Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator

Current Project, Regional Agriculture Landcare, Sustainable Agriculture

The Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF) programme is made up of a national network which involves facilitators in each of Australia’s 56 natural resource management regions. They work to support Landcare and production groups to adopt sustainable farm and land management practices, and to protect Australia’s landscape.

Group of people.

The Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator (RALF) programme is a national network involving facilitators in each of the 56 natural resource management regions across Australia. They work to support Landcare and production groups to adopt sustainable farm and land management practises, while protecting Australia’s landscapes and reefs.

The RALF position is funded and supported by the Australian Government – Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment as part of the of the Regional Land Partnerships (RLP) program. This program provides $450 million, dispersed across the country, over five years (FY 2018 – 2023).

Three men and a woman.

Julia Kasiske is the RALF in the Mackay Whitsunday Isaac region. Currently on maternity leave, she is replaced by Gillian Barbat, who is ensuring this important role continues to deliver a range of services during Julia’s absence:

  1. Engaging and informing farming communities and agricultural industries within the management unit about emerging ideas, innovative practices, and relevant new government policy to help improve the sustainability, productivity, and profitability of agriculture
  2. Facilitating partnerships that will best deliver agriculture outcomes, such as connecting industry, grower, and community groups so that they can work together to address common issues
  3. Assisting farming communities and agriculture industry groups to develop new projects and seek new funding opportunities
  4. Supporting the delivery of National Landcare Program Sustainable Agriculture project – Holistic Land Management Project 
  5. Reporting to the department annually on the delivery of RALF services
  6. Participating in a ‘Communities of Practice’ to better understand complex issues, improve networks and help develop solutions for national priorities
  7. Attending the RALF Annual Conference in Canberra (cancelled in 2020 & 2021) and participating in regular teleconferences with the department
  8. Informing the department about emerging issues and events within the region (e.g., reporting on the impacts of natural disasters on farmers and organising field visits for Ministers)

Key Annual Events

The RALF role facilitates key annual events, including the Sustainable Grazing Forum and the Healthy Soils Symposium.

Sustainable Grazing Forum
In March/April each year, the Grazing Forum attracts more than 100 landholders, who learn about a wide range of grazing related topics such as herd management, genetics, pasture and weed management, biosecurity updates and managing climate variability by adopting improved grazing management practices.

The Forum is developed specifically for graziers and provides one of the only local opportunities for networking amongst grazing industry representatives, professionals, service providers, and producers. Since 2017, Reef Catchments has livestreamed and recorded these major events, which can be viewed on Reef Catchments’ YouTube channel. Furthermore, event presentation pdfs covering several topics can be found on the Resources tab.

FY22 Sustainable Grazing Forum will see presentations from:

  • Dr Christine Jones – keynote speaker – Amazing Carbon
  • Grant Sims – Down Under Covers
  • Greg Fawcett – Artificial Insemination Technician
  • Simon Mattsson – Soil Land Food
  • Roxanne Morgan – Department of Agriculture & Fisheries

With additional funding from Glencore, the April 2022 event will ensure delivery of a wide range of topics to enthuse graziers from all levels of experience. Currently in the planning stage, Gillian is negotiating with presenters and landholders to ensure the 3-day event provides growth opportunities for all delegates. The event will include a Conference Day held between 2 Field Days and led by Dr Christine Jones with support from experts in soils, grazing management, breeding, nutrition, and animal health.
Cattle at Longmilre Mangoes property.

Additional Grazing Resources
McArthur Holdings provided a presentation on virtual fencing. They are featured in this video.
Reef Catchments Youtube channel features live stream recordings from the Mackay Sustainable Grazing Forum.
Reef Catchments grazing talk Improving land condition
Mystery Park Nurturing the health of the land
McArthur Holdings provided a presentation on virtual fencing. They are featured in this video.
Reef Catchments YouTube channel features live stream recordings from the Mackay Sustainable Grazing Forum.
Reef Catchments grazing talk Improving land condition
Mystery Park Nurturing the health of the land

Healthy Soils Symposium
Soil health is one of the biggest challenges facing the region’s agricultural producers and the RALF program enables delivery of the annual Healthy Soils Symposium which provides information from leading soils and land management experts, while supporting peer-to-peer knowledge exchange.
In 2021 the 10th Annual event engaged delegates with presentations from:

  • Gwyn Jones – keynote speaker – Integrated Agri-culture
  • Daniel Gonzalez – Department of Agriculture & Fisheries
  • Mark Sugars – Department of Resources
  • Marcus Bulstrode – Department of Agriculture & Fisheries

Gwyn Jones keynote speaker.
More than half of the conference attendees secured a place to visit Ken and Mary Ede’s mixed enterprise at Longmile Mangoes, near Mt Ossa. With hands on presentations from Gwyn Jones to exemplify the role weeds play as indicator plants, and a deep dive into soil structure and quality with Mark Sugars, delegates consolidated their learnings from the conference sessions.

All presentations of the Conference were livestreamed and recorded, and are available with videos from the Field Day, on Reef Catchments’ YouTube channel. Presenter PowerPoints and information shares are freely accessible on the website Resources tab.
Mark Sugars talking about soil samples.

Here are the resources from the 2020 Healthy Soils Symposium and the Grazing Forum.

Program Activities
The RALF program strongly supports workshops that are directly related to environmental outcomes while supporting industry specific activities that encourage agricultural productivity as well. Julia encourages producers and growers to reach out and guide her on the topics of interest so that diverse and targeted capacity building activities can be provided to the agricultural sector in the region. For example, a recent bull selection workshop showed that a quality herd that is fertile and disease free is key to making a profit and keeping the land in a good condition. Whereas large underperforming herds often result in overstocking and poor land management practices.

Similarly, the RALF programme also delivers other diverse capacity building activities for the region’s agricultural producers including a three day Working Dog and Advanced Livestock Handling Workshop, which saw a group of 15 graziers, together with their working dogs and swags, join the Neil McDonald’s workshop in Balberra, Mackay.

ABCD guide.In 2022 Gillian lead a small team of industry experts and graziers to review and update Catchments’ ABCD Management Practice Framework for Grazing which provides graziers and consultants with a comprehensive, technical, and user-friendly program to adopt sustainable and regenerative grazing practices.

Other activities facilitated and/or supported by the RALF role include:
• Workshops on holistic management for graziers.
• Sponsoring local community leaders to participate in events and conferences, regionally and cross regionally.
• Workshops on seasonal forecasting tools and mitigation strategies.
• Cross-regional bus tours showcasing Qld’s most innovative agricultural enterprises.
• Soil workshops for all land managers.
• Regional Climate Plan

Eungella Grazing Bus Tour & Farm Walk – Thursday, 24 June 2021
The Eungella school bus was at capacity on what started out as a day in the clouds on Thursday, 24th June as 21 landholders and stakeholders / NRM providers including Reef Catchments and NQ Dry Tropic staff, gathered for a “Show & Tell” Grazing Bus Tour of the Eungella area. The focus of the day was to view local farms, and to hear from landholders about their land and livestock management approaches.

The day was collaboratively run by Clara Friswell from Reef Catchments and Rodger Walker from NQ Dry Tropics and featured guest speaker and local ecologist, Peter Alden from Pioneer Catchment Landcare. The day commenced with a slow drive down Bee Creek Road, as social and farming history commentary was shared by Ben Fredricksen, tour bus driver and local landholder. Throughout the day, as the tour moved between sites, local ecologist Peter Alden from Pioneer Catchment Landcare, provided insight on the area’s natural history and the work undertaken by him through the on the Eungella Rainforest Cluster project.

2016 Eungella bus tour.

The RALF in the Mackay Whitsunday region partners, and collaborates, with numerous groups including:

This is a current project.

Funding source: This project is a Reef Catchments (Mackay Whitsunday Isaac) initiative, primarily through funding from the Australian Government's Landcare Program.

Project contacts

Gillian Barbat.

Gillian Barbat

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