CQ farmers: get ahead of regulation by Gary Alcorn
GroundCover™ Issue: 42
AN EFFECTIVE EMS should embrace such hot topics as salinity, sodicity, sediment monitoring and tree clearing, say Dululu district farmers and graziers Neal and Amanda Johansen, 'Alma Park', Central Qld.
While sustainability of both resources and agribusiness is their main aim, they believe EMS early adopters may avoid pending tree clearing and salinity legislation by having a total property plan with eventual ISO14001 accreditation as the long-term goal.
Although the Johansens began their formal EMS program two years ago, they have practised broadacre controlled traffic and zero-tillage on dryland cultivation since 1997.
"In my opinion the best way EMS can work for us is if we can combine best sustainable management practices, Graincare and Pulse Australia guidelines etc with EMS in one property plan. I think this should safeguard us against some of the legislation that may be coming regarding future land use," Mr Johansen said.
While primary producers in Queensland have some 15 different pieces oflegislation affecting property development and management, Mr Johansen is convinced more integration is needed to blend various requirements into one document called an EMS program.
"I only want to do one major lot of bookwork; I don't want to have to do an EMS, then a Graincare plan and a Cattlecare plan. I want one plan that covers everything," he said.
Alma Park currently produces cereal and legumes using a 3 m wide tramline layout which matches the 12 m wide planter and 24 m wide boomspray. As well, a cell grazing system turns off prime cattle.
So what will change under EMS?
"The EMS identified farm safety as a high priority, so we protect our family, staff, crops and the environment. The action plan rates safe chemical storage, record keeping and spray drift as top priorities but, since we wrote that, some conditions have changed.
"We have included sediment watch where we monitor run-off after high intensity rainfall events, because this can impact on other people in the catchment.
"I guess all of this is working towards the one objective and that's to become as sustainable as you possibly can, whether that applies to waste management, water management, energy efficiency or farm safety and productivity," Mr Johansen said.
|Major issue||On-farm impact||Off-farm impact|
|leakage of water and nutrients (most farming systems leak unless perennials are included)|
|Erosion (water and wind)|
|Toxicity from acidity|
|Toxicity problems from agrochemicals or heavy metals|
|Control of pests, weeds and disease|
|Native vegitation and biodiversity issues|
Table collated by Dr Anna Ridley, DNRE, Rutherglen, VIC.