Permaculture, Organic Production & Composting Projects

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Case for change

The unique skills requirements for farming practices related to permaculture, organic farming and composting will be identified and described in national qualifications and skills standards.

This project is part of the broader AHC Unit Sector Project to rationalise qualifications, skill sets and units and remove duplication across the AHC Agriculture, Horticulture and Conservation and Land Management Training Package, as outlined in the Skills Forecast and Proposed schedule of Work 2019 – 2022. The existing qualifications and skills standards will be revised in consultation with industry experts, to broaden the learning and career pathways for those involved in permaculture, organic farming and composting.

The Australian Industry Skills Committee (AISC) approved this project, out of the 2021 Annual Update to the IRC Skills Forecast (see pages 63-68).

The Agriculture and Production Horticulture IRC and the Amenity Horticulture, Landscaping, Conservation and Land Management IRC will oversee this project as part of their responsibility to support engagement with the industry, and to ensure the project meets industry stakeholder needs.

Skills Impact will manage this project, consistent with the 2012 Standards for Training Package Development.

Download Project Proposal (see pages 63-68)

Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

Project Plan

Health conscious and environmentally conscious consumers are driving a demand for produce that is locally grown and farmed using sustainable practices and methods. Production systems based around principles of permaculture, organic farming and composting are helping to meet this demand.

These practices incorporate some of the oldest methods to farm food, including those used by Indigenous cultures around the world. They are also some of the most innovative, drawing on new science to develop drought and flood-resistant solutions, manage pests and improve soil biology and structure, whilst using no or minimal chemicals. They are farming practices that focus on sustainable solutions in the production of plants and animals.

This project will look at the job skills associated with permaculture, organic farming and composting. Guided by industry experts, the skills will be defined in national qualifications and skills standards that will help support the future training and development of the workforce.


This project will consider permaculture design skills and knowledge that is required across a broad range of areas, in keeping with permaculture’s multi-disciplinary nature. These will include the skill requirements in preparing to work in the permaculture industry, to the skills involved in teaching or supervising individuals and teams of people on community projects, to specialist permaculture design that involves natural systems and land use planning.

“Permaculture is essentially about designing sustainable environments with the focus being on how we provide our needs in a way that works with nature’s processes and ecology. Based on the words Permanent (as in sustainable) and Culture (including agri-culture), Permaculture addresses all aspects of human culture, not only food production but how we build, how we organise ourselves and how we utilise all our resources including the human resource.” (Permaculture College Australia)

Organic Production

With production growth rate exceeding twenty per cent per annum, the growth of the organic farming industry in Australia is outstanding. This project will look at the knowledge and skills requirements related to organic production practices, including new technologies and tools to support production efficiencies, supply chain integrity and high levels of animal welfare. Unique skills are required for organic soil improvement, compliance with organic certification schemes, implementing sustainable practices, which all contribute to the productivity of this sector.


The composting sector supports and services a number of sectors in the agriculture and horticulture industry, particularly retail nursing. Organic farmers are also requiring large amounts of compost as a soils conditioner and to provide nutrient needs for crops or pastures. Skills and knowledge required for accessing and receiving raw materials for composting, operating compost machinery and equipment, developing compost recipes and planning for compost production will be identified and incorporated in national skills standards to support the development of this sector.

High-quality compost must comply with the Australian Standard for Soil Conditioners and Mulches (AS4454). New technologies in waste management and recycling industries are expected to create new jobs within a sector that will contribute towards reducing emissions.

Project Scope

Existing qualifications, skill sets and units of competency will be reviewed across the fields of permaculture, organic production and composting.

Current and emerging skills will be examined in the context of existing unit sectors, with the potential to create streams or specialisations within current qualifications and/or the development of skill sets to meet specific occupational and sector needs.


Register your interest in the project

Subscribe to the Skills Impact newsletter to keep informed about project updates and opportunities to provide input and feedback. Make sure to select ‘Agriculture, Horticulture, Conservation and Land Management’ as your industry of interest.

Relevant Occupations and Job Functions
  • Permaculture design
  • Land use planning to incorporate natural systems
  • Sustainable food growing
  • Community consultation and development
  • Sustainable building and settlement design
  • Food producer
  • Livestock producer
  • Grain grower
  • Organic farm team leader
  • Organic farm supervisor
  • Organic farm owner and manager
  • Producer and supplier of organic waste
  • Soil technician

July-August 2021
Initial scoping

September 2021 – January 2022
Development of draft qualifications, skill sets and units

February/March 2022
Drafts available for broad consultation

May/June 2022
Validation of final drafts

June-August 2022
Finalisation of Training Package components

September 2022
Independent Quality Assurance, and Edit and Equity review of Training Package components

October 2022
IRC consideration for sign-off and submission for endorsement

Project Team
Ruth GeldardIndustry Skills Standards Specialist, Skills
Andrew HorganIndustry Engagement Manager, Skills
Michelle Ingley-SmithIndustry Engagement Manager, Skills
Ron BarrowIndustry Skills Standard Contractor


Opportunities for stakeholder input

It is important that training provides a skilled and flexible workforce for the future. The skills standards and qualifications need to reflect real work experience. So, if you have knowledge and interest in the fields of permaculture, organic production and/or composting, and can describe the skills needed for these sectors, Skills Impact welcomes your input and assistance.

The documents will be drafted in consultation with Subject Matter Experts and their networks. Opportunities to provide targeted feedback will occur when the draft materials are made available in February/March 2022, and again for validation of final drafts in May/June 2022. However, your feedback is welcomed at any time, and will help us in drafting the skills standards.

Please register your interest in project updates and consultation opportunities by subscribing to the Skills Impact newsletter. Alternatively, contact the project manager, Ruth Geldard on or 03 9321 3526.

Note: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Webinars will be held to replace the face-to-face consultation workshops Skills Impact would usually host around Australia.

Stakeholder Consultation Process

A list of key stakeholder organisations has been identified for this project based on their industry role, size or specialty. Skills Impact will ensure contact is made with each of these organisations to seek their involvement and views on all draft skill sets and units. Consultation is not limited to the organisations on this list, they have simply been identified as the most, likely to have a key interest in the development and outcomes of this project

If you are aware of an organisation that you think should be involved, please contact the project team to ensure they are contacted by us.


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Drafts Available

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