Jamie Williamson and his wife, Jenette, have 3000 macadamia trees. The farm was dark, overgrown and faced serious soil, pest and erosion issues when they bought it in 2017. It didn’t take long for Jamie to question the existing conventional farming practices, and to start looking for alternatives.
Program: Regenerative Agriculture Mentoring Program (delivered by Southern Cross University through the Regenerative Agriculture Alliance and Farming Together, and made possible by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust)
Length of time on regen journey: Three years
Location: Dunoon, NSW
Regional information: Dunoon is in the Lismore local government area in Northern NSW and has an average annual rainfall of 1450mm. In 2020/21, the total value of agricultural output in the LGA was $106 million. The largest commodity produced was nuts, which accounted for 34.9% of the total agricultural output in value terms.
Making the transition
“At that point, the farm was lifeless,” Jamie said.
“Every time it rained we lost three tonnes of soil. Initially, my main goal was to stop erosion.
“I also wanted to learn how to farm for the future; that’s been my inspiration in seeking out a regenerative pathway. We have to look after what we have.”
Jamie sought out literature, podcasts, advice from relevant organisations and other farmers.
Then he discovered RAMP and knew it was the perfect opportunity to learn and grow.
Observations so far
Since deciding to adopt regenerative practices, Jamie has made a number of changes:
- Pruning trees to 6m to let more light into the orchard.
- Planting flowering cover crops over spring and summer, including brassicas, sunflowers and clovers.
- Jamie has halved the amount of sprays used on the farm. Sprays are now extremely targeted; no more blanket sprays.
- Started using MacTrix wasps, which lay their eggs within the eggs of certain moths, including macadamia nutborer.
“I am the farmer that will try anything. I think we still have so much to learn, there are so many questions to ask, and we need to be able to adapt and change as we find the answers.”
Experience on RAMP
Jamie says the mentoring program has been “inspirational” and a “steep learning curve”.
He loved meeting the other farmers in his group and visiting their properties to see the work they’re doing.
He learnt about effective composting, how to make a bio-fertiliser, and gained a deeper understanding of the relationship between plants and the soil.
Regenerative farming goals
- Finish heavy pruning across the orchard.
- Achieve full ground cover.
- Build up organic matter.
- Plan the orchard out properly and remove some rows to allow for the planting of flowering shrubs, with the aim having year-round insectaries.
- Introduce anastatus wasps, which will target fruit-spotting bugs.
- Make a bio-fertiliser.
- Discover more ways to have healthy trees without chemicals.
Best advice for farmers transitioning to regenerative agriculture
“I would really encourage farmers to be informed,” Jamie says.
“That’s why RAMP has been so good. We have access to an amazing mentor who can answer our questions or find us the answers we need.
“And when you are ready to implement a regenerative practice, trial it in a small area first.”
Jamie also says persistence pays off.
“This was the first year we were able to get the beneficials in the ground, and in December, I was walking around the orchard and it was unbelievable,” he said.
“It was humming with bees, butterflies, dragonflies and it was just alive.
“It was such a noticeable change.”
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