Banana Farmers Win a Free Pass to National Biofarming Gig

Kathryn Dryden
October 19, 2016

Banana Farmers Win a Free Pass to National Biofarming Gig

Chris and Josephine Borsato with son, Mason (1)

Josephine Borsato will be taking her husband Chris away from the farm and the family on a full weekend in Cairns later this month to talk ‘dirt’. She is the winner of two tickets valued at $770 to the National Biological Farming Conference and Expo 2016 which will have local, national and international soil specialists talk about natural ways to keep soil healthy in agriculture.

The couple run the Innisfail Banana Farming Company (La Manna Group) and Josephine saw an opportunity presented by conference sponsor Terrain NRM to win the tickets. She said, “We were really interested in going but with low banana prices in recent months, we had to consider our budget, so I decided to enter Terrain’s competition.”

Josephine’s father’s farm has been under agriculture for 100 years, and the couple are interested in learning new ways of managing their soil health so to produce healthy fruit whilst minimising threats of diseases such as Panama, well into the future. Chris said, “I’m told that healthy soil with diverse ecology can help supress the disease.”

Chris said, “There is a wide-reaching social perception that chemicals are bad, therefore the more we can do to reduce chemical inputs on our farms, the better. If we can constantly improve our farming practices, not only will it be good for our consumers, but for us and our workers.”

With an ever-growing range of biological products coming to the market making choices difficult, the Borsato’s are looking forward to gaining a better understanding of exactly what constitutes good soil health, and what are the most beneficial ingredients to be putting in to achieve this.

“You never know if the products on the market actually work, or if they are just a sales pitch,” said Chris.

Josephine and Chris are particularly interested in seeing Cassowary Coast locals Matt Abbot and Mick Russo present at the conference. Chris said, “I used to play soccer with Mick and I bump into Matt often, I’m keen to hear what they have to say about what works for them and how they are striking a sustainable balance.

“We also might find something else outside of the banana industry that can shed light on other options for us to take our business forward.”

The Borsato’s have two young boys who they anticipate will one day farm the same soil, seeking their own income and security for the future.

“The future is really important to us. We like fishing, going to the Reef and for swims in the creek. We want to look after it, not wreck it,” said Josephine.

Terrain NRM’s Bart Dryden said, “It’s exciting to be working with farmers who are willingly embracing and trialling new ideas to improve their practices. This comes at some risk to them, but more are recognising the need to think not only of economics, but environmental health which is essential to the future of the agriculture industry.

“By sponsoring the event, we hope to ignite discussion and enthusiasm for more sustainable approaches to farming that will contribute to a healthy and viable future.”