Lileah legend Gary Watson has been recognised for his environmental consciousness.
The resilient dairy farmer earned the Dairy Environmental Award at the Tasmanian Dairy Awards last month for his environmentally friendly practises.
OMG, or Organic Milk Group, is produced by his fully accredited organic farm.
Gary’s property was the first in the state to be granted a NASAA Certified Organic Certificate of Registration in September 2017, which is no small feat. The process of accreditation takes three full years.
Boasting 300 hectares, Gary’s farm is a marvel of modern ingenuity and old time simplicity.
The farm is 100 per cent free of all pesticides and is partly solar powered, with Gary’s environmental practices extending to a cutback on fossil fuel emissions.
“We’ve stopped using bikes to get the cows in of a morning,” he says.
“Now we just walk behind them. It’s peaceful, it’s a good way to start the day.”
The farm utilises an effluence redistribution system, covering 100 hectares of the property. Effluent systems save on water and fertiliser costs, and are an organic alternative to some industrialised fertilisers, says Gary.
“Manure is a good fertiliser, it’d be a waste to just let all the run off from the dairy stagnate,” he says.
“As part of the accreditation we can only use natural fertilisers. It was hard at first, but once you learn what you can and can’t use it gets easier.”
Starting to make the switch 10 years ago this year, Gary nurses a passion for clean eating and organic farming.
“It’s all about the microbiology,” he says.
“Continuously treating cows and produce with chemicals kills off all the organisms in the soil and sucks the life out of it.”
To ensure his produce remains top quality, Gary spends thousands of dollars on soil, grass and hair sample checks.
“By checking all three we can ensure the nutrients are going all the way from the soil, to the grass and into the cow. Soil quality and animal welfare go hand in hand.”
Gary explains that many diseases affecting livestock are evolving and becoming resistant to antibiotics, which is impacting the quality of milk and beef the cows produce.
“We’ve become too reliant on chemicals and band-aid solutions. We need to go back to basics.”
To support Gary and his environmental initiatives, grab a litre of OMG milk from Woolworths and IGA in Smithton and other selected retailers.
Organic Milk Group founder Gary Watson says that soil quality is the most important aspect of his organic farm at Lileah. Picture: Isaac Popowski.