Department of Agriculture and Fisheries Enhanced Extension Coordination: Facilitated producer peer-to-peer groups

Facilitated producer peer-to-peer groups have been established across the Wet Tropics and Cape York under the Enhanced Extension Coordination in Great Barrier Reef project. These groups have been put together to improve coordination and collaboration among producers and their larger networks and for members to build capacity to improve management of their farms though innovative learning approaches and the use of technologies to support on-farm learning.

There are two groups in the Wet Tropics Atherton Tablelands area: The Next Generation Beef Producers Network and the Dairy and Beef Productivity Network servicing the Herbert, Johnstone and Barron River catchments. In Cape York there are three groups: Cape York Precision Agriculture Network (mixed cropping and horticulture), Normanby River Graziers Network and the Endeavour River Productivity Network (small-scale mixed farming). A number of producer-driven projects have been completed with many more still in the pipeline. Projects have included workshops on how to improve soil health using nutrient budgeting and increasing soil microbiology, holistic grazing strategies, Young Farmer Business Boot Camp and feral pig management, which is an on-going catchment-scale feral pig management program that has resulted in 137 feral pigs being trapped so far.

Social outcomes and practice change outcomes have been reported as a result of these groups. For the pig trap installations and training workshop, there was significant engagement value in producers being involved in learning about the innovative technology and set-up. Workshop participants have adopted the technology of trap monitoring through camera to cell phone video with traps being set via text messages. The project has also encouraged producers to work together to solve catchment-scale issues and has given them the opportunity to install precision agriculture technologies with minimal risk of pig damage.

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