The Upper North Farming Systems Group was formed in 2001 in recognition that farmers leading farmers was a valuable and efficient mechanism to improve the productivity, profitability and sustainability of the agricultural industry in Low Rainfall Zones. These areas are typically less serviced by government research bodies and private consultants, so it is important that farmers are supported in supporting each other.
The Upper North Farming Systems Group’s mission is leading the Primary Producers of the UpperNorth of SA to improve sustainability, profitability and viability.
Through a range of projects delivered by the Upper North Farming Systems Group, landholders in the Upper North have gained greater knowledge and understanding of soil characteristics and productivity, enabling better targeting of land uses, inputs and land management actions. The UNFS group has focused in recent times on stubble retention and soil cover to reduce wind and water erosion, increase water infiltration and conserve soil moisture, improve timeliness of sowing and increase summer weed control increasing plant available water and nutrients. The group has undertaken numerous projects to increase the skills and knowledge of farmers around grazing land management and has increased the adoption of improved cover management, use of fodder shrubs, improved weed management and reduced soil erosion across the region.
In addition to undertaking and facilitating research and extending key learnings and tools for improving the rate and success of uptake of developments within the agricultural sector, UNFS facilitates a stronger community within the Upper North of SA. A key element of our activities is fostering networks of passionate farmers to learn from and with each other to improve the terms of trade within the region and their enterprises sustainability, profitability and long term viability. A new initiative, launched in 2015, is the UNFS Hubs. These groups aim to encourage small networks and support the individual communities within the region, whilst drawing on the broader skill base of the whole region and the UNFS Organisation.
Seven Hubs were launched in 2015, with additional Hubs anticipated over the next 18 months. The Nelshaby and Laura Hubs incorporate the active and vibrant Ag Bureau of SA groups and enable the two organisations to come together and support our common goals within the region. The Booleroo Centre, Morchard/Orroroo and Wilmington Hubs are building on groups which were active for many years but had dwindled in their activities over the past 5 years. The Jamestown Hub and the Ladies on the Land Hub are new initiatives, expanding the geographical and social regions within which the group operates. Each Hub has held activities since their launch in August 2015 and the level of support, with more than 40 people attending a number of the events, supports the decision to implement this model of operation.