Friend or Foe

In our region almost 90% of prime agricultural land is owned by lifestyle farmers. They represent a major and growing sector in the Australian rural landscape and now play a critical role in the protection of Australia’s natural resources.


Lifestyle farmers have diverse views, drivers and values. Many are new entrants to farming with little or no background in agriculture, and their knowledge of land management and agriculture tends to be poor. Their local knowledge is also limited and they lack the practical or tacit knowledge that larger farmers have such as good agronomic knowledge, identifying soil types and weeds, applying fertilisers or herbicides, building fences, operating machinery or vaccinating cattle.

Growing concern has been raised over the level of knowledge and skills within the lifestyle farm sector, and the ability of these farmers to manage their property in an ecologically sustainable fashion.

Depending on your point of view and who you mix with lifestyle farmers could be viewed as potential threats or possible allies for maintaining healthy, viable landscapes. I tend to mix with the one’s who care about Australia’s natural resources with a fervent passion and take every opportunity to up skill

In our region we are lucky enough to have the unique personality that is Richard Scarborough. Richard is a knowledge hub on all things natural resource management like no other and he takes every opportunity to share his vast expertise with those who want to learn and there are plenty of lifestyle farmers in our region who want to learn.


Richard Scarborough at Clover Hill sharing his knowledge of the pros and cons for planting wildlife corridors.

Richard has drawn this diagram to show us the SMART way to plant trees to achieve the best outcomes for the landscape, the native animals and the farm animals.

Concept Plan for bufferring Native Vegetation

In our region Richard on behalf of Landcare Illawarra is conducting the Illawarra Woodland and Rainforest project which means locals have a wide diversity of tree species to pick from. A wide diversity of trees means a variety of food sources for wildlife and that’s a very good thing indeed.

Richard tells me rainforest tress DO NOT need a pioneer canopy and its very important not to use wattles in this capacity. Why you ask?  Well wattles are very fast growing and will compete with the rainforest trees for nutrients and water

So if you want to use Eucalypts and wattles Richard says its important to segregate them and create competition free niches for rainforest trees.

If you follow Richard’s clever strategy  you will have wattle and eucalypts for farm timber, furniture making and fence posts and superb rainforest trees for eternity.

Here is a tip:  Rainforest species will grow faster in response to light competition and its ideal to plant the trees far enough apart to allow slashing with a tractor or ride on mower.

Stages of development

Thanks Richard for sharing.  You are a natural treasure

Also check out this video which showcases some other people who are inspiring their neighbours and pooling their skills for the beneift of the natural resource base and the wider catchment

Author: Lynne Strong

I am a 6th generation farmer who loves surrounding myself with optimistic, courageous people who believe in inclusion, diversity and equality and embrace the power of collaboration. I am the founder of Picture You in Agriculture. Our team design and deliver programs that inspire pride in Australian agriculture and support young people to thrive in business and life

2 thoughts on “Friend or Foe”

  1. A great blog thanks!
    I have certainly read that the trend towards lifestyle properties is a form of land degradation given that the land is often taken out of agricultural production and weed and feral animal problems can go unchecked. For this reason I’m looking at workshops tailored to wanna-be lifestyle block owners so they are fully aware of their responsibilities once they’re on the land.

    Very pleasing to see Richard’s diagrams and the use of trees on farms for commercial purposes too! So often the messages I hear are about planting trees for linking remnant vegetation etc but very seldom are the commercial uses of trees promoted. Richard’s designs incorporate both, the way it should be. 😀


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