Tag Archives: regenerative agriculture

Call of the Reed Warbler: A New Agriculture – A New Earth

Profound, complex, anecdotal, Call of the Reed Warbler, wants to change the world; it could be the most important book you will ever read.

– Bill Gammage, author of The Biggest Estate on Earth

Charles Massy’s previous bestselling book, Breaking The Sheep’s Back, exposed the $10 billion collapse of the wool industry. This time he turns his forensic eye on how we farm and grow food.

Call of the Reed Warbler is an urgent call to arms – the urgency stemming from the fact that Earth and its supporting systems is slipping into a totally new, dangerous and human-caused epoch – the Anthropocene. But there is hope, and this ground-breaking book focusses on a new regenerative agriculture and consequently a rejuvenated Earth. It tells the story of extraordinary and tangible solutions to this first-time ever, human caused crisis.

This is a marvellous book, full of wonder and wisdom, and both visionary and deeply practical. A magnificent achievement.

– Professor Tom Griffiths, ANU

Call of the Reed Warbler will change the way we think of how we farm and grow food. Author and radical farmer Charles Massy explores transformative and regenerative agriculture and the vital connection between our soil and our health. It is a story of how a grassroots revolution – a true underground insurgency – can save the planet, help turn climate change around, and build healthy people and healthy communities, pivoting significantly on our relationship with growing and consuming food.

Using his personal experience as a touchstone – from an unknowing, chemical-using farmer with dead soils to a radical ecologist farmer carefully regenerating a 2000-hectare property to a state of natural health – Charles Massy tells the real story behind industrial agriculture and the global profit-obsessed corporations driving it. He shows – through evocative stories – how innovative farmers are finding a new way and interweaves his own local landscape, its seasons and biological richness.

According to Massy, we need a revolution as human health and our communities, and the very survival of the planet depend on it. For farmer, backyard gardener, food buyer, health worker, policy maker and public leaders alike, Call of the Reed Warbler offers a tangible path forward for the future of our food supply, our Australian landscape and our earth. It comprises a powerful and moving paean of hope.

Its gentle yet compelling voice, its depth of feeling and honesty, its sense of purpose and vision, is sure to make it an Australian classic.

– Books+Publishing

Call of the Reed Warbler by Charles MassyCome to the Canberra launch of Call of the Reed Warbler:
6pm, Tuesday 3 October at the National Library of Australia.
Book online at bit.ly/ReedwarblerNLA


Charles Massy gained a Bachelor of Science (Zoology, Human Ecology) at ANU (1976), before going farming for 35 years, developing the prominent Merino sheep stud ‘Severn Park’. Concern at ongoing land degradation and humanity’s sustainability challenge led him to return to ANU in 2009 to undertake a PhD in Human Ecology. Charles was awarded an Order of Australia Medal for his service as Chair and Director of a number of research organisations and statutory wool boards. He has also served on national and international review panels in sheep and wool research and development and genomics. Charles has authored several books on the Australian sheep industry, the most recent being the widely acclaimed Breaking the Sheep’s Back (UQP, 2011).

Pulling the Planet Back from the Brink, One Farm at a Time

This article is by ARLASH member, Charlie Massy, and was published by the Rockefeller Foundation on 5 May 2016. Read the original article here: https://www.rockefellerfoundation.org/blog/pulling-the-planet-back-from-the-brink-one-farm-at-a-time/

I am a farmer with forty years of hard-won experience. I have made my share of mistakes, mainly because I thought our landscapes were bulletproof and our resources were super-resilient. Like many, I eventually learned that modern, industrial-scale agriculture is grossly unsustainable. In fact, it is the key force in the massive destabilization of our planet’s ecological balance. But I have also more recently learned that agriculture can become the key force in restoring Earth’s ecological order.

“Agriculture is the largest land-user on earth, the largest chunk of the globe’s GDP, the largest employer of its citizens, and the main source of food and income for most of the world’s poor.”

Agriculture is the largest land-user on earth, the largest chunk of the globe’s GDP, the largest employer of its citizens, and the main source of food and income for most of the world’s poor. Agriculture is also pushing the planet across the threshold of sustainability in several areas—greenhouse gas emissions, the nitrogen cycle, and biodiversity loss—and testing the limits in other areas as well, most notably water.

As a result, many scientists now contend that planet Earth has already entered what is being called the Anthropocene era, so named because, for the first time in the planet’s history, one species—we humans—are now in a position to determine the destiny of most life on Earth, including ourselves. But we have the power to steer the world toward a more desirable destination, and that work can start on the farm.

As a farmer, I have spent the last few years making transformative changes to my own thinking and agricultural practices. I have realized it is possible to grow food and fiber in ways that restore rather than merely deplete the land. I have embraced what is sometimes called “regenerative agriculture,” which has the potential to truly address the crises of the Anthropocene era.

Our 4,500-acre farm in Australia nestles on the tough, high temperate Monaro tablelands of southern New South Wales: a land of hard frosts, big horizons, eucalypt woodlands, and golden grass. Here, my shift from conventional to regenerative agriculture has had startling effects, both ecologically and economically. Through trapping more rain, we grow more diverse vegetation. Our sheep and cattle—and our bank balance—are healthier. Grasshopper plagues are no more, yet other biodiversity has exploded: from mushrooms (fungi), to birds, insects, earthworms, marsupials—and wondrous spiders.

Recently, I have studied how other farmers are applying this approach in Australia, Africa, and North and South America. The results, as on our farm, have been remarkable: Healthy landscape function was restored, production increased, biodiversity rebounded, climate change factors were ameliorated, and vastly healthier food was produced.

“It’s not so much our technology, but what we believe, that will determine our fate.”

In 2010, environmental historian Tim Flannery wrote in his book Here on Earth, “While we humans may be built by our genes, our civilizations are built from ideas,” and therefore, “it’s not so much our technology, but what we believe, that will determine our fate.”

History supports Flannery’s contention, particularly in regard to agriculture and ideas. Most of the great civilizations and dynasties of the past—in India, Mesopotamia, China, around the Mediterranean, and in South and Meso-America—overwhelmed their natural resources through poor soil, water, and landscape management, and their societies collapsed.

All evidence today points to the potential for an even more spectacular crash-and-burn scenario.

Our civilization will ultimately survive—or not—based on whether we heed Flannery’s vision. It is our beliefs that will determine our fate. And there’s reason to believe a new cohort of ecological agriculturalists can alter the course of our civilization with new ideas and practices. They understand that we must embrace a new way of feeding the world, or there won’t be any people left to feed.

Dr. Charles Massy was an Academic Resident at Bellagio in November 2015.

Thinking, Doing, Learning, Writing and Talking, for a Regenerative Future

Writing is a solitary task. Writers, alone in the space where they delve into their thoughts, cobble together stories from all the myriad connections, ideas, words and relationships they have formed, strive to describe their experience and relate it to the world. The world, of which the writer is an intimate part, has helped to shape the writer, just as writers hope their words may help others to shape the world.

I stumbled into having a go at writing because someone felt they saw or heard in me, a way of expressing how I see the world through my experience of 48 years of farming, observing and learning. A suggestion was made that I should write a blog of my thoughts and experiences and publish it on the ARLASH website. I found this quite intimidating.

Over the past twenty years I had given talks at conferences, to farmers groups, landcare and catchment groups in all states of Australia except the Northern Territory. Talking about one’s life work and the journey of unfolding ideas, catalysed by doing, learning and reading is a pleasure and a privilege.

However, I came to writing with a feeling of trepidation. It was almost as though my little inner critic was asking questions about the worthiness of what I might have to say, and even if I was qualified to say anything at all. This is the left side of our brain talking. As time has gone by those feelings have faded. Now, I have written over forty blogs on a range of topics, they have been sent out via twitter to over 100 organisations who follow us and who have similar ideals to ARLASH. I have had comments from people in the UK, the US and Australia. One never knows where ideas go, but to me it feels like there is a gathering momentum of urban people wanting to eat healthy food from farms that have a story about their philosophy of land use and how they run their farm. This is a way of reaching out and making connections that can influence choices and change what appears on the shelves of shops. The biggest influence on the markets we supply, is when consumers demand products that will give them health. This is the way we can make the connections between landscapes and people, food and health.

Over human history since the dawn of agriculture about 10,000 years ago, humans have tried to bend the world to their will in a quest to feed and clothe themselves. In doing this we have diverted energy and the products of photosynthesis away from the living community. This has had long term, inexorable effects for which we now, late in the day, begin to feel responsible.

Innovative farmers all over the world, uneasy about the effects their farming systems are having on the earth, have taken up the cudgel and are farming now in a way that is good for the Earth. On these farms, formerly plunging soil organic carbon is beginning to rise. Falling soil carbon is an indicator that shows us we are ecologically living beyond our means.

Recently I heard a senior American university soil scientist say that he felt the scientific community was way behind innovative farming practice. He said that scientists now are struggling to describe what is happening in innovative farming systems, in both grazing and cropping.

And yet in our institutions of education, the same courses are being taught, the application of which have presided over the loss of approximately 70% of the soil organic carbon in the world’s agricultural and grazing lands.

The engine for change now is down on the farm, the days of funding research programs that only look at maximising yield should be over. The farming systems based on that research are tied to high energy products and huge energy sequestered in the equipment used to operate the system. It is a high entropy, low information way of behaving that simplifies landscapes. I don’t think any research program in agriculture should be considered unless there is a credible long term evaluation of the effects that that research is going to have on the ecosystems where it will be applied. Of course, this should be part of the application for funding.

One of the most influential minds of the last half century has been the independent British scientist and inventor, James Lovelock. He realised that the constant composition of the earth’s atmosphere could not be explained by the physical sciences. He proposed the Gaia theory or hypothesis, that the Earth behaved like a self-regulating organism, in the late 1960’s with his colleague, Lynn Margulis. He was widely pilloried by his scientific peers for many years, but over time much of the hypothesis he proposed has come to be accepted, as many formerly unexplained features of the earth system have been explained by Gaia theory. For example, the initiation of cloud formation over the oceans was shown to be molecules of dimethyl-sulphide emitted by oceanic algae and oxidised in the earth’s atmosphere to form sulphur molecules that are the genesis of oceanic cloud formation, and thus critical for the regulation of the heat of the earth.

The clamouring calls for we humans to become the custodians of fixing up the problems we have caused to the Earth’s self-organising systems (homeostasis), are resisted by James Lovelock. His view is that it would be a depressing and probably futile task for us, compared with the more hopeful and likely option of allowing the Earth system to do what it has been doing over evolutionary time. That is to self-organise, self-repair and via the agency of living organisms, continue to keep this Earth in a life-friendly state.

Whether they know it or not, that is what regenerative farmers are in the business of doing. They are, through what they do, and what they stop doing, allowing the natural tendency of evolution to become a reality once more.

More power to them!

Triggers of Influence

What is it that influences the course of our lives? Obviously our family and the experiences we have can shape who we become. Certainly it is not preordained or fixed in us before we experience the world.

I think it is in the almost unconscious absorption of the stories we hear and almost imperceptibly absorb, coupled with the experiences we have, that begins to shape who we may become. These are emergent properties!

I have always been interested in how people get into their jobs, interests, careers.  My observation is that frequently it is some chance event or experience that creates a connection with something inside their being and off they go, pursuing a dream they did not know they had inside them.

My father, a doctor, and a man passionately interested in the living world, compost making and growing things, including chooks, was a medical officer in a Beaufighter squadron during WWII. When he was training for this position in the Victorian western desert town of Nhill, he met and became friendly with the local doctor in Nhill, a Dr Middleton. There were several children including two energetic boys, Bill and Jim.

My father had a good mate in Melbourne, Tony Spencer whose family owned The Hill of Content  bookstore. Young Bill Middleton was interested in nature and so was my father.

The Air Force training finished and off the airmen went to Yampi Sound, Port Moresby, Balikpappan and Goodenough island. Later we found out that the 30 squadron Beaufighters played an important role in the winning of the battle of the Bismark sea and also assisted in strafing the Japanese supply lines and contributing to stopping the Japanese army advance into Moresby, made famous by the efforts of Australian soldiers on the Kokoda Track.

During the time between my father leaving Nhill and the end of the war, on every birthday a book would arrive for young Bill Middleton arranged by my father, on active service, and sent from the Hill of Content. When my father died in 2006, Bill Middleton, who became the District Forester at the Wimmera Forestry Nursery at Wail, Victoria, told me that the influence of those books, and the conversations he had with my father in the early 1940s, influenced him to follow the career path he took.

When I was young I used to go up to feed the chooks early in the morning with Dad. I probably drove him mad with my constant questions. His answers opened my mind to the natural world. He often spoke about his aunt Kathleen whom he loved. She married Arthur Kilgour who had owned Herbertvale Station NT from about 1902 to 1920. When Arthur retired they lived in Bowral in the home  which later became our family home.

Arthur and Kathleen Kilgour had a Willys Overland tourer car in the 1920s and they used to drive right up into Cape York in Far North Queensland for holidays, quite a challenge on the unsealed roads of the time.

I heard stories of the remote cattle country that lodged in my subconscious. I went off to a preparatory school at Moss Vale where there were lots of boys from farms, some of whom I stayed with in the holidays. I also stayed with a young family at Coolah and formed a lifelong friendship that also heavily influenced my choice of career. Those experiences cemented in me a desire to go farming. I was fortunate to be able to fulfil that desire and have made it my life”s work.

In previous posts you can read about my family’s journey from high input industrial agriculture using linear decision making, to regenerative agriculture using holistic decision making and tapping into the power of ecosystems that have evolved with the capacity to re-complicate, self-organise and self-repair. Their inherent resilience comes from the diversity within their communities of living organisms. This resilience has been inexorably stripped away by the simplifying processes of industrial agriculture. Diversity and resilience can be restored if we begin making decisions that allow this natural process to take place. At Allendale, our decisions are always towards the needs of the ecosystems that support all life, including human life. We can no longer afford the luxury of having just an economic relationship with the landscapes that we rely on to supply the needs of the living component of the biosphere.

An underlying disquiet in the minds of many ‘industrial’ farmers is going on world wide. Many of the products used in the industrial agricultural model are agents unknown to the natural world, do not support life and whose breakdown has unintended consequences that may ultimately impinge on our capacity to feed ourselves and whose effects simplify the living community, the opposite of the trend of evolution.

We keep forgetting that the life we see around us is here because of the capacity of species to adapt to change, or be overtaken by other species. There is a constant turnover of species, at various scales. In geologic timescales many species become extinct and are replaced. In a human timescale where agriculture is practised, the community becomes simplified and loses its resilience.

In contrast those who are adopting regenerative practices are finding that diversity is gradually increasing at very low cost. Where farmers are growing adept at matching their livestock to the feed in a dynamic relationship, ecosystem function is being restored at almost no cost. Decisions that support the needs of ecosystems are also proving to be good for farm businesses and the people who operate them.

In our economically driven world where we blindly push into the unknown with high tech silver bullets to deal with the problems we have created, those who buck the trend and gamely try to farm in concert with the processes of nature find themselves at a big disadvantage when their efforts are evaluated.

For a true comparison of ecological farming with industrial farming we need to look at the whole cycle, social, economic and ecosystem. Without a set of environmental accounts to record the environmental losses and the external energy consumption of the industrial model, and in contrast, to record the environmental gains in biodiversity and restoration of landscape function in the regenerative model, we get a very confused and skewed picture.

This is reflected in food prices, where ecologically produced food coming  from regenerating landscapes is dearer than ‘factory food’ that has huge energy costs, water use, chemicals and inorganic fertilisers. The market signal is distorted because we only evaluate the dollars, a poor measure of success, if it is eroding the resource base that makes life possible, including the human resource base.


An Always Changing, Living Earth

I have always loved Aldo Leopold’s metaphor of the annual return of the Sandhill Cranes from Siberia to the Sand Counties of Wisconsin, as the ‘ticking of the geologic clock’.
On a much shorter time frame, the daily rising and setting of the sun is like the earth inhaling and exhaling.

Farmers have the privilege of watching the seasons come and go over the years of their farming life. Those who are fortunate to have eyes to see the landscape as something they are connected to and part of can observe the richness and abundance of life.  From this abundance they embark on an annual quest to produce a profit by converting some of the product of photosynthesis into something to sell.

This quest is universal whether the product is meat, fibre or grain.
There are of course other ‘non consumptive’ values of land. We might produce on our landscape a pleasant view, or conserve a particular ecosystem that provides habitat to plants or animals that do not have a direct monetary value but have an important ‘existence’ value. These values can bring pleasure to the minds of anyone who observes them. In some countries people pay farmers an annual fee for the right to come onto land and observe species that are rare.

Often, the non-economic values in the landscape are fundamental to the ongoing function of farm ecosystems and essential in underpinning our businesses over the long run. As farmers, I do not think we really ‘get’ that. We are mostly too busy rushing around trying to outsmart nature and gather a harvest that we can market at a profit. A ‘true profit’ is one that delivers a positive biological value in the landscape in terms of increasing diversity and organic carbon, and improving soil structure, as well as dollars in the bank.

The big engine of life on earth is invisible to us. The mass and diversity of life below the soil surface is a fundamental part of the land equation.

So often in farming our fortunes are dictated by circumstances rather than our cleverness. In todays world, dominated by technology, the variability of nature still holds the cards for  financial success.

At Allendale in the south west slopes of New South Wales, this year opened with record high temperatures in January and February. Out of the blue with one cool wet change from the west, the heat stopped and we welcomed a two month spell of mild and wet weather in March and April (read more in this earlier post). This unexpected change in the weather ushered in the best autumn here for many, many years, and saved us from a grim autumn and winter. The capricious nature of Australian weather was not so kind to many areas, especially the New England and the North West.

image of bare paddock, Feb 2014image of lush paddock, Apr2014

The Winter here was generally mild, with two weeks of severe frost in July to remind us that growth does slow right down or even almost stop, in July before waking from its slumber in about mid August. These frosts caused havoc for many crops sown on early rains and overgrown in the mild conditions.

The Spring has been drier than some, with rains often spread a month apart, but here we have been fortunate to have cool weather that has produced a lot more grass than expected.

Managing holistically means we are moving our two cattle herds so they stay in each paddock for just a few days and do not return until the pasture has fully recovered (50 to 170 days, depending on growth rates). Planning grazing this way allows two to three times the biomass to grow in a season when compared to unplanned constant stocking. This all happens without any purchased inputs in the form of herbicides or inorganic fertilisers, and provides a living while allowing diversity to increase and this has a calming effect on people.

A Farmers Tale Part II

What is the purpose of agriculture?

“the obligation of a country’s agriculture is to maintain its people in health”

One of the cornerstones of the ARLASH vision is to make this intimate connection between landscape and human health.

This quote is from Wendell Berry in a foreword to a 2006 republished edition of Sir Albert Howard’s 1947 book, The Soil and Health.

Implicit in this is that farm landscapes can be managed to deliver future landscapes that are abundant and diverse, and whose products are health-giving for people.

In part one of this saga I raised the idea of an awakening interest in Ecology (basically, how the living and physical worlds function and continue to make for a life friendly context), as fundamental to the practice of regenerative agriculture.

REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE practice taps in to the laws of nature as its guide. Self organisation and repair are hallmarks of this type of management.

The development of more complex communities of life are something we are constantly striving for at Allendale. We count species numbers in some paddocks to monitor if we are gaining or losing species; a guide to show us if our management is leading to the increasing DIVERSITY we desire.

Managing this way is low cost, low risk and can lead to landscape, human and economic health. We call it MANAGING HOLISTICALLY

It is different from the linear decision making of the industrial model which assumes that understanding is attained by studying the parts of a system. The industrial mind is sure that the application of reductionist science will yield favourable outcomes. The favoured almost always being humans, at the expense of other forms of life which we assume we can do without.

However, mostly the costs our behaviour imposes on society and eco-systems is ignored or deferred. These effects are called externalities.

Externalities impose social and ecological costs on society and the living world which have never been paid by us. The visible effects of them are evident as we move around. Soils exposed to wind and water, more simplified communities, increasing energy imports into agriculture (fuel, water, products etc). Lower satisfaction rates (depression increasing), increasing rates of ill-health in society(obesity increasing, diabetes in epidemic proportions), poor economic outcomes, land looking overused, and on a world scale accelerating species extinctions.

The health costs of our current way of living is now a big drain on the public purse. The food choices people are making are leading to increasing rates of chronic illness. The peddlers of salt, fat and sugar-rich highly processed foods get a free ride on profit while the costs of the illness their products produce is loaded onto society. This is an ethical and moral question.

Thus, while reductionism has delivered some impressive benefits it is out of step with the way the world functions, (in fact, heading in the opposite direction; simplified communities of life, rather than the increasing complexity inherent in the natural trend of 4 billion years of evolution), and the unpaid costs of externalities mount up.

The emerging practice of REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE assumes that its actions may be wrong and is constantly looking for evidence that shows that it may be off track. Thinking this way gives us the opportunity to constantly review and adjust so we are mostly more on track to the diverse, more stable and RESILIENT future landscapes we desire.

One of the most thought provoking pieces of writing on this topic is THE LAND ETHIC, by Aldo Leopold. Although written in 1948 just before his untimely death, it is still considered ground breaking in its clarity and vision.

All farmers would benefit from reading THE LAND ETHIC.

It is to be found online or in Leopold’s book, A SAND COUNTY ALMANAC, 1948. It would be wonderful if that book was well-thumbed and in every farmer’s bookshelf.

Leopold’s thinking certainly had a profound effect on me when I first stumbled across his writing whilst studying for a Sustainable agriculture Masters degree in 2001.

He articulates clearly the sort of relationship that should exist between people and land.

Great Possibilities with Regenerative Agriculture

A complex ecosystem is able to supply all its own goods and services.
What does that mean? It means that using the free energy of the sun it can supply such things as water cleansing and storage, pollination, recycling, seed sources, species diversity, soil fertility, soil structure, sites for seed germination, population control and the list could go on.
This is how the living world has arranged things over 3.5 billion years of life. The diversity inherent in complex ecosystems of living organisms is what gives it resilience; makes it resistant to disturbances.
To maintain this diverse structure and diversity requires the expenditure of about one third of the energy the ecosystem harvests from the sun.
The energy that drives all life is less than 1% of the solar energy that bathes the earth each day.
The complex community invests in its own future by recycling everything, and gradually moving in a seemingly haphazard way, to a community dominated by so called ‘higher’ species such as perennial plants, that partition energy for next season’s growth. This is in contrast to disturbed communities that are dominated by annuals that grow quickly and produce seed and then die off each season.
Of the land used for agriculture in Australia, about 85% is used for grazing.

Agriculture tends to create communities that are simplifying, losing species, cannot reproduce or repair themselves, lack resilience and cannot provide most of the goods and services mentioned above.

To maintain yields in simplified agri-ecosystems, farmers have to spend cash to supply many of the goods and services that more complex communities provide at no cost.
Knowing this could be the most important piece of knowledge a farmer can have.

Our farm is 814 hectares at Boorowa in the South West Slopes of NSW.
We are trying very hard to have a more balanced relationship with the landscape than in the past. Instead of just thinking of economics, we are also thinking about the people and the environment in every decision we make. In fact the future environment of this farm is foremost in our minds in every decision we make. Harvesting sunlight and marketing grass through our animals is our main business. Our management must lead to more diverse, resilient landscapes or we are not achieving our goals for the farm.
Since 1999 we have been managing in ways that allow the communities of living organisms on our farm to elaborate and diversify. This is the natural tendency of evolution.

The great paradox of agriculture is that although we have this amazing example of how life creates life-friendly conditions, agriculture almost always creates the opposite; simplified communities.
To make things worse, the high energy inputs of modern industrial agriculture are causing atmospheric pollution that may threaten our existence.
The availability of cheap, energy-dense hydrocarbons (fossil fuel, or the product of past photosynthesis), has allowed our species to squeeze higher yields from farm ecosystems, but actually the GROSS yield is falling, due to the simplification of ecosystems.
World wide, organic carbon levels have fallen by as much as 70%, or even more.
Ecologically we are living beyond our means.

We believe decisions that lead to increasing diversity are good for our business.
Why aren’t all farmers rushing to manage this way?
I believe it is because they lack the tools that give them the confidence to change. What tools am I referring to here?

How to assess how many days of feed are on the farm.
How to plan grazing so plants have time to recover and to maximise solar capture.
Not punting on grass, or the season.
At all times matching our stocking rate to the carrying capacity; a dynamic relationship. Most damage to land, people and farm businesses happens when we are running too many stock for the conditions. Failing to get this right is what leads to anxiety, feeding costs escalate and the farm loses cover and begins blowing.

No farmers want to see their farm lose cover and blow or wash away. Yet each time the weather changes we see the same scenes of dust and devastation.

This only happens because we value our livestock above the land and plants that makes their existence possible.
We mostly think our livestock are the business; but the business is the grass.

Becoming ecologically literate is a critical need amongst the farming community in Australia.