Newsletter #17: August 2023

“Resilience”; some people love the word, others find it overused, but no matter what you think of the word it’s something that we all need to be – stronger, better and readier. In the face of a new reality, we need to be able to adapt, re-shape and transform.

As someone who has had a lifetime of professional and lived experience in agriculture and rural communities, like many others, I have seen firsthand the impact of drought and climate variability. It’s why I look at my role of hub Director as an incredible opportunity to work with all levels of government in sharing community stories to help shape research, extension and adoption across our region and at a national reach.

“A region’s resilience needs to be built across three levels:

  • individual farms and businesses e.g., through maximizing the health of the natural resource base or optimizing production efficiency
  • their towns and communities e.g., through supporting human capacity in leadership and economic diversification
  • their regions e.g., through capturing place-based advantages and enhancing internal and external socioeconomic networks
TNQ Drought Hub Director David Phelps

With the risk of droughts lasting longer by 2030 and areas that haven’t experienced drought before likely to be affected, resilience is more important than ever.

You can learn more about the future of drought in Queensland through the Long Paddock Future Climate Dashboard which summarises information of 11 state-of-the-art climate models with regional scale simulations until the end of the current century.

Our aim is to help build and elevate regional resilience in partnership with industry and community leaders. Just to name a few of our upcoming projects, we have a new round of Honours Scholarships opening soon, we are developing Environmental, Social and Governance Framework educational materials for land managers, and we are also supporting the Indigenous Land and Sea Corporation in partnership with MLA to establish a Northern Beef Breeding production group.

Until next time, Keep safe and well,

David Phelps,

P.S. Stay turned next week for our official announcement of the Tropical North Queensland Drought Resilience grants scheme recipients!

Sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Enterprise (SATSIE) Program

The SATSIE program sponsored five Indigenous business owners, entrepreneurs and leaders from Cape York, Cairns, the Torres Strait and Alice Springs to attend the DNA Conference in Darwin as part of an Indigenous Business Scholarship package.

The Indigenous Business Scholarship delegates joined other sponsored delegates from the NT and WA for a week of learning about development in Northern Australia. Individuals working for/running an Indigenous organisation were selected for their contribution to elevating Indigenous business capabilities in Northern Australia.

All of scholarship recipients gave very positive feedback and felt that their attendance would have positive outcomes for their businesses and individual development.

Read more about the conference.

The TNQ Drought Hub was very pleased to partner with Tropical Indigenous Ethnobotany Centre, the Australian Tropical Herbarium and the CSIRO to hold an event celebrating Reconciliation through Research.

The Reconciliation event featured short, informal talks from Indigenous and non-Indigenous researchers and scholars, who showcased projects that bridge Traditional and Western knowledge systems through mutually beneficial and respectful partnerships to deliver great science.

Read more about the event.

A message from Stewart Lockie, Director of the Cairns Institute, James Cook University, home to the TNQ Drought Hub.

As host of the Hub and a regional university, James Cook University (JCU) is fully committed to supporting drought and climate resilience and the objectives of the Future Drought Fund.

JCU contributes to resilience through direct employment and expenditure, the education, research and innovation services we provide, and by sharing information. Our participation in the TNQ Drought Hub is helping us to focus these activities in ways that build drought and climate resilience by addressing the practical needs of Hub partners.

In the short time the Hub has existed, we have seen opportunities to address industry priorities through applied research, to build our engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities and organisations, to involve university students in work integrated learning and collaborative research with partners, and to support start-up businesses focused on boosting agricultural productivity, sustainability and resilience.

With a consortium of stakeholders, key amongst whom are regional natural resource management groups, Indigenous, local government, industry and community groups working with the hub to deliver drought and climate resilience, we will continue working to ensure the future of agriculture and rural communities across Northern Australia is one to look forward to.

Hub Highlight

Congratulations to hub Node partner NQ Dry Tropics for being awarded a Future Drought Fund grant to conduct long-term trials into the efficacy of drought resilient grazing strategies in the Burdekin region.

The five-year trial will use virtual fencing technology, in conjunction with walk over weighing systems, fecal NIRS testing and land condition monitoring, to determine the most drought-resilient grazing systems and pasture varieties to maximize production and welfare, whilst reducing landscape vulnerability to deteriorating conditions.

NQ Dry Tropics will lead a consortium of industry leaders and scientists and will seek ongoing input from local Burdekin graziers to ensure the trial meets the specific needs of northern rangeland cattle producers.

Agtech Insights 

Welcome back to AgTech Insights. This month, our focus continues on news, developments, and opportunities in AgTech.

Trends & Insights

  • The Evolution of Farm Management Software: As more farmers seek a unified view of their operations, farm management software is emerging as a popular solution. One of the next frontiers for AgTech is integrating data from different sources into a unified system for more effective and efficient decision-making. We’re seeing new integrations and collaborations forming, reducing the need for multiple logins, apps, and dashboards. For example, AgriWebb has set up a marketplace by partnering with various software and hardware providers. As the AgTech space evolves and expands, better collaboration and integration between different providers and tools will become increasingly important to support decision-making in ag.

Podcasts and Docu-Series

  • Farms Advice Podcast: August is “Agtech August” month on the podcast, highlighting technologies to improve day-to-day routines on farm, including interviews with a range of AgTech companies. Listen here
  • AgTechFinder Podcast: Recent episodes have explored various facets of AgTech, including insights on supply chains, farm management, precision ag, and data sharing. Listen here.
  • The AgTech Revolution Docu-Series: Learn about how technology is transforming agriculture in this new video series. From visionary farmers embracing the digital age to the cost benefits of precision farming, these episodes cover various implications of AgTech. Watch here.
  • Vegalogue Podcast: Vegalogue is the NEW monthly podcast from AUSVEG, exploring issues affecting the Australian vegetable, potato, and onion sectors, unpacking levy-funded research and meeting some of the incredible people who make up the vegetable industry. Listen here.

Data Management & Transparency

  • Australian Farm Data Code: Responding to farmers’ call for transparency in data management, the National Farmers’ Federation (NFF) presents a voluntary code of conduct. Aimed at promoting digital technology adoption, it assures farmers of their data’s ethical use. Providers adhering fully to the Code can receive certification. Learn more.

Know someone who wants to be involved?

What’s Next?

Check out our Events calendar to see what’s happing in the agricultural industry around Tropical North Queensland and throughout the country. Some upcoming events to keep an eye out on are;

What's Happened...

Here’s what the TNQ Hub team have been up to this month.

National Hub Directors Meeting, 31 July -  2 August

The eight Drought Resilience Adoption and Innovation Hub Directors all recently travelled to Darwin for their national Directors meeting with the aim of national collaboration and knowledge sharing. The Northern Hub hosted the meeting and took the opportunity to showcase some of the different drought resilience projects being delivered by their hub.

The highlight was a visit to Centrefarm Aboriginal Horticulture Limited, an Aboriginal not-for-profit organisation based in Alice Springs, which is funded by the Northern Hub and the innovative co-mapping project they are working on that involves illustrating cultural knowledge, stories, sites, biota, and language onto a large canvas map, utilising geospatial data.

Belmont Research Station Agtech Field Day, 10 August

Director David Phelps attended the CQ Livestock Centre of Excellence agtech field day at Belmont Research Station to present and share insights into on-farm demonstrations happening through our Agricultural Innovation program. With the dramatic increase of agtech now available to producers, the remote sensing, precision agriculture and decision support tool discussion proved to be a popular topic.

Northern Beef Research Update Conference 2023, 22 - 25 August

Director David Phelps and Knowledge Broker Rachel Hay attended the Northern Beef Research Update Conference (NBRUC) in Darwin last week. David was invited to chair the session “Cooking with catastrophe as your sous-chefs: Droughts and Flooding rains” which included discussions on heat stress on cattle, the effect of climate indices and humidity in animal management and practices, weather effects on water intake by cattle and long term stocking strategies.

James Cook University Agronomy Lecturer Chris Gardiner received the North Australia Beef Research Council Scientist/Researcher Medal in recognition of his work over the course of more than 30 years in advancing pasture improvement in the north Australian beef industry. NBRUC 2023 marks over 30 years of continually improving profitability, resilience and sustainability for the northern Australia beef industry.

National Smart Soils Community of Practice Field Trip, 21 – 24 August

Regional Soils Coordinator Dhiraj Gajera was fortunate to be able to attend the WA Smart Soil tour organsied by Soil Science Australia. Dhiraj said “it’s always a great experience to see different soil types of soil, soils profiles, soil formation and different projects to improve soil quality and health by different means.”

The group visited Kweda, a small town located in the Wheatbelt region to see a soils improvement project that is growing Lupin on poor soil with low fertility and high levels of aluminum toxicities by using nitrogen fixing bacteria to create healthier soil and root systems. Dhiraj said, “for sustainable and cost-effective farming practices, the most important thing is soil biology which make nutrients available to roots”.

MITEZ General Meeting Agricultural Development in North West Stakeholders, 24 August

The hub was invited to attend the latest MITEZ (Mount Isa to Townsville Economic Development Zone) stakeholder meeting to learn more about upcoming projects. Water access and infrastructure was an important topic of conversation to help with the development and diversification within the region which already has great transport and export opportunities. Building human capacity, digital connectivity and sustainability were another key priority for the region. 

Apply Now! Grants, Programs amd EOI's

  • Saving Native Species (Priority Species): Applications are now open for grants of up to $20 million under the Saving Native Species Program. The Saving Native Species (priority species) grants will support projects that improve trajectories for priority species identified in the Threatened Species Action Plan: Towards Zero Extinctions 2022-2032. The Saving Native Species Program is providing a total of $224.5 million over 4 years to support the recovery of our unique plants, animals and landscapes.​ Applications close 7 September 2023. Find out more 
  • MLA: Novel pain relief pour-on treatment for cattle – research/licensing opportunity: Animal health companies interested in further developing and commercialising novel pain relief pour-on treatment for cattle. Express your interest by 20 September 2023. Find out more.
  • Farm Business Resilience Plan: The Farm Business Resilience program provides farmers with the opportunity to develop a plan for their farm business. Participants will improve their skills and knowledge to better prepare for and manage risk, adapt change and strengthen their farm business’ resilience. Find out more.
  • Queensland Pasture Resilience Program: The $24.4 million Queensland Pasture Resilience Program is addressing three significant threats to beef productivity in northern Australia: pasture dieback, land condition decline and pasture rundown. The Queensland Pasture Resilience Program offers graziers personalised support to develop legume-grass pastures, monitor and develop grazing management strategies, monitor land condition. Call 13 25 23 or email for more information

The TNQ Hub can provide Letters of Support (LoS) to assist with your application. Please email details of your application and how it applies to future drought resilience to and we will supply a LoS if applicable.

Are you looking for funding to enable your idea to become a reality? Visit the following Regional Development Australia initiative to find grants available in the TNQ Drought Hub region.

TNQ Hub has worked with our NRM Node and industry partners to develop regional priorities. These are a useful resource in writing grant applications. 


My Climate View enables you to explore climate information relevant to your location and commodity, wherever you are across Australia. Developed collaboratively by CSIRO, the Bureau of Meteorology, and Australian farmers, this tool offers climate insights to aid in risk mitigation and adaptation planning. 

The Hort Innovation Strategy 2024-2026. The world’s best horticulture demands the very best innovation. This guiding thought has been at the heart of the Hort Innovation Strategy 2024-2026 – to deliver a renewed vision for a prosperous and sustainable Australian horticulture industry built on innovation. Alongside industry and building on existing strengths, this three-year plan will focus the organisation on industry-wide, grower priorities through the delivery of five imperatives and 18 priorities.

Grains Research & Development Corporation Research Development and Extension Plan 2023-28The Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC) RD&E Plan 2023-28 is a plan for the grains industry’s future. Over the next five years, it will invest more than a billion dollars in research development and extension to deliver significant gains for Australian grain growers.

CHRRUP Preparing for drought in the Desert Uplands BioregionCHRRUP have developed a range of educational videos on preparing for drought in the Desert Uplands Bioregion through funding from the Future Drought Fund.  Five properties around the region have demonstrated that relatively low-cost interventions and changes in grazing practices can rehydrate grazing landscapes, improve soil, water, and biodiversity assets, and remediate existing erosion. 

TNQ Drought Hub Nodes

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November AgTech Insights

November AgTech Insights Welcome back to AgTech Insights! We continue to explore the latest developments, news, and opportunities in agricultural