From: AMLR Small Talk, Spring 2014
An Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges NRM Board grant in 2012 to encourage primary producers to improve pasture productivity has grown into an ongoing commitment to sustainable pasture and resource management in the Barossa.
The Sustainable Industry Grant which funded the AMLR Northern Region Producer Group’s Winter Pastures NRM Project, provided landholders with the opportunity to find out about local successes and innovations around sustainable pasture, soil, nutrition and grazing management. The project increased regional interest in productive pastures, but its greatest achievement was the formation of the Barossa Improved Grazing Group (BIGG).
BIGG is a vibrant community network of producers and landholders in the Barossa and surrounding regions that has a focus on sustainable pasture production while promoting good NRM outcomes. It has also become an ‘umbrella’ for five different farming groups including sheep, beef, dairy and two local Ag Bureaus. This has provided a cross-pollination of ideas and also strengthened community networks.
Since receiving the AMLR Sustainable Industry Grant in 2012, BIGG has worked with a range of partners and funders to deliver and communicate the outcomes of various innovative projects via learning events such as pasture walks and technical workshops. Some of BIGG’s key project areas include monitoring soil moisture in grazing systems, the use of innovative electric fencing for effective grazing management and funding to conduct property management planning. BIGG’s partnership with the AMLR NRM Board has also continued via its most recent project, Recovery and Management of Native Pastures after the 2014 Eden Valley Bushfire, funded by a 2014 Sustainable Industry Grant.
BIGG is guided by an Advisory Committee (under the auspice of the Angaston Ag Bureau) that represents a wide cross-section of the agricultural community, hence its projects are driven from the ‘ground-up’ and are intrinsically connected with the needs and priorities of the community. In recognition of this approach, BIGG was awarded the 2014 Ag Excellence Alliance Sustainability Award by its peers (sponsored by the Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources) as ‘an outstanding locally based grower group for its achievements in delivering greater NRM outcomes’.
In addition, BIGG’s Technical Facilitator, Georgie Keynes was awarded the ‘Westpac Agribusiness Innovative Young Landcare Leader Award’ at the 2013 State Landcare Awards and will now represent SA at the 2014 National Landcare awards being held in Melbourne in September.
With new projects in the pipeline and a membership base of over 200 subscribers (and growing), BIGG aims to extend its reach and impact in the future. BIGG’s long-term vision is to deliver innovative research and development projects that build sustainable farming systems and resilient rural communities. For more information about BIGG or to join our free email subscriber list please visit www.biggroup.org.au.