The Barossa Valley in South Australia is renowned for its food, wine and heritage, which stems from generations of vibrant farming communities learning and working together.
The Barossa Improved Grazing Group (BIGG) has applied the same approach to improving on-farm productivity and achieving natural resource management outcomes. With a common focus on sustainable grazing practices, BIGG links five different farming groups including sheep, beef, dairy and two local agricultural bureaus with a common focus on sustainable grazing enterprises.
This approach has generated many opportunities for local producers by directly being involved in on-farm projects to improve their production, seeing firsthand the benefits of watercourse rehabilitation, managing native pastures or a Meat and Livestock Australia-supported Producer Demonstration Site, and determining which pasture species respond to the variable seasonal conditions.
One of BIGG’s key projects, supported by the Adelaide Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board, is measuring soil moisture in pastures; the first time in Australia that a farming systems group has done this.
This information will now be developed into a pasture production model for local producers to help manage their grazing businesses. The BIGG network also exposes producers to innovative ideas and industry experts, through local conferences, workshops and communication outputs, which highlight relevant local, state and national information. It also provides the opportunity for partnerships between the industry organisations and NRM bodies who support the many projects BIGG manages.
In addition to improving skills and knowledge, most importantly, BIGG offers benefits to the local community by giving farmers the opportunity to network, discuss local issues, work together, and learn from other industries. This approach has helped local farmers combat two bushfires that affected the region, droughts and more variable climates and also it provides the opportunity to join together and celebrate the good seasons.
Video link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=txvmw6zVSZs