We are partnering with the Rotary Club of Sydney and Local Land Services Western to encourage the wider adoption of regenerative landscape management. Our joint project, the Western Division Resilient Landscapes Project focuses on the drought-prone Western Division of NSW and aims to help farmers learn how to manage their properties to minimise the impact of drought on production and landscape health.Tweet
Showcasing farmers in the Western Division whose practices add resilience to their properties, helping to maintain a degree of production on the property during times of drought and assisting in rapidly restoring landscape productivity and health when drought breaks.
Promoting wide understanding of resilience-building practices to assist all farmers in the Western Division better manage the effects of drought.
Partnering with Local Land Services Western Region to provide mentoring and specialist advice to selected properties as to assist them in adopting regenerative practices that add resilience to their properties.
We believe that increased resilience and productivity of farming enterprises over time will lead to prosperous and healthy rural communities in the Western Division.
CASE STUDIES OF LAND MANAGERS BUILDING LANDSCAPE RESILIENCE IN WESTERN NSW
The property management practices of the McMurtrie family of Gilgunnia Station near Cobar and the Whyte family of Wyndham Station near Wentworth have been documented in two Soils for Life case studies. These case studies illustrate that active management can restore healthy landscape function, extending production in the face of drought and ensuring that the landscape recovers more quickly when drought breaks.
They show that:
- Increasing and maintaining groundcover, (preferably palatable perennial species) is priority for building resilience.
- To improve groundcover, pastures/forage needs time for rest and recovery from grazing, both by domestic and feral animals.
- Overall total grazing pressure needs to be controlled and planned rotational grazing (also known as Holistic planned grazing) in conjunction with total grazing pressure (TGP) fencing (where required) facilitates this.
- It is rest time, not number of stock that is key to increasing groundcover.
- Increasing stock mob sizes provides beneficial animal impact on soils and vegetation - disturbing compacted surfaces, crushing litter, spreading fertiliser.
- Organic matter in the soil increases as a result of above actions, improving water infiltration and retention.
- Landscape engineering (for example, constructing contour and water-spreading banks) complements regenerative activities by slowing the flow of water and distributing it across the landscape. This also reduces erosion.
- Landscape engineering alone is not sufficient, and rest and recovery from grazing/TGP control is essential to give groundcover the opportunity to improve.
- Stocking rates need to be matched to carrying capacity and stock numbers should be reduced before conditions deteriorate too much.
- Starting small in the best part of the landscape to develop one reliable area goes a long way towards enterprise and landscape resilience and the ability to further invest in property improvement.
Ashley McMurtrie of Gilgunnia explains to John Leggett of Soils for Life how he's converted bare claypan into perennial pasture.
Angus Whyte of Wyndham, and his son, Mitchell, look over the cattle which are being actively managed to help regenerate their landscape.