: Farms With A Future

About the Project

The Farms with a Future Project is part of the $125 million of National Landcare Programme investment that Local Land Services is delivering to boost farm gate productivity and improve environmental health across NSW.

Our objective is to overcome the problem of degradation of farm lands, specifically in relation to soil, water and biodiversity. We aim to help overcome the failure to maximise the use of sustainable farming methods to improve soils, retain and protect water and enhance biodiversity by demonstrating in a practical, hands-on way, how this can be done.

We believe that the best way to support farmers to implement change is to show them the positive outcomes of changes that have already been implemented, show then how to do it themselves, and to give them the confidence to undertake or commission such work.

The project will improve the quality of landscape-scale outcomes to reduce environmental threats and pressures by:

·       engaging farmers in hands-on activities on farms where sustainable farming methods are being used to improve soil carbon, water retention and biodiveristy with a focus on skills transfer to enable them to undertake those practices themselves on their own properties: and

·        providing those farmers with assistance to apply those sustainable farming practices to their own properties (in the form of assistance to develop a Sustainable Farm Plan and assistance to implement that plan).

The project will have a new intake of participants each year for 3 years.

The practices experienced will help farmers improve the quality of the natural resource base by reducing the use of biocides in the environment, reducing runoff and soil loss, and encouraging farm biodiversity (including soil biota, farm insect life, bird life, native vegetation etc). Earth works and soil conditioning that increase soil moisture will have a beneficial effect the whole farm ecology, not just on agricultural crops and pastures. These practices will also benefit neighbouring farms and downstream properties.

The practices being promoted are selected on the basis of both environmental and economic sustainability, thus increasing the chance of adoption. By focusing on organic practices (which typically require fewer purchased inputs than agribusiness solutions) costs can be reduced. Polyculture can produce by-products that are valuable inputs in other farm activities (eg manures, soil conditioners, mulches, fodder).

Farmers will meet others who are using these practices; get hands-on experience of the practices; have access site-specific designs and to progress and monitoring information; and perhaps have their farms accepted as future project sites. Farmers whose properties are used will be offered incentive funding in exchange for in kind contributions to the project.

Others who are not directly engaged in the project will be assisted to adopt the practices through the case studies on the project website, the displays at Ag Shows and other community events, and through educational material published in SCPA News.