There's a sense of satisfaction as Faulkner Farming regional manager Matthew Tonkin stands in front of silos emblazoned with "Farms not coal" at Breeza.
After years of fierce community opposition, mining giant Shenhua has now officially left the Liverpool Plains for good after the final chunk of the 17,160 hectares it held were settled this week for what's understood to be about $120 million.
But it's not quite a return to the way farming used to be done.
Agent CBRE confirmed 1208ha of farming land at Tambar Springs and 1114ha of land at Barraba were sold to the local Hockings, Cameron, Bomford and Oxford families.
At Breeza, Phil Clift and Michelle McCarthy put a bid in to buy land the Clift family had owned and they'd subsequently leased back from Shenhua, but lost out to an offer that encompassed far more country.
With the backing of the Clean Energy Finance Corporation and Netherlands-based Kempen SDG Farmland Fund, Faulkner Farming took the helm of 6000ha, including some of the Clift's former property.
Faulkner Farming now manages over 12,500ha of mixed farmland, including property north of Inverell.
Still, the Clifts and their cattle won't be strangers to what's dubbed The Watermark Aggregation.
To integrate livestock into the regenerative model overseen by Mr Tonkin, the Clifts and other locals will become "livestock leasing partners".
A winter cash crop, for example, would be followed by a mixed species cover crop in summer that would be intensively grazed by large numbers of cattle to help build soil health.
"Instead of having set stocking with a small number of animals in many paddocks, we're asking our livestock partners to combine their animals and make a larger herd," Mr Tonkin said.
"We can get impact on the ground from the animals in terms of trampling effects to break down stubble, the manure and urine helps cycle nutrients and enlivens soil biology, so the strategy isn't as simple as here's the lease paddock and away you go.
"Our approach is also to use inputs more efficiently, that means less synthetic fertiliser and less chemicals. It's not organic, it's using less in a sustainable way."
He said Faulkner Farming aims to transform underperforming small to medium farms to lift productivity and optimise land use by integrating broadacre crops, pasture, biodiversity conservation and other land management practices at scale.
The Watermark property will coordinate the management of its own conservation areas with the extensive Koala habitat conservation sites on the property managed by the NSW Local Land Service.
At Faulkner Farming's property north of Inverell, 7 per cent was managed as a conservation area, about a third for cropping and the balance, grazing operated by a livestock partner breeding Wagyu cattle on a five-year agreement.
At Watermark, the emphasis is on broadacre crop rotations with crops like wheat, barley, chickpeas, mung beans, canola and sorghum.
"We're focussed on cereals, pulses and oilseeds as we like to have the duality of the ability to harvest a crop that also has grazing opportunities and can work in with our pasture production," Mr Tonkin said.
The holistic approach Faulkner Farming takes to land management extended to people, too, Mr Tonkin said.
"We have great opportunities for people to work with us who want a career in regenerative farming," he said.
"People aren't just important in our business, they are the most important part of our business.
"We have created three full time roles at this farm, plus many casual roles and work for contractors here near Gunnedah and we have similar opportunities on our properties near Inverell."
Faulkner Farming is managed by Gunn Agri Partners, an Australian-based agricultural asset manager with over $450 million in assets under management and commitments.
Gunn Agri director Bradley Wheaton said the company was expanding into mixed farming areas with medium to high rainfall.
"There are some interesting opportunities in areas of NSW and Queensland to invest in mixed farms that need capital investment to lift them to their production potential," Mr Wheaton said.