Heytesbury District Landcare Network (HDLN) will lead the A$298,000 (US$184,400) project, which has been funded by the Lord Mayor’s Charitable Foundation through the Eldon and Anne Foote Trust.
Twenty farms are being recruited to take part in the two-year project and the findings will be shared across the farming community through a series of field days, discussion groups and on-ground activities.
HDLN landcare coordinator, Geoff Rollinson, said the project could pave the way for big improvements and savings for all local farmers and build their capacity as advocates for change.
“It aims to show how different soil activities can increase soil carbon, moisture content and nutrient content that ultimately results in better soil health that benefits all farmers and the environment,” Rollinson said.
Heytesbury region farmers, including dairy, are being encouraged to submit an expression of interest.
A steering group has been formed and is developing a work plan for the project. Partners are Deakin University, EAROPH, Focus, Corangamite CMA, Corangamite Shire and Triple R BioChar.
The group is also working with Agriprove to develop a platform for farmers to potentially chase carbon credits through the Emissions Reduction Fund.
During the project, a series of on-farm tests will measure soil health improvements and increases in the nutrient and vitamin value of milk.
“The objective is that over the two-year period, landholders should see improvements in those parameters and develop strategies to improve soil health and ecosystem function,” Rollinson said.
“It will look at the most cost-effective ways to achieve desired outcomes and the business case for farmers to pursue these activities.”
The project is part of a drive to advance Australian agriculture to a more sustainable form of farming by improving soil and animal health and farm productivity and reducing greenhouse gases to mitigate against negative climate impacts.
This new project will build on the success of HDLN’s Keeping Carbon on the Farm and Activating Soil Biology projects.
“This expands on previous projects and allows us to work with 20 landholders rather than the one demonstration site in the Keeping Carbon on the Farm project,” Rollinson said.
Farmers interested in participating can contact Rollinson at firstname.lastname@example.org an expression of interest form.