October 2019
Stories, News & Events from the District
Lower Blackwood Spring Field Day A Winner!
The weather gods pulled out all the stops for a fantastic day out for the 2019 Lower Blackwood Spring Field Day .

Over 30 participants spent the day in the sunshine visiting 4 very diverse & fabulous farming properties in beautiful Rosa Glen.

The information packed day had participants learning all about grazing and fertiliser management, legume inoculation, the excitement and challenges of running an agritourism business, and small batch vineyard management and winemaking. The day wound up with some great networking & information sharing over a bit of small batch wine tasting & nibbles.

 Thanks so much to our wonderful farm hosts and presenters for making it such a great day!
Estuary Community Update
The view from the Augusta Hotel made the perfect backdrop to the HARDY INLET ESTUARY FORUM held earlier this month.

An informative range of presentations on the Estuary's health, our current REI farmer engagement projects, & the new dairy effluent z filter trial in the Scott River showed just how much work is being done to monitor & improve the health of our water ways.

Thanks to the Department of Water & Regional Estuaries Initiative (REI) Team , the Augusta Margaret River Clean Community Energy Group & our Lower Blackwood Project Officers for their great work.
The Regional Estuaries Initiative (REI) is a four-year, $20 million Royalties for Regions program to improve the health of six Western Australian estuaries being delivered in partnership with the Department of Water.
Call Out From Growers Group
Are you a beef producer in the Lower South West region interested in autumn fodder crops ?  
The Lower South West Growers Group is currently seeking interested producers who would like to participate in trials of autumn forage crops to address the seasonal feed gap. For more information and to register your interest please contact Jo Wren by email or phone.

Who is the Lower South West Growers Group?
Formally the Scott River Growers Group Margaret River Region, the Lower South West Growers Group formed in September 2000 by a group of local producers, service providers and community members. 

Today the group is focuses on highlighting and celebrating our wonderful Lower South West Agriculture Industry, providing information and opportunities to our producers and attracting agricultural research and development to the region to progress the industry in a sustainable manner.
Time to Plan for Blackberry Control

When it comes to 'scary' weeds Blackberry is right up there - its prickly stems (canes) can take root simply where they touch the ground, and can form thickets up to several metres high! This, combined with very rapid growth (50–80 mm a day in spring), means it can take over an area fast. No surprise then that Blackberry is deemed a 'Weed of National Significance' and is regarded as one of the worst weeds in Australia because of its invasiveness, potential for spread, and economic and environmental impacts.

Blackberry's biological weak link for established plants is during its fruiting & flowering season (November to April), & at the seedling stage for new plants (September to December)..so if you haven't started yet it is definitely time to get organised.
Find out more about this prickly monster weed here.
WE CAN HELP! Landholders along the catchment waterways are eligible for a 50% funding incentive for blackberry control works along the riparian zone and associated bushland, with the LCDC coordinating the works.
Pig Biosecurity Alert
Open Letter to Pig Owners from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development
WA Chief Veterinary Officer Michelle Rodan has written to all registered pig owners in WA about actions they can take to reduce the risk of African swine fever occurring in Western Australia.

Read the letter here
Healthy Rivers Website Now Online

A new interactive website launched last month by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation , highlights the incredible value our river ecosystems have to the community, tourism and economy. 

The website shares information collected through the Department's Healthy Rivers Program , which to date has assessed the health of more than 160 separate rivers and streams across more than 350 sites in the South-West.
The website also gives a detailed breakdown of our rivers fauna & soon to come it's flora. Take look for yourself.
Unique & Special to the South West: Red-winged Fairywren (Malurus elegans)
In the Know!
How do I know if my soils are healthy?

Monitoring soil health provides us with a valuable opportunity to know how are we doing, if we are making progress toward our respective goals, is “it” working and are things improving?  

These 8 indicators - compaction, water infiltration, rooting depth & structure, worm numbers, soil insects, structure, colour, & smell , will give you a very good idea & all you need is a shovel to find out!

Read more about what to look for in each of these indicators in this blog by Jules Matthews from Integrity Soils.

How do I improve my soil?

If your shovel work tells you that your soils aren't in such good shape there definitely steps you can take to restore them, & in doing so improve the structure, microbial life, nutrient density, and overall carbon levels of your soil. 

Soil quality can improve dramatically when farmers and gardeners maintain constant ground cover, increase microbe populations, encourage biological diversity, reduce the use of agricultural chemicals, and avoid tillage.

Dr Christine Jones , renowned Australian Soil Ecologist outlines her FIVE CORE PRINCIPLES FOR SOIL RESTORATION in this fascinating article which also covers a range of other interlinking topics including: the power of photosynthesis, the plant-microbe bridge, restoring nutrient density to our food, & the soil carbon sink.
Eco Premium:
Regenerative agriculture pays off for primary producers

If you didn't catch this Landline story , its well worth a viewing as it showcases a number of farmers who are finding that a switch to regenerative agricultural methods is paying dividends for them.

They have found that enhancing the entire eco-system of a farm can not only improve output but attract ‘virtue market’ consumers prepared to pay for high standards of animal welfare and environmental stewardship.

Although the landline story is focused on farmers on the East Coast the same is happening over here in the west - take a look at the story of Dianne & Ian Heggerty farming in the Wyalkatchem, Dowerin, Cunderdin and Meckering districts, who against all odds, are turning sand into profit.

There are also a number of South West farmers who have recognised the value, both environmentally and for their bottom line, of moving to regenerative practices. The farmers have signed up with Wide Open Agriculture Ltd , under the company's Dirty Clean Food Brand which offers regeneratively grown animal and plant-based products to Australian and Asian markets.

With CSIRO estimating that the Health and sustainability market could be worth $25 billion to Australian producers by 2030, these farmers appear to be ahead of the curve.
Want to Know more about Regenerative Agriculture?
There is a plethora of resources out there about Regenerative Agriculture, so much so that it can be rather daunting. Here are some handy links to help you cut down on your search time!

  • Groundswell Online Bookstore - gives a great selection of books covering Conservation Agriculture and regenerative systems, including no-till, cover crops and re-introducing livestock into the arable rotation, with a view to improving soil health. (OK the prices are in pounds but it's a handy list & you'll be able to find individual books on other online stores in AUD$)

  • Ground Cover - produced by the Regenerative Ag Alliance & Southern Cross University, this is a uniquely Australian podcast series exploring real life stories of land managers who have undertaken the transition from conventional farming to regenerative agriculture. 

  • The RegenNarration - Hosted by Anthony James, award-winning facilitator and educator, and Honorary Research Associate at the University of Western Australia, the fortnightly podcasts share the stories of regeneration from high profile to grass-roots leaders. 

  • Soils for Life Videos featuring prominent Australians and successful farmers talking about regenerative agriculture practices.

Upcoming Events with Lower Blackwood LCDC
'Talkin' After Hours: A Free Workshop & Networking BBQ
OR CONTACT: Kate Tarrant, Communications Officer
T. 9758 4021 | M. 0409203056 | E. kate.tarrant@lowerblackwood.com.au

Essential minerals are often overlooked in the scheme of livestock nutrition. However, they are a vital component when it comes to the importance of health, growth, reproduction and general maintenance of animals.

Presented by Jessica Andony from Western Dairy, our next ‘Talkin’ After Hours explores this critical topic & will give you an insight and understanding of:

  • what trace elements are important for ruminant livestock & why,
  • how deficiencies appear in livestock & what happens when they are missing &
  • what strategies can prevent mineral issues from occurring.

Where? Lower Blackwood LCDC Office, 403 Kudardup Road, Kudardup
When? Thursday November 14th, 4.00pm to 6.00pm
This event is proudly bought to you by:
Other Events You Might Want To Attend
“Symphony of the Soil”
  Farmer’s Seminar & Retreat
Join Bee Winfield from Merri Bee Organic Farmacy for 2 big days of practical soil building activities such as composting, worm farming and creating quality compost tea for broadacre. View tea under the microscope. See successful Permaculture strategies live
Where? Merri Bee Organic Farmacy, Nannup
When? November 2nd & 3rd
How? Contact Bee on 089756 1408 or by email merribeefarmacy@gmail.com
Voyager Estate presents Darren J. Doherty,
a leading expert in regenerative farming and
originator of Regrarians Platform®, alongside
our Head of Viticulture and Winemaking,
Steve James, for a free day of learning.

Join us for a walk and talk about regenerative
agriculture as we look to restore our local farm.

When? Thursday 14 November 9.30AM TO 2.30PM 
Where? 279 Boodjidup Rd, Margaret River
How? RSVP to Michelle

We know there is such a wealth of knowledge & experience out there amongst all of you..so..
If you have a great story, just read a great book, tried a brilliant a piece of new technology, or any other piece of news that you think the rest of the Lower Blackwood Catchment community will want to know about then please share!
Contact Kate on 040 920 3056 or email kate.tarrant@lowerblackwood.com.au  
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Lower Blackwood LCDC | 9758 4021 | kate.tarrant@lowerblackwood.com.au | www.lowerblackwood.com.au