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Hello - Search crews say they have

found the Australian hospital ship

Centaur 66 years after it sank off

the south- east Queensland coast.

It's been discovered about 30

nautical miles east of Moreton

at a depth of more than 2000 metres. nautical miles east of Moreton Island

The Centaur sank after being

torpedoed by a Japanese submarine.

268 people died in attack. Thousands

of Catholics have attended mass to

celebrate the impending sainthood of

Mary MacKillop. Pope Benedict has

confirmed a second miracle involving

the healing of a woman with terminal

cancer. It paves the way for Mary to

become Australia's first saint.

Police have found the body of one

and are waiting to interview another Police have found the body of one man

in connection with the murder of a

12-year-old girl in Sydney's south

west. The girl was found dead and

grandmother critically injured in west. The girl was found dead and her

their home at Wetherill Park. Police

were looking for two men from a

neighbouring family for questioning.

A 77-year-old man has been found

in the boot of a car and a A 77-year-old man has been found dead

45-year-old man is now under police

guard in hospital. And the Federal

Opposition says the Government needs

to rethink its emissions trading

scheme in the wake of the the

Copenhagen Climate Summit. Leaders

are heading home from the talks

having decided on a non-binding

agreement. The Opposition leader

Abbott says the Government should agreement. The Opposition leader Tony

dump the ETS and go back to the Abbott says the Government should now

drawing board. And we'll have more

news later.

THEME MUSIC 'On The Best Of Landline today - Australian bank we'll check out the big-hearted

for those doing it tough.' that's putting food on the table We'd like to see on an annual basis

food-processing partnerships linking with Foodbank's strategic of grain into one tonne of food. to hopefully turn one tonne 'From scratch in NSW, some new tricks in Victoria. we'll show you some old dogs learning convinced its time has finally come.' And farming carbon, one scientist is

Welcome to The Best Of Landline. Hello, I'm Anne Kruger. dominated by discussions The year in politics has been over an emissions trading scheme

would be in it or out of it. and whether agriculture such as planting trees For every carbon credit, and leaving pasture intact, of using fuel, fertiliser there's a debit - the cost and other farm chemicals. sceptics still outnumber supporters, While it's fair to say soil carbon it's the key to farming profitably one scientist claims in a carbon economy. soil scientist Dr Christine Jones 'For the last two years, retired talking to farmers and politicians, has been travelling the country and running farm trials. speaking at forums and field days, hire cars, country roads It's a busy life, full of airports, and hotel rooms. near her home at Armidale in NSW Getting back to the bush helps her recharge.' of solitude. I come home for a few days and live and think, This is where I work again. and then go out into the world into soil carbon central.' 'Her home has been turned and all that sort of thing, The kids have left home that passion. and I can now just pursue

It's a dream. A belief that it will work. What keeps you going? at a very deep level, Yeah... I, absolutely, and I actually know at a deep level I fundamentally believe that it does work. Christine Jones's message is simple - agricultural soils Rebuilding carbon-rich permanent solution is the only real productive from the atmosphere. to taking excess carbon dioxide

and politicians 'She's frustrated that scientists she sees.' don't see the same opportunities over 600 million tonnes of carbon. This year Australia will emit just 685 million tonnes of carbon We can sequester by 0.5% on only 2% of the farms. by increasing soil carbon

on all of the farms, If we increased it emissions of carbon. we could sequester the whole world's to blame for depleting soil carbon, 'With modern farming practices a radical change in farming methods she says nothing short of will turn things around.' that the carbon has been lost, There's widespread recognition

everything completely but then to have to change is a big ask. in order to put it back for people. Change is always difficult 'She says plants are the key

from the air.' to removing excess carbon dioxide that's fixed by plant leaves Up to 60% of the carbon can end up down in the soil. to the atmosphere, 'As bare soil gives its carbon up and keep it there she says the way to build soil carbon is 100% ground cover all year round.' What we are trying to show is that if people manage land

after the ground cover, in a way that looks that the carbon will increase. won't be part 'While soil carbon credits scheme, which starts next year, of Australia's new emissions trading that, one day, Christine Jones is confident for the carbon they build.' Australian farmers will be paid

between 25 and 30 tonnes of carbon They can build something like

that they've produced. for every tonne of product on the right side of the ledger They can be so far to fear being included that there's no need in an emissions trading scheme. and we do know what we can do. We need a revolution in agriculture, and it's a very simple answer - We have an answer of implementing that. it's just really a matter opinions on her are divided. 'Like most revolutionaries, though,

Is she peddling false hopes?' it remains an open question. I think until the data is there, some amazing things, Well, I think she's achieved it's now being talked about and certainly right through to Senate hearings. I think the jury's still out.

that we've linked up with her I just feel very fortunate

exciting stuff, it's all new. and able to help, because it's

in agriculture, I'm always worried when fads emerge by good solid information and data. and often they're not backed it's interesting, Yeah, using your retirement money, the passion and commitment but that probably shows you and I just applaud her for it. that someone has

It is exciting, definitely exciting, that's for sure. but it's definitely blue-sky stuff, I'm still yet to see any solid data out of the work that Christine's done,

and I don't think you can pass judgment until you see solid data, so I'm cautious about some of the claims that seem to be made. People, sometimes nicely, say I'm a lone visionary. When they're not being nice, they say other things that I won't repeat. 'Dr Jones knew that if her ideas were to carry any weight, that she'd have to show that farmers could profitably graze

and crop their land and maintain permanent ground cover.

Two years ago, 18 farmers in three states agreed to trial her ideas. In return, she'd pay them $25 a tonne for the carbon they built.' We will be getting the first data in Australia from landholders that are doing something different and building carbon in their soil, and that will be the basis of a whole new set of models, and a whole new data set that can then be hopefully, advisers can then take to their ministers and say, "Well, we have some new advice, Minister. The old advice, I'm sorry, wasn't right." I sprayed some lubricant up in the gears there before. 'Central Queensland cattle farmers Noel Moretti and his son, Michael, signed on, attracted not just by the cash, but because they know that by adding carbon they'll increase the fertility and water-holding capacity of their soil.' It just made a lot of sense, and through that extra carbon, that's going to store water and our plants need water. So...and our country is drying out. We are being told every day just about now, so we, that seemed to be where we wanted to go. Yeah, she's very excited, and excites us, as well. I think, yeah, it really is for the good of our country. 'By being carbon smart, the Morettis aim to lift farm income by 10%

and they're not the slightest bit bothered by Christine Jones sceptics.'

I guess no matter who you are, you will always have those critics and I think you just move on and time will decide. 'To build soil carbon the Christine Jones way, the Morettis undertook to maintain ground cover at all times. What changes have you had to make so that you never have bare patches

or bare paddocks?' We've been very precise on our ground cover, making sure we don't chew our grass down too far, and we've reaped the benefits. We've made a lot of money out of the extra growth. 'At Christine Jones's urging, the Morettis also agreed to try pasture cropping. It's a pretty unconventional practice, as the crop is actually sown into pasture. In 2007, they grew an oat crop. It was a success.' It was really good when it actually come through and just kept growing. And it was quite strange to see a tuft of Gatton panic with little oats plants up and over the top of it, and down the other side, and growing quite happily. 'Last year, the Morettis tried wheat. Does it still feel a bit weird to see that much grass, and you are actually sowing a crop into it?'

It's strange, that's for sure, but I guess I am not a dyed-in-the-wool crop grower, so it's easier for me to se that and understand the concept. 'The conventional wisdom is that there shouldn't be enough soil moisture to sustain both pasture and a grain crop. But Dr Jones claims farmers can have both,

because soil high in organic carbon has better structure, is more fertile, and holds more water.' We've got microbes that are bringing moisture from deeper down in the soil. We've got perennial grasses that are able to take moisture from the air overnight and put that back down through their root system. So, this has been sprayed out to put the lupina in? That's right, yeah. 'Noel Moretti is convinced that pasture cropping works.' When you see grasses respond without rain, then that's what we are aiming for. So, what we'll do is plant a crop in this bare area, and into the buffel grass area, and we'll measure everything that happens. We'll measure the carbon under it, the water, we'll measure the yield of the crop. That's the part that's exciting, as far as we are concerned, to see what we can do and what is possible, and given that it has not been tried in this area. 'Dr Jones is used to pasture-cropping sceptics.' So everywhere around Australia people say, "It won't work here", with very good expert opinion, very nice people, in fact, saying, "It won't work here." And then when they do it, it works. 'But it is not just individual farmers interested to see if this approach works. The Queensland Government's thrown its expertise into the trials.' Yes, it's pretty amazing. She's a very passionate lady, that's for sure, and I think her passion does rub off

on everyone around her - that's definitely the case.

So, yes, I mean, we are sort of quite pleased

to sort of be working with her and actually try and help her out. I think Christine puts a different viewpoint on where we are currently at and where we can potentially go. I see that there's issues within our own systems that we can definitely improve on and Christine is just another part of the puzzle that we can build on. 'And an important piece of that puzzle is scientific data.' It's quite hard to actually measure carbon accurately across time and across space, so we need to basically have a pretty vigorous program, a process to actually fully measure carbon, and we sort of know about the virtues of carbon and so forth, and having more carbon is a good thing. We just need to work out ways to try to maximise the carbon and actually keep it there. 'Stuart Buck and Scott Stevens have been helping take soil-core samples at the trial properties.' Have it analysed so we can actually get a baseline level to actually start from,

and the plan is to come back again this year. So, basically like 12 months later and try and measure any differences in the organic carbon. 'Proponents argue that farming to build carbon could be every bit as significant a change in cropping practices as was the move from ploughing to zero or minimum till.

How long will it be before you have a prescription for farmers that you can actually say, "If you do this and this, you'll get this"?' Probably, well, I'd hope three to five years, Pip. Absolutely. If we are doing the things that we think are right, we should be seeing change within that time period. And, ultimately, it boils down to your ability to accumulate biomass, and that's limited by rainfall and it's limited by nutrients, so there's been some early work done, for example, in very sandy areas, which says by the time you pay the cost of nitrogen fertiliser to build up your biomass, your soil carbon is getting very expensive to achieve. We've chosen to go to the most difficult areas to sequester carbon. So, hot, dry environments as in central Queensland and in the northern agricultural region of Western Australia. Once we have shown that the concept works here,

it will be an absolute walk-in for Tasmania. 'Mining company Rio Tinto has kicked in $30,000 to help fund Christine Jones's work. They're interested in the bigger picture.' The challenge for climate change is so huge. We need to have as many options, as many solutions, you know, and if the worst is., like, if no carbon credits come out of it, but we get improved soil productivity, if we get improved water-retention out of people adopting these techniques, that's going to help in an adaptation mechanism for the change in climate that we're all told we are likely to have. So I don't see any downside in this, and the upside is huge, the potential upside is huge. 'But of all the support Christine Jones has received to date, none is more fascinating than the backing from Singapore-based businesswoman Rhonda Wilson. The pair met when they sat next to each other at a conference.' I told her what I was trying to do and said we couldn't get funding and we'd been trying for years and years and years and I have got folders of letters come back from all of Australia's major R&D corporations, saying that they don't think soil carbon is important, and they don't think you can measure it and "Very nice application, thank you very much, Christine, but we are just not interested." And I was just explaining that to Rhonda and she said, "Well, how much do you need?" 'Rhonda Wilson won't say how much she's given. Suffice to say it was enough for Christine Jones to set up the Australian Soil Carbon Accreditation Scheme.' The Australian Soil Carbon Accreditation Scheme is about measuring carbon to show that farmers can build it, that we can measure it and that they can be rewarded for building that carbon. So, in order for them to be financially rewarded, we needed money for what we call soil-carbon incentive payments, and that is the money that's come from Rhonda. 'A farmer herself, with seven grazing properties in New South Wales,

Rhonda Wilson was keen to see the research done.' We get blamed for everything. You know, we get blamed for the cattle creating too much methane and we get blamed for everything, it's all our fault. And I saw this as a way of proving that the farmer actually could make a difference, and a positive difference, and most people like evidence, you know, so you need real data. 'On a recent trip to Australia, Rhonda Wilson visited the Morettis' property to see how the carbon building was going. She was shown a paddock that had been harvested for grass seed, was now grazing cattle, and would soon be sown to wheat.'

We have done something similar on our property in New South Wales, so I understand what he's doing and just, "Hey, go for it! Great! Excellent!" It really is sort of tiering enterprises one on top of the other, so it's basically like having three times as much land as we have by doing...rotating these things one over the other. 'Do you think one day you as a farmer will be able to get a cheque, say, once a year, for the amount of carbon you've sequestered in your soil?' Ha, ha, ha. That's where we would hope to, hoping. I would guess you could say we are hoping for that. I am not expecting it.

It would be delightful and in a sense, that would be a vindication of all the soil carbon, so I think, maybe, you know... ..that's "Yay, Christine! Thanks, Christine!" You know? "We have proved it." 'And payday will come much sooner than the sceptics think,

for, in May, at Parliament House in Canberra, all the farmers in the Australian Soil Carbon Accreditation Scheme

will be presented with their first carbon cheques.' It will be a recognition of the fact that change has occurred in the soil on those properties. And that will be a very proud day. So that if there's scepticism about either building, measuring, or people being paid for soil carbon, that we've answered all three. That's an exciting prospect actually, yes - that we would reach that stage, yes. That we have a saleable commodity beyond what we even expected or budgeted on. If we've got grain, we've already had our cattle and then we've got another income stream. 'Landline was on hand recently when the Morettis harvested their latest wheat crop.' There's patches that are equal to what we expected, but there are poor patches. There's paddocks that we did graze early on

because we knew they just wouldn't make it.

So, there's a bit of learning for us to do, you know, but still I believe it's good, it will work. 'The Morettis remain committed to the trial.' Absolutely. We can see a big difference in the soil

and the grass recovery this year. Actually, we've just had our 12-month soil carbon tested and it's only an interim test at this stage, but it's shown something like a 35% increase in soil carbon, which is quite huge and way above what I expected. But that equates to eight tonne per hectare of carbon, and there's all sorts of numbers being bandied around for the price of carbon, but in anyone's language that's going to be quite substantial and, therefore, the yield of the carbon is actually going to be probably greater than the yield of the wheat. 'The Australian Farm Institute has a warning, though, for farmers thinking of cashing in on soil carbon.'

If agriculture is included in an emissions trading scheme and, therefore, individual farms have to produce

an annual greenhouse return and pay the cost of their net emissions, then they are going to need every opportunity they can

to lock up carbon. So, in that case, soil carbon should be included, but it will be necessary to offset the emissions

from livestock and fertiliser and those sorts of things. If agriculture is not included, then soil carbon may be a possibility

as an offset that you can sell to people, but people have to remember they're selling the ownership of that carbon in the soil to someone else, they no longer own the carbon in the soil, and if it disappears for any reason, they have to restore it. So, I guess the brief message is for every credit there's an equal and opposite debit if the reverse action occurs. So, if a bushfire comes through, if a big drought occurs, if you decide you want to plough that paddock and that will reduce the soil carbon,

then you've got to pay back any earnings that you've made, and probably more, before you can do that, so people need to understand the double-sided nature of storing carbon in soil. 'Mick Keogh's worried that farmers are getting their hopes up.' We're seeing conferences with thousands of people involved, all looking to make their next fortune out of carbon, and I think that's quite a dangerous time for any particular issue. By all means, we need to try this, by all means we need to understand what's happening, particularly in relation to soil carbon,

but I am not sure the information's available yet that will allow people to make judgments about, "This is going to be the next big cash cow for agriculture". 'Like farmers, rural bankers are trying to get their heads around the potential, if any, of carbon farming.

Khan Horne, the head of Agribusiness at NAB, says the most pressing issues his clients are focused on

are weather and commodity prices.

But he says the topic of soil carbon is generating a lot of chatter in the bush.' Oh, they're all asking questions, and they are getting so much, I suppose, overload of information, and it's just good to sit back and say, "Let's take a deep breath, watch this space." A lot of research needs to be conducted, and it won't be coming, you know, in one or two years, but we might be sitting here in ten years and having a couple of dollars per acre or certain cash flows coming, but it won't be a massive inflow of cash. I would love to say, "Yes, it's going to be a cash cow." But no, it's a long journey. 'With a new carbon economy looming, and agriculture the second biggest emitter behind the power industry, the possibilities soil represents as a carbon sink are tantalising. And more of the people who matter are starting to talk about it. Last year, the Prime Minister called for more research, and Professor Ross Garnaut said in his final report that Australia was well positioned to use soil to increase carbon dioxide removal, tipping that carbon could be a new commodity for farmers. The NFF agrees with Professor Garnaut, saying agriculture may be part of the climate-change solution, and not just through the planting of trees.' What we need to look at is the role that Australian farming can play, because farming is so unique in that it is a biological function, and we have the ability

to put carbon back in the soil where it belongs. 'Mick Keogh says the lack of research into soil carbon is a big problem.' We are seeing departments of Agriculture cut their research staff. We are seeing CSIRO scale back its research into plant industries and agriculture, so just at the point where that science would be absolutely essential to validate some of this information, we are losing our capability and that's a real issue. 'Ahead of Australia, with soil carbon trading schemes up and running, is the US and Canada. In the US, a carbon credit program based on no-till cropping and perennial pastures has one million acres in 16 states.' Carbon in the last year has traded from $1.60, at its low point, to $7.50 per credit or per tonne, at the high point. The average has been around $4 a tonne. The average sequestration rate of our participants is about 0.6 of a tonne per acre of credit, so that's about $2.50 per acre per year. 'Dave Miller says soil carbon should not be left out of an emissions trading scheme.' We think the evidence that we are getting

out of our participation in the Chicago Climate Exchange indicates that agriculture and forestry can be a significant participator in carbon emission reductions programs and schemes. We think there's ample evidence that we can do the quantification and verification up to the standards that a trading system needs. 'He says US farmers are lobbying for soil carbon to be included in an ETS.' Our US Department of Agriculture, through the Agricultural Research Services, estimated that if we had widespread participation of no till across the 350 million acres of crop production in the US, we would sequester about 140 million metric tonnes of carbon across that 350 million acres. That would be about 10% of US annual emissions. So, agriculture and forestry is not the solution to climate change and to carbon sequestration, but it can be part of the solution. There is no magic bullet here, if you will, for solving the carbon problem. We tend to think of it as magic buckshot, where you have small, little elements from a lot of different sources, that can help solve the problem. 'Christine Jones says when she started her work, there were many soil-carbon sceptics. Now she says more people are at least prepared to listen. Politicians from all sides have visited her trial sites

and she says it won't be long before the results vindicate her.' I think once people realise how important it is, and once we have proved that you can build the carbon and you can measure it and that landholders can be rewarded for it, I think it will open the floodgates, and I think we'll see enormous amounts of research, hopefully, by the State agencies, so that I don't have to do it, but all over Australia and in other countries on soils. I think soil...research into soil carbon will be huge. It's going to happen. There's...because every time you turn on the TV, people from the Pope, the American President, everyone from there down are talking about climate change and how we can change it, and all we need is this science to be, to prove the system works. And it'll all come together and I believe quite quickly actually, it'll change quickly.

IDYLLIC GUITAR MUSIC 'At Broken Bay, on the Central Coast of New South Wales, they've been farming Sydney rock oysters for more than a century.' The history of Broken Bay and this area goes back well over 100 years. Certainly they were farming oysters here back in the late 1800s, so it has a long commercial history with oyster farming, that's for sure. 'But now the temperate and unpolluted waters of Broken Bay are proving fertile ground for an entirely new commercial oyster farming venture - Akoya pearls. Ian Crisp heads a group of four Sydney rock-oyster growers, bringing more than 125 years of collective farming experience to the pearl operation.' I don't think we, as a group, would've been able to achieve this if we hadn't had our oyster-farming experience. We've been able to utilise a lot of our gear, certainly a lot of our husbandry techniques and the way we farm Sydney rocks, we've basically put similar strategies in place for Akoya. So it's having that depth of experience in the industry has definitely helped us be able to produce these things. 'General manager Peter Clift says farming Akoyas

is much the same as growing Sydney rock oysters.' Very interesting comparison and the early stages very, very similar. We're working with smaller numbers so we can afford to be a bit fussier but we're looking to get as rapid a growth as we possibly can and make the shells as large as we can in as short a possible time. From then on, of course, it all changes. Where we try to fatten the Sydney rock oysters to get them in prime condition for people to eat, we actually try and take the Akoya oysters the other way and reduce their condition, so that we can seed them without them rejecting the beads. 'Akoya pearls are cultured by inserting a seed and donor tissue

into the reproductive system of the oyster.' I'm actually just cutting into the oyster's reproductive system and then I implant a piece of donor tissue and then a piece of freshwater mussel shell that's been ground to a sphere and then it goes into a recovery phase. The donor tissue, it comes from the mantle area of the oyster and it's the part that actually creates the nacre. So it's actually cut out of the oyster and then implanted with the nuclei into the oyster. It's the part that actually forms the pearl sac and creates the nacre growth. 'So how long after the implantation do you get the finished product?' Generally takes 18 months to 2 years of growing the actual pearl. The oyster itself is two years old before it's seeded. 'Broken Bay Pearls gets its hatchery spat from the New South Wales Fisheries Centre for Excellence at Nelson Bay on the mid-North Coast. Dr Wayne O'Connor uses brood stock collected from Broken Bay and nearby Port Stephens.' 'Akoya oysters are probably the most cosmopolitan

of the pearl oyster species.

They're found from well south of Sydney right through to the Japanese islands, so they're incredibly widespread the whole way through. In fact, they're even thought of as a pest in the northern pearl industry because there they don't produce the quality of the nacre or the quality of pearls they do here in New South Wales. One of the things we knew originally was that as we moved further north in the Northern Hemisphere, we were getting better and better quality pearls.' And that's always been related to reduced salinity and lower water temperatures. When the people interested in pearl farming first came to New South Wales, they looked for the same sorts of things. And they did a survey of the animals themselves collecting them from different areas, opening them, looking at the nacre on the insides of the shells and looking at how it was improving as they kept moving south. And they've got to the point now about Port Stephens from Broken Bay where you get a good balance of warm summer-water temperatures so that the animals grow well and cold winter temperatures so that the nacre deposition, or the pearly material deposition, slows down, the quality of the nacre improves, and you get better quality pearls. 'In 1993, Japanese investors laid the foundations of a new pearling industry at Port Stephens, but it became the most controversial aquaculture application in New South Wales history.' Dolphins are an icon of the $20 million tourist industry here alone and even the rest of tourism is inspired in some way by our beautiful natural environment out there, so anything that impacts on that is gonna be of concern. Tourism operators and local residents have waged a campaign against the pearl farm. The developers had to go to the Land and Environment Court to win a conditional licence and are still strictly monitored. Broken Bay Pearls has had a much easier introduction. A lot of hostility at first, but from both sides, really, thinking it's gonna be large scale. the community and the farmers 'But residents such as Terry Feltham were won over when the developers gave part of their lease back to the local community

and helped them clean up more than 400 tonnes of debris from a century of oyster farming. Despite your initial concerns, the pearl farm has actually resulted in the environment being better now than it was.' Oh, absolutely. Even where the farms are, the pearl farms are, it's less intrusive. All you will see is a few black floating buoys instead of all of these fences and racks of the Sydney rock-oyster industry, which is an absolute mess on the Brisbane water. So yes, it is, absolutely. It's a tidier appearance. It is Day one for us and I'm really excited to be here and I guess I could say welcome to Broken Bay Pearls and we're open for business. 'Even with community support, it took ten years for Broken Bay Pearls to reach the market late last year. And despite the global credit crisis, the company is confident it has a unique product.' I think we've certainly got a product that can fit into a gap in the market that has clearly not been there, probably since the 1960s. You have the large South Sea pearls at the top end of the market and then we have the imported freshwater pearls at the bottom end of the market. We think there's a very big market gap there for our pearls and we'll see how they go. They're fantastic. The nacre, the lustre on them is unbelievable. Because Broken Bay's so clean and the water is so fresh, the lustre is just absolutely superb. It's fantastic. These pearls are the same as the Japanese pearls that we know - Mikimoto Pearls, for example. Those pearls are all slightly treated to make them lustrous.

These pearls are perfectly natural. The colours are natural. We don't do anything to them. They just come out of the ocean and they're cleaned in saltwater. They come to us ready for drilling as they are. It's completely natural. 'But that same natural environment which produces such high quality also makes the oysters more vulnerable. Cold water is a major risk factor.' A harsh winter here can certainly cause mortality in the larger stock. The small stock, it doesn't seem to concern it at all. It comes through it quite well. But as the oysters get older,

we get periods of sort of 11, 12 degrees for much more than two or three weeks, it can knock stock around, and we have lost stock in the past. So, that is a farming issue and one that we're well aware of

and we probably will continue to research more appropriate areas for the winter so that we can minimise that risk. 'When it comes to guarding an island, getting wet is just part of the job although for this pair of puppies, perhaps not their favourite part.' Well, that's a bit of a new thing for the younger ones. They're coming around. They like wading and when it comes to swimming, they're hesitant but they're getting there. 'The young maremmas head to Middle Island at Warrnambool in Victoria most days, along with handler Dave Williams and a more experienced dog.' Good girls. Yes, you are! Yes, you are! 'They now see this turf as their territory.' If a fox was to come out here, they would chase it and if they caught it they'd give it a shake and it'd be a quick death, but they're more of a preventive tool. So, their presence here, the place smells doggy, they bark, they're around all the time and foxes just keep away. 'While they may be thought of as sheepdogs it's not livestock they're here to look after - it's penguins.' We don't have many penguin colonies around this area

and a lot of them are protected in some way, either by sheer cliffs or they're on islands far out to sea, but this one's really close in-shore. It's got fox written all over it, really. We've got a coastal strip from either side where they can come, we've got a river coming right down, we've got another river just up the road, so they're all beautiful corridors for foxes to come and find this place. 'In the '70s, around 1,000 birds sheltered here. By the late '90s, that population had halved, with people and predators taking a heavy toll. And by 2005, there were just four birds left.' We've had fox drives, the local shooting club and the police have been down here regularly, shooting, physically shooting foxes on the beaches and in surrounding areas. We've tried everything. All you need is one fox to slip through the net. 'At first glance, it looks like foxes could also have a field day at this free-range chicken farm just inland from Warrnambool. But in among the thousands of feathers, are two maremmas, which, despite appearances during the day, more than earn their keep.'

These dogs will work all night. They don't muck around. If they can catch a fox, they'll kill it straight away. I drive over more chooks than the foxes get. 'Allan Marsh or 'Swampy' as he is known around here, has been using the guardian dogs, which originate in Italy, for a decade.' What good dogs you are! Come on! Compared to fencing, the cost is minuscule. If you look at $10,000 a kilometre to put in fencing, we're in the middle of a 150-acre paddock, even if you fenced a quarter of it, that's probably $30,000 to $40,000. These dogs cost $150, $200 to buy and all they want is a pat on the head and a handful of dry food. 'He says while there's a bit of argy-bargy around the farm at dinnertime, the dogs go into big-brother mode when the chooks are in danger.' Woof! It's in them. It's their own innate sense of territory that's there. You don't have to train 'em. All you've gotta do is provide them with the opportunity to do what they do naturally. 'And that's why Swampy Marsh suggested the maremmas as a solution for Middle Island.'

A simple answer to a fairly complex problem and I think it's really good that we've got a European dog protecting Australian penguins from European predators. I reckon that's great.

That's, you know, rough justice, but I reckon it's fair enough. 'The idea might've been simple, but putting it into practice was not, with animal welfare, environmental groups, government departments and the local council and community to get onside. Even supporters were sceptical.' I thought, "What a whacko idea." I thought, "It's just too hard." The approvals you'd require to do this sort of thing, where we're standing is actually within a marine park sanctuary. It's like a national park. We're proposing to bring a dog into a national park if you like. We'd been working with the community telling them they couldn't have dogs on this beach, and all of a sudden we're bringing two dogs onto the beach

and to the island. So, it was going against everything we've done over the last 10-15 years in efforts to save the penguins. I was a little bit scared, I guess. The penguins had already started breeding before they put the first trial dogs on the island and I did think that perhaps the penguins would stop breeding and the chicks would die. And did that happen? No. Thank goodness, it didn't.

I was pleasantly surprised that the chicks kept being fed, the penguins kept coming up and the dogs kept the foxes away. 'Amanda Peucker has been monitoring the penguin population

since the dog trials got the go-ahead three years ago. She says while the colony has still got a long way to go to reach full strength, it is recovering.'

So, 360g. It's grown slowly, but it's grown steadily. So, a few years ago, before the trial commenced, we only had four penguins arrive and no breeding that we could find

and then it's steadily grown so that this year, we've had 80 penguins arrive and at least 26 chicks fledge. Nothing like this has ever been done before. There hasn't been a colony that's just about been decimated

and then been allowed to build up naturally with the removal of the threat, so really this is a first. 'While the trial has been touted a major success, it hasn't been without a couple of slip-ups. Last year, 10 penguins died. Amanda Peucker says the dogs might have misinterpreted the birds' behaviour after growing up with chickens.' We're not really sure what happened because nobody saw what happened. But the behaviour wasn't predatory in any way. Either they were playing with the penguins or they were trying to remove them from threat. 'Those dogs have now been replaced with two maremmas

which have been mingling with penguins since they were born, because even though guarding animals might be in the genes, island life is a far cry from a farm.' During the day, it's empty, there's no-one here pretty much except a few chicks and birds that stay in their burrows and then just before dawn and just after dusk, there's a flurry of activity with the mutton birds or shearwaters and the penguins leaving and heading out to fish. So, for the last four months or so, they've been catching all of that, and they've just taken it onboard. 'The other hurdle is keeping the dogs on the island. In an earlier trial, when the dogs were living here, they went roaming a bit far.' One day we found no dogs and some tracks on the beach that showed us they were either chasing or tracking a fox. They started to include the beach and the foreshore as their own. Then we had to find a way to keep them out here, and we've been using virtual fencing ever since. So, that black poly pipe you see around the island sets off a collar they've got and gives them a tone, and tells them not to go over there. 'The project is still being fine-tuned, with cameras recently installed on the island but the idea has already been picked up.

At Portland, west of Warrnambool, two maremmas are being used to guard the only mainland gannet colony in the country.' The foxes really, over the last few years, destroyed the colony. We had complete nesting failure and they hammered the shearwater colony, which is also here. We've tried electric fences and different things. But because of the high-action coastline here, our fence ends every year get washed away. And we realised it's not the way to go, so we've tried the maremmas. 'The initial results weren't encouraging, with the dogs eating the gannet eggs. But 12 months on and the maremmas have matured

and taken on a more motherly role.' I'd have to say the dogs have been an overwhelming success because the colony has limped along for the last few years. but now we've got fantastic nesting success not only in the area which is protected by the virtual fence but also along the western side of the point here.

And the shearwaters have nested successfully for the first time in living memory. 'Conservationists interstate and across the globe are pricking up their ears as word on the potential of this so-called sheepdog spreads.' I think the potential is quite exciting. But it makes sense when you think about it. If you want to get rid of a higher-order predator, well, it needs another higher-order predator to do that. I think any animal between about 50g and 5,500g, that's 5.5 kilo, the key fox size could potentially be protected by these dogs. At the moment we're around about 900 people a week we'd see in this one car park. Last year, we would have seen 600. So, we've had a...What's that? That's a one third increase in 12 months and I fully expect within the next 12 months, I will see 12 to 1500 people a week in this one car park. 'It's a Tuesday night in inner-city Brisbane and the queue for food is growing.' WOMAN: Have you got banana? MAN: Yes, thank you. Tomato? No, I'm fine thanks, that's all. Margarine? No, I'm fine. I've got plenty thanks. Thank you. Come every night like this, do they? Most of it, yeah. Around 6:30 most people start getting here. We're here at 7:00.

There's a recession out there, I can tell you. 'Here, free dinners and food parcels were once the domain of the destitute, but new faces are now joining the line.' We've always traditionally had people with drug addictions and alcohol addictions or people that have landed up because they've lost their jobs, or mental problems. But lately, as you've seen tonight, there's a whole new group of people coming that just can't make it. They're people that you wouldn't expect to see on the street. It's just that things are so tight. 'Pastor John Dowell has been feeding the hungry in Brisbane for almost a decade, but he says without one special not-for-profit company, this service wouldn't exist.' I can't meet it, but with Foodbank I can. Foodbank Queensland has been right behind this initiative and they supply, I would say, 100% of the food and produce that you see here tonight, and they do that week after week after week. 'Foodbank works by linking donated produce

from farmers and food processors with front-line charities. It's the largest hunger-relief organisation in Australia with more than 2,500 welfare groups relying on their goods.' Twenty per cent of all food that's produced in this country is wasted. Much of that food is edible and fit for human consumption. Unfortunately, it ends up as landfill and that's just environmental stupidity. So, Foodbank's role is to try and get as much of that food as possible to channel it to those people in need. 'Ken McMillan heads Foodbank's operations in Queensland.' Ten per cent of all Australians live below the poverty line. That's two million Australians are doing it real tough. Half of them, unfortunately, are children and we know for a fact that one million children go without a meal every day, which in a country like Australia is, I find appalling. Oh, lovely. 'Sixteen million kilograms of donated food and groceries made its way to Foodbank last year. Those on the front line say they couldn't meet the need without it.' Last year we would have been doing anything from 50 to 100 parcels a week for food and now that's jumped to 150 to 200 and probably beyond that later this year. But the fact we're able to come to Foodbank and supplement what we buy at the markets with our free fruit and vegetables that they supply here, it's just invaluable to us and we're so grateful for the fact we can come and do that. Because without it, I don't know what we'd do. I get a really good response because people are very grateful for what they can get because sometimes, they can't get to town very often and it just puts extra things in the pantry for them. 'Much of Foodbank's success rests on people like John Potter. He's retired now after more than 40 years at the Brisbane markets and acts as a conduit between his old work place and Foodbank urging wholesalers to get involved.' If Foodbank wasn't there, most of this produce would go to landfill and the merchants would be paying to dump the produce and so, therefore, it's a win-win situation for Foodbank and for the merchants and for the grower as well. 'And many farmers have taken up the call too.

In Queensland, 2.5 million kilograms of fruit and vegetables have been donated over the past year, including truckloads of bananas from the State's far north. The Mackay family grow bananas near Tully. In 2006, Cyclone Larry decimated their crop, but it was this natural disaster that introduced them to the charity.' Banana places went quite high and we still had a few bananas that were unsaleable on the market and, you, Foodbank seemed like a very worthy cause. We started at that time to send a few cartons of bananas to Foodbank in Brisbane and we've just continued. 'Since then, 1,200 cartons destined for Foodbank have left the Mackays' packing shed and they've supplied extra fruit interstate during times of need.' During the bushfire season, we actually only supply bananas to Queensland Foodbank, but we actually supplied extra bananas to Victoria as well during that bushfire time. It makes you feel, you know, part of the...yeah... the disaster plan sort of thing, I guess. So, yeah, it's quite an insignificant thing for us to do but hopefully, it helps a lot of people. 'Further south, in Queensland's Darling Downs, farmers there are giving their bit as well. Anthony Staatz manages Koala Farms where they grow lettuce, broccoli, cauliflowers and cabbage.' Traditionally we've had a lot of waste product that, we feed the cattle and things like that.

So, we thought it was a better use if we could get it into Foodbank and help a few hungry people. We'd prefer to see people in need to get it than to feed it to the cows or see it rot. 'He says a lot of their surplus vegies are making their way into Foodbank parcels.' Our company would donate about 200,000 head of broccoli a year. That obviously makes us feel pretty good and the people that work for us as well get a lot of benefit from that, knowing they're doing something to try and help out. 'Foodbank is now appealing for more farmers to get involved. The charity says donated produce is tax deductible and free freight is available.' We do about 40 tonne of food here a day and about a third of that is produce. We have unlimited potential. We could get away 10 times that amount but we're specifically chasing produce because the people we're feeding need nutritional support and there's absolutely nothing better than fresh produce, absolutely nothing. So, we make that appeal to farmers, when you have knockouts, when you have seconds, when you have stuff in your packing sheds, give us a call and give us a chance to pick it up and we'll pass it on to someone in need on your behalf. 'Trucking companies are also stepping up to the plate. Lindsay transport has been providing free freight from farms and factories to Foodbank's central operations.' Some of the days we might do 100 tonnes out of capital cities, out of our fruit-growing areas, anywhere between 30 to 40 tonne a week. 'And Foodbank's footprint is growing. For the first time, grain farmers in Western Australia are donating directly to the charity.' How much would you like today? 'During the last wheat harvest, WA farmers gave 800 tonnes of their crop to Foodbank.'

Growers are traditionally a very charitable bunch. This is the first year that we've run the program. And I think we're taking a very long-term view of it and we think growers will continue to support it on an ongoing basis. 'CBH's Matthew Rutter kickstarted the idea and is now trying to form partnerships with other food manufacturers. He says the big picture is to make breakfast cereals

from the donated grain.'

Ultimately, we'd like to see on an annual basis a couple of hundred thousand tonnes of grain delivered which we can then link in with Foodbank's strategic food-processing partnerships to hopefully turn one tonne of grain into one tonne of food. 'Foodbank's showing it's one bank where goodwill pays big dividends.' I've been out with some of the charities to see the work that they're doing and this is an extremely rewarding job. When you go to schools in the morning and you see the kids have banana on toast, for example, and their little eyes light up, it's just so wonderful. Or you go out in the streets at night with the homeless people and again you'll see them take some of the fruit and vegies and put it in their pocket so they've got a meal for the following day. It's just wonderful. Saving lives is the most rewarding thing you can have in this world - that's just great. How's the potatoes going? 'Back in the Brisbane car park, Pastor John says he's enormously grateful for the support.' There are a lot of farmers support Foodbank. You've seen the produce that's been there tonight and to those guys, well, I give a heartfelt thanks, yeah. Thanks so much. That's all we have time for now. Just a word or two about next week, when The Best Of Landline continues. Geneticists help unravel the secrets to superior saltwater crocodile skins. We meet the friendly folk carrying on John Flynn's good works out on the frontier. Travel to the NSW Central Coast, where it's green tea time. And have a bit of fun with the Finn who fashioned a farm full of sounds into a live stage hit. And from all the team here at Landline, have a wonderful Christmas. I hope you can join us again next week. Closed Captions by CSI