RIRDC Rural Women’s Award 2004 Northern Territory runner-up
Five years ago I switched career paths, from being an entomology research and
extension officer with the Department of Business, Industry and Resource Development
at Katherine Research Station to working on Victoria River Research Station, a cattle
station at Kidman Springs, south-west of Katherine.
Kidman Springs is in the Victoria River district, which is one of the main cattle-producing
regions of the Northern Territory. The Research Station, covering 31 000 hectares, is
managed and funded by the Department of Business, Industry and Resource
Development, and the research effort focuses on native pasture, grazing and beef cattle
My commitment has always been to biological farming. I am convinced that sustainable
farming practices must be embraced by all primary producers if rural industries are to
survive and prosper.
Participating in the Rural Women’s Award gave me the resources to improve my
knowledge of the principles behind successful biological farming and the tools and
techniques available to farm in this way. I attended two important workshops: Nutri Tech
Solutions was a four-part seminar series covering the management of minerals,
microbes, plants and pests; the Soil Food Web Interaction and Benefits to Plant
Production program provided detailed theoretical instruction on and practical skills in soil
biology, soil chemistry and molecular biology.
Although I learnt a great deal about soil and plant health, translating that knowledge to
the industry proved far more challenging, largely because of the fact that, although there
is strong industry support for biological farming, there are many interpretations of what
the term means and how best to put it into practice. Despite some challenges though,
trial work with a small number of committed growers has proved very promising. Notably,
one mango grower has delivered higher yields, better fruit quality, less chemical use and
other interesting benefits.