Backing the next generation of smart farmers

Farmers are being given a helping hand to adopt the next generation of sustainable farming practices in the latest round of the Australian Government’s Smart Farms Small Grants.

Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management David Littleproud said 84 innovative projects aimed at boosting farmers’ agricultural productivity and natural resource management have been awarded funding.

“Our farmers produce the best food and fibre in the world because of their ingenuity, resilience and incredible work ethic,” Minister Littleproud said.

“They have always looked after the land and this program supports their continued environmental stewardship by backing clever ideas that deliver on-ground results.

“The government is investing almost $6.5 million through the fourth round of Smart Farms Small Grants.

“These grants aim to improve environmental, economic and social outcomes through better sustainability, productivity and profitability in the food, fibre and forestry industries.

One such project, being delivered by Birchip Cropping Group, is investigating the use of multispecies cover crops in low rainfall broadacre mixed farming.

“The project will focus on providing outcomes that benefit mixed farming systems, where livestock can supplement a winter cash crop operation,” said Birchip Cropping Group CEO, Fiona Best.

“Using local knowledge, we will help our farmers make better, more cost-effective crop management decisions that optimise soil health.”

Another project, being delivered by Mallee Sustainable Farming is looking to deliver research and development to the farm by establishing industry-led digital extension hubs across Victoria, South Australia and the New South Wales mallee.

“This exciting work will provide virtual access to local research sites and curate a continuous Q&A service for farmers visiting the hubs,” said Mallee Sustainable Farming Executive Officer, Lachlan Sutton

“By linking farmers to farmers, and farmers to researchers virtually we can get information out to them while they’re in the tractor cab. For time poor farmers, this will be a total game changer and allow us to deliver improvements across up to 4 million hectares MSF covers as well as the rest of Australia.”

“These are just two examples of how grower groups, landcare groups and other organisations are helping farmers to think clever and make a real impact on the ground”, Minister Littleproud said.

“I am excited by all of the great ideas put forward by the successful applicants under Smart Farms Small Grants.

“This is a key National Landcare Program initiative and part of the government’s commitment to helping industry towards its target of growing the sector to $100 billion by 2030.”

Source: Australian Government