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Healthy farms healthy country on Cape York

Cape York NRM’s Healthy Farming Futures project is working closely with Cape York’s pastoralists to help their businesses become more sustainable.

Co-led by Cape York NRM’s Regional Agriculture Land Facilitator Andrew Hartwig, the project sees graziers in western flowing catchments in Central Cape York increase the amount of ground cover on their properties to help reduce erosion, sediment run-off and improve water quality in the Gulf.

It also provides a pathway towards business sustainability.

‘The Healthy Farming Futures team has been working with Merluna, Piccaninny Plains, Astrea, Holroyd River, Yarraden, Crystalvale and Watson River,’ Andrew explained.

‘The goal is to increase and maintain ground cover and biodiversity, remediate erosion hotspots where practical, and reduce the amount of sediment heading out to the Gulf of Carpentaria.

‘This can be achieved through a variety of methods depending on individual landholder goals and aspirations.

‘Graziers know their country better than anyone, and activities can include erosion remediation works, fire management, weed and feral animal management, fencing off sensitive areas, wetland management, wet season spelling and grazing rotation.

‘We usually start out with a grazing framework self-assessment and then develop a property-specific grazing plan.

The plans are useful to achieve long term goals and diversification, and also when applying for other grants such as Smart Farms.

‘When we take an integrated approach, we see a range of benefits.

‘The land does the work and the grazier saves money. The land also becomes more resilient and can help graziers keep their businesses afloat during hard times.

‘Participation in the program is voluntary, and we are hoping to get around to all grazing properties within the project area in the next couple of years to see if we can be of help.

‘I am confident that these kinds of changes will make a significant difference to sediment running off these properties, the sustainability of the businesses and ultimately, through knowledge sharing, and seeing the positive results of practice change, to the way we graze cattle on the Cape.’

This project is supported by Cape York NRM through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program