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Posts Tagged ‘farming’

From Woody Weeds to Biochar: Mobile Biochar Unit

Posted in Models, Research by Jessica Bird on November 13th, 2012

Screen grab from Central West CMA’s YouTube film .

From the Central West Catchment Management Authority media release “New technology for old problems – mobile biochar unit demo in Nyngan” :


[26/10/12] Nyngan district farmers saw first hand technology which turns invasive native scrub (INS, also known as woody weeds) into an agricultural resource at a Central West Catchment Management Authority (CMA) field day on Thursday last week. The mobile biochar plant was on demonstration on ‘Wilgadale’ and transforms woody waste material into biochar without the conventional costs of chipping and transport. This breaking technology has many potential applications in the Nyngan district and other parts of NSW according to Central West CMA Coordinator Michael Longhurst. ‘Woody weeds are a problem in central west and western NSW and their management is a significant cost to landholders,’ said Mike. ‘This machine transforms woody waste left over from INS treatment into biochar in a smoke free environment. This product can be used locally to improve soil health and sequester carbon.’

Biochar is a type of charcoal which improves soil health by storing water and nutrients when applied to the soil. The process, known as pyrolysis, is the high temperature treatment of biomass such as woody waste converted into biochar. ‘The woody material leftover from INS treatment would have been otherwise raked, burnt into the atmosphere and wasted,’ said Mike. ‘A biochar plant means the costs of an INS management program can be partly offset through creating agricultural by-products. ‘This mobile system also means that the woody material can be processed into biochar without chipping and transporting costs traditional associated with biochar production.’

Fourth generation Nyngan landholder Anthony Gibson hosted the CMA field day on his property ‘Wilgadale’. ‘Woody weeds are a headache for landholders for a number of reasons. They are nightmare to muster through; reduce groundcover and biodiversity; and out-compete useful grasses,’ said Anthony. ‘The machine we’ve had a look at today is turning woody weeds into something much more useable – something we can lock carbon up in and ameliorate the soil. I can see quite a few benefits of it spreading around the landscape. ‘The unit makes good use of something that just gets pushed up into a heap and burnt otherwise at great expense. By turning it into something useful it is a real win-win situation.’

The system was originally designed by the company Earth Systems through a North East CMA (Victoria) project to manage willow removal and dispose of the waste material. The Central West CMA worked in partnership with Earth Systems and the North East CMA to demonstrate the system in central west NSW. […]

You can read the full media release or learn more on Central West CMA’s Youtube channel.

Agroecology versus Industrial Agriculture: Infographic

Posted in Models by Jessica Bird on September 27th, 2012

Source: Nourishing The Planet

Infographic by The Christiansen Fund

From the Infographic ‘Soil to Sky: of agroecology versus industrial agriculture’ by The Christiansen Fund

In order to feed our world without destroying it, an holistic type of agriculture is needed, and we have a choice. Here we compare the current high-input industrial system with a renewed vision for agriculture: the agroecolocial system. […]

Agroecological strategies can better feed the world, fight climate change and poverty, and protect soil and water while maintaining healthy, liveable communities and local economies. Industrial agriculture contributes to climate change, malnutrition and ecosystem degradation around the planet. It has not delivered on its promise to feed the world.

On The Edge: A forum on food and sustainability around Australian cities

Posted in Events, Movements, Research by Kate Archdeacon on September 22nd, 2011

25 October , 2011
8:30 amto5:30 pm

Whichever way you look at it, food production forms the basis for physical, environmental, economic, social and cultural health. How we preserve, manage and develop our agricultural resources close to where a majority of people now live worldwide- in cities- will determine the future health, sustainability and conviviality of our communities. Our peri-urban agriculture is a key component of what makes Melbourne the most liveable city in the world, and it’s worth protecting, now.

Key discussions on the day:

  • Setting the scene for peri-urban agriculture in Australia- where are we at? What are the key challenges and opportunities? – Trevor Budge & Michael Buxton
  • British Columbia Agricultural Land Reserve and Strengthening Farming Program (Vancouver, Canada) – Dave Sands
  • Parc Agrari del Baix Llobregat, an instrument for preserving, developing and managing a peri-urban agricultural area (Barcelona, Spain) – Sonia Callau-Berenguer
  • Feeding Milano; energy for change (Milan, Italy) – Anna Meroni
  • The expansion of the Urban Growth Boundary in Melbourne’s outer South East and its impact on jobs, food security and the Bunyip Foodbelt – David Wilkinson
  • Promotion, protection and enhancement of food production on the Mornington Peninsula – Kevin Wyatt and Gillian Stewart
  • CERES Fair Food- connecting local producers and local eaters – Chris Ennis
  • Peri-urban areas and zoning options – Michael Tudball
  • Keeping commercial farming viable in peri-urban areas – Susan Finger
  • Farmlands trusts; an innovative vehicle for securing land for sustainable agricultural use on the urban fringe – Robert Pekin
8:30 – 5:30pm, Tuesday 25 October, 2011

Hume Global Learning Centre 1093 Pascoe Vale Road Broadmeadows (Melways 6, 8H)

Early Bird until 25 September $495 Full Fee $660

Click here for the full program and registration.

Think Global, Act Rural: MIFF Screening

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on July 21st, 2011

24 July , 2011
12:00 amto11:00 pm
5 August , 2011
6:30 pmto8:30 pm
Source: Permablitz Designers Guild

“Alarm-raising and catastrophist films have been made, and they have served their purpose. Now the time has come to show that there are solutions, to give a voice to the farmers, philosophers and economists who are inventing and experimenting with new alternatives, while explaining why our society is mired in the current ecological, financial and political crises.” Coline Serreau

Going beyond merely denouncing an agricultural system that has been perverted by unreasonable growth imperatives, Coline Serreau invites us in “Think Global Act Rural” to discover new farming systems, successful production techniques which not only produce better yield, but also repair the damages and offer better life and health to the communities, while ensuring perennial food security. Coline Serreau travelled the world for over three years, armed with a handheld camera, to meet women and men in the field – thinkers and economists – who locally, successfully, are trying out solutions to mend our long ill-treated earth.

Pierre Rabhi, Claude and Lydia Bourguignon, the landless workers of Brazil, Kokopelli in India, Mr. Antoniets in Ukraine… Meet the resistance fighters in love with Earth.

In turn funny and touching, assertive and inspired, they are granted a speaking platform in Coline Serreau’s documentary. The series of unbelievably concordant interviews proves that there are options, that an alternative is possible. It is responding, with concrete elements, to the ecological challenges and, generally speaking, to the civilization crisis, we are currently going through.

Looking beyond the disastrous effects of agriculture’s mass commodification, Think Global, Act Rural investigates the way forward, profiling organic farming techniques that may offer hope for the future.

Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Screenings:

  • July 24, 9pm
  • August 5, 6:30pm
Read more or make a booking for Think Global, Act Rural

Farmers Cannot Afford to Ignore Climate Change: Article

Posted in Movements, Opinion by Kate Archdeacon on April 8th, 2011

Image: Looking Glass via flickr CC

From “Climate Change Convert” by Kate Dowler in The Weekly Times:

Farmers cannot afford to ignore climate change, whether they believe in the science or not. And if agriculture does not have a seat at the negotiations table with big industries such as coal, they will “end up on the menu”.

This is the view of leading Western District farmer, Mark Wootton, a self-described climate-change sceptic turned renewable energy lobbyist. The trained geographer says his view changed as the weight of scientific evidence that human actions were causing climate change grew, and he now accepts the validity of the mainstream scientific view. Now he argues that whether they “believe” the science of climate change or not, farmers can benefit by learning more about carbon markets. And he says farming is to play a big role in solving climate change but to enable this, governments urgently need to put more money into extensive agricultural research and development.

Mr Wootton began looking at climate change from a business-risk perspective in the late 1990s. “The risk is there’s a high probability that the science is absolutely correct,” he said. “From a farmer’s perspective, I think we have to accept we’ve moved into a carbon-constrained world. Forget about the politics and look at the risk to your business.” Mr Wootton runs 5000ha at Hamilton with wife Eve Kantor. They produce beef, wool, lambs, crops and agroforestry. He also chairs the Climate Institute, a non-partisan, independent research organisation. “My fear now is there’s a high probability that the climate is changing much quicker than the scientists’ earlier models showed,” he said, “What is unfortunately becoming clearer is that predictions were way too conservative.”

“From a business perspective, I’ve concluded the cost and advantages of acting are not detrimental to our business; if we can be more energy-efficient, if we can be better converters of feed so we produce less methane, if we can use shelter belts for stock protection and increasing lambing percentages – all of those aspects we can do on an integrated, carbon-constrained farm, then they are good for business.”

Read the full article by Kate Dowler in The Weekly Times.



A Farm for the Future: Screening & Lunch

Posted in Events by Kate Archdeacon on March 16th, 2010

Source: Wattleflower

You are invited to a South Indian Style brunch and Indian Buffet at Bawarchi Restaurant 20 Station Street, Moorabbin.

This will be followed by a showing of the film A Farm for the Future:

Wildlife film maker Rebecca Hosking investigates how to transform her family’s farm in Devon into a low energy farm for the future, and discovers that nature holds the key.

With her father close to retirement, Rebecca returns to her family’s wildlife-friendly farm in Devon, to become the next generation to farm the land. But last year’s high fuel prices were a wake-up call for Rebecca. Realising that all food production in the UK is completely dependent on abundant cheap fossil fuel, particularly oil, she sets out to discover just how secure this oil supply is.

Alarmed by the answers, she explores ways of farming without using fossil fuel. With the help of pioneering farmers and growers, Rebecca learns that it is actually nature that holds the key to farming in a low-energy future.

Bookings Essential:  Contact Della on 95795285 or Ann on 95891954 or Email

Cost is $18.00 per person.

Sunday March 28th at 12.00pm

Paddock to plate

Posted in Research by Maeztri on November 13th, 2008

This abstract was recently listed on Australian Policy Online. To see the original document visit Paddock to plate: food, farming and Victoria’s progress towards sustainability

Paddock to plate: food, farming and Victoria’s progress towards sustainability
Andrew Campbell / Australian Conservation Foundation
Posted: 28-10-2008

This study explores the future of the Victorian food and farming system in a rapidly changing and more demanding world, focusing on the period between now and 2020. It explores ideas and tries to anticipate and imagine the sorts of activities and investments that will be needed if Victoria is to equip its food and farming system to produce more healthy foods, more sustainably, in a much more difficult climate, while consuming less water, nutrients and energy. In contemplating the future, we are in a mental dance between fate and desire. We know that ‘whats coming at us will generate all sorts of possibilities and constraints. For the Victorian food system, such macro forces include the environmental, human health and policy drivers discussed below, and the basket of forces and trends that are captured under globalisation; including market forces and the progress of technology. NB This file is a large (7MB) PDF.

To read the full document visit Paddock to plate: food, farming and Victoria’s progress towards sustainability.