Narromine district landholder Bruce Maynard is the fourth generation of his family to farm the 1400ha Willydah but he has not been content to raise cattle and crops in the manner traditionally associated with long held family farms.
Mr Maynard is the current recipient of the 2022 Bob Hawke Landcare Award and he has been using that profile to raise awareness of the need to farm the land for the future, not just for the present.
A proud holder of the Bob Hawke Landcare Award, Mr Maynard is also proud to be one of the Ambassadors for the National Regenerative Agriculture Day to be held on February 14, 2023.
"We go back to the early homesteading days when the large stations were being broken up into farming properties," he said.
"My grandfather was the first to grow commercial wheat crops west of Dubbo, and he and my father won worldwide wheat competitions so in this part of the world we have had a long association with grain production and livestock."
Not content with thinking that the methods his forebears used in growing wheat were sustainable for the future, Mr Maynard has spent many years traveling around Australia and researching some of the new areas associated with natural resource management - no-kill cropping, stress-free stockmanship and self-herding.
"This new field of research - self-herding - is where most of my research is focused now," he said.
A trip to the US on a Rotary Youth Scholarship in 1984 prompted Mr Maynard to reconsider his approach to landscape management.
"They seemingly had all the advantages we didn't have here - wonderful soil, very reliable rainfall, government support, payments for production, with lots of extension and research," he said.
"I thought - if only we had those in Australian agriculture we could be successful, but interestingly the US farmers were going broke at a faster rate than what was happening here."
Having had first-hand experience of what was happening in the US, Mr Maynard clearly understood the ramifications for Australian farmers.
"The push factors included seasons which started to get tough and a bit less predictable and high interest rates with low commodity prices meant there was a big squeeze," he said.
"We had to make a lot of adjustments, one thing that cemented in my mind that I wanted to take a new direction that wasn't just working better with the conventional approaches.
"I wanted to head towards something different in the long run."
Mr Maynard is using his profile as the 2022 Bob Hawke Landcare Award recipient to campaign for action on what he says is passive chemical exposure in the landscape.
On his farm and in many other districts, he has noted evidence of agricultural chemicals killing and harming trees and other vegetation.
"There is an accelerating pattern of death even in spite of the fact that we are having incredible seasons," Mr Maynard said.
"This has been death by a thousand cuts - we are seeing the impacts accumulate year by year and they are getting worse and faster."
Mr Maynard has been campaigning locally for years but now wants a national spotlight on the issue.
"This is happening, it is real and is recurring and it is getting worse," he said.
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