A CROWD of 35 farmers, researchers, hobby farmers and students packed out the Kernot Community Centre for the first ‘Growing Southern Gippsland’ field day on Wednesday, October 23.
The day included talks from experts on parasites, integrated pest management and soil microbiology from experts like researchers and a district vet, as well as a tour of a nearby dairy farm around the theme of ‘biosecurity in a changing environment’.
Growing Southern Gippsland is a Bass Coast Landcare Network project aiming to provide information on climate resilience in local agriculture, supported by RMIT University; Federation University; the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP); South Gippsland Landcare Network; Bass Coast Shire and others.
Joel Geoghegan from the Bass Coast Landcare Network said the aim of the project is to “help the agriculture community in our landscape make better informed decisions about their enterprise in a changing climate”.
“The field days are about reinforcing messages around biosecurity and climate resilience, what good practice and planning look like and also raising awareness about what might change in the future.”
After the presentations in Kernot, the event moved to the farm of Andy Thomas, who has been integrating climate resilient practices into his farm.
Andy gave a short tour about the history of his farm, the changes he has noticed and what he has done to respond to them, before district vet Will Hume gave some practical examples of the types of biosecurity measures that could be taken to keep his herd healthy.
Katie Davis, a hobby beef farmer from Lance Creek and a member of the Kongwak Hills Landcare group, was impressed by the depth of knowledge of the researchers who gave presentations, especially soil microbiology expert Dr Mary Cole.
“We’ll be making a more intensive biosecurity plan, we already have one that we were required to have to sell our cattle, but the session really made it clear the effect of disease on humans and the herd.”
The Growing Southern Gippsland project will include five more field days, but the main aspect of it will be a website with 12 case studies and a range of tools and other resources to help farmers respond to a changing climate.
“The website will be a productive research tool that will be bringing together all the information that’s around, we’re not trying to reinvent the wheel and start everything from scratch here,” Joel said.
Researchers are currently working on a series of 12 case studies throughout Bass Coast and South Gippsland that cover a range of different environments and types of farming.
On-ground research like soil tests and coring are being done to get some information about how different types of environments and agriculture are affected by climate change, to figure out what can be done to minimise the impact.
Joel says that this should give local farmers some similar situations to their own as something to look at for working out how they can become more climate resilient.
The website is set to launch mid-2020. The next field day will be at Prom Country Cheese in Moyarra on Thursday, November 28, and will focus on ‘carbon farming in a changing climate’.