Farmers interested in changing agriculture practices in the Geographe catchment had the opportunity to help guide future water quality actions last week at a workshop hosted by GeoCatch.
The farmers were given the opportunity to say what they thought could be done on Geographe farms to reduce nutrients entering waterways, while supporting farmer’s triple bottom line. Ideas from the group ranged from education and research through to practical ideas including holding water back on paddocks and getting higher numbers of farmers to participate in soil testing programs to understand and improve soil health.
Felicity Bradshaw, GeoCatch Chair and local farmer highlighted the value of hearing from some of our young and progressive farmers who were part of the group.
“I felt inspired to hear from such a diverse, knowledgeable and experienced group of farmers who obviously care about the environment and farming” said Felicity.
Over the last 10 years Geographe farmers have collectively reduced an estimated 31.7 tonne of nitrogen and 4.6 tonne of phosphorus entering Geographe Bay and the Vasse Wonnerup wetlands. $4.4 million in funding has been used to support farmers with another $1.5 million in-kind from farmers to undertake soil testing, fence off waterways and upgrade dairy effluent systems to reduce nutrient loss off farm to achieve this result.
GeoCatch project officer Bree Brown said that with agriculture contributing the largest source of nutrients entering Geographe waterways, wetlands and Geographe Bay, farmers have a critical role in improving water quality in this catchment.
“GeoCatch have been working with farmers over the last 10 years to support them with soil testing across 40% of grazing paddocks in the catchment, fencing off waterways and upgrading dairy effluent systems. Although this has been a mammoth effort by the farmers and ourselves, we still have a long way to go to reduce nutrients sufficiently to reduce nutrient impacts on our waterways and the Bay” said Bree.
The purpose of the workshop was to gain input into future actions farmers could do to reduce nutrient loss off agriculture land and identify support that farmers may need to improve on their past performance.
Farmer input will be used to inform actions in the updated Vasse Wonnerup wetlands Geographe Bay water quality improvement plan, which will form the basis of the next 10-year of targeted action to improve water quality in Geographe waterways.
“Getting input from farmers early in the process will ensure we co-develop practical solutions for reducing nutrients off farm and support farmers in protecting Geographe Bay” said Bree.
Farmers who could not attend the workshop can still provide input to the new water quality improvement plan through a survey currently being run by GeoCatch. To provide your input, please fill in the Survey Monkey at the following link https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/CTTNRVG