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The 19th Annual SANTFA conference was held on Friday 24 February at Tanunda. The theme of the conference was soil health, focusing on practical information with respect to implementing cover cropping on farm and addressing soil health concerns.

Speakers from interstate and overseas headlined the conference, including leading US farmers John Heermann and Rick Bieber, Australian Farmer of the Year Grant Sims and Ben Beck from Wagga Wagga. Survey results indicated that the conference was one of most successful and informative conferences in recent times.

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:

March 2018

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 in 2015, 2016, 2017 and will hold their 20th conference in 2018

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.

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.

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.

Follow up articles are published annually through SANTFAs journal ‘The Cutting Edge’.

Value for growers

The SANTFA Annual conference has been successful each year. In 2017, very positive feedback  was given via the survey conducted, despite lower than anticipated numbers, and a higher than expected number of first timers attend the conference to learn about soil regeneration.

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”.