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ISO 14001 in an Online Group of Queensland Dryland Farmers

Jean Cannon

Managing Director, Enviro Action

PO Box 4074, Norwood South SA 5067 Ph1300 88 3646

Peter Dunne

Stewart Cannon Rural Property Design


A group of 5 Queensland farmers and agricultural consultants have just completed online training using three training module to assist them to develop ISO 14001 in their businesses. They started just before Christmas and are now pulling it all together ready for external audit. They battled major floods and extreme weather conditions during the process.

The first part of this case study briefly describes how the 3 module online training system works and the remainder includes a discussion by the participants of how they found the process.


A group of 5 Queensland farmers and agricultural consultants have just completed the three training modules for ISO 14001. They started just before Christmas and are now pulling it all together ready for external audit. For Modules 2 and 3 the group were joined by the owner of a quite large Darwin based cleaning company doing the same training. Having a mix of industries and some people who do not know each other can be quite helpful in expanding the participant’s view points.

Jean Cannon, owner of Enviro Action developed and delivered the training. This consisted of three separate four-week modules with a couple of weeks off between each module plus an occasional week when one property had a 6metre deep flood. Each module delivers both written material and downloadable audio files because some people learn better by reading, others by listening and most with a mixture. Busy people on the move can download the audio onto an MP3 player and listen in their cars, tractors or walking if they are not at a desk much. Additionally there is a weekly teleconference to reinforce the major tasks for the week and get feedback, answer problems and questions and develop some form of assessment of how they are going.

The modules are Easy to be Green, Environmental Module 1, which starts by scoping their activities, checking legal issues, risk analysis then building a management plan. Module 2 takes the management plan and builds it into a system with feedback and emergency planning. Module 3 pulls it all together, and completes an over-riding but simple manual, internal audit and review.

The participants said that because they had previously done grains EMS and MLA, it was not new knowledge but they had not taken it on to ISO 14001. They found this training was an orderly process that concentrated on why and prevented them from getting bogged down in paperwork. It helped them to understand the importance of process and how integrate the EMS into their business rather than adding a layer on top of it.

They also commented that they want to go on and integrate quality ISO 9001 into their system once they have completed their certification because this is equally important to their business. They were aware of the ease of integration because the cleaning company that joined the group for Modules 2 and 3 had done the quality module instead of the environment for Module 1 as he is implementing ISO 9001. This works because the process in Module 2 is to build a system to implement the plan developed in Module 1 and every business in any group will have a different plan.

The group included two agricultural consultants who work as part of the team with the farmers and they felt that the consultants and farmers all needed to be in the same place with their management concepts.

One of the two consultants in the group commented that the training style took time and commitment and challenged some of their previous thinking but that the results appeared better because the outcome was an understanding of ‘why is it so”. They felt that the continuous improvement and feedback loop helps them to deliver a more professional service to their clients and to overcome inefficiencies in their businesses and deliver a better product for their clients.

The group said that the training helped them to think globally and to develop a good understanding of what a management system is. They believe that a global outlook is very important especially in these times of climate change when primary producers need to be thinking globally. They felt that it was a safe learning environment and all commented that they found the audio files a particularly helpful way of learning.

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