Newsletter #27: June 2024

From the Director

I recently attended a Native Foods and Botanicals Forum in Rockhampton. There was enthusiastic interaction between people from all walks of life, which was a strong reminder that we all have contributions to make and experiences to share. Indigenous attendees shared their cultural knowledge and experience passed down through multiple generations on the food, medicinal and cosmetic uses of plants such as wattleseed, gumbi gumbi, and soapbush. They emphasised the need to transfer knowledge whilst preserving cultural traditions and highlighted the significance of family and cultural legacy.

Forum conversations centred around the importance of respecting and preserving Indigenous traditions, transferring traditional knowledge, and validating the role of Indigenous peoples in research. Attendees had a genuine desire to share and respect knowledge that has been developed through both first nations culture and through western science, to the betterment of all Australians.

TNQ Drought Hub Director David Phelps

I believe that we should strive to create a more resilient future, more sustainable agricultural systems, and improve our collective knowledge by walking together with respect for culture, tradition, and each other.

With NAIDOC Week being held from 7 – 14 July, it’s a great way for us to celebrate and recognise the culture, history and knowledge of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.

Biosecurity is also at the front of our minds at the moment with Avian influenza cases occurring in southern Australia. We are fortunate to have strict biosecurity responses in place which have prevented outbreaks such as lumpy skin disease in Australia. So, it’s a good time to revisit your biosecurity plan to protect your business by:

Until next time, keep safe and well.

David Phelps

Hub Highlight - Cooktown AgInspiration Tour inspires Next Generation

Key takeaways

  • AgInspiration program aims to highlight diverse career opportunities in agriculture
  • Cooktown’s remoteness often means students are not afforded the same sorts of opportunities experienced at other schools
  • TNQ Drought Hub and Cape York NRM facilitated the program and farm visits in partnership with AgForce

Eighteen students from Cooktown State High School have recently completed a three-day tour through North Queensland’s key agricultural industries, as part of an initiative delivered by the TNQ Drought Hub and the AgForce School to Industry Partnership Program.

Cooktown State High School students at Lakeland Produce, a 276 hectare organic produce property

The AgInspiration program, which was run previously in Cooktown in April 2023 and Ayr in October 2023, aims to highlight the diverse opportunities in agribusiness and provide insights into various career paths for high school students.

TNQ Drought Hub Building Human Capacity Program Lead Dr Jane Oorschot said it enabled Year 10 and 11 students to interact directly with agricultural experts, inspiring them to envision and explore both new and existing interests within the industry.

“The agricultural industry is evolving rapidly, offering new and diverse career paths,” said Dr Oorschot.

“These workshops provide students with invaluable insights directly from farmers, inspiring them to explore and pursue their interests further.

“It really makes students aware of the multitude of possibilities within the sector, spanning from production to cutting-edge technology and beyond.”

Read more.

TNQ Drought Hub in Action

Ag succession forum focuses on decision-making for the future

The Taroom community recently gathered to learn practical steps and advice on managing the succession journey. Held on June 4-5, the Ag Succession and Future Proofing Forum focused on decision-making for the future and building resilience through multiple topics.

Scott Patterson from Alternate Strategies led detailed sessions for the 20 attendees, outlining the key elements for a successful transition. Scott emphasized that succession should be treated as an urgent, ongoing process rather than a one-off activity.

Image: L-R TNQ Drought Hub's Dr Jane Oorschot and FBA's Vicki Horstman

Innovative technology aimed at improving pasture quality and biodiversity

Terrain NRM, a recipient of the Tropical North Queensland Drought Resilience grant, recently hosted their Soilkee Renovator Demonstration Day on the Atherton Tablelands.

This event showcased innovative technology aimed at improving pasture quality and biodiversity and highlighted the importance of soil health in regeneration.

In collaboration with dairy farmer Glenn Drury, the Soilkee Renovator is being trialed for the first time in Queensland. This specialised minimum-till machine precision plants seasonal crops and pasture seeds into existing pastures, disturbing less than 20% of the soil. 

Image: The Soilkee Renovator in action

Region’s resilience to disasters is enhanced by local research

Last month, Cairns hosted a pivotal event, “The Science of Disasters: Impact, Resilience, and Recovery in Far North Queensland.” Supported by the TNQ Drought Hub, the forum gathered local researchers, councils, government representatives, industry experts, and organizations to discuss and enhance our region’s resilience to disasters.

Far North Queensland often faces natural disasters that can isolate our communities and harm the environment. Local research is essential to develop ways to make our region stronger and better prepared for these events.

Image: Attendees at The Science of Disasters

“Enabling change in a changing world”, exploring ideas and challenges around extension

TNQ Drought Hub Building Human Capacity Program Lead, Dr Jane Oorschot, recently attended the 2024 Reef Extension Think Tank held in Townsville to discuss “Enabling change in a changing world”.

The event brought together 85 industry professionals from across Sugar, Grazing and Horticulture for an inspiring few days to explore ideas and challenges around extension.

A wide range of attendees, directly involved in providing support and guidance to the extension profession, participated in the Think Tank through an ‘unconference’ approach.

Participants at the Reef Extension Think Tank

Local field days crucial for fostering community engagement

This month, Northern Adoption Officer, Keerah Steele and Program Communications Manager, Emily Harrington joined the Southern Gulf NRM team at the Richmond Field Days and Races.

These types of local events, (including the Charters Towers Northern Beef Producers Expo which the hub also attended earlier in the month), provide valuable opportunities for engaging with the community, sharing information about upcoming initiatives, and discussing various projects in the region.

Keerah also attended Southern Gulf NRM’s two-day Breeder Management workshop on a cattle station north of Richmond.

Image: Representative from Southern Gulf NRM, TNQ Drought Hub, Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Northern Australia Climate Program at the Richmond Field Days.

Building resilience through community groups, Governance Essentials success

Ten participants from across Queensland recently completed the TNQ Drought Hub facilitated online course, Governance Essentials.

This course teaches important skills about how to run community groups well. It covers topics like governance principles, duties and responsibilities, making ethical decisions, and being a confident leader.

Graduates said the course made them feel more confident about making decisions in their community groups and managing their time. They also found it valuable connecting with others in similar situations and sharing different experiences in their communities.

Image: 2024 Governance Essentials graduates 

Agtech Insights 

Read the latest edition of AgTech insights where we look into:

  • plus more…
  • Insights from Tenacious Ventures
  • CSIRO’s recent webinar on Ag2050 Scenarios
  • Advancing weed management using AI
  • The 2024 Australian Agritech Awards

Get Involved

  • Survey: CQU is currently investigating the strategies that primary producers use to rebuild and recover after disasters such as floods, fires, droughts and disease outbreaks. Find out more.
  • Survey: NSW DPI is collecting water and yield information from growers to track the ongoing progress of water productivity improvement across the cotton industry. Find out more.
  • EOI: Are you an innovator, researcher, or farmer with a groundbreaking idea on how to improve drought resilience in agriculture? Apply now for the Beanstalk Venture Studio, supported by the Future Drought Fund. Find out more.
  • Apply: Farmers2Founders are running a 12 week pre accelerator agtech program that will help you de-risk and accelerate your growth, co-develop your agtech journey with expert guidance and build a better start up. Applications close 5 July 2024. Find out more.
  • Apply: Applications are open for Australian innovators with research, IP or a revolutionary new idea to increase drought-resilience. Successful innovators will receive hands-on commercialisation support and the opportunity to be one of 8 startups matched with an experienced Co-Founder for commercialisation and launch of a drought resilience product or service. Applications close 12 July 2024. Find out more.

Upcoming Events

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;


Outbreak is the Australian Government’s resource for information about how to respond to, prevent and prepare for animal and plant pest and disease outbreaks. You can also explore current outbreaks.

TNQ Drought Hub Node Partners

NQ Dry Tropics

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Newsletter #27: June 2024

From the Director I recently attended a Native Foods and Botanicals Forum in Rockhampton. There was enthusiastic interaction between people

June AgTech Insights

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