Farmers focus on soil for East Gippsland recovery in Bendoc, Bonang and Tubbut

A group of Landholders in the Bendoc, Bonang and Tubbut district have engaged in the TopSoils program delivered by Snowy River Interstate Landcare Committee.

Declan McDonald of SESL Australia provided a workshop for farmers at Delegate River before bushfire and coronavirus restrictions interrupted TopSoils training in early 2020.

Declan McDonald of SESL Australia provided a workshop for farmers at Delegate River before bushfire and coronavirus restrictions interrupted TopSoils training in early 2020.

Landholders in the Snowy River catchment of East Gippsland manage competing demands in order to produce high quality livestock. Not only has the 2017-2020 drought been a taxing period in East Gippsland, there is also a large variation between seasonal conditions.

Overlay the vagaries of bushfire, wild dog predation, and changing market conditions particularly for wool, and it is clear that our high country farmers need to manage high-impact risks. Careful use of resources through soil and pasture management can even out some of these risks.

Chair of the Snowy River Interstate Landcare Committee, Mr Robert Belcher, confirmed that local support for farmers is essential for better regional economies and natural resources.

Colin Seis (left) speaks with Bendoc Farmer Eddie Sellers (right) about managing Winter feed gaps in order to promote soil health.

Colin Seis (left) speaks with Bendoc Farmer Eddie Sellers (right) about managing Winter feed gaps in order to promote soil health.

"Our farmers look for accurate and independent support when it comes to pasture, soil and stock improvements. We have embraced the TopSoils project because it allows people to develop skills and knowledge of soil function, and this helps to reduce the financial risks of farm investments. Participants are receiving information to target the use of limited resources. We also recognise that profitable farming supports our rural communities, and this is now a critical issue," Mr Belcher said.

Mr Belcher stated that the TopSoils program has allowed landholders to participate in workshops and gain support from some of Australia's leading agricultural coaches. Training has been delivered by Declan McDonald of SESL Australia, Graeme Hand of STIPA Native Grasses Association, and Colin Seis who is known for his international training in pasture cropping and building soil organic matter.

Declan McDonald of SESL delivered a workshop in November at Delegate River, demonstrating plant tissue sampling as a tool for managing soil condition, pasture productivity, and livestock health. This workshop focussed on the link between soil nutrients, soil microbial activity, and plant function.

"Since the Victorian bushfires from November 2019 have eased, we have re-engaged Declan McDonald of SESL to help participants with their soil sampling program. This includes guidance on soil test results, and discussion about pasture options that improve soil quality," Mr Belcher said.

Through the TopSoils project, Snowy River Interstate Landcare Committee is working with a range of partners to help improve farm profitability and soil quality across East Gippsland. This project is funded through the Commonwealth Government's National Landcare Program, and through the support of the East Gippsland Catchment Management Authority.

Snowy River Interstate Landcare Committee is a community-based organisation that delivers natural resource and agricultural projects in the eastern NSW/Victorian border region. Formed in the early 1990's, it is one of the oldest Landcare organisations dedicated to rural projects and communities.

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