Increasing sustainability in the Northern and Yorke agricultural sector

The Northern and Yorke region's dryland farming enterprises (crops and livestock) are a key producer of agricultural commodities in South Australia and contribute significantly to the state’s export earnings. Historically, the region’s intensive farming activity resulted in large areas of land at risk from degradation. With the advent of conservation farming practices, considerable progress has been made in improving both productivity and sustainability.

This sub-program builds on the region’s previous sustainable agriculture programs by continuing to provide land managers with innovative and best-practice knowledge and skills to reduce the effects of water and wind erosion, improve soil condition, increase biological activity, reduce risks from pest plants and animals, and counter soil acidity.

Who is involved?

The region’s key grower and landholder groups have been extensively consulted in the development of this sub-program and many will be directly involved as delivery agents. More than 1,200 farmers will be engaged by the program, delivering benefits to 250,000 hectares of land and directly influencing the management of an additional 2,400,000 hectares.

What are program partners doing?

Ag Excellence Alliance

  • Improved soil cover on erodible soils will be achieved through:
    • improved summer and autumn grazing practices
    • improved crop establishment practices on non-wetting sands.
  • Improvements will be made in our understanding of snail ecology, to reduce the negative effects of management practices and limit their effects on productivity and farm income.
  • Managing acidity and erosion by increasing farmer knowledge of soil properties will be achieved through a series of 'oil pit' workshops.
  • Increasing the level of understanding of the benefits of enhancing the health of farm ecosystems to improve sustainability and productivity.

Rural Solutions SA

  • Increasing soil acidity in the medium-high rainfall zones will be addressed through a series of Combating Soil Acidity workshops and extension activities.

Northern Sustainable Soils Group

  • With limited suitable herbicide options currently available, grassy weeds in stubble retention systems can result in reductions in crop value of up to 40%. Demonstration sites will be established to convey techniques to control grassy weeds in no-till production.

Greening Australia

  • Historically, considerable topsoil has been lost in the semi-arid systems due to elevated grazing pressures and the effects of wind erosion, resulting from the loss of ground cover. In addition to improvements in stock management practices, feral herbivore management is required to reduce total grazing pressure in the non-arable rangelands and decrease topsoil loss. Considerable effort has been made to control both rabbit and feral goat numbers in the southern Flinders Ranges – this sub-project will continue the large-scale feral goat control program.
  • The participation of landholders and growers groups in natural resources management planning will be increased through their participation in sustainable agriculture conservation action planning.

Upper North Farming Systems Group

  • Adoption of pasture production zoning will be increased to improve sustainability and production in the southern Flinders Ranges.

SA No Till Farming Association and Conservation Agriculture Australia

  • Improvements will be made in sustainable resource management through poultry farming and cropping collaborations.

Partners

Ag Excellence Alliance; Rural Solutions SA; Northern Sustainable Soils Group; Greening Australia; Upper North Farming Systems Group; SA No Till Farming Association and Conservation Agriculture Australia

Funding partners

  • Commonwealth Caring for our Country – Sustainable Agriculture Stream

Location