Sustainable agriculture

This Draft of the Corangamite Regional Catchment Strategy is currently awaiting Ministerial approval and may be subject to change

Overview

The definition of sustainable agriculture in the context of the Corangamite CMA region is ‘achieving productive agricultural land use and businesses, while protecting the natural resource base from threats related to agricultural land management practices’. This aims to ensure that both public (e.g. improved waterway quality) and private benefits (e.g. improved stock health and fertility) are delivered in line with the statutory obligations under the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.

Agriculture is a reasonably high employer and key economic driver in the Corangamite region, with an annual value of almost $1.5 billion. Mixed farming and grazing is the predominant agricultural land use in the Corangamite region (66%), followed by dairy (14%), beef (7%) and sheep (5%) production.

Meat ($660 million) and dairy products ($546 million) are the most valuable commodities in the region, contributing to 14% and 15% of Victoria’s total value respectively. The region produces 16% of Victoria’s hay and silage (tonnes) and 19% of its eggs (dozens). The slight contraction in grazing commodities over time may be driven by diversification and prevailing dry conditions. There has been a marked decline in broad acre cropping in recent years, however this is offset by increases in hay due to changes in seasonal conditions and grain quality.

The barriers to NRM practice change are largely consistent with other regions and findings of previous studies. Cost (39%), the view that ‘I have done everything I can do’ (34%), lack of time (20%) and ‘I am getting too old/planning to retire’ (16%) will continue to be important barriers to address in the Corangamite region.

There is an opportunity to build on the current sustainable agricultural practices in the region, including pasture management, cultivation, crop stubble and/or trash management, soil enhancer use and fertiliser use. Although irrigation is only a minor landuse in the region, there is also an opportunity to ensure current and new irrigation developments use sustainable irrigation practices to reduce the off-site impacts of irrigation including waterlogging, salinity and nutrient discharge.

Flowering canola field