18.5 C
Byron Shire
January 23, 2022

Council program helps farmers ditch Roundup

Latest News

Boat people we are

We here in this country, now called Australia, need to be reminded that we started off as ‘boat people’. The...

Other News

Bungawalbin primitive bush camp: death by a thousand cuts

Locals are raising concerns in relation to a Development Application for a ‘Community Facilities – Primitive camp ground' near Coraki that they say is a site prone to severe flooding and fire risk.

Holy Joe: premium cold-drip coffee and medicinal mushrooms

After a long addiction to regular espresso and an urge to try something new, lifelong tinkerer James Bullock hammered...

Astrological gravitas

The Mullum Aeronautics and Space Administration (MASA) will soon launch the Spiders Webb telescope, which will break through to...

Boat people we are

We here in this country, now called Australia, need to be reminded that we started off as ‘boat people’. The...

Renew Fest hosts May vigil for grief

Renew Fest will host a weekend-long Vigil For Grief in May 2022, and will return with the festival itself in 2023.

Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning 19 January, 2022

Welcome back to the Brunswick Picture House Brett and Chris from the Brunswick Picture House, and their entire team, believe...

Andrew Cameron

Simon Haslam

Cattle grazing uses 88 per cent of agricultural land in Byron Shire, and an education program for local cattle farmers is helping to stop long-term recurrent use of glyphosphate for weed control. Locals, Chris Moyle, with 25ha, and Will Bourke, with 40ha in Myocum, say the program is working well for them, with neighbours saying the new approach is making their land ‘look the best it has in 20 years’.

‘Weeds exist because there’s a problem, it’s normally related to overstocking or soil compaction, which can come from set stocking cattle, but glyphosphate only treats the symptom (weeds), not the cause. If you just focus on killing weeds you will have more and more weeds, and spend your time on the symptom. It’s about managing for what you want, not managing what you don’t want,’ says local farmer, now educator, Andrew Cameron. ‘People have their reasons to use glyphosphate, but it’s better, if we can, to work with nature and its natural systems rather than adding chemicals to the system.’ 

‘Rather than just attacking weeds with chemicals, with a regenerative approach we are actioning weed control for the long term and getting a host of other benefits – that will not only reduce weed generation in the future but also improve soil fertility, improve pasture production and also carbon sequestration, because by running cattle this way we can actually draw down carbon into the soil.’

Andrew Cameron is the Agricultural Extension Officer for Council, a role created just over a year ago by a federal grant to keep agricultural production in the Shire going in the most sustainable way possible. Being a local regenerative farmer himself for the last eight years or so, he was ideally suited to help local landholders and farmers to develop regenerative agricultural practices, which are a key way to have a positive effect on climate change, our environment and biodiversity.

One project that Andrew is working on right now is to offer a more sustainable approach to pest and weed control using cattle as the tool with rotational regenerative grazing. 

‘The goal is to increase soil fertility and increase agricultural production on the land whilst reducing weeds’, says Andrew. 

‘Our agricultural land in the Shire is 88 per cent grazing, so it’s a very important starting place as this is a big chunk of land on which there is the opportunity for it to be farmed better, and so far we have assisted on 482 hectares with this particular program, and 2,247ha in total via onsite farm consultations – we’ve hosted numerous field days with local farmers, and brought them together to share knowledge. The Byron Farmers Network has been created, a database consisting of 270 local landholders and farmers, who are contacted fairly regularly about various grants and field days, and with resources that can help them.’

One of the ways to achieve better outcomes is by rotating cattle through smaller paddocks. ‘The easy way to rotate your cattle is to not do it – but there is a better way than to just leave them to wander in a huge paddock. But it takes some extra planning, effort, extra time and knowledge to move your cattle and manage your land’, says Andrew who helps farmers to move along this path.

Chris Moyle and William Bourke are two farmers who’ve attended the Holistic Land Planning workshop and developed a regenerative land plan for their farms, and they are looking at the sort of equipment needed, for which some funding will be provided, to allow them to action their regenerative approach.

Will has been the manager of his parents’ 40 hectares in Myocum but took over from his parents about a year ago. ‘We were spraying on and off for 15 years on the farm, as that was the common practice,’ he says. ‘But now we are changing direction, from three huge 30-acre paddocks, we’ve gone to 30 paddocks; from 1 to 2.5 hectares each in size, one of which is planted with trees, and we don’t need to spray for the non-woody weeds. They are still there, but the animals are not eating the toxic weeds like privet or fireweed.’ 

‘There is also a lot less fireweed than we saw on other farms; most weeds thrive on no grass or low grass, but with our longer grass we are seeing less germination of weeds as the grass barrier is stronger. It’s a long-term project, and we are noticing the changes in where the weed clumps are, so we are identifying what’s wrong with the land in each weed patch. Rather than worrying about the weeds, we are worrying about what we want, and farming for what we do want, like good grass species.

‘Using smaller paddocks, we move them as a herd, as the cattle would do in the wild,’ says Andrew. ‘They graze, they fertilise, and then they move on, allowing the land to rest and recover. As land managers, when we facilitate this natural process, the land responds incredibly well. Ideally, I’d like to see all pasture land managed this way.’

If you’d like to have a talk to Andrew about whether this method would be suitable for your cattle farm, give him a ring. You can also to sign up to the Byron Farmers Network and access farming resources on the Council website.

https://www.byron.nsw.gov.au/Business/Key-industry-sectors/Agriculture 

Contact: Andrew Cameron. Ph 6626 7223 or
[email protected]


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Israel and Palestine

As an apologist for Israel, Michael Burd (Letters, 12 January) conveniently ignores the harsh truth of Israel’s brutal oppression, while claiming there are two...

Greens Mandy Nolan to hold community forum in support of nurses and paramedics

Locally and across the state nurses, and paramedics are struggling in the face of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as they are being asked to do double shifts and manage effectively in health system that is struggling to cope. This has led to an increasing number of nurses and paramedics resigning.

NSW COVID update on COVID deaths – vax stats and comorbidities

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet again opened his COVID update with condolences to families who have lost loved ones, and thanks to the  ‘inspirational work of our health workers'.

January 21 National Cabinet on Omicron, RATs, vax and treatments

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has issued a media release about yesterday's meeting of the National Cabinet.