Landcare - Building a better tomorrow

The increased role of digital technology featured throughout this year’s National Landcare Conference: Landcare - Building a Better Tomorrow, held in Brisbane in October

Attended by Landcare staff, facilitators and community and industry representatives from across Australia, the conference also provided an opportunity to network and learn what is happening in the Landcare space.

Key highlights of the conference included:

• Transforming food and farming through digital technology, looking at digital technologies, data analytics and artificial intelligence and working with data to provide producers with the right information that can be used to enhance decision-making;

• The growing Carbon Industry and the need for a carbon industry road map drawing together finance, policy and communications to support this opportunity.

• Programs linking cattle production with sustainable grazing land management. The Northern Territory’s Precision Pastoral Management Tools (PPMT) Project developed a cloud-based software system, the Precision Pastoral Management System (PPMS), which remotely monitors and analyses pasture and cattle production without labour or skill inputs from producers. During testing, the PPMS identified pasture quality declining three months earlier than expected and the cattle weight decline five weeks earlier. Preventing an average herd weight loss of 10kg/animal across 400 head provided an annual saving of $12,000 for one producer. This program was shared at the Marla Oodnadatta Field Day and the program was a winner in the National Landcare Awards under the Australian Government Innovation in Agriculture Land Management section.

• A Women in Agriculture session discussed how to better design engagement processes for women and the need for stories that broaden who speaks for the agricultural sector, especially in social media.

• Barossa Improved Grazing Group (BIGG) technical facilitator Brett Nietschke discussed measuring soil moisture for better pasture management in local grazing systems using a telemetry-based monitoring stations. Knowing how full the soil profile is and how quickly moisture is depleted can help graziers make informed management decisions with NRM benefits. BIGG is currently using recorded data to develop a tool that will help graziers determine sustainable stocking rates for their properties.

• Two key note addresses set the tone for each day of the conference. The first being ANU Climate Change Institute Director Professor Mark Howden, discussed the alarming findings of the recent IPCC reports and present opportunities for Landcare involvement and leadership towards a climate change strategy for Landcare. Emeritus Professor Bill Gammage also spoke on Learning from 1788: Water salt, grass, wood and fire; to highlight why understanding the past is important.