Natural resource management high on LLS workshops agenda


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“I’ve heard it said many times that, to make meaningful change, you sometimes need a disaster.” That could explain the level of interest in a series of health-checks for farm businesses, a Local Land Services (LLS) officer has said. Senior land services officer Keith Walker said he was “pleasantly surprised” by the response to the Check, Ready, Grow workshops – but that it was the result of a growing movement. About 30 landholders from the Tamworth, Gunnedah and in-between areas went to Somerton Hall today to consider where their business was heading; and the risks and opportunities it faced. Read also: A major talking point was how a combined focus on natural resources and business assets could boost results. “We’re in the middle of … the worst drought on record and people are actively looking at how we can do things better, because what we’ve been doing isn’t working anymore,” Mr Walker said. “There is a global movement, if you like, happening towards blending production and conservation and biodiversity, so I’m glad to see the North West region is also actually considering that as well.” Speakers took guests through an informal business audit, a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis and some goal-setting. They also encouraged farmers to apply for LLS funding towards activities such as fencing, revegetation and weed control to improve catchments, native habitat, wetlands and woodlands, for example. Other programs could even help fund consultants, workshops, group establishment or monitoring equipment. “There’s a lot of people hurting and in many instances people have said to me; ‘We just can’t keep doing what we’re doing’,” Mr Walker said. “[They say]: ‘We need to look at focusing back onto our enterprise, working on our business rather than in it … and revisiting what we’re doing to look at blending production, conservation and biodiversity’.” One attendee was Wayne Chaffey, who with wife Nell runs beef cattle on a 450-hectare Somerton property. Mr Chaffey said they were both “lifelong learners” who had returned to their rural backgrounds after long education careers. “But times have changed and we still need to be learning about what makes good farming practice these days, because it’s certainly changed a lot,” he said. “There have been some big paradigm shifts, as we move from looking at the industrial agricultural scene to some regenerative agricultural practices that are going to return soil health – especially once the weather changes a little bit.” Mr Chaffey said the event had complemented a holistic management course he recently completed.

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