#PeopleOfNRM – Nathan Craig

Nathan Craig is the Executive Officer of West Midlands Group (WMG), one of Western Australia’s leading grower groups.

WMG has a strong focus on soil conservation and sustainable farming practices, horticulture and supporting women in agriculture.

Growing up in the West Wimmera region of Victoria on the family’s mixed sheep/cropping farm, Nathan was introduced to sustainable agriculture practices from a young age. His family employed no-tillage cropping and fencing off areas of native vegetation.

Nathan’s passion was ignited in high school, where his mentors focused heavily on-farm production while also taking care of the environment.

After the millennium drought of 2000-2010 dampened Nathan’s dream of being a farmer, he ventured out into the workforce, where he was met with a contract seeding business, a PhD and a move from Victoria to WA.

Nathan’s career vision of contributing significantly to the future of agriculture, is fed by the work that West Midlands Group does in the Northern Agricultural Region (NAR).

“We focus on delivering to the needs of our members, but we are always looking laterally for innovative ways of doing this. My job is to line the ducks up for my team to make things happen, then keep out of their way so that they can get things done to benefit our members!”

WMG is focussed on a broad strategic vision that the region’s future will be based on a sustainable and connected farming community. The organisation’s three main focus areas are research and demonstration of new and emerging innovation; extension of project outcomes and delivery of information and; natural resource management.

The latter has facilitated two recent WMG – NACC NRM partnerships and several more over the last 20 years. These projects have included investigating claying water repellent soils to improve serradella pasture production and fertilising perennials to improve pasture productivity – both of which address production issues in the NAR while also contributing under the broad umbrella of natural resource management.

WMG has a goal to work more closely with NACC NRM in the future as they further develop the group’s natural resource management aspirations.

“NACC NRM has given the WMG a tremendous amount of support in the development of projects over the past year, and I expect that this will grow as we learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses,” said Nathan who believes that collaboration will be a key aspect of doing business in the future.

“The West Midlands Group has a vision that our region will be based on a sustainable and connected farming community. The development of new ways of supporting our agricultural communities using various forms of innovation is a long-term goal that I have set. We owe it to our farming community to adapt and evolve as they will need to into the future, and be there to support their needs” Nathan said.

2020 presented some challenges which WMG were able to translate into opportunities for growth! WMG’s newest innovation this year has been the development and launch of a regional WA based podcast ‘Paddockchat’. Available fortnightly will be coming to you as a webinar in the coming year!

Going forward, Nathan says the most important part of sustainable farming is the maintenance and focus on natural resources.

“Sometimes in the cut and thrust of farming this can be forgotten, and we can get carried away with certain aspects of farming and forget the big picture,” said Nathan.

“Developing a critical mind that can sort through the noise and identify practices that can maintain or enhance our natural resource base will be of great benefit to anyone including our environment.”

Phoebe Royce – Communications Officer

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