LOCAL businessman James Walker has been named?runner-up?at the National Landcare Awards.?
The Bob Hawke Landcare Award is an award that goes to an individual who has shown leadership and commitment in natural resource management and sustainable agriculture.?
Agrihive?business owner James?Walker, along with Justin Kirkby from New South Wales, and the winner,?Andrew Stuart from Victoria were named the finalists from a large pool of entrants.?
The Landcare Awards, a biennial award, had been postponed since November last year due to COVID-19, and due to the recent breakout, this year, it was moved online.?
The award was presented by Bob Hawke’s granddaughter, Sophie Taylor-Price, and?Maranoa?MP David?Littleproud.?
Mr?Walker said he was honoured to be nominated and thanked the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries?(DAF) Queensland and the University of Southern Queensland?for the nomination.
“This was a great chance to profile what we do in the north and the broader rangelands systems.?
“I think their?[people from the south]?understanding of the rangelands, and the management of the rangelands,?needs further developing.?
“It was great to get to be a finalist so we could get to?[build awareness of that].”
Mr Walker said it seems you have to plant 100,000 trees to make an impact down there whereas in a season we can grow 100,000 trees shrubs and plants by increasing ground cover and creating denser pastures through land management techniques, and it’s not as easily noticed.
Nonetheless, they even had allowed Mr Walker a chance to build networks with others who have an interest in sustainability and resilience in the agricultural sector.?
“[We want to] let the general public know how we manage our systems out here,” he said.?
“And how we have been taking advantage of our natural capital and enhancing the systems we have out here.”
Mr Walker said having received the runner-up position was not going to change his practices, stating it was business as usual.
“But it was nice to receive the recognition for the solar farm and different initiatives,”?he said.
“A couple of things that will be further pursued in light of the awards are: firstly, the digital capabilities we are developing with?Agrihive?and?FarmerTech?so that the management systems are scalable for all farmers.
“And we’re doing a capital raise for both of those entities; the capital raise is to be able to fuse the environmental, financial, and production metrics from farm to create one single view.
“We will also continue?participating in the carbon markets here and developing frameworks for the carbon market; another part of our business is supporting the?EBeef?project that we’re a part of and initiated with DAF.”
Mr Walker said Landcare?needs to get more into business systems and digital systems if they want impact.
“With their profile, they should definitely be trying to do that.”?
Mr Walker said now was an interesting time to invest in agriculture.
“Interest rates are extremely low and commodity prices are extremely high, land prices are improving almost?on a weekly basis so in terms of the agricultural outlook things are great, just add rain and we’’ll all be green as well,” he said.?