Issue 50 - 5 December 2022
Message from RALF

Hi everyone,

Thank you! This is the 50th edition of the Greater Sydney Small Farms Network newsletter and we now have more than 1,060 members!

In this edition: learn about the recent inquiry into food production and supply for NSWhear about the new 
sustainable farming accreditation program, get an update on varroa mite, discover the new flood and adverse weather assistance programs, participate in the soils for life survey and understand the basics involved in carbon farming.

If you know someone who might be interested in joining the Greater Sydney Small Farms network, they can register HERE. To view previous newsletters, click HERE. To provide ideas on how the Greater Sydney Small Farms network can help you, please email or phone me on 0436 803 337

Richard Stephens
Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF) 

The first Sydney urban agriculture forum

On Friday 11 November, Sydney City Farm in St Peters held Sydney's first urban agriculture forum. Hosted by Costa Georgiadis, the forum included presentations from the City of Sydney, Jiwah Pty Ltd, Royal Botanic Gardens, Pocket City Farms and Alex Greenwich, NSW independent MP for Sydney.

An overview of the findings from the recently concluded 
inquiry into food production and supply for NSW was presented. In this inquiry the NSW Government develops a comprehensive Food System Plan to address the food system as a whole, and includes:
  • Strategies to address food insecurity. 
  • Promoting equitable access to nutritious food. 
  • Consideration of food production, including urban agriculture. 
  • Any required changes to planning and development frameworks. 
  • Points of integration with local government and service providers.  
For a summary of the first Sydney Urban Agriculture Forum click HERE.  The NSW Parliamentary Inquiry report is HERE.
A sustainable farming program for NSW

The NSW Government has initiated a sustainable farming program to improve our natural assets and agriculture profitability. 

The Sustainable Farming Program focuses on farmers who voluntarily want to manage biodiversity and carbon while enhancing their land for productive use. Farmers could achieve certification through agreed sustainability actions, including:
  • Farm planning - Protecting remnant vegetation, riparian areas, or rocky outcrops via fencing or other means, establishing native shelterbelts.
  • Grazing and land management - Improving livestock management, improving land management and implementing Aboriginal land management options.
  • Improvement - Controlling weeds to improve the condition of native vegetation, and controlling pests to minimise the impact on native vegetation.
  • Restoration - Replanting native vegetation, protecting and planting new paddock trees, connecting and re-establishing habitat corridors.
To find out more and to register your interest, click HERE.
Outstanding achievements in agriculture
The Australian Farmer of the Year Awards celebrates and applaud the outstanding achievements of individuals and families making a significant contribution to Australian agriculture. The community provides nominations with winners selected by a panel of agricultural industry leaders. Award winners take part in a leadership program. The 2023 award nominations close on 28 February 2023. Click HERE.
NSW farmers get the go ahead on agritourism
New South Wales now has simplified planning rules, making it easier for farmers to offer tourism-related activities. From 1 December, under certain conditions, farmers can run weddings, campgrounds, roadside stalls, cafes, cellar doors and farm experiences from their properties. Landholders may be exempt from lodging a development application (DA), or can have their proposal fast-tracked. Click HERE. 
Cane toads are coming 
With the weather warming, more cane toad sightings and captures are being reported through the NSW DPI online form. In November, three cane toads were found at a known location in Kenthurst, and one cane toad was captured at Wyoming on the Central Coast (a likely hitchhiker). Many cane toads have also been found at a  property in Mandalong, south of Lake Macquarie in the Hunter region. Surveillance efforts are ongoing to determine how they got there and the population size. If you see a cane toad, report it HERE or call the NSW Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244. 
Varroa mite detection in Hunter Valley 
More beehives will be destroyed in New South Wales after a new detection of varroa mite prompted the expansion of an eradication zone. Investigators believe the infestation may have been caused by hives being moved off a property in the eradication zone many months ago. The NSW Apiarists' Association says the detection raises questions about other unknown infestations, HERE for a summary. For up to date Varroa information, click HERE.  
Native vegetation review
Have your say. A statutory review of the native vegetation provisions of the Local Land Services Act 2013 has begun. These provisions establish a framework to inform and regulate native vegetation management on rural land in NSW. A Discussion Paper is now on public exhibition and feedback from landholders, community and stakeholders are invited. Please read the Discussion Paper, and provide your feedback HERE. Submissions close on Monday, 12 December 2022.
Think about the food farmers produce
For at least one day of the year, Australians should think about the food farmers produce and where it comes from. While Australians enjoy world-class food and fibre grown right here, many know very little about the farmers and workers who put food on their tables and clothes on their backs. The National Agriculture Day, held each year on the third Friday of November, is a chance to celebrate and learn about Australia's incredible farm sector. For more information, click
HERE or lodge your Ag Day event now for 17 November 2023 HERE.
Tourists to use footbaths and remove dirt 
Mudgee's wine growers, worried about a possible incursion of a vine-destroying aphid, are taking steps to protect their industry. As a result, tourists will now have to use footbaths when they visit a vineyard. This initiative will beef up defences against a range of biosecurity threats, including the dreaded Phylloxera aphid. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are more willing to accept biosecurity measures. Click HERE.
Food manufacturing and innovation hub for the Central Coast 
The federal budget included an allocation for establishing a Food Manufacturing and Innovation Hub at Lisarow. Five years in the making, this project will provide a purpose-built facility to house scale-up food businesses, a range of pilot facilities and a skills hub servicing local food and beverage manufacturers. It is designed to grow the local food sector and attract food manufacturers from outside the region.
Paralysis tick antiserum shortage
Vet clinics report a huge increase in tick cases this year, sparking a critical nationwide shortage of tick antiserum. Extreme wet weather is said to be causing a huge boom in ticks and pet owners are urged to take preventative measures and check their animals. Please ensure you keep up with tick prevention for your pet and check your pet regularly for ticks. The season for ticks is only just starting, and unfortunately, it is predicted to be a bad year. Click HERE.
Electric vehicles on farm 
When will we start to see more Electric Vehicles (EVs) on our farms? When will electric-powered heavy machinery become available and what infrastructure is required to ensure farmers and rural Australia are equipped to benefit from EVs? Join the Farmers for Climate Action webinar on "Electric vehicles on farm" at 12noon, Thursday 8 December, 2022. R
egister HERE.
Environmental, social and governance reporting 
What are ESG reporting and sustainability disclosures? Learn about key sustainability initiatives for a prosperous red meat and livestock industry, including the Australian beef and sheep sustainability frameworks, emissions avoidance and carbon sequestration projects and verifiable credentials relevant to the 5 themes of biodiversity, tree cover, grass cover, carbon and drought resilience. Webinar held by meat & Livestock Australia on Monday 19 December at 12noon. Register HERE. 
So you want to start an agribusiness?  
Farmers2Founder (F2F) runs programs for producers, developers, students and researchers who have an idea that could help solve a problem in the agriculture industry. The programs help; test your idea, validate if a user is willing to pay for your product/service/technology, you think about how to start your business and/or build your product. Join the information webinar on Wednesday, 11 January 2023 at 12noon, click HERE.
Holistic management - a foundation for regeneration
Inside Outside Management is holding it's full holistic management course at 'Happy Farm' in North Richmond, early 2023. Learn how to improve profitability, drought resilience, soil fertility, and biodiversity. This is an eight day course (four, two day sessions: 28 Feb-1 March 1; March 28-29; May 9-10; June 20-21. For more information, click HERE. To register, email Kerry Wehlburg HERE.
Soil pit workshop
A workshop focusing on issues and solutions for managing soils formed on Wiannamatta Shale will be held on Thursday 30 March 2023 at Menangle. Landholders will learn how to work with soils to inform farm planning, understand the characteristics of their soils, soil sampling, soil fertility and management. The workshop will deep dive into clay soils found in south-west Sydney and see how these soils vary, even across a paddock. An opportunity to work with leading experts from the NSW Soil Knowledge Network, register HERE.


Natural disaster transport subsidy changes
For those affected by the severe weather and flooding events from 22 February 2022  or 27 June 2022, the transport subsidy for movements of stock, fodder and/or water has been increased from $15,000 to $25,000. Also, applications under the February 2022 event have been extended to 30 June 2023, and approved applicants now have until 30 September 2023 to lodge invoices to claim payment. There have also been other changes, including the maximum travel distance allowed. Click HERE.
More assistance for flood affected farmers  
Additional support for flood impacted primary producers has been announced, including an update to the Natural Disaster Assistance Guide, Disaster Grant, Rural Landholder Grant and Natural Disaster Transport Subsidy. The Natural Disaster Assistance Guide has been updated to help primary producers and landholders navigate the support services available, click HERE. Also, local Rural Recovery Support Officers are available to help. 
Rural aid for flood affected farmers  
If you are a primary producer who’s been affected by the current flooding and rain events, you may be eligible for a $500 pre-paid Visa from Rural Aid. Eligibility criteria applies, including: being a primary producer, being registered with Rural Aid (registration is easy); having an ABN; being in a flood declared area of Victoria, Tasmania or NSW. For more detail, click HERE.


Using lasers to protect your fruit 
Sam Licciardello grows apples, pears, plums, peaches and nectarines on his property in the South West of Western Australia. Depending on the season, birds were destroying up to 20 per cent of the fruit on his trees each season. Last year, Sam trialled the use of lasers, which had excellent results, enabling an extra 70 bins of fruit to be picked. Click HERE.
The true cost of food hasn't been paid 
A study has found that the global environment provides significant benefits not factored into the cost of food. Also, food insecurity is rising with 90 per cent of countries experiencing food inflation. Experts warn that the environment is "subsidising" food production globally by more than $3 trillion for the costs of production not reflected in the market price. In addition, food prices are not high enough to induce changes in behaviour. HERE.
Farmer led research
Scientific research is really good at honing in on specific issues to investigate targeted solutions. But nature doesn’t always work that way. A 'whole system' or 'holistic approach' is essential to deal with the complexity of farming, requiring farmer and researcher collaboration. This approach underpins regenerative agriculture which requires observing landscapes as a whole system and to build resilience by embracing ecological complexity. Listen to the 'Soils for Life' podcast HERE.
Soils for life survey
Whether you're a farmer, someone who works with farmers, or just interested in soil and landscapes, 'Soils for Life' want to hear how they can best support you. The survey should take no longer than 20 minutes, and 10 respondents will receive a copy of Matthew Evans’ book 'Soil: The incredible story of what keeps the earth, and us, healthy'. The results will be used to help prioritise future 'Soils for Life' work. Take the survey HERE.
Extreme climate is agriculture's biggest challenge 
In the past 12 years, 2011, 2016, and 2022 were very wet years while NSW also had a drought in 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019. This highlights that there is no such thing as an average year, and farmers should recalibrate how they think of extreme weather events, says agricultural researcher Kate Burke. Extreme weather events are predicted to increase in the future, causing more flash flooding, challenges and uncertainty. Click HERE. 


Livestock health after a flood
Prolonged flood events increase the potential for many and various livestock diseases. Flood affected livestock producers should: always provide access to clean, fresh drinking water; prevent access to animal carcasses; move stock from pasture with heavy soil contamination where possible; test cattle for intestinal worms & fluke, treat if required; ensure all cattle 5-in-1 & 7-in-1 vaccines are up to date and 3-in1 or 6-in-1 sheep vaccines are up to dateuse a botulism vaccine for cattle; monitor paddocks for new weeds that may have come in with floods or feed. Click HERE.
Healthy future for the nation's soils
The Australian National Soil Information System (ANSIS) project will allow improved sharing of nationally consistent soil data and information through online access for users. By using ANSIS, farmers and agricultural advisors will have access to more soil data and be better able to sustainably manage and care for their soils. Part of the National Soil Strategy, which prioritises soil health, empowers soil innovation and stewards and strengthens soil knowledge and capability. The new ANSIS system will be available for use in 2023, click 
Riverbank erosion resources   
A number of great riverbank erosion resources are now available; including: 
Riverbank Rehabilitation Project factsheet
Riverbank Erosion Support
Managing Erosion Before and After Floods
How should I undertake erosion work following floods?
What can I do to address riverbank erosion on my property?

Or go to the Riverbank Rehabilitation Project webpage HERE.  
Let's talk about methane
What does Australia signing the Global Methane Pledge mean for farmers? What does reducing methane emissions look like in practice? Listen to the ‘Let’s talk about methane' webinar from  'Farmers for Climate Action' webinar where Dr Sabina Assan and Margaret Jewell from Meat & Livestock Australia talk about the impact of methane on climate targets and the possibilities for methane reduction in agriculture. Click HERE.
How do our minds work? 
What can we do each day to improve our own – and our collective – mental health? Hear broadcaster and author James O'Loghlin in a conversation with Professor Ian Hickie, Associate Professor Elizabeth Scott, lived experience researcher Alexis Hutcheon, and family peer worker Zsofi de Haan, as they reveal fascinating insights into how our minds work and explore practical ways to reach peak mind and brain health. Watch the video or listen to the podcast HERE.  
Carbon 101
Want to understand the fundamentals of carbon farming and greenhouse gases relevant to agriculture (including the carbon cycle) and understand of the language of carbon? Meat & Livestock Australia have released an online training package with supporting resources to improve carbon literacy,  better understand the language of carbon, know what greenhouse gases are, and how they are produced and cycle in a farming system. Click HERE.
Guardian Australia Rural Network
The Guardian Australia Rural Network is a Facebook group for individuals who wish to discuss issues affecting rural Australia. It is run by Natasha May, a rural reporter, Gabrielle Chan, a rural editor, and Antoun Issa, an off-platform editor from Guardian Australia. Posts are reviewed during working hours and the group already has 4,300 members. Click HERE.
Access your farm's resilience 
With each release of DR.SAT from the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, new features and functionality are added, enabling farmers to better access their farms resilience. The latest release includes a ‘vegetation cover’,  a 3D terrain view to help highlight the influence of slopes and land features on the landscape; a farm average to graphs function; improved paddock mapping; a new self-assessment for severe wet weather & bushfire preparation; updated climate tiles. Click HERE.     
New business collaboration tool
The CSIRO has launched a new tool to help Australian businesses connect with the research sect. The Collaboration Readiness Levels tool helps small and medium sized businesses engage and collaborate with publicly funded research organisations. The 
tool helps businesses understand their readiness level to engage with R&D and links at each level with suggestions. The five readiness levels are: considering, networking, cooperating, engaging and partnering. Click HERE.
Pollinator webinar
Beneficial invertebrates are essential components of agricultural ecosystems, especially predators and parasitoids which act as natural enemies to control pests. This recorded one-hour webinar from Cesar Australia will cover the many types of pollinators and recent research on native pollinators. Come away with a better appreciation of the invertebrates present in your local ecosystems, and how to better support them. Click HERE.
This project is supported by Greater Sydney Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program. 
The information contained in this publication is based on knowledge and understanding at the time of writing. However, because of advances in knowledge, users are reminded of the need to ensure that the information upon which they rely is up to date and to check the currency of the information with the appropriate officer of Local Land Services or the user’s independent adviser. For updates go to www.lls.nsw.gov.au 
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