10 members of the Upper Lachlan Landcare network soil health group were invited to attend a series of biological farming workshops in Lismore last month with Gary Zimmer and Leilani Zimmer Durand. The workshops were hosted by SoilCare Inc through funding from the Australian Governments Caring for Our Country. The idea of the workshops was to help farmers from around Australia to advance biological farming practices in their region.
‘What makes a successful biological farmer?
Skilled biological farmers learn how to take care of soil life – they nurture it, feed it a balanced diet, and use tillage tools and methods to enhance soil life. They must understand proper use of livestock manure, compost and green manure crops. They learn how to evaluate soil for its health, tilth, and soil life’. Gary Zimmer, author of The Biological Farmer
The 3 x 3 day workshops targeted different groups with an Educators, Horticulture/Cropping and Grazing/Cropping groups.
Based Zimmer’s book “ The Biological Farmer” The workshops covered everything to do with “Biology, Chemistry and Soil Structure … the three legs of biological farming”; over three full days led by the energetic and passionate Gary Zimmer and his daughter Leilani Zimmer Durand. There were also plenty of highly skilled Tafe and Soilcare staff giving presentations and assisting with local questions.
The workshops were also an opportunity for the educators and farmers to become familiar with the Northern Rivers Soil Health Card (SHC) and to learn how to adapt the Soil Health Card in their respective regions. (find out more about the soil health card here http://www.soilcare.org/news/soil-health-card-video-part-1/)
As a result of this workshop Upper Lachlan Landcare is going to develop a soil health card based on the Northern Rivers example through agronomist David Hardwicke. Landcare groups in the Upper Lachlan will be developing their own kits using the RASH Method.(Rapid Analysis of Soil Health) We are hoping to run these information sessions with David in June.
It was also an opportunity to visit the Environmental Analysis Lab where all of the soil testing is done and to have a chat with Graham Lancaster from EAL about current soil tests and how to interpret them.
The intention of the workshops are to advance the skills of farmers to become recognized as leaders in biological farming with farmers selected from around Australia including Western Australia, Queensland, Tasmania, Victoria and NSW.
Soilcare Inc. said that the feedback from the participants has been very encouraging and underscores the need for a national biological farming conference.
Following on from these workshops and in conjunction with SoilCare Inc. Upper Lachlan Landcare will be hosting fellow American, Bob Shaffer, to run a 2 day workshop at John Weatherstones in Gunning. Course details will be available shortly however the dates will be Thursday 22nd and Friday 23rd May at Lyndfield Park Gunning.