March 8 | An exciting new soil health initiative is encouraging producers to identify practical, cost-effective approaches that regenerate the rangelands.
Led by the NSW Department of Primary Industries, the Rangeland Living Skin project has been designed in close collaboration with producers to focus on soil, plants, animals and people as the ‘living skin’ of the rangelands. Four properties have signed up to the trial and each will test practices to increase soil carbon, plant diversity and groundcover.
Participating is livestock producer Angus Whyte, owner of Wyndham Station, a 12,500 hectare pastoral property on the Anabranch River 85 kilometres north of Wentworth NSW. A long-time champion of soil health, Angus supports harmonious cooperation with the natural environment and a continuous evaluation of herd numbers as crucial to caring for the rangelands.
He said: “The Rangelands Living Skin Project recognises good producers work with Mother Nature. That entails adjusting your stocking rate to fit the available feed. Carefully managing stock levels means you don’t put too many mouths where there’s no feed. Diversity of management is also key. On the rangelands, we are unable to add fertilisers and unable to plough up the soil. You have to work with native vegetation and encourage vital bacteria. In essence, using the livestock as natural gardeners.”
Angus believes good soil practices, operating in harmony with nature, areis vital in drought management. “We’ve come through three very dry years and we’re not out of it yet. And it’s as simple as if we push the land too much, the land pushes back. You have to adapt your practices to work with conditions.”
Angus is the kind of landowner considered as a nominee for the General Jeffery Soil Health Award.
The new award has been launched to recognise the exceptional work of Australia’s first National Soils Advocate, the late Major General the Honourable Michael Jeffery, AC, AO (Mil), CVO, MC (Retd). This prestigious accolade will be presented to an individual farmer, land manager or extension specialist who is making an outstanding contribution improving, championing or educating others about soil health, and is named in his honour.
Forming part of the suite of distinguished awards within the biennial National Landcare Awards administered by Landcare Australia, the General Jeffery Soil Health Award will be presented at the biennial National Landcare Awards Gala Dinner on Thursday 5 August, 2021 held during the National Landcare Conference in Sydney. Nominations close March 31, 2021.
The award is supported by the Office of the National Soils Advocate within the Australian Government Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
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