Environmental management systems go national

THE COMMONWEALTH is providing up to $8.5 million to fund 15 projects across Australia under the Environmental Management Systems National Pilot Program.

The Parliamentary Secretary for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Judith Troeth, said the program is designed to further develop environmental management systems (EMS) as innovative business tools for Australia's primary producers. The program is part of the Commonwealth's Natural Heritage Trust.

"The 15 successful projects, recommended by an independent advisory panel, represent an excellent range of industries, regions, partnerships and natural resource management issues. They incorporate a 'systems approach' to natural resource management, which will help encourage continuous improvement by employing the 'plan-do-check-review' cycle."

The following groups and projects are of most interest to Ground Cover readers.

Also of interest, the Riverina EMS group and the Mingenew-Irwin Group now have follow-up funding to build on the pilot programs that were developed in those districts with support from graingrowers and the Federal Government through the GRDC.

Linking on-farm EMS with catchment targets, a farmer-catchment-government partnership in Victoria

North Central Catchment Management Authority NHT fuuding: $649,600

This pilot is a partnership of three catchment management authorities in Victoria, and will implement EMS on 100 farms. It builds on the Riverina EMS projects, and uses a four-tiered approach to EMS. Under this system, farmers work their way through the tiers, reaching a full EMS by the third tier.

The project will link on-farm action with catchment targets. An integral part is developing practical on-farm environmental monitoring tools to help farmers assess environmental outcomes.

Widespread adoption, ensuring practical application and testing benefits of EMS in broadacre farming

Mingenew-Irwin Group NHT funding: $298,240

In WA, the Mingenew-Irwin Group of 60 farm enterprises plans to streamline EMS and quality assurance requirements to ensure efficient monitoring, record keeping, training and communications. The project will also assess the marketability of on-farm environmental efforts by selling Mingenew-Irwin-branded 'eco' grain products.

Blackwood EMS pilot - 'Combining profitability and sustainability'

Blackwood Basin Group NHT funding: $251,000

The Blackwood Basin Group is a community-managed landcare organisation in WA. The project involves two subcatchment groups testing EMS to link catchment natural resource management targets with on-farm actions. During the project, the Group will develop a master EMS plan and templates to help farmers adopt EMS.

Murray Environmental Management Systems Group

Native Dog Landcare Group NHT funding: $414,960

This pilot will form a partnership of landholders from three diverse groups in the NSW Murray Catchment, and use a group-learning model to implement EMS. The project, which includes the Riverina EMS Group, will build on the work undertaken as part of the GRDC's EMS project.

The pilot will expand the GRDC-supported pilot results into'more diverse farming systems, in particular irrigated cropping. The project will also determine the extent to which EMS can help the industry increase its competitiveness and production efficiency, and meet emerging market demands for quality and environmental assurance.

The development and assessment of the Cotton BMP Program into a comprehensive environmental management system through the development of a land and water module

Cotton Australia NHT funding: $602,250

Cotton Australia and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation will manage the project across three cotton-growing regions in Queensland and NSW. The project will expand on the current best management practice program to include key natural resource issues and to assess the program's effectiveness in an EMS form. The industry's best management practice program is a voluntary program based on a process of continuous improvement. It uses a 'plan-do-check- review ' management cycle.

Region North