The Mulloon Institute  -  Enews - March 2019

From the Chairman, The Mulloon Institute

You will know the phrase "Manna from Heaven". It has given me my inspiration for my monthly update for March. In The Mulloon Institute's (TMI) case it is "Manna from Government" with the announcement late in the month of a grant from the Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, David Littleproud.

"Manna"  means "anything needed that comes unexpectedly". The grant of $3.8m over five years is certainly needed and while we have been diligently working away to get the government's support, the phone call from the Minister's office was unexpected. But very well received and TMI's team is very grateful.

L-R:  Diana Cavanagh (TMI Board),  Gary Nairn AO (TMI Board),  David Littleproud  (Federal Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources) and  Peter Andrews OAM  (Natural Sequence Farming)

Major boost to funding

What is most pleasing is that with this grant the Federal Government is endorsing the work we are doing and advocating to occur across the nation's landscapes. When the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister inspected our achievements at Mulloon Creek late last year they agreed that our catchment rehydration work should be  "rolled out across Australia".

The grant money will be applied to three areas. Firstly, it will assist us to complete the design, approval and construction of on-ground works for the balance of the  Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project (MCLRP). Secondly, it will support the science, monitoring and data collection of the MCLRP giving us vital information on the positive changes taking place following our works and providing evidence to support catchment scale rehydration more broadly. Thirdly, it allows the further expansion of our education and training thus assisting more landholders, farmers and natural resource management individuals to have the knowledge to carry out similar works.

Tarwyn Park Training

In March we held three four-day workshops on Natural Sequence Farming in conjunction with Tarwyn Park Training. Over 50 landholders, farmers and other interested people participated in the workshops coming from right across the country, including Tasmania, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Australian Capital Territory, Western Australia and Queensland.

When they go back to their properties I'm sure they will look at their respective landscapes very differently having absorbed great knowledge from Peter Hazell, Stuart and Peter Andrews, Duane Norris and Gwyn Jones. They also took with them a copy of TMI's 'Landscape Rehydration - Theory & Practice' training manual which will greatly assist their on-ground application of what they learnt. These manuals are available exclusively to course participants.

Our next training course will run from 29 April to 2 May 2019 with a waiting list for tickets. Contact James Diack to go on the list - or 0438 211 155.
ABARES Outlook 2019 Conference

During March I was able to attend a couple of important conferences. 
Firstly, the Australian Bureau of Agricultural Resources Economics and Science Conference or  ABARES held over two days in Canberra. 

ABARES covered the broad range of issues related to agriculture and while regenerative agriculture was but a small part, at least it was included and received great interest. Regenerative farmer, David Marsh, gave an excellent presentation with good discussion following. 

Water issues were also discussed in a specific section on the  Murray Darling but it was disappointing that much of the debate was about cutting up a finite "pie" of water. When I asked a question of the Commonwealth Water Holder regarding increasing the size of the "pie" through rehydrating the catchments serving the Murray Darling, I got a non-answer. There can be plenty of arguments about the  Murray Darling Water Sharing Plan but it is time to look at the bigger picture of the landscape that has the capacity to make the plan work for all.

Image from Twitter @ABARES 

Global Food Forum

The second conference I attended was the Global Food Forum sponsored by The Australian and Visy held in Sydney. This was a very inspiring day and also well attended with participants from the broader food industry. Sustainability and regenerative practices were well represented with a number of friends of The Mulloon Institute attending, including Gillian Sanbrook and Bill Hurditch. Gillian was part of a panel discussing whether Australian agriculture can be drought-proofed and de-risked. Her property in southern NSW is certainly a model when it comes to resilience and de-risking so she was an ideal person for that panel. Both events were good opportunities to network and spread the word of what we are achieving at TMI.
Mulloon Creek Natural Farms

Michael Fitzgerald and his team at Mulloon Creek Natural Farms (MCNF) have been achieving record numbers in egg production with the weekly tally passing 90,000 during March. They are well on their way in the planned expansion of the egg operation to meet increasing demand for our organic, pasture raised eggs. As the numbers grow we remind our customers that buying MCNF eggs is helping TMI broaden its reach for landscape rehydration.

And featured on the front cover of this year's Bungendore Directory is Olive the maremma from MCNF with some of her feathered friends, plus a tribute to Tony and Toni Coote inside. Well done to the Bungendore Chamber of Commerce & Industry on its production.

Click the image for a larger version.

L-R: Troy Rudd and Cam Wilson at Gungal in the Hunter Valley

Mulloon Consulting Contracting & Certifying

Our consulting arm (MCCC is also broadening its reach with ongoing enquiries for its services in assisting landholders and farmers to repair and rehydrate their properties. Carolyn Hall along with Cam Wilson and Bill McAlister direct that work with design services and sound advice to landholders in a number of states and the ACT.

Cam Wilson is steadily completing the detailed designs for a range of properties in the NQ Dry Tropics region aiming to reinstate hydrological function present prior to channelisation, control erosion and safely manage overland flow, while enhancing primary production through increased soil moisture.  We are also progressing the Tidbinbila regulatory approval process in the ACT and looking forward to developing a farm plan for a property at Gungal in the Hunter Valley.
Boxgum Grazing open day

The Mulloon Institute 's Research Coordinator Luke Peel visited Boxgum Grazing farm in Murringo NSW to present at an Open Day organised by the Australian National University's   Sustainable Farms and the  Young Landcare Group

The event's theme was 'Using grazing management to restore creeklines and retain on-farm moisture'.

Farm hosts Sam and Clare Johnson have had great success in improving their farm's environment and natural assets through grazing management and transitioning to regenerative practices, and the event focused on works that can be implemented on-farm to help restore creeklines with insights into successful holistic management regimes.

Upcoming events

Coming up on Thursday 30 May is Upper Shoalhaven Landcare 's Landscape Resilience Forum  at MCNF with e xperienced and  'hands on'  locals exploring the ways in which farmers can successfully manage their  farms in a changing climate. Speakers include: Gary Nairn, Sue Ogilvy, Professor Geoff Hope, David Marsh, Peter Andrews, Professor Mark Howden, Peter Hazell, Martin Royds, Gillian Sandbrook, and David Watson. More details here. Tickets through Eventbrite.

Peter Hazell and Luke Peel have been busily preparing for their presentations at the the NSW & ACT's Geography Teachers' Conference 2019 in Sydney this April, and Cam Wilson will be presenting a workshop up in Rockhampton for the Fitzroy Basin Association. We also have various visits to MCNF lined up with The Scots College Year 12 Agricultural Science students and Kyeamba Valley Landcare Group.

And if you've missed out on tickets to either of our Mini Field Days coming up this April please don't despair, we're also looking to hold a larger Open Day at MCNF this coming spring.
All the best and many thanks for your wonderful support.

Best wishes,

Gary Nairn AO
The Mulloon Institute, Chairman


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