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Wide Bay enterprises collect two Landcare gongs

Bundaberg based Mike Harrison has his hands full of the compost he developed to ensure sustainable and biological farming practices. The product has earned him a Queensland Landcare Award for Innovations in Sustainable Farm Practices.
Bundaberg based Mike Harrison has his hands full of the compost he developed to ensure sustainable and biological farming practices. The product has earned him a Queensland Landcare Award for Innovations in Sustainable Farm Practices. Simon Young

TWO awards for innovation have been won by enterprises in the Bundaberg and North Burnett area at the Queensland Landcare awards.

The Landcare awards recognise excellence in individuals, community groups and Landcare networks who dedicate their time to addressing environmental issues and looking after our land and water resources.

The North Burnett Landcare Group won the Qantas Landcare Innovative Community Group Award for their distinctive program which is helping long-term unemployed from the Monto area gain skills and employment in helping the region to recover from the impacts of the January 2013 floods.

In conjunction with the Department of Employment, Education and Workplace Relations and local job services providers, seven long-term unemployed locals were provided with training and accreditation in a range of areas and have been formed into a crew that is undertaking flood recovery, building and weed control activities in the North Burnett.

North Burnett Landcare president Glen Baker said supporting local long-term unemployed with skills and training and gainful employment has been great for the Monto community.

"Employment in a regional areas like Monto can be hard to find. These jobs have provided a much needed social and economic lift to the local community.

"One of the participants has been unemployed for 22 years. Helping them to find their feet and watching the boost they get from being able to contribute to the community with the flood recovery, construction and landcare projects they are involved in is great.

"This opportunity would not have been possible without the support of government, job service providers and organisations such as the Burnett Mary Regional Group who have supplied the funding, training and support to get the work crew to this point."

The award for Innovations in Sustainable Farm Practices has been won by

Bundaberg-based Wide Bay Composts proprietor Mike Harrison who has helped producers move away from a reliance on synthetic fertilisers and pesticides to more sustainable, biological farming practices.

Mr Harrison uses green waste to produce on-farm compost which improves soil health and assists with the plant nutrient cycle.

He also "brews" a compost tea which is used as a foliar spray in citrus orchards and reduces the

need for fungicides and artificial pesticides.

The compost "tea" is also applied to the orchard floor where it adds to the biology in the soil.

This composting system eliminates soil compaction, and has resulted in reducing chemical fertiliser and fungicide application by between 50-80% without reducing the quality and yield of fruit production.

Mr Harrison says his Queensland Landcare award recognises the importance of promoting sustainable farming practices.

"Landcare is such a high-profile organisation," he said.

"I feel that this award helps to raise awareness of how innovative people in the agricultural industry are.

"Sustainable farming practices, as long as they can maintain production values and profitability of farming enterprises, can help to address threats to the wider environment," Mr Harrison said.

"By reducing the reliance upon artificial fertilisers, we can reduce the amount of nutrients that enter the waterways and therefore impact positively on areas such as the Great Barrier Reef."

Both winners were nominated for their awards by the Burnett Mary Regional Group which has given support to both projects with funding and assistance.

As winners of the state awards, they are automatically nominated for the Australian Landcare Awards to be held in 2014.

These jobs have provided a much needed social and economic lift to the local community.

Topics:  environment landcare landcare awards


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