Regenerative agriculture specialists from across the South East are among a program of speakers and participants at a national conference on farming and ecological health.
The ‘Farming Matters’ 2020 Conference and Field Days, to be held in Albury on March 24 and 25, will address the theme ‘For our Love of the Land’ and will be headlined by global holistic agriculture leader figure Allan Savory.
Monaro woolgrower, author and research associate at the ANU’s Fenner School of the Environment, Dr Charles Massy, will speak on ‘Australia’s Anthropocene Crisis and Regenerative Solutions’, while the Mulloon Institute at Bungendore will be represented by chair and former Eden Monaro MP Gary Nairn.
Speaking to ABC Radio in January, Mr Nairn said that degraded waterways and poor soil management are a national concern as the nation grapples with drought and fire, and that a change in attitude towards regenerative practises was urgently needed in the wake of the summer’s natural disasters.
“We are pushing hard to get a change in attitude … it will assist dramatically in making the agricultural sector resilient to extremes that come along,” Mr Nairn said.
“In getting a rehydrated landscape you become more resilient to fire, drought, it also mitigates some of the flooding aspects. It’s all about slowing the water down, holding it in the landscape longer.”
Mr Massy’s most recent book Call of the Reed Warbler, A New Agriculture, A New Earth, has been widely acclaimed and is being published in the US. Based on his regenerative farming experience on the family sheep property at Cooma and that of other farmers who have transitioned from traditional methods, the book was described by environmentalist Tim Flanery as “a brutally honest book – an account of personal redemption following generations of sin”.
Other speakers at the conference will include Walter Jehne from Regenerate Earth, an internationally recognised soil microbiologist and innovation strategist who has advised the CSIRO and Australia’s National Soil Advocate on science.
In 2003, Allan Savory received Australia’s International Banksia Award “for the person or organisation doing the most for the environment on a global scale,” and in 2010 Savory (and the Africa Centre) received the Buckminster Fuller Institute’s Challenge award for work that has “significant potential to solve humanity’s most pressing problems.”
A TED talk Savory gave in 2013 has received close to 7 million views and in 2014 was voted one of the 50 most intriguing TED talks of all time.
“No group of farmers in the world has weathered droughts, fires, bad agricultural policies and financial hard times better than those beginning to manage holistically,” according to Savory.
“It’s no surprise because almost all that ails us is linked to one underlying cause – reductionist management.”
As Australia suffers through extreme drought, heat, bushfires and disrupted weather, landholders are asking how to best build resilient landscapes. The conference will host a range of practitioners and thinkers experienced in innovative and proven methods of building natural capital, soil health and biodiversity within prosperous rural businesses.
Presentations and field trips will examine how to make better decisions during tough times; restore water catchments; increase forage, livestock and wildlife production; raise crop yields through concentrated animal impact; restore damaged or degraded land; implement the highest animal welfare standards, and create vibrant supportive community groups.