Fiona Hart leaves Riverine Plains with Life Membership

11 October, 2021

Word Count: 475

FIONA HART LEAVES RIVERINE PLAINS WITH LIFE MEMBERSHIP

After 18 years of dedicated service, Riverine Plains have farewelled Chief Operating Officer, Fiona Hart, who is moving on from the organisation to pursue a new career opportunity.

In honour and recognition of the significant role Fiona has played within the organisation, and the community more broadly, Fiona has been awarded a Riverine Plains Life Membership – the first ever presented by the group.

Riverine Plains Chairman, Ian Trevethan, explained that Fiona Hart’s name has become inexorably linked with Riverine Plains and her departure marks the end of an era.

“I’d like to acknowledge and thank Fiona for the huge contribution she’s made to the organisation over such an extended length of time. Over the past 18 years, Fiona’s high personal morals and values have become embedded in the culture of Riverine Plains and are a big reason that the group enjoys the respect that it does” said Ian.

Riverine Plains was established in 1999 to improve the flow of agricultural research and other information across the southern NSW and north-east Victorian border region and Fiona was originally employed in 2003 to help manage the group’s activities and develop its scope as a farming systems group. As the group grew, so did her role, which evolved from Administrator, to Executive Officer and then to Chief Operating Officer.

Through Fiona’s leadership, along with the direction provided by successive committees and staff, Riverine Plains has developed into the organisation it is today. Fiona’s calm influence, her thoroughness and attention to detail has helped the group deliver innumerable field days, study tours, seminars, research and extension projects and skills-based courses over the years, as well as the establishment of a scholarship program to support local tertiary students in agriculture.

Fiona Hart said that she has thoroughly enjoyed her time with Riverine Plains as it is a unique organisation, with a rich history, wonderful people and a vibrant future.

“It would be impossible to thank everyone that I’ve worked with over the years, however I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to the members, past committee members, current board members, staff, sponsors, researchers, project partners and associates with which I’ve had the honour of working” she said.

“I’d like to especially thank the group’s past Chairmen David Cook, Adam Inchbold, Andrew Russell, Evan Ryan, John Bruce and current Chairman, Ian Trevethan, for their leadership and contributions to the organisation. Riverine Plains has an exciting future ahead and I look forward to keeping in touch with the group’s successes” added Ms Hart.

Ian Trevethan said that Fiona’s gentle and caring nature will be greatly missed by the staff, the board, members and partners alike.

“I’d like to congratulate Fiona on her new role with the CFA and look forward to her ongoing involvement in the group through her Life Membership” concluded Ian.

ENDS

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

More information or interview: Ian Trevethan, Chairman, Riverine Plains 0409 520 725.

 

Riverine Plains Research Advisory Council

3 September, 2021

Word Count: 406

RIVERINE PLAINS RESEARCH ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS ANNOUNCED

Riverine Plains are pleased to announce the formation of an inaugural Research Advisory Council which has been established to develop the research strategy and priorities of the organisation.

Riverine Plains Chairman, Ian Trevethan said the formation of the Research Advisory Council was an exciting step towards ensuring the group better identifies research opportunities, gaps, risks and issues, as well as providing insights about what is going on both inside and outside the region.

“As an organisation, we have always focussed on farmer-driven research and this will not change.  The Research Advisory Council will maintain the traditional focus on grains and soils, and in addition expand our research portfolio to incorporate livestock systems, climate and environmental pillars” said Mr Trevethan.

The Riverine Plains Research Advisory Council comprises a diverse mix of farmers, researchers and advisors, all with excellent locally relevant expertise and a range of interests and skill sets.

“It also represents the group’s geographic footprint really well, with eight members from NSW and eight from Victoria to ensure that Riverine Plains can be well-placed to meet the future needs of members” Mr Trevethan added.

The 16 member Research Advisory Council will be jointly chaired by Riverine Plains Board Members Melissa Brown (Miepoll, Vic) and John Bruce (Barooga, NSW).  The newly appointed members include Scott Bartlett (Kialla, Vic), Dr. (Paul) Long Cheng (Dookie, Vic), David Gooden (Lockhart, NSW), Rob Inglis (Wagga Wagga, NSW), David Leah (Gerogery, NSW), Angus Malmo (Yerong Creek, NSW), Craig Marshall (Rennie, NSW), Tom Marriott (Barooga, NSW), Dr. Madeline Mitchell (Melbourne, Vic), Eric Nankivell (Albury, NSW), Andrew Russell (Lilliput, Vic), Rhiannon Sandford (Yea, Vic), Dr. Cassandra Schefe (Rutherglen, Vic) and Corey Uebergang (Peechelba East, Vic).

“Locally relevant research, extension and validation provides an incredibly important foundation for improving the way we farm, so the importance of this group can’t be understated in terms of what it means for the productivity and sustainability of local farming businesses” said Mr Trevethan.

“We congratulate all those appointed to the advisory council and look forward to the group being a driving force for the Riverine Plains research, extension, validation and adoption program to deliver timely and innovative outcomes for members” concluded Mr Trevethan.

Riverine Plains encourages anyone with research ideas, needs, queries or challenges, to please get in touch with one of the Research Advisory Council members, or contact the Riverine Plains office directly on 03 5744 1713 or email research@riverineplains.org.au.  

ENDS

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

More Information or interview: Ian Trevethan, Chairman, Riverine Plains 0409 520 725.

 

Riverine Plains awarded grant to support farmer technology adoption

Riverine Plains awarded grant to support farmer technology adoption

Riverine Plains is one of 20 producer groups selected to take part in the AgriFutures Australia Producer Technology Uptake Program, a national pilot program designed to boost technology adoption on farm.

The program is working with established producer groups to deliver a bespoke technology workshop, as well as other activities, to introduce technology solutions and kick start adoption.

Riverine Plains was awarded funding to deliver two separate Innovation events as part of the program.

Riverine Plains Project Officer, Kate Coffey, said the first Innovation event will be a Farm Tech workshop on Tuesday 7 September, 2021, to help farmers learn about new technologies, develop skills to use data to improve decision making, as well as unlock value from existing technology & data.

“Technology solutions can help optimise resource-use across farm businesses, but determining which solution is best can be complicated, so the workshop is designed to help farmers simplify the adoption process and learn how to make the most of the data they already have available” said Ms Coffey.

In addition to the September Farm Tech workshop, the funding will also be used to deliver an Innovation Field Day in February 2022 as part of the three-day Riverine Plains Innovation Expo.

“The Innovation Expo aims to foster innovation, create connections, share knowledge, as well as showcase businesses and individuals operating ahead of the curve, and we are excited about the Innovation Field Day as a way to bring together farmers and technology providers together and help better manage some of the farming systems issues we have in the region” added Ms Coffey.

Other successful projects to receive funding include innovation field days and robotic harvest solutions, to building local senor networks and digital irrigation monitoring to name a few. A major focus for all producer groups will be assessing return on investment when it comes to selecting technology solutions for farm businesses.

AgriFutures Australia Manager, Innovation, Ulicia Raufers said interest in the pilot program was staggering, highlighting the agricultural sector’s enthusiasm to harness the benefits of technology.

“The diversity of applicants exceeded our expectations and we’re thrilled with the response,” said Ms Raufers.

“The program is first and foremost about meeting the needs of local producers. Workshops will offer producers a practical pathway to evaluate the role and value of new technology in their farming operations.”

Key to the program will be a centrally-designed and facilitated workshop for producer groups to attend locally. The workshops are designed to share practical information, decision-making tools and resources.

Ms Raufers said producers will walk away from the workshops with a personalised farm technology plan, including relevant solutions to their farming system and importantly, steps to implementation.

“The individual activities aim to arm producers with the knowledge to become technology adopters which will help speed up decision making, create labour savings and improve market access, amongst other benefits for their farm businesses,” said Ms Raufers.

The Riverine Plains Farm Tech workshop will be held on Tuesday September 7, 2021 from 8:30am – 3:00pm at the Yarrawonga Mulwala Golf Club Resort, Mulwala, NSW (COVID permitting). The workshop will be presented by Rural Edge and facilitated by Brooke Sauer, Intellect Ag.

There is no cost to attend, however places are limited. To register, please email Riverine Plains Project Officer, Kate Coffey, at kate@riverineplains.org.au or phone (03) 5744 1713 for further information.

Stay up to date with the progress of the AgriFutures Australia Producer Technology Uptake Program via: https://www.agrifutures.com.au/national-rural-issues/producer-technology-uptake-program/

ENDS

More Information or Interview:

Kate Coffey, Project Officer, Riverine Plains on 03 5744 1713 or email kate@riverineplains.org.au

Best practice liming project to help address sub-soil acidity

23 August, 2021

Word Count: 499

Best practice liming project to help address sub-soil acidity

Acid soils have long been known to be a major constraint to crop and pasture production in north-east Victoria, with the reacidification of previously limed soils and pH stratification becoming increasingly important issues for the region’s grain farmers.

Given the local significance of the issue, Riverine Plains is pleased to be leading a new GRDC investment, Best practice liming to address sub-soil acidity in NE Victoria, which aims to increase awareness of acidity and pH stratification in local soils, as well as the management tools available to farmers.

Riverine Plains Project Officer, Jane McInnes, explained that acid soils can severely limit production rates and economic returns, especially when growing sensitive crops such as pulses.

“While many grain growers are working towards maintaining surface soil pH values above pH 5 through regular soil testing and targeted lime applications, we are increasingly seeing highly acidic layers in the 5-20cm sub-soil affect production” said Ms McInnes.

“Surface-applied lime only moves very slowly down the soil profile and this can mean that lime may only be acting in the surface zone, failing to reach acidic layers further down the profile” she added.

As part of the project, Riverine Plains will establish a replicated trial to look at how the incorporation of lime can improve the distribution of lime down the soil profile and lessen the impacts of soil acidity on subsequent crops. Some of the techniques which are being considered for the trial include spading, discing, ripping and prickle-chaining.

The lime treatment trial will be established during February 2022 and will compare crop performance of subsequent crops across the different treatments. These results will then be used to inform an economic analysis of the treatment options, while intensive soil sampling will also help to understand differences in nutrient availability, pH and soil organic carbon between treatments.

“Lime quality can be quite variable so we will also be establishing a demonstration trial at the same site looking at the quality effect of lime” explained Ms McInnes.

The demonstration will also include an elemental sulfur treatment to accelerate acidification and give an indication of the future effects if lime was not applied.

Project steering committee member, Rutherglen farmer and GRDC southern panellist, Andrew Russell, said that because soil testing has traditionally been done by bulking surface and subsoil layers together, many farmers may be unaware they have an acid soil layer that is limiting production.

“By raising awareness of this issue, and ways to manage it, we hope to be able to improve the effectiveness of local liming programs in the long-term” he said.

For further information about the project, or to learn how to become involved, please contact Riverine Plains Project Officer, Jane McInnes on 03 5744 1713 or email jane@riverineplains.org.au.

Riverine Plains 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:

Jane McInnes, Project Officer, Riverine Plains on 03 5744 1713.

New Murchison region discussion group to help farmers improve soil water use

10 August, 2021

Word Count: 390

New Murchison region discussion group to help farmers improve soil water use

Riverine Plains is pleased to announce it is coordinating a new project which involves the establishment of a new discussion group for farmers in the Murchison district of Victoria.

The Improving Soil to Optimise Water Use On Farm project is funded until 2023 by the Australian Government through the Future Drought Fund Natural Resource Management Drought Resilience Program – Grants, and aims to address soil quality parameters and how these are linked to storing more rainfall for crop production.

Riverine Plains Project Officer, Kate Coffey, explained that soil quality parameters such as pH, CEC and soil organic carbon can affect how much moisture is stored in soils, with healthier soils being more likely to be able to store moisture for later use, such as during a dry spring.

“The first step in improving a soil’s ability to store moisture is understanding the constraints present in the soil and this can be done using yield and EM38 mapping, followed by soil testing to ground-truth or confirm the presence of the soil limitation” said Ms Coffey.

“Once a constraint, such as subsoil acidity, has been identified it can then be managed through lime application or other methods to improve crop production and profitability” added Ms Coffey.

The project aims to increase awareness and knowledge around the identification of key local constraints, such as sub-soil acidity, and also involves the demonstration of innovative methods that protect and manage the soil resource.

To this end, a local trial will be established to demonstrate stubble management as a tool to improve soil moisture retention, with the trial also acting as a focus for the discussion group through local field days and workshops.

“Overall, the project will provide farmers with a better understanding of their soils and knowledge of how soil can be managed to improve production and water retention, which will ultimately help improve resilience for future droughts” concluded Ms Coffey.

For further information, or to register your interest in becoming a Discussion Group member, please contact Riverine Plains Project Officer, Kate Coffey, on (03) 5744 1713 or email kate@riverineplains.org.au

Riverine Plains 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

Riverine Plains In-season Update – 13 August, 2021

5 August, 2021

Word Count: 393

Online In-season Update helps farmers prepare for spring

Riverine Plains will host a virtual In-season Update on Friday 13 August, 2021, to discuss a range of crop and livestock production issues ahead of the all-important spring growing period.

Riverine Plains Chief Executive Officer, Catherine Marriott, said that while the season was progressing nicely, the wet conditions over winter meant that farmers were juggling a different set of management issues in 2021 compared to previous years.

“While conditions are looking great coming into spring, there is always the potential for nutrition, pest and disease or marketing to throw us a curve-ball, and the Update is a great way for grain and mixed farmers to stay current on emerging issues” said Ms Marriott.

“Given sheep are such a big part of mixed farming systems in the Riverine Plains, the first session in the program will be dedicated to sheep health and nutrition issues, presented by Rob Inglis, Elders, with a special focus on management under wet conditions,” she added.

The wet and mild growing conditions also mean that crop yield potential is quite high and Josh Buerckner, IK Caldwell, will discuss protecting crop yield through crop nutrition, pest and disease management (including mice), as well as pre-emergent herbicide options for the local area.

The all-important rainfall outlook will be presented by In-season Update regular, Dale Grey, from Agriculture Victoria. A grain market update will also be provided by Adrian Clancy, Farmanco Group.

Spring is also an important time to consider broader farming strategies and the Update will finish with a presentation by Brooke Sauer, Intellect Ag, on how to create a farm-tech plan and make the data work. This presentation is also an introduction to an upcoming Workshop, sponsored by AgriFutures Australia, which will be hosted by Riverine Plains during September.

The In-season Update will be held via the Zoom meeting platform from 8:30-10:35am on Friday 13 August, 2021. The event is free for members and sponsors, while the cost for non-members is $120. Pre-registration is essential, with login details emailed after registration. To register, visit https://riverineplains.org.au/event/in-season-update-august-13-online/ or contact Fiona Hart at info@riverineplains.org.au or phone 03 5744 1713 for further information.

Riverine Plains 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

 

….ends………………

More Information or Interview:

Catherine Marriott, Chief Executive Officer, Riverine Plains (03 5744 1713)

Fodder for the Future announcement

29 July, 2021

Word Count: 483

Fodder for the future project to help Murray region farmers

Riverine Plains is pleased to be partnering with Murray Dairy in the delivery of the Fodder for the Future project, which is designed to help local dairy farmers, as well as hay, silage and grain producers, optimise both the quality and yield of a range of fodder species.

The project is a $1.6m investment over three years funded by the federal Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, through the Murray-Darling Basin Economic Development Program to assist agricultural communities adapt to a water-limited future.

“With less water available for pasture production in dairy systems, the use of silage and hay has become an increasingly important aspect of dairying across the region” explained Riverine Plains Project Officer, Jane McInnes.

“There is a science to making good quality hay and silage, and a really important part of the project is helping build the skills and knowledge of dairy, hay and grain farmers to increase both the quality and yield of fodder produced on-farm” said Ms McInnes.

To this end, six demonstration trials have been established across the Murray region of northern Victoria and southern NSW to look at the performance of a range of fodder types, including wheat, barley, oats, triticale and vetch.

“One of these sites has been sown by Riverine Plains at Boorhaman in north-east Victoria, with the trial evaluating an oats/vetch mix sown at two different sowing rates and dates” said Ms McInnes.

“Results from the Boorhaman demonstration, along with results from the other demonstration sites, will provide farmers and service providers with an opportunity to look at the performance of different fodder species under a range of climatic and market conditions” she added.

Establishing long-term relationships between dairy and fodder producers to increase risk management options, the diversification of income and resilience in business management is another key part of the project.

“Dairy businesses and grain and hay producers can all benefit from working together to produce higher yields of good quality fodder in the local region, and we look forward to helping farmers achieve this as the project progresses” added Ms McInnes.

Riverine Plains will host a Field Day as part of the project on 31 August, 2021, COVID permitting. Further details will be available from www.riverineplains.org.au closer to the date.

Murray Dairy Fodder for the Future delivery partners include Riverine Plains, Agriculture Victoria, Birchip Cropping Group, Irrigated Cropping Council, University of Melbourne and Southern Growers.

For further information, or to learn how to become involved, please contact Riverine Plains Project Officer, Jane McInnes on 03 5744 1713 or email jane@riverineplains.org.au.

This project was funded by the Australian Government under the Murray–Darling Basin Economic Development Program.

Riverine Plains 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

….ends………………

More Information or Interview: Jane McInnes, Project Officer, Riverine Plains on 03 5744 1713

John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarship Recipients Announced

21 June, 2021

Word Count: 592

2021 John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarship recipients announced

Riverine Plains and Uncle Tobys are pleased to announce that two outstanding students have been named as the 2021 recipients of the John Hanrahan Scholarship and the Inaugural Uncle Tobys Scholarship.

The recipient of the John Hanrahan Scholarship is Jessica Ryan from Estella, NSW, while the recipient of the Uncle Tobys Scholarship is Thomas Hatty, from Tocumwal, NSW.

Riverine Plains Chief Executive Officer, Ms Catherine Marriott, said that both the John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarships recognise the excellence shown by local students studying for an agriculture-related qualification, while also providing additional opportunities for these students within the industry.

“As well as being capable students, both Jessica and Thomas have shown themselves to be active community members who are both passionate about their future roles in agriculture” said Catherine.

“These characteristics were especially important in the case of the John Hanrahan Scholarship, which was established by Riverine Plains in honour of the late John Hanrahan, from Coreen, whose community spirit, passion for agriculture and thirst for knowledge was renowned” explained Catherine.

Similarly, the Uncle Tobys Scholarship is an initiative designed to help make agriculture an attractive career choice for young people.

“We are passionate about supporting young people who have the enthusiasm and mindset to improve both farming economics and sustainability. Both of these attributes are essential to build a successful farming industry for the future” said Scott Boxshall, Nestlé Wahgunyah Factory Manager.

John Hanrahan Scholar, Jessica Ryan, is currently undertaking a Bachelor of Agricultural Business Management at Charles Sturt University.

Jessica has an interest in agricultural advocacy and politics, and is looking to help shape the future of agriculture by speaking up on issues affecting farmers. Jessica has worked across the livestock, cropping, machinery and infrastructure components of her family’s mixed farming enterprise and her background in agriculture gives her a very practical understanding of the challenges involved in farming.

Uncle Tobys Scholar, Thomas Hatty, is undertaking a combined Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Agricultural Science at LaTrobe University.

Thomas also has a farming background, with experience in cropping and other agricultural businesses. His initiative and resourcefulness has seen him travel overseas and take on quite significant levels of responsibility in his employment experiences, while his involvement in local sport and with local students has seen him give back to the community. Thomas has an interest in grains and crop agronomy and hopes to work directly with farmers to address production and operational issues, with a focus on sustainability and continued improvement using technological innovations and research outcomes.

As 2021 Scholarship recipients, both Jessica and Thomas receive a bursary of $5,000.

Both students expressed their appreciation of the financial support provided by the Scholarships and the opportunity to further develop their networks and learning experiences.

Riverine Plains would like to thank the Hanrahan family for the generous donation that led to the establishment of the Scholarship, as well as all those who have made financial or in-kind donations to the Scholarship Fund over the past few years.

Riverine Plains also thanks Uncle Tobys, for their commitment to supporting local tertiary students and for providing development pathways in support of regional agriculture.

Applications for the 2022 John Hanrahan and Uncle Tobys Scholarships will open in July 2021, with further details available from www.riverineplains.org.au closer to this date.

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

….ends………………

More Information or Interview:

Fiona Hart, Chief Operating Officer, Riverine Plains on 03 5744 1713.

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

22 April, 2021

Word Count: 689

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

Ends

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

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

8 April, 2021

Word Count: 530

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