Resilient Farming

Marlborough dryland farmer and Landcare Ambassador Doug Avery found a buoyant mood at this years' National Agricultural Fieldays, where he was invited to deliver three talks on 'Building a More Resilient Future' as part of the Fieldays Knowledge Series.

Doug has become a recognised motivational speaker, attending engagements all over the world, empowering farmers and their communities to adapt to the challenges that lie ahead. He is able to speak from hard earned experience, highlighting the mentally tough journey that he encountered when things went badly wrong. He recognises that sometimes you simply need to reach out and find people who can help.

The good news is attitudes are changing, with farmers now able to speak out about difficult situations without the stigma associated with depression or failure. In an interview after Fieldays for The Country with Jamie Mackay, Doug said, "A year ago farmers were still up tight, they didn't feel as if they could talk about their emotional state. That's changing big time."

"A few people came up to me directly after my talks and declared they were in trouble. I was able to start immediately putting them into good places where they could get some practical help. That's the first step - recognising that you need a bit of help, and then finding someone that can do it." Doug added.

Doug's talks are not 'how to' sessions or 'step by step' instructions on farming practice, they are intended to work as a catalyst for farmers to change the current state of play and shift their thinking. He speaks about the three pillars that farmers need to develop if they are to be sustainable - financial, environmental and social. Resilience needs to be built around each pillar by accessing knowledge and support. It’s not about business as usual with a few concessions. It’s a whole new road.

NZ Landcare Trust worked closely with Doug on the highly successful Starborough/Flaxbourne Soil Conservation Project. The project came to a conclusion in June 2008 and successfully demonstrated that it is economically viable to farm sustainably in the Awatere/Seddon area of southern Marlborough. This changed farmer attitudes and land management practices towards farming dry land in the region.


You can read more about Doug and his own journey at his website Resilient Farmer.


Doug also delivered an excellent presentation at the NZ Landcare Trust conference, detailing his experiences and how his family worked with a team of people to turn around his struggling farm.