Soil testing is informing planned paddock demonstrations in the regenerative agriculture project.

FIFTEEN months in, the North Central Catchment Management Authority’s (CMA) Regenerative Agriculture project is enjoying strong interest with over 100 landholders participating in four groups across the North Central CMA region.

The project offers grants to community groups in priority areas to increase the adoption of improved land management practices and technologies that protect against soil carbon decline, wind erosion, soil acidification, and vegetation and biodiversity loss. The aim is to regenerate and reinvigorate the productive and ecological health of the region’s soils.

The four landholder groups – centred on Castlemaine, Talbot, Normanville and Raywood – are funded to run workshops and implement on-farm demonstrations of regenerative agricultural practices and to collect robust data that maximises the learnings from each demonstration.

Conducting baseline soil testing and delivering workshops covering soil health, plant species and managing for a changing climate has led to planned paddock demonstrations to put the learnings into practice. The activities are designed to address knowledge gaps and develop confidence in implementing the practices required to increase soil carbon and protect the soil from wind erosion.

Surveying indicates that 62 per cent of landholder participants are considering trialling practices such as cover crops, multispecies crops, and grazing management to increase ground cover. These will be supported in future years of the project.

The current focus of each group is:

Castlemaine – soil and plant health, baseline soil testing, and demonstrations for improving pasture cover and management.

Talbot – reviewing results of cover crop trials and work with bio stimulants and biofertilizers, compost and worm products.

Normanville – pulse agronomy and year one demonstration results of chicken manure compared with varying rates of nitrogen and phosphorus across high and low-yielding areas.

Raywood – reviewing results of multispecies cover crop trials sown into existing lucerne paddocks, soil testing, and establishing a grazing fodder shrubs demonstration to fill feed gaps.

Collaborative partnerships have been formed with Agriculture Victoria and industry leaders participating in events providing mentoring, skills and knowledge to support the adoption of regenerative agriculture practices on farm.

The project is supported by the North Central CMA with funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

To get involved, or for further information on the North Central CMA’s Regenerative Agriculture project, contact Project Manager Felicity Harrop. The group coordinator contacts are: Castlemaine – Deane Belfield; Talbot – Ross Davey; Normanville – Anne Jackman; and Raywood – Penny Wall.