Stock Journal

Bob Hawke Landcare Award winners look to the future of sustainable agriculture

2014 Winner Colin Seis with The Hon. Bob Hawke AC.
2014 Winner Colin Seis with The Hon. Bob Hawke AC.

This is branded content for Landcare Australia.

With a new Bob Hawke Landcare Award winner set to be announced in August, previous award recipients are speaking out about the importance of leadership and innovation in Australian agriculture to address the effects of climate change.

Action taken by the farming community to mitigate climate impacts is fast becoming recognised as an important part of the national action strategy, and with the Climate Council suggesting Australian agriculture contributes around 13 per cent of the national greenhouse gas emissions each year farmers are stepping up to the challenge.

"Farmers were the first to see the impacts of climate change on our soil, our stock and our crops," said 2014 winner and internationally renowned pioneer of pasture cropping, Colin Seis.

"We created pasture cropping in 1993, and it's seen enormous success in making farmland more resilient to drought, wind and water erosion.

"Since then, there have been many more fantastic innovations in Australian farming, but there's always more to do, not just here in Australia but on a global scale."

Biodynamic farmer and grazier and winner of the 2018 award, Charlie Arnott, echoed his sentiments adding that Australian farmers were leading the international conversation on agricultural resilience.

Biodynamic farmer and grazier and winner of the 2018 award, Charlie Arnott.
Biodynamic farmer and grazier and winner of the 2018 award, Charlie Arnott.

"Despite the variable climate, Australia is an agricultural powerhouse.

"Our farmers know the importance of landcare in protecting our farms so they remain productive, no matter the challenge," said Mr Arnott.

"The drive to take action on climate change and transition to regenerative agriculture has made farmers across the world hungry for stories, experiences and evidence of the benefits of using regenerative practices.

"As experts in sustainable and resilient agriculture, Australian farmers are ready to tell those stories and share that knowledge."

Need for landcare

It is not only climate action that is being encouraged by award winners, Australian agriculture is recognised as accounting for 55 per cent of Australia's land use, and the importance of environmental protection is also front of mind in Australia's sustainable farming revolution.

For 2016 award winner Steve Burgess, it is the intersection between conservation and farming that is championed by the landcare ideology that is critical to addressing future agricultural hurdles.

2016 award winner Steve Burgess.
2016 award winner Steve Burgess.

"The Landcare ethos needs to be ingrained as a core social value across generations into the future.

"It should become socially unacceptable to bugger up a piece of country, particularly waterways, knowing what we now know about this place," said Mr Burgess.

"With enough people committing to care for their patch and working with others and doing what they can, we will leave our country in a better state for the future.

2020 award winner Andrew Stewart, who, along with his family, transformed his Victorian property into a diverse, carbon positive sustainable farm, added to Mr Burgess' sentiments, saying attention now needs to be given to inspiring the next generations of sustainable farmers.

"We have a big opportunity to encourage youth into the agricultural industry through the lens of landcare," said Mr Stewart.

"One of our biggest responsibilities is to inspire future leaders to continue to innovate in the industry.

"We need to support their appetite for landcare led solutions to secure Australia's sustainable farming future," he said.

2020 Winner Andrew Stewart with family.
2020 Winner Andrew Stewart with family.

Future of the award

Landcare Australia CEO Dr Shane Norrish praised the ongoing advocacy of the previous winners, saying that the future of landcare leadership in Australia had "never looked brighter".

"Landcarers are a very diverse group and include farmers, families, innovators, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

"Their commitment to tackling environmental challenges through sustainable agriculture is unquestionably one of the greatest Australian success stories," said Dr Norrish.

"Over the past 10 years we have seen the winners of the Bob Hawke Landcare Award do extraordinary work in sustainable agriculture to drive the landcare movement forward.

"I know this year's nominees will have built on the success of previous winners to achieve even more."

Nominations for the 2022 Bob Hawke Landcare Award are now open. If you know an outstanding leader and innovator in landcare who has demonstrated a commitment to natural resource management and sustainable agriculture, nominate here:

Nominations close Sunday the 5th of June.