This is sponsored content for Landcare Australia.
With nominations now open for the 2019 State and Territory Landcare Awards, Landcare Australia reflects on past winners of the National Landcare Awards and the cream of the crop in land management and agriculture enterprise.
The National Landcare Awards is an opportunity to recognise individuals and groups across the country for their outstanding contributions to preserving the unique Australian landscape.
With nominations now open for the 2019 State and Territory Landcare Awards, farming categories - in partnership with the Australian government - offer the chance to celebrate innovation and excellence in sustainable land management.
With Australian agriculture known as a world-leader in 'ag-tech' developments and regeneration practices, what does it take to make the cream of the crop?
The 2018 winner of the Australian government Innovation in Agriculture Land Management Award launched pastoral surveillance into the outer stratosphere.
Using satellite technology, Precision Pastoral, a pioneering agricultural technology start-up operating in Alice Springs, developed a program that allows pastoralists to integrate animal and pasture data.
Tracking the weight information from cattle as they walk over a platform on their way to a watering point, the ear tag on the animal is automatically scanned.
Precision Pastoral CEO Tim Driver explained the satellite mapping system assisted cattle producers with decisions on whether to hold on to stock or sell.
"Our goal was to bring automation and technology to the sector and to bring processes that would normally be taken care of in the yards, to have them instead performed autonomously in the paddock," Tim said.
"Our weight platform and draft gate that sits on a watering point or some form of attraction, gives us, or the operator, a chance to measure those animals without having to physically go out there and muster them."
Confirming the scale and enormity of the beef sector inspired this innovation, Tim said the technology had to be robust and glitch-proof.
"To perform a repair, it's not just simply travelling down the road to fix a wire - it's 200km away from the homestead. And the real focus for us is that the technology doesn't require lots of high maintenance. It's truly autonomous.'
Giving farmers a better understanding of groundcover trends and animal condition, as well as reducing monitoring costs, Tim hopes the technology will have ubiquitous presence throughout the industry in the future.
"I want it out there, making a change in automating the production sector and using that data to hone and increase production. It opens up a whole new skillset to the agricultural industry and means you could be contributing significantly to the industry by not necessarily working on a farm," he said.
"You could theoretically be sitting in Sydney or Melbourne, controlling operations with this remote technology."
Competing against innovative agriculture projects from States and Territories across the country to win the Australian Government Innovation in Agriculture Land Management Award, Tim admitted feeling ecstatic at what the future holds for the industry.
"After seeing the fantastic work by others nominated in this category, it is truly an honour to be among such groundbreaking advancement. It makes me excited for the future."
Also winning big at the 2018 National Landcare Awards was a dedicated group epitomising the essence and spirit of landcare.
Picking up the Australian Government Landcare Farming Award (previously known as Excellence in Sustainable Farm Practices Award), Lake Baroon Catchment Care Group (LBCCG) was established in 1991 to improve water quality in the Baroon Pocket Dam, the most important source of water for the Sunshine Coast.
Once faced with historical scepticism, the group's legacy has seen them assisting 34 farms with sustainable practices including fencing and revegetation of riparian zones, the installation of alternate livestock watering points, and erosion and land instability repair.
Through these pioneering efforts over nearly three decades, LBCCG won landowner trust by building individual relationships, and by cultivating mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders such as Seqwater and Sunshine Coast Council.
Key to LBCCG's mission was convincing landowners that productivity and sustainability were not mutually exclusive. They proved rehabilitating laneways on dairy farms improved water quality by reducing erosion while also improving livestock movement and cattle hygiene, subsequently enhancing milk quality.
Likewise, planting local hoop and bunya pines diminished the chance of landslides while allowing continued grazing, meaning productivity doesn't suffer.
Similarly, LBCCG's Dairy Program works with seven farms to consolidate productivity - via new effluent management and reuse systems, dairy apron concreting and livestock laneway rehabilitation - while also reducing risks to water quality.
And their work with academics from the Queensland University of Technology to support on-farm projects including the ongoing monitoring of planting on landslip sites, has helped raise awareness of local erosion issues.
Receiving the honour last year on behalf of the group, president Peter Stevens said it was "great to receive recognition for all the years of work we put into this project".
"There were a lot of people who were very proud of this amazing outcome at last year's National Landcare Awards and it further emphasises how necessary it is to foster these key relationships," Peter said.
For over 20 years, the Landcare Awards have recognised and celebrated the achievements of groups and individuals in the landcare community who have made a significant contribution to the environment, sustainable farming practices and natural resource management.
With nominations now open for the State and Territory Landcare Awards, this prestigious awards program is an exciting opportunity to acknowledge landcare projects that are focused on sustainable farming, biodiversity and conservation, community and wellbeing, Indigenous land management, Coastcare, youth participation and leadership.
Further Australian government sponsored categories include the Individual Landcarer Award and Partnerships for Landcare Award, and this year the criteria for all categories have been revised to ensure it is easier for more people to get involved.
Winners from the 2019 State and Territory Landcare Awards will go forward to the 2020 National Landcare Awards held during the 2020 National Landcare Conference. The National Landcare Awards ceremony also includes the Bob Hawke Landcare Award sponsored by the Australian government
Are you aware of an individual or group that needs to be recognised for their contribution to caring for our country? We encourage you to please nominate them for one of our nine national award categories here.
This is sponsored content for Landcare Australia.