Newsletter #5 July 2022

The Hub has had an intense six months of planning, networking and engaging with our community, so we thank you for your patience while we get this newsletter out.

Firstly, I would like to introduce myself as the new Director for the Hub. I have spent the last 31 years working in grazing systems research and extension with the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, based in Longreach. This includes sheep, cattle and fire research in the Mitchell grasslands, developing feed quality guides for the flood dependent pastures of the channel country, contributing to the development of northern Australia’s Grazing Land Management industry training packages, and most recently writing Queensland’s sheep and goat meat supply chain strategy.

Central-western Queensland has been in drought since 2013, and I became increasingly involved both professionally and through volunteer roles in the drought response and the question of resilience. These areas are dominated by cattle, sheep and goat grazing enterprises, and many town-based businesses depend on the success of those industries to employ local staff. We decided that drought resilience means businesses being able to adapt and change, towns and communities staying connected and supportive, regions diversifying their economic base beyond rainfall dependent industries, and external organisations and government supporting locally led solutions.

There are many opportunities to enhance drought resilience and preparedness by linking the Hub with needs of agricultural industries and rural communities across northern Queensland.

The team continues to grow as we support our Programs and Activities. We welcome a new Program Lead for Building Human Capacities, a Regional Soils Coordinator, Natural Capital and Environmental Markets Research Officer, our Node Drought Resilience Coordinators and the Ag Innovation Hub Manager and Project Officer. We are currently in a recruitment process for the upcoming Adoption Officer roles. You can find out more about the Hub Programs and team members here.

We have just finished our first round of the Hatch Program through our Innovation and Commercialistion Program. The Hatch Program saw seven teams and 15 individuals go through an intensive 6-week process focusing on validating their ideas with potential customers. The teams covered a wide variety of ideas to build resilience in our farmers and communities with research teams assisting with better services for sugar producers and data consultancy services for producers.  Some of the other ideas included building a service model for families with disabilities, improving the deployment of a range of services for women and helping producers diversify their on farm income with alternative source of income to become more sustainable.

We are looking forward another packed six months ahead where we will be focusing on on-ground activities within our Programs and working with our Nodes, Members and Network Partners to execute these activities.

Please keep reading to learn more about where the Hub has been and what’s we are up to next.

Keep safe and well,

David Phelps, Director

The TNQ Ag Innovation Hub

Led by James Cook University (JCU) The Ag Innovation Hub (AIH) aims to increase the uptake of innovation by producers while supporting collaboration and commercial outcomes.

The TNQ Agricultural Innovation Hub is anchored as part of the established TNQ Drought Hub within JCU’s innovation centre – the JCU ideas Lab in Cairns.

Under the TNQ Agricultural Innovation Hub JCU will bring together producers, agriculture companies, supply chain businesses, innovators, start-ups, investors and researchers to drive agricultural innovation in Northern Australia. 

Know someone who wants to be involved?

Whats Next?

Check out our Events calendar to see what’s happing in the agricultural industry around Tropical North Queensland. You can also catch up with the team at the following events;

  • FBA’s Farming for the Future Forum
  • Chillagoe Drought Resilience Forum
  • Croydon Drought Resilience Forum
  • FNQ Growers Agriculture Research and Development Field Day
  • 11th Australasian Soilborn Disease Symposium


Image: Longreach Regenerative Rangelands Forum, courtesy of David Phelps

 Regenerative Rangelands Forum

Director, David and Indigenous Entrepreneur in Residence, Darryl attended the Regenerative Rangelands Forum in Longreach on the 20-21 April where the focus was on building drought resilience through soil and pasture health, biodiversity, productivity, natural capital and tapping in other emerging markets.

The attendees explored examples where innovation and practice change has had a positive effect on landscapes in Western Queensland.

IImage: Attendees at the Regenerative Rangelands Forum, courtesy of David Phelps

CQ 2022 Big Data Forum

The CQ 2022 Big Data Forum in May was co-hosted by Node partner Fitzroy Basin Association in Rockhampton brought together scientists, industry and government to collaborate, innovate and improve how to collect, collate, analyse and report monitoring data to focus on a more sustainable central Queensland.

The event had a strong focus on indigenous engagement and was facilitated by Sustainable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Enterprise Program Lead, Allan Dale.

Image: CQ 2022 Big Data Forum, courtesy of Fitzroy Basin Association

 Science to Practice Showcase Hub Video Filming

As part of this year’s Science to Practice forum held by the Future Drought Fund, all eight Hubs recorded a showcase video about their Hub, region and activities.

The TNQ Hub brought together JCU eResearch Professor Ian Atkinson, TAS Program Co-Lead, Dan Christie, JCU Fletcherview Research Station Manager, Martin Holzwart, Senior Grazing Field Officer, Chris Poole from Node NQ Dry Tropics and grazier Eiren Smith from Dreghorn Station to share what the Hub means to them and how important it is having the Hub located in North Queensland. Watch the finished Hub video below.

Image: Fletcherview Research Station Manager Martin Holzwart with film crew, courtesy of Chris Pollard, DAWE

 Murawin Cultural Awareness workshop

In May, the TNQ Hub team spend the day in Cairns with Murawin, a national, family owned, Indigenous-led consultancy team who delivered a cultural awareness workshop.

The workshop opened with the Welcome to Country by local Traditional Owner Dr Bernard Singleton and was led by Brian Arley, Senior Consultant who delivered a facilitation guide to support appropriate and effective engagement and develop and maintain strong relationships with First Nations stakeholders in our Hub area.

Image: The Cairns Institute at the Ngumba-bada campus, courtesy JCU

SQNNSW, NWANT and TNQ Hub collaboration meeting

Director, David and Knowledge Broker, Rachel met with the Directors and Knowledge Brokers from the Southern Queensland and Northern New South Wales and North Western Australia and Northern Territory Hubs in Brisbane for a collaboration meeting.

The meeting brought the group together to discuss and define the most strategic ways for the three northern Hubs to work together across geographic boundaries, utilising each Hub’s capabilities and activities to maximise the benefits to northern Australian agriculture and communities.

Image: L to R John McVeigh SQNNSW Hub, David Phelps TNQ Hub, Leia Grimsey SQNNSW Hub, Rachel Hay TNQ Hub, Jez Matz NWANT and David Gallacher NWANT, courtesy Leia Grimsey

 Regional Soils Conference Committee Meeting

Newly appointed Regional Soils Coordinator Dhiraj Gajera hit the ground running in his first weeks with the Hub and participated in a committee meeting for a future Regional Soils Conference with Terrain NRM.

The conference will include workshops, renowned industry speakers, fieldtrips and sponsorship packages.

Image: Dhiraj Gajera TNQ Hub, staff from Terrain NRM and FNQ soil health representatives, courtesy Dhiraj Gajera

AgTac Awayday

The James Cook University’s Agriculture Technology and Adoption Centre (AgTac) focuses on solving industry-relevant problems through technology adoption, DataTech and Sustainable Finance, Ecosystem services and Economics.

The main theme for this year’s Awayday in June was building Climate and Drought resilience by building human capacity and working with the TNQ Hub. The two days included short talks, presentations and working sessions. The event was facilitated by TAS Program Lead, Yvette Everingham. 

Image: Attendees at the AgTac Awayday, courtesy Emily Harrington

Northern Beef Producers Expo

The Northern Beef Producers Expo, held in Charters Towers was a great opportunity for Director David to take new Hub employee and TAS Senior Research Officer, Ana Almeida out into the region and meet producers and Node members, NQ Dry Tropics.

The two-day event has a strong focus on showcase not only the local, but wider beef industry through trade displays, working dog trials, school judging competitions and stud cattle displays.

Image: Rob Hunt from NQ Dry Tropics with Director David and Research Officer Ana, courtesy David Phelps

 Science to Practice Forum

. All eight Hub’s hosted an in-person viewing location for Future Drought Fund’s online Science to Practice Forum. The team decided to stream the Forum at both the TNQ Hub’s home in Cairns and out west in the small regional town of Richmond.

With a variety of in-person attendees including producers, industry, climate specialists and representatives from the Department of Agriculture, Water and Environment, the highlight of the Richmond event was an evening barbeque at a local producer’s cattle property where everyone had a chance to network and discuss the Forum topics over sausages from the award-winning local butcher.

Image: Science to Practice Forum attendees at Olga Downs Station, courtesy of Ben Hogan DAWE

 Richmond Field Days and Races

To end out the team’s trip to Richmond and tie in the Science to Practice Forum field trip, the Hub attended to the local Richmond Field Days and Races with Node partner Southern Gulf NRM.

Coordinator Emily spent time with Pru, Lyndy, Kirra and Robyn from Southern Gulf, local producers and industry representative over the weekend discussing the Hub’s Programs and Activities.  

Image: Pru Wharton from Southern Gulf and Emily Harrington TNQ Hub, curtesy of Emily Harrington

TNQ Drought Hub Nodes

1 TNQ Hub Cairns
   James Cook University
2 Tropical North node
   Northern Gulf Resource Management Group Ltd
3 Gulf of Carpentaria node
   Southern Gulf Natural Resource Management Ltd
4 Fitzroy node
   Fitzroy Basin Association
5 Mackay and Whitsundays node
   Reef Catchments (Mackay Whitsundays Isaac) Ltd
6 Burdekin node
   NQ Dry Tropics Ltd

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