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Practical Regenerative Agricultural Communities

The Practical Regenerative Agricultural Communities Program aims to help you identify and implement practical land management practices to improve your grazing, productivity, soil health, biodiversity, and waterway health.

We are offering the following programs about regenerative agricultural practices to help you improve your land, soil, water and livestock:

  • Individual, free, on-farm advice
  • Webinars, workshops and field days
  • Holistic Grazing Management short course
  • Farmer discussion groups

The program is being delivered as a partnership between Macedon Ranges Shire Council, Hepburn Shire Council, Mount Alexander Shire Council, the City of Greater Bendigo, A Healthy Coliban Catchment project (North Central Catchment Management Authority and Coliban Water), Melbourne Water and the Upper Campaspe Landcare Network.

The program complements Hepburn Shire Council’s Artisan Agriculture Project and ZNET Hepburn programs, Coliban Water and the North Central Catchment Management Authority’s Healthy Coliban Catchment project and the Upper Campaspe Landcare Networks’ Pollinator Corridor Project.

How to get involved

The programs offered are designed for land managers with property greater than 2 hectares of the Macedon Ranges Shire, Hepburn Shire, Mount Alexander Shire, and the City of Greater Bendigo. 

Advice is practical and matched to any experience level and grazing livestock including, but not limited to, cattle, sheep, horses, pigs and alpacas.

To find out more about upcoming courses, events or on-farm advice, fill out the form below.

Expression of interest form

For more information, call Jason McAinch, Private Land Conservation Officer on 0455 210 436 or email jmcainch@mrsc.vic.gov.au

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Sign up to the Healthy Landscapes eNews for updates and details on upcoming events and workshops.

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Grasses of Central Victoria Guide

This guide is an easy reference guide for beginners to use in the farm paddock or bushland to identify the common grass species in the Central Victoria region.

Being a beginner’s guide, it is not a complete guide of all grasses or grassland plants in Central Victoria. Understanding the flower structure of grasses is the quickest way to narrow down and identify most species.

As a result, this guide is ordered by the type of flower structure, then by scientific name. Where possible, the guide uses simplified language.

The descriptive text and photographs will assist in identifying features of the grass.

Keep this guide handy when out in Central Victoria and use it to improve your skills in identifying grasses.  A small pocket hand lens to view distinctive features may also be helpful. Be careful if transporting unidentified grassland plants and seeds as you may be unknowingly spreading invasive exotic plants.

Download a PDF version of the Grass Guide(PDF, 51MB)

‘Healthy Landscapes for Healthy Livestock’ wins 2021 Premier’s Awards

Did you hear? We won!

Our ‘Healthy Landscapes for Healthy Livestock’ project is the proud winner of the Premier's Choice Regional Recognition Award presented at the 2021 Premier’s Sustainability Awards. An evaluation from 110 participants indicated that 100 per cent of respondents had changed their land management practices in a positive way. 

What is regenerative agriculture?

Regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture is a system of farming principles and practices that increases biodiversity, enriches soils, improves the water cycle and provides a positive benefit to wildlife and humankind. Regenerative agriculture aims to capture carbon in soil, trees and vegetation, contributing to carbon sequestration while also increasing on-farm resilience to climate variability.

Regenerative grazing

Regenerative grazing aims to increase perennial pasture species, including native grasses, while also increasing species diversity. Through high intensity grazing regimes followed by long rest periods, the approach increases the organic matter in soils and facilitates all year round ground cover, protecting soils from sunlight and erosion. This approach increases soil health and improves water retention and drainage. Livestock benefit from a consistent and complete diet which results in improved health and productivity.

On-farm biodiversity

Biodiversity refers to the diversity of life forms on a property, a locality and your region. This includes the micro-organisms found in soils and water, fungi, plants, insects, birds and all other animals that live on land, in rivers and in wetlands. These life forms interact between themselves and with the non-living parts of the environment to form ecosystems. Healthy ecosystems benefit farms through maintaining soil and water quality, providing shelter and a balanced diet for livestock while assisting with reducing pests and diseases. In turn, on-farm biodiversity has the potential to connect positively with the ecosystems of neighbouring properties and surrounding bushland.

Healthy Landscapes - Web of life image

Courses

Holistic Grazing Management Course

The Holistic Grazing Management Short Course has been designed to assist landholders in the Macedon Ranges Shire, Hepburn Shire, Mount Alexander Shire or the City of Greater Bendigo, to improve their skills and knowledge about grazing livestock. Register your interest by 28 July 2024 for the upcoming course.

Sessions will be delivered between August 2024 and May 2025 over six sessions.

Course dates

Day 1 - Friday 2 August, 9:30am-4pm

Day 2 - Friday 23 August, 10am-3pm

Day 3 - Friday 13 September, 9:30am-3pm

Day 4 - Friday 15 November, 2pm-8pm

Day 5 - Friday 14 February, 9:30am-3pm

Day 6 - Friday 16 May, 9:30am-3pm

The cost of the course is $150 per property.

Download the course outline and and timetable(DOCX, 423KB)

Register your interest

For more information, call Jason McAinch, Private Land Conservation Officer on 0455 210 436 or email jmcainch@mrsc.vic.gov.au

Small property grazing course

The course has been designed to assist land managers to improve their skills and knowledge about grazing livestock, resulting in an increase in soil carbon and perennial pasture species, including native species. The Small Property Grazing course commences in May 2025.

It is structured for small landholders (2-20Ha) with grazing livestock (including horses, sheep, cattle, alpacas etc.).

Landholders in the Macedon Ranges Shire, Hepburn Shire, Mount Alexander Shire or the City of Greater Bendigo are eligible to attend.

The course is presented by Jason McAinch, Council's Private Land Conservation Officer and will incorporate:

  • Face-to-face theory learning session
  • An online theory learning and support session
  • A two-hour practical on-property learning
  • An optional one-hour, one-on-one practical on property session

Cost: $75 per property.

Register your interest

For more information call Jason McAinch, Private Land Conservation Officer on 0455 210 436 or email jmcainch@mrsc.vic.gov.au

Equiculture Course

Do you want to improve the health of your horse and your land? 

Council and Melbourne Water are offering a $100 discount on an online equiculture course from renowned equine experts, Jane and Stuart Myers. The discount is available to land owners in the Macedon Ranges Shire and City of Greater Bendigo areas.

Equiculture – short for equine permaculture – is a holistic horse property management program that promotes sustainable farm and pasture management techniques designed with your horse’s welfare and natural behaviour in mind.

The program is delivered digitally, with participants able to learn at their own pace. Fifteen modules teach participants all about healthy soil and pasture, managing weeds, mud and erosion, property design and layouts as well as managing optimal equine health.

To get your discount code, you must fill in the Expression of Interest form. The discount code is required at the point of registering for the equiculture course. Discount code will not be given out retrospectively.

Places are limited and are given out on a first in basis. For more detailed information about the course visit Equiculture

Completion of the Equiculture course can also be incorporated into the Pony Club Australia K or C* certificates. Find out more

Events and workshops

Upcoming events and workshops will be added here as soon as details are confirmed. You can also subscribe to our Healthy Landscapes eNews and you'll receive updates direct to your inbox.

Previous workshops and recordings

Local Farmers on small properties webinar

Hear from our local farmers who have embarked on a journey to improve their land through managing their livestock better.

Central Victorian climate today, tomorrow and the future

This event was delivered in partnership with the Healthy Landscapes program and the Bureau of Meteorology.

Hear from Felicity Gamble, Senior Climatologist, Extended and Long-range Forecasts from the Bureau of Meteorology (BoM). She presented the forecasts for the upcoming three months (Jan 2022- Mar 2022) and what could be in the future (~2035) for central Victoria. Felicity also shared some useful tools and materials that have been developed by the BoM and AgVic.

Compost Research and Natural Capital Accounting in Agriculture

Hear from Dr. Jim Radford from Latrobe University on some local research and trials with compost used in an agricultural setting.

Jim is also involved in a project that is about measuring a range of different aspects of environmental performance. These include ecosystem integrity, soil condition, greenhouse gas balance, resource use efficiency and biodiversity impact.

The Natural Capital Accounting framework is being co-designed with farmers to ensure the accounts are understandable, trusted and provide useful information for farmers and their customers. By demonstrating the value of natural capital for profitable farming, the aim is to elucidate and promote farming practices that have positive outcomes for the natural resource base that underpins agriculture. This could lead to the possibility that farmers could capitalize on their sustainable practices.

Ecological Burns - The benefits

Ecological planned burning is a land management tool applied to promote positive benefits for a local environment.

These benefits include stimulating dormant seed banks in the soil profile, reducing the vigour or eliminating weeds, nutrient cycling and the removal of biomass….all of which promote biodiversity and ecosystem health.

Equiculture - the 'other' 23 hours

On average we spend about 1 hour a day or less, interacting with our horses. What do horses do with the rest of their time and how can we improve their lifestyle. How can these improvements also benefit the owners and their land? 

Jane Myers from Equiculture joined us for a webinar to discuss some simple changes that could vastly improve your horses lifestyle.  

Grass and Pasture ID Webinar

In this webinar, we were joined by environmental scientist, Dr Graeme Lorimer who has been teaching how to identify, understand and manage wild (non-planted) grasses for 32 years.

The Grass and Pasture ID Webinar is being held in partnership with Port Phillip & Westernport CMA with the support of the Victorian Government.

Grazing Management Webinar

A presentation by Jason McAinch on how better grazing management can improve the persistence, productivity and biodiversity of your pastures.

 

Local Farmers Journeys in Holistic Farming Series - 2020

Farmer Journey - Sam White

Hear from Sam, a 6th generation grazier & manager of Sidonia Beef with a 800Ha farm with 100% pasture raised Black Angus cattle.

Farmer Journey - Patrick Francis

Hear from Patrick from Moffitss Farm, a 56Ha lamb farm using “Comfortable farming” management.

Farmer Journey - Breanne Francis and Gerard Noonan

Breanne has a 52Ha property with Stud Highland Cattle, commercial cattle and horses. Gerard has a 130Ha property with commercial cattle.

Local Farmers Journeys in Holistic Farming Series - 2021

Join our series webinars with local farmers and hear about their personal journey using holistic farming practices.

In this webinar in the series we are joined by beef farmer, Darren Cater from Monegeetta.

In this webinar in the series we hear from Paul Righetti who runs a farm in Yandoit with sheep, cattle and pasture raised hens.

In this webinar in the series we are joined by Aaron Demeo a sheep and contract rear dairy heifer farmer in Raywood.

Managing your pastures in a changing climate

World renowned farmer, Colin Seis shares how to establish and maintain flourishing pastures while improving soil health in an ever-changing climate.

Part 1

 

Part 2

 

Transition from Spring to Summer feeding

Brian Wehlburg, from Holistic Management International and The Savory Institute, gave a webinar on how to transition from spring to summer feeding. Be inspired by Brian’s passion for environmental improvement and grazing management.

Understanding Your Farm Soil Webinar Series

This webinar series covers soil biology testing, soil carbon and organic matter. There are five videos in the playlist below, click on the playlist drop-down arrow that says 1/5, to select the video you would like to watch.

  • Video 1: Soil testing - Understanding your farm soil
  • Video 2: Soil carbon with Dr Fiona Roberston
  • Video 3: Soil carbon
  • Video 4: Organic matter - Part 1
  • Video 5: Organic matter - Part 2

Integrated Weed Management on Rural Properties

This webinar looks at how you can get to know your weeds and increase your understanding of  a range of control techniques and strategic practices. Learn that the target of any weed management is about using the suitable control at the correct time with the appropriate follow up limiting spread and importantly limiting re-infestation.

  

Selecting and sourcing plants for your property

Thinking of planting some native paddock trees or planning a revegetation project on your property? This webinar helps you select the right native plants, and then where to buy them. Tanya Loos is Council’s Biodiversity Projects Officer, and will guide you through working out the local bioregion and Ecological Vegetation Classes (EVC’s) of your land. Knowing how your land is classified helps you select the species that will thrive in your landscape and soil type. The next step is where to buy – and when! The webinar outlines the various ways to source plants and a timeline for planning, ordering and planting to ensure the best success for your project.

Pollinators on your farm: Who, where and what do they do? webinar

Local farmers – where are they now on their journey in Holistic Farming

Carbon – Know your farm's carbon tally and the opportunities available

Resources

Grasses of Central Victoria

This guide is an easy reference guide for beginners to use in the farm paddock or bushland to identify the common grass species in the Central Victoria region.

Being a beginner’s guide, it is not a complete guide of all grasses or grassland plants in Central Victoria. Understanding the flower structure of grasses is the quickest way to narrow down and identify most species. As a result, this guide is ordered by the type of flower structure, then by scientific name. Where possible, the guide uses simplified language.

The descriptive text and photographs will assist in identifying features of the grass. Keep this guide handy when out in Central Victoria and use it to improve your skills in identifying grasses. A small pocket hand lens to view distinctive features may also be helpful. Be careful if transporting unidentified grassland plants and seeds as you may be unknowingly spreading invasive exotic plants.

Resources available for further reading at the end of the guide may also help in identifying species.

Click here to view the guide(PDF, 51MB)

 

 

Information sheets

The series of information sheets below, are designed to increase big and small landholders’ knowledge and skills about grazing livestock, resulting in an increase in perennial pasture species (including natives) and soil carbon. It will explain some fundamental technical details to help understand how pastures grow, soil biology and the interaction with livestock nutrition/productivity, including some practical tips to implement strategies to improve the environment.

By limiting sunlight hitting bare soil and increasing the time green pastures are growing, this increases the time plants’ are photosynthesising and converting the energy provided by the sun. Through proper grazing, this results in more energy/sugars/carbon entering the soil and the grazing animal. The consistent green pasture cover increases soil life resulting in additional nutrient cycling.

Land managers are rewarded by this increase in soil carbon and soil health as the soil is able to hold more moisture and drainage is improved. Healthy soils, healthy grasslands, healthy livestock = landowners achieving productive and resilient land.

The resources used to compile this series

Although these information sheets are not research papers, a range of scientific papers have been used in the production of the information.

Where diagrams have been used, an attempt to acknowledge their source has been made. Industry documents used include Evergraze Exchange (online) and Grazing Dairy Pastures. The scientific work referenced throughout was completed in Australia and New Zealand by Christine Jones, and teams with Danny Donaghy or John Roach.

Other international papers on grass growth, biodiversity and soil have also been used.

Videos and books

Below is a list of resources that regenerative agriculture holistic practices may align with. Although some are not relevant to the Macedon Ranges, the themes may be worth considering.

Videos

  • Allan Savoury, Ted Talk on YouTube. Allan’s work is in the more brittle environment of Africa, although his work practices are transferrable.
  • An Introduction to Regenerative Agriculture on YouTube – produced in West Gippsland.
  • Dr. Christine Jones, founder of Amazing Carbon, is an Australian soil scientist who has various stories and interviews on YouTube. 
  • The Macedon Ranges Shire Council YouTube channel has recordings of our previous workshops.
  • Moveable fencing, instructional videos by KiwiTech with good examples of single wire and three wire sheep packs. Whilst we are not recommending this brand above others, some of their products have strengths.

Books

  • “Call of the Reed Warbler" by Charles Massy. The book is an in depth look at regenerative agriculture from Australian Charles Massy.
  • "Dirt to soil" by Gabe Brown. Gabe Brown has also worked with Ray Archuleta and together have a range of YouTube presentations, as well as more resources on their website UnderstandingAg.

Caring for Country resource

Caring For Country(PDF, 6MB) is a guide to sustainable land management aimed at landholders who want to better manage their land. It includes an introduction to our indigenous heritage, the value of biodiversity and the importance of being a good neighbour.

The guide offers practical information including links to organisations and agencies that can help landholders to build their knowledge of sustainable farming practices. With more information at hand, landowners can make better decisions to ensure their land is economically and environmentally sustainable.

Animal Shelter Design

Grazing animals having access to shelter, particular in extreme weather conditions is just as important as having a consistent quality and quantity of feed and water.

For a lot of properties using holistic grazing techniques, they have the moveable strip fencing and movable troughs, but often they lack of shelter on the property. Moveable shelter is the missing piece as they wait for the trees to grow.

This moveable shelter is designed for a small number of animals but can be scaled up and/or have multiple for a larger number of animals. It has been built on a simple A-frame, some iron attached and uses some reclaimed golf buggy wheels from the tip. The clever design is in the board that runs from the front of the A-frame and about 1.5 metres out the back (click on photo below to enlarge/zoom for a closer look). In several years of use, the board has stopped the shelter being blown over!

If the wind comes at a strength and direction to want to flip the shelter, the board acts in two ways, initially in provides resistance and secondly if the gust of wind is strong enough it will lift the back corner of the shelter up which then allows the wind to escape under the shelter, rather than tipping it over.

Property Management Plans

If you are constructing a dwelling on land that falls within a Farming Zone or Rural Conservation Zone, you may need to prepare a Property Management Plan(DOCX, 2MB) as part of your Planning Permit Application. 

For resources on development of a Property Management Plan, visit the Victorian Landcare Gateway

Contact us on (03) 5422 0333 for further information or for assistance with the preparation of your plan.