Climate Resilient Farmers
Regenerative Farming Initiatives
for drought resistance
We partnered with 30 farms from 2021 to 2023 to support the introduction of regenerative farming innovations that increase resistance to climate change.
The main focus has been on different ways of increasing soil carbon content, as this has proven benefits in terms of capacity for soil moisture retention capacity. Innovations involved:
minimum tillage combined with introduction of multi-species pasture plantings
enhanced composting of farm wastes for soil amendments.
rotational patterns have also been varied to ensure that pastures are not over-grazed and that woody stems are trampled into the soil to increase organic carbon content.
two farms prepared whole farm water plans to optimise storage and use.
the introduction of winter active dung beetles as another way of increasing soil health, plant productivity and associated soil carbon.
new planting of native vegetation as shelter for livestock and wind breaks, providing a range of micro-climatic benefits including mitigation of climate change impacts.
In addition to on-farm outcomes, the project also designed and tested a tool for decision making on tillage practices, reducing the risks for farmers adopting new regenerative farming practices.
Top 3 Opportunities
Jade Killoran is HDLN's supporting agronomist of our on-farm trials.
In this video she speaks to her top 3 picks for local farm businesses interested in Regenerative Agriculture opportunities.
Selected for being good for the farm business and good for the environment, they are
2. Multi-species forage crops
3. Grazing management
"From the observations I saw looking at the trials I was assisting with, I can see the potential to grow so much more feed during the less productive times. Summer active multi-species sown in Oct/Nov can and seem to be able to grow between 5-7 ton of dry matter per hectare from Nov till about March.
Winter active multi-species sown in March can do the same from March till about the end of May. That's a massive amount of dry matter at a time when the traditional rye grass is fairly dormant.
Dairy farmers can use their second or third pond effluent water to get a multi-species out of the ground. The dairy effluent is an under utilised resource."
Tony Evans, 10/4/23
94% of farms who selected this option (16 farms) showed valuable fodder produced in comparison to conventional pasture blends.
Most biomass results doubled fodder production at a minimum in the summer and early autumn period, showcasing the value of the multispecies mixes in improving the summer and early autumn feed wedge.
These 16 farms have continued using multispecies after the completion of the project.
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Multispecies Forage Crops Series
Click on the links below to read a profile (usually 3-4 pages).
A Cultivation Calculator, believed to be an Australian first, has been developed to help farmers assess how much cultivation work they need to make better pastures.
The calculator has emerged as one of the positive outcomes from the Increasing Soil Carbon and Climate Resilient Farms projects coordinated by Heytesbury District Landcare Network (HDLN).
The projects also found that multispecies pastures can have a huge benefit in late spring and summer.
The projects have included trials based on regenerative agriculture practices to demonstrate how increasing soil biology and adopting minimum or appropriate tillage methods and changing from monoculture pasture species to multispecies can improve soil, animal, pasture and human health.
The Cultivation Calculator was developed by project team members Healthy Farming Systems cover crop advisor Jade Killoran and regenerative farming advisor and partner in Camperdown Compost, Tony Evans.
Ms Killoran said the calculator came about as a response to sowing trials across 20 farms in the project, particularly after noticing spring minimal tillage machines and direct drilling producing unsuccessful results compared to more aggressive cultivation.
The calculator has four categories; time of sowing, previous paddock preparation, previous pastures or crops within the past six months, and soil type. Farmers can score each of the categories and their total score suggests a cultivation method to increase the likelihood of success for future sowings.
Ms Killoran said it aimed to make decisions easier for farmers and to make sowing more successful for multispecies crops or any sowing operation.
“It’s an easy-to-use tool and the categories are quite broad but it helps farmers to place their paddock in a scenario and make it easier to plan whether to do light, medium or heavy cultivation.
“It takes some of the guess work out of sowing a multispecies or any type of crop or pasture.”
Ms Killoran said the Increasing Soil Carbon and Climate Resilient Farms projects showed that farms in the Western District have winter-dominant rainfall and can grow autumn and winter pastures into spring very successfully, but the pasture becomes dormant in late spring and summer. “We found that’s where the multispecies had a fantastic impact with producing feed later in the season and the dual benefit of keeping the ground covered and protected for soil health.
“From a production viewpoint, sowing multispecies in spring to boost late spring and summer production was where it was really successful.”
Ms Killoran said the trials produced very high-quality feed. “Because of the mix, the animal has the ability to self-regulate their diet and the mix gives energy, protein and fibre at various times of the season.”
Ms Killoran said there was a huge upsurge in interest in multispecies pastures and she expects it will be taken up by more farmers in the next 5-10 years. “It’s a space worth watching,” she said.
Have a Listen
Our series of six podcasts shows how farmers in south-west Victoria are doing things differently and cutting costs. Find them here.
Heytesbury District Landcare Network (HDLN) has recruited 30 farms to its Climate Resilient Farms Project and now they want to tell other farmers about the amazing results they are achieving.
Understanding that farmers are busy people, to help spread the word, HDLN has come up with the perfect solution – a series of six podcasts which can be listened to in the comfort of the tractor.
While modern technology takes care of the hay baling, farmers can find out how to gain a 25 per cent increase in dry matter yield in only a year and with no artificial inputs, why one farmer has gone from 10 to 50 worms in a shovelful of soil, how chooks could be a solution to Red-legged earth mite on clover, how one little dung beetle can bury a single cow pad in just 48 hours, why planting shelter belts, chicory and plantain saves on vet bills, how to make the perfect pasture compost, what to put in your pasture mix to make paddocks more climate resilient, and how to make electric vehicles part of your farm.
Hear how farmers do things differently and cut costs here.
Watch 'Visiting the Conrons'
Supported by Corangamite Shire Council’s Environment Support Grant and
Tony Evans, co-founder of Camperdown Compost
Jade Killoran, Healthy Farming Systems
Dr Jane Stanley, FOCUS Pty Ltd
Dr Tim Tutt, Tutt Environmental Pty Ltd
Dr Alecia Bellgrave, Deakin University
Thiru Somasundaram, Deakin University
Helen Douglas, Triple R Biochar
And from HDLN
Geoff Rollinson, Kate Leslie and Lyndell Driscoll
With much gratitude to the landholders.