Soil health is the basis of productivity and sustainability. By using nutrients effectively, managing ground cover, plant health and soil carbon, a healthy soil can reduce erosion, salinity, nutrient runoff and emissions, as well as improving water use efficiency and quality. The West Gippsland Healthy Soils -Sustainable Farms project aims to build farmers awareness around soil health constraints, improve knowledge around managing soils, plants, nutrients and grazing, leading to improved practices based on the information gained. Demonstration sites showcasing best practice and innovation have been established and selected participants are supported in undertaking management plans to suit their particular property and areas of concern. Information and practical experience is shared through discussion groups, field days, web based communication, regional forums and the Gippsland Sustainable Agriculture Network (GSAN).
SGLN has contributed by running a number of events and demonstrations for this project during the five years the project has been running. Here are the links to the resources for the events and trials.
Farming off the grid – a field day to be held on Nov 14th on the property of Bruce Whittaker and Jillian Staton, Liptrap
Using renewable energy to power a new grazing enterprise will be one of the main topics for discussion at a Healthy Soils Sustainable Farms field day at Cape Liptrap on Tuesday, 14 November.
Small-scale beef farmers, Jillian Staton and Bruce Whittaker will describe how they have transformed a 100 acre agistment block into an easy-to-manage and increasingly productive grazing property.
Initial improvements included subdividing larger paddocks and installing a laneway, and the construction of new, covered yards with a curved race. The real game-changer, however, was the installation of a solar-powered reticulation system that has enabled the couple to rotationally graze the entire property all year round.
Already, the couple are noticing marked improvements in pasture composition and cover, consistent with the goals put forward in the nutrient management plan prepared by Lisa Warne as part of the Health Soils Sustainable Farms program.
Bruce will describe the process he went through in choosing the best system to feed water troughs around the farm, and some of the challenges encountered along the way.
Bruce and Jillian will also discuss the factors that led them to choose to go completely off-grid when building their home on the property. Electrician Wayne Smith will talk about the off-grid system that he helped design and install, which includes 10kw of solar panels, a solar-powered hot water system, LPG for cooking, and provision in the future for a back-up generator and/or wind turbine.
The Cape Liptrap field day, which is being hosted by the South Gippsland Landcare Network, will start at 10.30am. Morning tea will be provided but please BYO lunch and chair. To RSVP and get directions to the property, please contact Jenny O’Sullivan on 0419 153 377 or firstname.lastname@example.org.