Digging into Soil Biodiversity
World Soil Day, an initiative by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), highlights the importance of soil health throughout the world each December 5.
Perth NRM and RegenWA were proud to host its first major World Soil Day event in the wonderful setting of Muresk in Ballardong country near Northam, bringing together farmers from across the region to learn about current, new (and revived) soil management techniques. We were fortunate to be joined by the Hon Alannah MacTiernan to open the day’s presentations and introduce Cec McConnell as the Commissioner of the recently reinstated Soil and Land Conservation Commission.
The day included opportunities for guests to examine their own soil under the microscope and see the level of biological activity inherent in their greatest asset – the earth they farm on. The day concentrated on the dual role of farming: creating a sustainable businessand being a successful land manager. There was spirited discussion between (and sometimes during) the presentations, representing the diversity of approaches and the appetite for implementing change under different conditions throughout our varied landscape.
However, the general consensus was that everyone was there to learn and exchange information and techniques, making the event a success. The organisers thank all who presented and attended, especially the farmers who braved the stage, Brendon Savage (Kulin), Dean Ryan (Manjimup), and Blythe Calnan (Uduc). The onground work of these farmers is a credit to our state. Perth NRM and RegenWA also thank Steve Wainewright, the Muresk Farm Manager, both as a host and presenter. Special thanks also to Soil Science Australia and the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development for their important contributions on the day, including Chris Gazey’s presentation on the fascinating Soil Quality e-book series and supporting activities throughout the day.
Investing in our Food Future
The inaugural Regenerative Agriculture Conference, presented by Perth NRM and RegenWA, was an outstanding success. This sold out event delivered a conference that galvanised support for both sustainable food systems and regional rehabilitation.
The event was opened by the Hon. Alannah MacTiernan MLC, Minister for Food and Agriculture, and Regional Development. Her commitment to progressing changes that ensure the health and productivity of our food-producing land was very well received by a diverse audience of farmers, community groups, experts and decision makers from government and the investment sector.
More than 270 people attended and listened to world-renowned speakers including Charles Massy, Walter Jehne and Terry McCosker. Guest speaker Sue Ogilvy presented on the value of measuring the performance of regenerative agriculture through natural capital accounting, integrating standards developed by the United Nations to advance leading-edge land management. See the conference presentations below, slides included.
The speaker’s themes created a journey throughout the day, from the current productivity constraints facing agriculture, to the importance of why we need to look at our agricultural systems and practices to enable landscapes and systems to self-organise back to health. There were examples of how this is being done, both locally and in other areas of Australia.
The day ended with an interactive workshop looking at the challenges and opportunities for investment for those in the room into regenerative agriculture.
RegenWA has received overwhelmingly positive feedback on the day and the presenters, delivering a conference which was filled with passion, enthusiasm and calls to action. The diverse audience included farmers, government, community groups and investors, combining in their support for ensuring food production systems in WA are delivering healthy, safe and nutritious food while restoring the landscapes and environments that have been degraded over the decades.