innovative experiences on biological farming,” he said.

“With increasing soil degradation, everyone needs to start looking at new and alternative innovative approaches that are resilient, productive and can withstand our region’s challenging climatic conditions.”

Dr Stapper’s tips for agroecological farming:

  • Learn by doing… from local innovation and wisdom on the farm.
  • Don’t wait for others – accept the new thinking, take it one step at a time.
  • Work within current budget and commit for at least two years.
  • Follow a proven learning process: Plan – do – check – review.
  • In the trial-and-error, learn from your mistakes to avoid repeating them.
  • Agree to local biophysical indicators – visible outcomes validate your systems.
  • Monitor to enhance leaning.

This event was organised by Soil Restoration Farming, and supported by the NACC, through funding from the Australian Government National Landcare Programme as part of the Regional Landcare Facilitator project. Other supporters included: intuitEarth, Best Environmental Technologies, Hi-Tech, AM Fertilisers, C-Wise, Ecogroth, and NutriSoilLS.

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