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The 21st Annual SANTFA Conference was held at the Barossa Arts and Convention Centre in Tanunda on Friday, 1 March, 2019.

The lineup of speakers comprised farmers, scientists, agronomists and researchers, including United States soil scientist Dwayne Beck, Thomas foods International chief executive officer Darren Thomas, NSW continuous cropper David Ricardo, Rural Directions agribusiness consultant Simon Vogt, Mid North farmer Jarred Tilley, SANTFA research and development director Greg Butler and West Coast farmer Michael Hancock.

BACKGROUND

The South Australian No-Till Farmers Association (SANTFA) is a non-profit farmer driven organisation working to increase the area of no-till farming and to attract new supporters to conservation farming. The association holds an annual conference to provide growers with information and tools to improve their farming operations.

Start:

September 2014

Finish:

February 2019

Project participants

SANTFA: Leighton Pearce.

The problem

The annual SANTFA conference provides extension on conservation farming topics to South Australian growers.

The research

SANTFA has held their annual conference every year from 2015 to 2019

More information

Leighton Pearce
SANTFA
0427688028
[email protected]

Research aims

The objective of the project is to hold the SANTFA annual conference.

In 2015 and 2016 , specific targets were 200 attendees at the conference and at least 20 farmers attending the conference for the first time in at least three years.

The 2017 conference had a theme of soil health. Specific targets were 200 attendees at the conference and at least 20 per cent of new farmers attending the conference for the first time.

The 2019 conference aimed for 150 attendees and to provide conference audio throughout the rest of the season

In the field

The keynote speaker for the 2016 conference was American microbial ecologist Wendy Taheru, with Bordertown grower Ted Langley discussing the development of his farming system focused on regeneration of soils. Other speakers included WA grower Mic Fels, Victorian DPI’s Graeme Anderson, University of Adelaide barley program leader Jason Eglington, weed management expert Chris Preston, AGT wheat breeder Haydn Kuchel and Climate and Agricultural Support’s Melissa Rebbeck.

In 2017, the four headlining speakers discussed their experiences with establishing and managing regenerative agricultural systems and what can be achieved from working with nature to enhance soil health, vitality and productivity. All four are farming in low-moisture environments and using minimum or zero tillage systems, diverse rotations, cover crops and cattle. The two Australian speakers also use controlled traffic systems and one aims to avoid all chemical inputs including chemical fertilisers, which he has replaced with a fermented biological product.

The 2019 conference had a range of different subject matters including: understanding the natural ecosystems which exist on farm, the profitable integration of cropping and livestock, using benchmarking as a basis for decision making, drawing parallels between global businesses and farming enterprises, the use of digital technologies on-farm, succession in farming businesses, mental health issues for farmers and research and development updates within SANTFA. Despite the number of conference attendees declining from 138 to 114, the SANTFA board sees this as a reflection of the times with farmers being busier and more groups vying for their attention and attendance at events.

Results

The 2015 conference exceeded the target of 200 people, and 40 people attended for the first ti.e The 2016 conference attracted 150 participants, with more than 20 attending for the first time in at least three years.

The 2017 conference attracted 150 participants, with 23 per cent attending for the first time, and survey results indicated that the conference was one of most successful and informative conferences in recent times.

Very positive feedback was received by the SANTFA board from those who attended the 2019 event, with it concluded that the information presented was valued.

Audio from the conference is being released on the SANTFA podcasting channel Radio SANTFA throughout the season and will be available to growers.

Value for growers

The SANTFA Annual conference has been successful each year. In 2019 The conference provided attendees with a vast array of information on topics including use of digital technology on-farm, succession planning, benchmarking, natural on-farm ecosystems, getting the enterprise mix right, SANTFA research and development and mental health.

The conference also provided participants with great networking opportunities on the day itself, at the pre-conference dinner and on the post-conference farm tour.

Sessions are audio recorded and the recordings are available through SANTFA’s podcasting channel “Radio SANTFA” through iTunes. Articles  included in the latest edition of SANTFA’s quarterly journal, “The Cutting Edge”.