On The Land

27 May, 2023

First Soil to Food event for region

AN Australian Farmer of the Year is among the headline speakers at the Far North’s first Soil to Food Conference which will be held on the Atherton Tablelands next month.

Grant Sims, a Coles Weekly Times Farmer of the Year, will be one of the headline speakers, at the new Soil to Food conference early next month
Grant Sims, a Coles Weekly Times Farmer of the Year, will be one of the headline speakers, at the new Soil to Food conference early next month

Sixth-generation farmer Grant Sims and his family have been using no till practices since the 1980s and he will be sharing their experiences replacing synthetic fertilisers with biologically-made liquid fertilisers and adopting multi species companion and cover crops.

Grant will be joined by internationally-recognised soil scientist Dr Christine Jones, ecological beef producer Gillian Sanbrook, organic farmer and author Dr Andre Leu and the inventor of the Soilkee Renovator (a system for planting seasonal crop and pasture seeds into existing pasture) Niels Olsen, who was also the first farmer to earn Australian carbon credits.

Other speakers include local farmers from banana, cane, grazing, fruit and vegetable industries who will share their successes across subjects ranging from implementing holistic grazing to using compost to reduce chemical inputs.

The first Soil to Food Conference will be a two-day weekender including “Dinner Under the Stars” at Atherton’s Sunflower Farm.

Topics also include emerging industries from carbon farming to hemp farming.

Terrain NRM agronomist Sally Fields said the new event was all about getting farmers together from across the region and its many industries to

share tips, hear from expert speakers and engage in practical soil health field sessions.

She said many farmers had been part of Terrain’s “Digging Deeper” soil health program over the years.

“Farmers understand the benefits of good soil health. This event goes one step further, with soil health as the foundation for new business oppor-tunities to increase profitability,” Ms Fields said.

“As well as looking at cover-cropping, transitioning to lower inputs and things like integrating animal systems, we’ll be discussing collaborative marketing, ecological marketing verification and how farmers become price-makers rather than price-takers through high-value produce and emerging opportunities.”

Soil to Food will be held at The Sunflower Farm on Dawson Road on 3-4 June. It will be a fully catered event with a focus on local produce, including a spit roast dinner. Tickets are $110.

For more information and to book, visit

This event is delivered by Terrain NRM through funding from the Australian Govern-ment’s National Landcare Program and is also supported by TNQ Drought Hub, Sustainable Table, Wet Tropics SoilCare, Regeneration Inter-national, Lower Wet Tropics SoilCare, Tropical Pasture Seeds, Cairns Micro Greens and Exotics, Eco Bananas, Skybury Farms and Mungalli Creek Dairy.


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