Enabling landscape rehydration and regeneration

image of water pooling in contour channel

Transforming drains into chains of ponds on Kumbartcho.

As I write Shan is “across the ditch” in NZ visiting an ex-WWOOFer who is working on an Angus stud cattle operation in the south island. I’m home absolutely enjoying “farm” life. My participation in the Community gardens in Kilkivan continues, as do new projects on Kumbartcho.

Rehydration

We have begun our Peter Andrews/Natural Sequence Farming-style landscape rehydration project.

Stuart Andrews kindly took a day out of his family seaside holiday to come ‘consulting’ for us. Thanks so much Stuart!

Now we have followed the plan (mostly), with some added personal flair.

It may be best to do the work at end of the wet season, but our timing a little out as the wet began almost on cue with the commencement of earth works!!!

So we have had live testing of the works so far.

The big successes have been:

  • Work on our 1960’s vintage “contour” banks (drains actually). This is a process of turning drains into chain of ponds. Rather than getting the water drained off the farm asap, we are now beginning to hold the water to let it slowly work through the soil.
  • We are getting a glimpse of how we can spread the water over the farm from gullies to effectively ‘irrigate’ substantial areas of pasture.

We have purchased a laser level (after the contractor we engaged said he did levels by eye!). Now we can take accurate levels and be confident that we are “on the right level!”

image of water in contour channels

Slowing the flow of water and capturing and holding it in the landscape helps rehydrate the soil.

Rain, rain, rain.

After sticking our necks out and purchasing a goodly number of yearling heifers for both Kumbartcho and Dukes Plain (while the market was floundering), we watched as our Stock Days per hectare per 100 mm of rain began a meteoric rise!!! Things have changed with 11 mm at Dukes Plain for November, and 89 mm at Kumbartcho, and now for December 76 mm at Dukes and 90 mm at Kumbartcho.

A green xmas is assured.

After a hot dry spring we are surely enjoying the current humidity (free saunas).

Revegetation

Our planted trees are doing well, as is our Monto Vetiver grass.

We planted the Vetiver in June in an eroded gully, and it is now catching sediment and top soil - from the property next door.

image of vetiver grass with sediment

Vegetation in erosion gullies slows the flow of water and
  captures sediment.

Earlier planted trees which succumbed to drought or frost have been replaced just prior to the December rains, so will be off to a good start.

image of young tree

Young trees planted earlier in the
  year are beginning to become
  established.

 
Our most recent ‘tree’ strategy is to purchase a full (60 metre) roll of reinforcement mesh, and from this we will make tree guards to protect naturally regenerating eucalypt seedlings in the paddocks from stock browsing them. This effectively will allow us to get seedlings above browse height, and then we can move the guards on to new sites. We see this as a cheap way to ensure successful natural regeneration of trees in the landscape.

 
 
 
Other news is that we have had our second release of bio control insects for Cats Claw creeper on Wide bay Creek. Gympie Landcare has a bug breeding facility.

Regeneration

The weather conditions seem to be getting more extreme (super cell storms, droughts, floods), which all really highlight the need for a change nationally to change land management to regenerative practices.

It is fine to ‘mouth off’ about the resources industries and their mines, however unfortunately still many of our agricultural/pastoral industries are also highly extractive, and contributing to the weather extremes in a very big way.

To ensure that we continue to regenerate and build the health of the natural resource base, rather than mine it, our fifth spraying of Biodynamic soil activator over the whole property was completed, and the sixth has now begun. With the rain we are anticipating an absolute “explosion” in our soil health, and pastures.