With advances in access to information and technology, knowledge isn’t just increasing. It’s increasing at an increasing rate. In 2011, you consumed about five times as much information per day as you would have just a quarter century earlier.
As of 1950, it took about fifty years for knowledge in medicine to double. By 1980, medical knowledge was doubling every seven years, 5 and by 2010, it was doubling in half that time. The accelerating pace of change means that we need to question our beliefs more readily than ever before. Source Adam Grant ‘Think Again”
Australian farmers are excited about the possibility of using the information and technology gains in the agriculture sector in the last 50 years to see if we can progress towards #NetZeroFarming. Agriculture is uniquely placed to be part of the climate solution, as both
an emissions source and a sink. As farmers we have a special responsibility to protect carbon reserves already in our soils
and vegetation. But we must and we can do more.
There is no single answer to this problem. To achieve our aim we will need a range of measures that fall under three broad
• Improving farming’s productive efficiency;
• Improving land management and changing land use to capture more carbon;
• Boosting renewable energy and the wider bio economy
Journalist Matt Da Silva is deeply interested in the journey our farmers are on and has reached out to our team to help them share their journey and help us explain it in a way that we can all understand
In this first part of a two part series Matt is working on with Young Farming Champion Emma Ayliffe we get an understanding of the knowledge and tools Emma and her partner Craig are using to progress to #NetZero on their farm
“Our vision involves capitalising on the resources we have in a marginal environment and finding the systems that best suit our landscape to ensure the farm is able to be productive and profitable well into the future.”
Business and/or property name: C & E Pastoral, Gleeson’s
Business partners: Emma Ayliffe and partner Craig and his family
Farm size: 1700 acres (688 hectares)
Farm locality/region: Burgooney, Lake Cargelligo (roughly northwest of Wagga Wagga, in the central west of New South Wales, about 550km from Sydney)
Topography: rolling hills, red loam
Rainfall: 360mm per year
Primary outputs: Wool, first cross lambs, grains (mainly wheat but also some oats, barley and canola)
Secondary outputs: If above average rainfall, may plant canola, chickpeas, mungbeans.
The farm is in a low rainfall production area with a tendency to have a “sharp” (i.e. hot and dry) finish to the year. Our growing season rainfall is only around 180mm, and to put that in perspective the average annual rainfall for NSW is 555mm/year and the high production areas of NSW such as Temora in North Eastern Riverina sit closer to 600mm/year.
Opportunity cropping (secondary outputs) depends on amount of moisture in the field, the market (some crops might have a higher price at any given time) as well as the time of year.
We’ve being making decisions around what we can do to improve the health of our soils. In our low rainfall environment ensuring that we have the soil structure to store moisture and support plant growth in the driest of times is critically important.
Emma Ayliffe and Craig her partner, with dogs Millie and Dexter.
Everything we do is about trying new techniques and tools, based on research, in our environment so that we can always be improving, being better stewards for our environment and ensuring we can feed and clothe the world well into the future.
As a seed, a plant requires water, air, nutrients and heat for germination. Then to be able to maximise growth the plant needs a biologically active soil biota. This includes soil fungi and bacteria, which enables good soil structure and nutrient cycling, leading to optimum plant health. It is the interaction between all of these factors that determines how well plants and crops grow.
We are moving to a minimum till/strategic tillage system that means using knife-point press wheels. Minimum tillage means avoiding anything that causes major soil disturbance, hence the knife-point press wheel system. Strategic tillage is similar but allows for one significant soil disturbance pass no more than one year in eight. This strategy reduces erosion, conserves moisture, and maintains soil structure.
A knife point (see photo below) is narrower than a coulter but does the same job, only without disturbing the soil as much. The press wheel comes in behind the knife point and closes the furrow.
Research tells working the soil one year in eight is fine. It ensures that we are managing issues like compaction while maximising productivity and soil health. Compaction happens not only due to farming equipment but also due to cattle, which are brought into fields to feed on the stubble as well as on lost grain that has fallen on the earth during harvest. And soils are naturally hard setting.
In our environment ground cover is critical as we can never be sure if and when the next rain event is going to occur. Ground cover helps to reduce evaporation and erosion.
The photo below shows a moment during the 2020 harvest.
Thanks Matt for sharing Emma and Craig’s journey to #NetZeroFarming. Read how Matt blogged Emma’s story here
Like farmers we can all be part of the solution. The cost of food waste to the Australian economy is estimated to be around $20 billion each year. Australian consumers throw away around 3.1 million tonnes of food—that’s close to 17,000 grounded 747 jumbo jets.
The impact of food waste also includes the energy, fuel and water used to grow food that may not be used. When food waste is sent to landfill, it contributes to greenhouse gas emissions.
To help address this important issue, the Australian Government committed in 2016 to develop a National Food Waste Strategy to establish a framework to support actions that work towards halving Australia’s food waste by 2030. This ambitious goal aligns with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 12 for sustainable consumption and production patterns
Join the movement and Fight Food Waste