Growers in the Tully region welcomed the opportunity to participate in a soil health coaching workshop to improve their mentorship skills in regenerative farming practices.

The one day workshop held in May, was coordinated by Terrain Natural Resource Management group, and delivered by agro-ecologist and soil health expert, David Hardwick from Soil Land Food.

Sharing his passion for regenerative farming practices, Mr Hardwick’s workshop focused on equipping northern producers with the tools necessary to provide confident extension to their peers and facilitate behavior change to promote healthy landscapes.

Terrain NRM Tully Basin coordinator Fiona George said the workshop attracted the attention of eight growers and four extension staff.

“It was useful to have both growers and extension professionals in the same forum, as essentially we were teaching the growers how to improve their extension skills,” she said.

Soil health was one of the many topics covered on the day, with growers also receiving training in areas to improve their extension and communication skills.

Mr. Hardwick said the growers who attended the workshop were already great communicators, regularly bouncing ideas, and openly sharing knowledge with their peers.

“These guys are already getting a number of calls a month from other farmers wanting to talk through ideas and results, or get a feel for how regenerative practices might fit into their farming system,” he said.

“This workshop was about equipping those guys with tools to better support their peers through change.”

Growing confidence - Tully farmers gather to discuss soil health and regenerative farming practices.
 Growing confidence – Tully farmers gather to discuss soil health and regenerative farming practices.

With more producers converting to regenerative farming practices, it was felt the importance of maintaining peer to peer networks would be integral for positive growth.

“Implementing regenerative practices that improve soil health makes absolute sense for improving long-term productivity and profitability, but change isn’t without challenges,” said Mr Hardwick.

“Soil health is a really important topic. Knowing how to communicate soil messages, and understanding the process of change that people go through when they learn new things, helps support people through that.”

Ingham cane grower Michael Waring attended the Tully workshop and said through Mr Hardwick’s teachings he was able to improve his interpersonal skills to enable him to communicate in a way that was relatable and relevant.

“There’s no point rabbiting on to your neighbor about specific species of cover crop to use, if all they’re wanting to find out about are the benefits of cover cropping, he said.”

“Everyone’s at different stages, sharing relatable information is as much about listening as it is talking.”

The soil health coaching workshops were made possible by the Wet Tropics Major Integrated Project, funded through the Queensland government’s Reef Water Quality Program, and coordinated by Terrain NRM as part of its leadership training offered to farmers.

Farmers wanting more information on regenerative farming:

The Lower Wet Tropics Soil Care Group: Alan Lynn on 0419 722 101 or Michael Waring on 0428 771 361.

The Wet Tropics Soil Care Group:Mal Everett on 0439 829 159.

The Regenerative Cane Network: Michael Waring on 0428 771 361.