Eleanor Williams - Revell Farms
Eleanor and her family moved to the Northern Rivers, NSW from a cotton and wheat farm near Wee Waa in March 2019. They have a 38ha property at Rous with 10,000 macadamia trees and a 24ha custard apple and rainforest property just down the road at Dalwood. The Macadamia farm was planted about 35 years ago. Approximately 70% of the trees are older plantings. The soil is a beautiful red ferrosol, the farm is up on the plateau with gentle slopes with Duck creek running along the boundary.
Eleanor studied Agricultural Science at the University of Gatton and did an honours year looking at nematode plant relationships. She then worked at a large vegetable farm in the Lockyer Valley as an agronomist for 2 years.
Eleanor has always been interested in farming sustainably and since farming macadamias has become passionate about farming in a more regenerative way. She joined a local regenerative agriculture group and found a network with like minded growers and other experts. This year she entered the regenerative agriculture mentoring program through SCU. She found this a transformative experience that helped her shape a vision for the future.
Eleanor plans to continue incorporating practices that increase biodiversity with the aim to naturally control pests and reduce our reliance on chemistry. They release beneficial insects and monitor with pest scouts regularly so that we understand what populations they have and only spray when it is completely necessary using chemistry that is the softest on non-target insects and is well timed. Integrated pest management is vital and they aim to always look at the cultural and biological controls before the chemical ones. They are removing rows and replanting blocks so that we can grow native shrubs and flowering plants in the inter-rows all year round that will be a sanctuary to beneficial insects and larger predators as well as improve the soil. The aim in the next 10 years is to have full ground cover over the whole farm. We understand this cannot happen overnight as we have to maintain and improve productivity at the same time so we are slowly converting the farm and trailing many different strategies on the older darker part of the orchard such as alternate row removal, whole block replanting, limb removal and seeding. Eleanor hopes to get their farm functioning as an ecosystem once again. She hopes to encourage the natural soil biology to flourish and to recycle nutrients as it did when this land was the big scrub rainforest. She aims to have the creek running clean even in big rain events and for the riparian zone to be back to native forest. It is a learning experience but one that is very rewarding as they aim to improve this block of land that they call home and have it as a safe place to raise a family.