Riverine Plains to partner in Federal Government southern NSW and Victorian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs

Riverine Plains will play an important role in two of the Federal Government’s Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs being established in North East Victoria and Southern NSW.

The Hubs are being established through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund and will focus on addressing drought resilience research and innovation priorities. Each Hub will receive $8 million over four years, with the Hubs anticipated to be up and running by the end of April.

Riverine Plains will lead the North East node of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, to be established by the University of Melbourne at Dookie, and will also partner in the southern NSW Hub being established at Wagga Wagga by Charles Sturt University.

The Hubs will work by connecting farmers, industry and researchers, with the resulting collaborations helping to drive development of innovative on-farm R&D technologies and practices that can improve future drought resilience, as well as their on-farm adoption.

It is planned that the Hubs will offer resources, including staff and programs, across areas such as water management, food security, farming systems, agribusiness, community support, regional development and environment, delivering improved drought resilience and greater adaptation to a changing climate for farmers, agricultural businesses and communities.

The Victorian Hub will be led by the University of Melbourne Dookie campus, in partnership with Deakin University, Federation University, La Trobe University, Agriculture Victoria, Riverine Plains, Birchip Cropping Group, Southern Farming Systems, Food and Fibre Gippsland and Mallee Regional Innovation Centre. Hub nodes will be established in Mulwala, Mildura, Birchip, Inverleigh and Warragul.

The southern NSW hub will be led by Charles Sturt University (CSU) at Wagga Wagga, with partners; the Australian National University, Farming Systems Groups Alliance, First Nations Governance Circle, Local Land Services, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Rural Aid, University of Canberra and University of Wollongong. The Farming Systems Group Alliance includes Riverine Plains, FarmLink Research, Central West Farming Systems, Holbrook Landcare Network, Irrigated Cropping Council, Irrigation Research and Extension Committee and Southern Growers.

For further information, please contact the Riverine Plains office on 03 5477 1713

Riverine Plains to partner in Federal Government southern NSW and Victorian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs

22 April, 2021

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Riverine Plains to partner in Federal Government southern NSW and Victorian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs

  • Riverine Plains to partner in Federal Government southern NSW and Victorian Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs
  • Riverine Plains will lead the North East Victorian node of the Victorian Hub being established by the University of Melbourne at Dookie, and will partner in the southern NSW Hub being established by Charles Sturt University at Wagga Wagga
  • The Hubs will focus on delivering innovations to enable farmers and communities to become more drought resilient and to better respond to a changing climate
  • The Hubs are an initiative of the Federal Government’s Future Drought Fund

Mulwala-based farming systems group, Riverine Plains, will play an important role in two of the Federal Government’s Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hubs being established in North East Victoria and Southern NSW.

The Hubs are being established through the Australian Government’s $5 billion Future Drought Fund and will focus on addressing drought resilience research and innovation priorities.

Riverine Plains Chair and Howlong farmer, Ian Trevethan, explained that Riverine Plains will lead the North East node of the Victoria Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub, to be established by the University of Melbourne at Dookie, and will also partner in the southern NSW Hub being established at Wagga Wagga by Charles Sturt University.

“Farmers understand all too well how difficult it is to manage and then recover from drought and the Hubs will play an important role in supporting farmers and communities to better prepare for future droughts and climate challenges” Ian said.

“The Hubs will work by connecting farmers, industry and researchers, with the resulting collaborations helping to drive development of innovative on-farm R&D technologies and practices that can improve future drought resilience, as well as their on-farm adoption” he added.

Each Hub will receive $8 million over four years, with the Hubs anticipated to be up and running by the end of April.

The Victorian Hub will be led by the University of Melbourne Dookie campus, in partnership with Deakin University, Federation University, La Trobe University, Agriculture Victoria, Riverine Plains, Birchip Cropping Group, Southern Farming Systems, Food and Fibre Gippsland and Mallee Regional Innovation Centre. Hub nodes will be established in Mulwala, Mildura, Birchip, Inverleigh and Warragul.

Victorian Hub co-director Professor Tim Reeves, from the University of Melbourne’s Faculty of Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences, said the Dookie Hub will focus on delivering improved drought resilience and greater adaptation to a changing climate for farmers, agricultural businesses and communities in the region.

“This is a unique state-wide partnership which also involves an unprecedented level of co-operation between the partners to co-design and govern the project, with these connections increasing the project’s potential to make a real difference to our regional industries and communities” he said.

The southern NSW hub will be led by Charles Sturt University (CSU) at Wagga Wagga and will support farmers and communities from Broken Hill to Cobar, the Macquarie catchment to the Hawkesbury and to the Victorian and South Australian state borders.

Partners in the southern NSW hub are Australian National University, Farming Systems Groups Alliance, First Nations Governance Circle, Local Land Services, NSW Department of Primary Industries, Rural Aid, University of Canberra and University of Wollongong.

The Farming Systems Group Alliance includes Riverine Plains, FarmLink Research, Central West Farming Systems, Holbrook Landcare Network, Irrigated Cropping Council, Irrigation Research and Extension Committee and Southern Growers.

It is planned that the Hubs will offer resources, including staff and programs, across areas such as water management, food security, farming systems, agribusiness, community support, regional development and environment.

“Drought and climate variability can massively impact the profitability and sustainability of farmers and communities across the Riverine Plains region and we are looking forward to being involved in both the Victorian and southern NSW Hubs and helping to drive innovation in drought preparedness” Ian concluded.

Riverine Plains Inc is an independent farming systems group specialising in farmer driven research and extension across north-east Victoria and southern New South Wales. For more information, or to become a member, please visit www.riverineplains.org.au

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More Information or interview: Fiona Hart, Chief Operating Officer, Riverine Plains (03 5744 1713)

Report into pH, soil organic carbon helps improves local understanding of carbon farming

Report into pH, soil organic carbon improves local understanding of carbon farming

Riverine Plains has recently completed a region-first project looking into the viability and practicality of increasing soil carbon for trading through the Australian Government’s Emission Reduction Fund.

As part of the project, and with the support of the Cool Soil Initiative, paddocks were sampled to determine baseline soil pH and soil organic carbon using the  methods set out in the Carbon Farming Initiative.

Stocks of soil organic carbon were calculated for each paddock, with a specific paddock example used to determine what a 0.5% increase in soil carbon might look like in terms of the Australian Carbon Credit Unit, (the unit of trade for the Emission Reduction Fund).

The calculations, based on a pasture paddock near Springhurst, showed the potential financial gains from carbon farming to be modest, with the returns also weighed against the sampling, auditing and reporting costs of participating in the Emission Reduction Fund.

The project highlighted how complex it can be to measure and validate any increase or change in soil organic carbon over time, and that trading carbon through the Emission Reduction Fund requires a thorough understanding of the process before committing.

Aside from carbon farming, one of the most important take-home messages from the project was that interactions between soil pH and soil organic carbon are complex, and that soil pH is a key parameter driving the soil’s ability to increase soil carbon, with low pH soils having reduced microbial activity and organic matter turnover.

For the full report, visit https://riverineplains.org.au/quantifying-the-carbon-gains-from-mixed-cropping-systems/

This project was completed within the Cool Soil Initiative with partners Mars Petcare, Kellogg’s, Manildra Group and Allied Pinnacle, through the Sustainable Food Lab and Charles Sturt University (CSU), with additional funding through the Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and participating growers. This project was also supported by the North East and Goulburn Broken CMAs through funding provided by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Report into pH, soil organic carbon improves local understanding of carbon farming

8 April, 2021

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Report into pH, soil organic carbon improves local understanding of carbon farming

With many local farmers interested in the potential for carbon farming, farming systems group Riverine Plains has recently completed a region-first project looking into the viability and practicality of increasing soil carbon for trading through the Australian Government’s Emission Reduction Fund.

“To participate in carbon farming, farmers need to show an increase in soil carbon stocks over time, however this is easier said than done, with farmers facing a range of challenges in demonstrating the required levels of change” explained former Riverine Plains Project Officer and project leader, Dr Cassandra Schefe (now principal of AgriSci).

“With the support of the Cool Soil Initiative, Riverine Plains established a project in which paddocks were sampled to determine baseline soil pH and soil organic carbon using the specific methods set out in the Carbon Farming Initiative” said Cassandra.

“From this, we were then able to calculate stocks of soil organic carbon for each paddock and also used a particular paddock to work out what a 0.5% increase in soil carbon might look like in terms of the Australian Carbon Credit Unit, which can then be traded via the Emission Reduction Fund” Cassandra added.

The calculations, based on a pasture paddock near Springhurst, showed the potential financial gains from carbon farming to be relatively modest, with the returns needing to be weighed against the sampling, auditing and reporting costs of participating in the Emission Reduction Fund, as well as the long-term nature of the contract.

“The project highlighted how complex it can be to measure and validate any increase or change in soil organic carbon over time, and that trading carbon through the Emission Reduction Fund requires a thorough understanding of the process before committing” she said.

Aside from carbon farming, one of the most important take-home messages from the project was that soil pH and soil organic carbon influence soil health in a significant way, and it is important to measure changes through regular soil testing.

“While interactions between soil pH and soil organic carbon are complex, soil pH is a key parameter driving the soil’s ability to increase soil carbon, with low pH soils having reduced microbial activity and organic matter turnover” Cassandra said.

“We know that soil pH, in both the top-soil and the subsoil, is limiting productivity in a number of soils across north-east Victoria and southern NSW, and recommend that farmers use incremental soil sampling as a tool to help identify soils that require lime or other interventions” she concluded.

For the full report, visit https://riverineplains.org.au/quantifying-the-carbon-gains-from-mixed-cropping-systems/

This project was completed within the Cool Soil Initiative with partners Mars Petcare, Kellogg’s, Manildra Group and Allied Pinnacle, through the Sustainable Food Lab and Charles Sturt University (CSU), with additional funding through the Food Agility Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) and participating growers. This project was also supported by the North East and Goulburn Broken CMAs through funding provided by the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Riverine Plains Inc is an independent farming systems group specialising in farmer driven research and extension across north-east Victoria and southern New South Wales. For more information, or to become a member, please visit https://www.riverineplains.org.au

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More Information or Interview: Fiona Hart, Chief Operating Officer, Riverine Plains Inc on 03 5744 1713