Spring 2020 newsletter

Table of Contents

    Landcare News and Opportunities

    Opportunities and awards

    • National Landcare Program: Smart Farms Small Grants Round 4 is now open. The purpose of Smart Farms Small Grants is to support land manager practice change that will deliver more sustainable, productive and profitable food, fibre and forestry business while protecting Australia’s biodiversity; protecting and improving the condition of natural resources; and assisting Australia meet its international obligations.
    • Now is the time to apply for a funded place in the 2021 Victorian Rural Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Program. This is a great chance to improve leadership skills, gain hands-on board experience or find opportunities to extend yourself further.
    • The 2020 Bob Hawke Landcare Award deadline for nominations has been extended to Monday 12 October. The 2020 Bob Hawke Landcare Award recognises leadership and commitment in natural resource management and sustainable agriculture. For more information or to submit a nomination, visit the Bob Hawke Landcare Award website.

    Information and resources

    • The latest Landcare Victoria Incorporated newsletter is now available online.
    • The latest Recreating the Country blog is all about Blackwood, Acacia melanoxylon.
    • Two new fact sheets about Aboriginal Cultural Heritage and Wetland Management.have been created You can find all of the guides and other useful resources on the the Victorian Volcanic Plains Conservation Management News website.
    • Sustainable Farms has published a new booklet, Ten ways to improve the natural assets on a farmThe booklet highlights ten discrete projects that farmers can undertake to improve the health of natural assets – such as dams, shelterbelts or riparian areas – on their properties.
    • Grasslands: Biodiversity of south-eastern Australia is a great new app that introduces users to the grassland communities formally listed under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation (EPBC) Act, the bioregions they occur in, and the plant and animal species that live in them.  Download the app or access the field guide via this webpage at Ecolinc.

    Webinars and podcasts

    • AgTech … So what?’ podcasts are presenting a series about regenerative agriculture from a diversity of perspectives. The website also includes a link to the e-book ‘Getting AgTech Ready – 5 lessons from 5 innovative Australian farmers’, that can be downloaded at no cost.
    • This 8 part video series investigates the key principles of Regenerative Agriculture. This video series is a collaboration between Bass Coast Landcare Network, Mornington Peninsula Shire, South Gippsland Landcare Network and Western Port Catchment Landcare Network.
    • The Wimmera Biodiversity Seminar is online! Presentations will be held throughout September and into October. Register online in advance.
    • Arthur Rylah Institute (ARI) seminar series aims to showcase the excellent applied ecological research being conducted by scientists at ARI and other organisations, and to provide a forum for engagement with our broader community.
    • If you’re interested in learning more about soils and soil test interpretation, take a look at this webinar series presented by Golbourn Broken CMA.

    President’s news

    I think I started my report in the last newsletter referring to the COVID lockdown as past tense…. Here we are again and I hope everyone is coping OK.

    Coming into Spring with a full soil moisture profile is always promising and looking around the district we don’t have too much to complain about!

    It is great to see the majority of tree planting projects either completed or very close to it. As some of you would be aware the Landmate work crew from the Ararat prison has been suspended as a result of COVID. This has meant a lot of people who have undertaken re veg works this year, and who had budgeted on the Landmate crew doing fencing and planting have had to undertake these works themselves. It’s a real credit to all of you who have got stuck in and completed your projects unaided!

    Since the last newsletter we’ve set up a ‘Friends and members of the UHLMG’ Facebook group. This is a place for people with an interest in our region to share any Landcare/landscape related stories and experiences and so far it has proven to be really popular! If you are on ‘the book’ and you haven’t had a look yet make sure you do. We really appreciate the people who have posted pictures of their projects being completed and encourage anyone to share anything they like: new projects, old projects success’ and failures, questions and answers.

    I have received several enquiries from people who have decided to undertake last minute tree planting projects and have been hunting for tubestock in recent weeks. This is obviously not restricted to our area as all the usual tree suppliers are sold out! Arborline and ERA in Hamilton and Grampians Revegetation Services at Moyston are all reliable suppliers of good quality trees but early ordering (start thinking now for next year!) is strongly recommended. I have given contact details below. It is generally good practise to ask which area the genetics for each species come from and try and get as local as possible.

    While on the topic of planning for next years projects please get a site planner and fill it in so Ayesha can be ready to go if funding opportunities present themselves. A common statement when people make their initial enquiry is ‘we can get by without funding, save it for someone who needs it more’. This is not how the system works and we encourage anyone who is planning a project to put in an application. Grant money can go towards, but not restricted to:

    • Fencing materials
    • Tubestock
    • Erosion control work and materials
    • Pest plant and animal control.

    Happy Landcaring in these great conditions!

    Jack Tucker

    Arborline (https://arborline.com.au/)

    • 124 Lodge Rd Hamilton
    • (03) 5572 5044
    • Supplier of plants and guards.

    ERA Nurseries (https://www.eranurseries.com.au/)

    • 232 South Boundary Rd, Hamilton
    • (03) 5572 2123
    • Supplier of plants and Guards

    Grampians Revegetation Services

    • Moyston
    • 0419575805
    • Plants, planting/guarding, direct seeding, fencing of reveg or remnants.

    Updates from Friends of the Forgotten Woodlands

    Bill Weatherly, President, FOFW (info@friendsoftheforgottenwoodlands.org.au)

    Friends of the Forgotten Woodlands Inc (FOFW) was formed by a group working to prevent the loss of Silver Banksia (Banksia marginata), Sweet Bursaria (Bursaria spinosa) and Drooping Sheoak (Allocasuarina verticillata) from the Volcanic plains. It focussed on planting a number of seed orchards propagated from the few remnants, and on filling gaps in knowledge needed to do this effectively.  We are a volunteer group.

    We have a number of scientists involved, ecologists and geneticists, who guide our program. Research first focussed on finding out what the genetic health of Banksia remnants was, and showed the remnants still had fair levels of genetic diversity, but were now isolated with no flow of genes between the few remaining populations, so inbreeding and loss of genetic diversity was inevitable. The effect of this isolation is compounded by a shifting climate. So capacity to adapt will decline and intervention is needed – planting the seed orchards and seed production areas (SPAs), and adding genetics from drier and hotter areas matching the climate predicted for 2080.   

    At present the main focus for FoFW is getting trees in the ground. We started this year with around 8000 Banksias (mostly), Bursarias and Sheoaks.  We are very grateful to the land owners who have already provided a home for many of them, and taken on planting them!

    We have made use of the favourable season by planting replacements through from late autumn. Fortunately survival was good last summer. We did have half of two large plantings burnt in December – 280 replacements were needed. We have several major plantings to do this spring. The challenges this year are pretty obvious!

    Trees grown by FOFW have been planted right across the VVP bioregion this year, from Byaduk to Bannockburn, and from Maroona to Melbourne. This is what we hoped to do, and we are so happy to have met our goal! In addition to this achievement, some of our larger plantings for 2020 include: 500 tree SPAs at Mt Elephant, Stoneleigh, Mt Sturgeon and Yatchaw (fingers crossed!). To date, we have SPAs established at Mt Sturgeon and Mt Elephant (500 Banksia each), Mt Sturgeon (500 Bursaria), Mt Elephant and Foxhow (500 Sheoaks each). The list goes on!

    We also are due to have an AGM, another challenge as some of our number are locked down in Melbourne at present.

    An old Banksia at Nerrin: a good metaphor for the plight of the Forgotten Woodlands – standing all alone, and ravaged by time and tempest. 

    One benefit has been using this time to get our planting records up to date and accessible. Chris Wilson of Abrupt Environmental has set up a database for us. At present we have 6000 GPS locations with provenance (and replacements) in our seed orchards and Seed Production Areas. So we know where they all are, can locate them, and also will have a picture of relative success rates in the different plantings.

    Propagation for 2021 is about to start.

    At this stage we look to have most of the trees committed, though there may still be a few Banksias looking for a home.  We are very grateful to land owners and land managers of public land, who have provided places to plant the trees. We look for secure sites on the VVP where we can plant a number of trees together, at more distant spacing, ideally 8 – 10 metres apart, than a normal farm plantation. The reason for this is to allow the trees space to develop and spread so they set plenty of seed that is accessible. The plantings will provide genetically diverse and vigorous seed. At present there is little seed produced amongst the remnants, and so few are grown commercially. So if you are interested in giving a home to a planting, please get in contact with us as soon as possible.

    One highlight of 2019 was growing the first Bursaria seed from the first orchard planting at Lake Bolac.  The first 6 trees to flower and set seed gave a little seed – but it had excellent germination, and the plants are even and vigorous. Hopefully that is the start, and soon commercial nurseries will have access to a reliable supply of seed, and will have Banksias, Bursarias and VVP Sheoaks available.

    Perennial Pasture Systems presentations

    by Rob Shea

    Perennial Pasture Systems (PPS) presented two sessions on PPS/MLA PDS program projects at the Grasslands Society of Southern Australia’s 61st Annual conference; this year’s conference was conducted as a webinar series due to corona virus restrictions. PPS member, Charlie de Fegely was also a presenter for the conference.

    PPS president and project advisory group member, Duncan Thomas discussed the findings of the “High Production Annual Forage in Perennial Systems” MLA PDS project which was completed in 2019.

    Perennial pasture establishment is an important part of the productive lamb/beef and wool producing systems in the region but it is an expensive process ($450/ha estimate) and carries significant risk of failure due to the possibility of lower than average annual rainfall with late autumn breaks. Many producers are complimenting their perennial pastures by sowing a percentage of their farms to high producing annual forage. This is evident in the PPS annual pasture survey which shows a large increase in the establishment of short term ryegrass based pastures in the region; this trend has continued since the first survey in 2012.

    This reflects producers attempting to fill a feed deficit during early winter when high quality pasture is required for pregnant or lactating ewes. This process also gives producers the ability to protect their long term perennial pastures from overgrazing early in the season. This has a positive effect on perennial pasture persistence and may reduce risks associated with grazing phalaris pastures (phalaris staggers & phalaris sudden death) in dry autumns.

    The project sought to clarify the value of adding annual varieties to increase overall production in grazing systems based on perennial pasture

    Sites were established each year to demonstrate;

    (1) The performance of high production short term annual ryegrass pastures and the value of using high seed rates and fertiliser when compared to recommended rates.

    (2) The performance of grazing cereals in comparison to established pastures and how they fit in the grazing system. The cereals were also evaluated for any value post grazing as they were in most cases cut for hay or harvested for grain.

    The project was able to show the large increases in dry matter production that was possible at vital times, especially in mid winter, with the use of high production annuals.

    Increases of over 70% in dry matter production when compared to winter dormant phalaris were recorded in annual ryegrass pastures. The use of annuals in the system allowed for more strategic use of perennial varieties to build feed wedges, set up lambing paddocks and assist in the persistence of perennial grass species.The demonstration also reinforced the potential of using grazing cereals in lamb and wool production systems to fill winter feed gaps.

    Where seasonal conditions allowed grazing cereals to be harvested for grain or hay after grazing, gross margins in excess of $1,000/ha were possible.

    A presentation on a current project titled “Annual grass control in perennial pastures” which is currently in its second year and is being conducted as an MLA/EPDS in partnership with Agriculture Victoria. Joint project manager, Tess McDougall from Ag Vic, Ararat conducted the session.

    Barley (predominately), brome and silver grass continue to be an issue in perennial pastures; especially after periods of dry conditions and pasture thinning.  The invasion of annual grasses has a deleterious effect of perennial pastures competing for light and moisture as well as causing animal health issues from grass seeds.  Annual grasses have a huge impact on the ability of growers to turn off seed free meat and wool.  Not only do seedy sheep have lower growth rates and fail to thrive, they can threaten market access and producers can be penalised if carcasses are downgraded incurring financial penalties of up to $1.50/kg (MLA 2018). Grass seeds and awns increase the shive content of wool, resulting in vegetable matter discounts and lower wool value. Animal health can also be compromised when sheep become affected by grass seed irritation.  Also, despite providing useful early season feed, invasions of barley grass and other annual grasses has a deleterious effect on perennial pastures, competing for light and moisture. 

    Year one results for the project and a case study can be found at https://www.perennialpasturesystems.com.au/post/pps-annual-grass-control-project

    For further information on the PPS group; contact Project Manager Rob Shea 0438 521357 yadin@netconnect.com.au.

    AGM updates and the year in review

    This year, the Annual General Meeting of the Upper Hopkins Land Management Group will be held online Monday 7 September, 7:30pm.

    Everyone is welcome to join with Google Meet by clicking on the link or by phoning in:

    If you’re interested in becoming involved in your Landcare group, please get in touch with me or any of the current committee – new committee members are always welcome!

    This is always a good opportunity to reflect on the successes and challenges of the previous year (July 2019 – June 2020). It’s been another busy year as we have continued the core work of our Landcare group and have added some other interesting opportunities.

    This year, I became involved in the Soil CRC Community of Practice which connects me to a network of groups interested in soil science throughout Victoria, southern NSW, southeaster Southern Australia and Tasmania. This has been a good opportunity to learn about soil health and current research in the field, and to reflect on how to serve UHLMG with information and outreach events.

    I also became involved in the Waterway Twinning program. I have partnered with Deirdre Murphy from the Corangamite CMA to develop a citizen science program with local schools, leveraging the data collected for the quarterly EC monitoring. Unfortunately, COVID-19 restrictions have made it very challenging to develop a hands-on program with students, but I am optimistic that we will be able to hit the ground running with the resources and connections developed over the past six months.

    COVID-19 has altered the way we do some of our Landcare work, and has given access to a lot more resources online (especially webinars and out-of-town meetings). However, I tentatively look forward to the coming year with the hope that I will be able to get out of our isolation bubble more often as we bounce forward to a new normal.


    Bug News – Spring 2020


    The UHLMG is getting ready to monitor flights of Heliothis (Helicoverpa punctigera and H. armigera) in our local area. When Heliothis moth flights are detected, it can give early warning of when to expect caterpillar activity. If you are keen to be involved in the monitoring, please contact Ayesha Burdett for further details via facilitator@upperhopkins.org.au or 0429 021 500.


    For spring 2020, the UHLMG will be providing both local agronomists and local farmers with free access to the ‘IPM hotline’. Independent IPM specialist advice from IPM Technologies, Paul Horne is available to confirm identification of a pest, explain the lifecycle of a certain type of beneficial insect, and give advice on acceptable levels of pest populations, etc. Please note Paul’s contact details below.

    Some pests to watch out for this spring

    Paul Horne, IPM Technologies

    The usual winter pests such as redlegged earth mite and slugs have been active for months now and are well known.  However, there are another couple of pests, usually minor but which are probably more abundant this year: vegetable weevil and pasture looper.

    The larvae of many weevils are root-feeding but those of vegetable weevil are active above the ground. They usually stay close to the ground where it is moist or move into the heart or crown of developing plants.  This means that they can be difficult to see until you search right into the centre of plants. The larvae have no legs (like all weevils) but have a distinctive head capsule. This is how they can be distinguished from caterpillars.

    Vegetable weevil larvae prefer broad-leaf plants and so could be a concern in fodder brassicas and young canola. As their name suggests, they are pests of a range of vegetables and are also common on marshmallow weed and capeweed.

    Another pest that likes capeweed and can then move into canola or pastures is the brown pasture looper. The tiny caterpillars walk by “looping”, but the larger caterpillars move like armyworm and Heliothis. The caterpillars have prominent yellow stripes down each side of the body and two spots at the tip. They are favoured by wet conditions and so are another pest to watch out for this year.

    Finally, it is nearly Spring and so aphids will start to become active soon. However, remember that brown lacewings are already active and can respond rapidly to aphid levels. So, consider using these naturally occurring beneficial species before applying insecticides that would kill them.

    If you have any questions about insects or other invertebrate pests, then please contact me.

    Dr Paul Horne, IPM Technologies P/L    MOBILE: 0419 891 575    EMAIL: paul@ipmtechnologies.com.au

    Lower your costs as you lower carbon emissions

    An updated edition of Agriculture Victoria’s “Making cent$ of carbon and emissions” booklet – full of practical management options for lowering farm emissions and reducing operational costs – has been produced.

    The booklet comes at a time when more attention is being paid to the carbon and emission performance of agricultural industries and farms.

    Agriculture Victoria climate specialist Graeme Anderson said the booklet provides an overview of practical management options to lower farm emissions, that may also help to reduce operational costs and improve profits.

    “The booklet focuses on practical actions that farm businesses can take now to improve their emissions performance,” Mr Anderson said.

    “Farmers and service providers will equally find it informative and useful.”

    The 19-page publication provides a brief explanation of the carbon and emission action areas; energy, nitrogen, soils, livestock, trees and supply chain.

    “Within each section we’ve included practical actions farmers can take on-farm to improve the resource efficiency of their operations,” Mr Anderson said.

    “It focuses on win-win options including messages about profitability, productivity and farm health.

    “Farmers are proving there are ways to increase on-farm productivity while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions on-farm.

    “In many cases, actions to reduce emissions or increase carbon on farms have multiple benefits for farm businesses, such as increasing farm health and profitability.”

    The booklet can be viewed and downloaded from the Agriculture Victoria website www.agriculture.vic.gov.au/carbon-emissions

    Printed copies of the booklet can be ordered by contacting Agriculture Victoria on 136 186 or emailing heather.field@agriculture.vic.gov.au

    Regeneration at Maroona

    by Don Rowe

    To follow up Peter’s article in the last newsletter I have some examples of how we have natural regeneration to improve our environment at Sidlaw. Letting plants do it themselves saves a lot of work and it’s an important way to preserve the genetic diversity of endemic species. You just need to be observant and provide some protection from stock.

    All examples show little loss of productive land and will enhance biodiversity for the future.

    Have you seen green peach aphid?

    Hello, my name is Elia, I am an agricultural pest researcher who recently moved to Rhymney and could use your help!

    I am starting a GRDC project to create better tools for predicting risk of green peach aphid and turnip yellows virus outbreaks. I will be surveying for green peach aphid and turnip yellows virus across Victoria over the next three years, so that we can identify the environmental conditions associated with risk of crop losses. To develop genetic surveillance tools, this spring I am looking to collect green peach aphid from as many different hosts as I can.

    If you have canola, legumes/lucerne, cereals, or orchard trees growing and have seen green peach aphid (or would be happy for me to come and have a look with my ‘aphid vacuum’), I would be grateful if you got in touch! My cell is 0414143456 and my email is epirtle@cesaraustralia.com.  I’d be very happy to tell you more about our project, or try to help you identify any aphids you’ve got about.

    Updates from Southern Farming Systems

    AgriFocus 2020 – Southern Farming System’s premier event – is being delivered differently under COVID 19 Restrictions. This will be a members only event.  Non members are welcome to sign up to join us through Event Brite, AgriFocus

    The event in 2020 will start with a week of 3 Pasture Paramedic Training webinars 15-17th September (see below for more information).

    Then over the next 4 weeks starting on the 22 September. SFS will deliver a series of 5 min videos on the highlights of our 2020 research. The video’s will be released to members in batch’s, 2 on Tuesday and 2 on Wednesday and at the end of each week there will be a brief 60 min Follow up Friday webinar with the stars from the video’s, for farmers and advisors to interact and ask questions. 

    On the traditional day of AgriFocus the 21st October, SFS will hold three 90 minute webinar sessions over the day, each with 2 key presenters diving into detail and plenty of Q&A time for participants.  Further information on the program will be released soon.

    “The main focus of this program remains the same, to showcase the research trials and allow farmers and advisors time to network and interact with researchers and each other face to face, virtually!” said Ms McClure, AgriFocus Coordinator.

    “Our trial sites across South west Victoria are looking great, with many interesting results being recorded.  It is a shame we can’t have live events, but we feel we can show case these visual differences in our video’s” Ms Kreeck, SFS Operations Manager said.

    More information will be released soon at www.sfs.org.au or contact Michelle McClure, AgriFocus Coordinator, mmclure@sfs.org.au 0488 600 692.

    Three online training workshops on how to use Pasture Paramedic are scheduled for farmers part of AgriFocus festivities.

    These will be a friendly and fun online training event.  Register and you receive a copy of the tools pictured below from a designated pick up location. Tools include the measuring quadrat, 70 page user manual, recording book and pen.

    Pasture Paramedic is rapid assessment tool of pasture condition. It’s designed based on the analogy of a paramedic treating a patient. They first assess the vital signs and then make a decision on treatment.
    In winter and early spring assessment, the vital signs of a sown pasture are the percentage of sown perennial grasses and clovers and the dominant weeds present. Each indicator is given a score and the total score informs treatment: maintenance, manipulate or it’s a hospital case and needs to resown.

    Pasture Paramedic is a tool designed by SFS on behalf of MLA. It’s part of a bigger package of products for pasture persistence and productivity. The Pasture Paramedic on-line workshops are supported by Glenelg Hopkins CMA through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

    If pastures are part of your livelihood, then get Pasture Paramedic training by registering your interest with Jess Brogden, SFS 0417 154 945 or email jbrogden@sfs.org.au
    Dates for the online workshops are September 15th, 16th and 17th from 8am to 9.30am online. Registration essential.

    Motion sensing cameras

    As some of you will be aware the group is the owner of 4 Reconyx motion sensing trail cameras.

    These are open to anyone in the group to use – they are very straight forward to use and I’m happy to give anyone who may be interested a quick lesson in setting them up. We are very fortunate to own these, they are excellent quality and take good pictures day or night with no flash to disturb the subject.

    The cameras can be setup in all sorts of situations: On worn tracks through grass or scrub, on water  points, on likely basking spots for reptiles (logs or rocks), or in any likely looking habitat area with a lure pinned to the ground are some of the successful methods I’ve used.

    Some basic tricks when setting up the cameras:

    • Ensure there are no branches or bits of grass that can move in the wind in the field of view. It’s exciting the first time you open a camera and see that its taken 10,000 images, until you realise it’s all a piece of grass waving in the breeze…!
    • If aiming to take pictures of diurnal species, eg basking reptiles, have the camera pointing in a Southerly aspect to avoid sun glare in the lens.
    • Set the distance from the camera to the bait/trail etc to what you are expecting to see. About 1m for small rodents or marsupials out to 5 or 6 meters say if you want shots of birds of prey on a dead animal, and anywhere in between.
    • Always attach the camera to something via strap or star post mount provided. On a trip to the desert last year I was aiming to get pictures of Spinifex Mice. I lazily sat the camera on the sand near a track. On inspection in the morning the camera was gone and there was a fresh set of Dingo tracks in its place!! After following the tracks for about 400m I found the slightly chewed but fully functional camera in the sand… Lesson learned! I have since heard that Foxes and even Ravens (crows) will take cameras.
    • Try and leave cameras for at least a week and don’t go near them. A lot of animals are very wary of change and often nothing will appear on a camera until the 3rd or 4th night.
    • A good general lure recipe consists of: Rolled oats, plenty of peanut butter, golden syrup and a couple of sardines all mixed together into a paste. This is really is a ‘one size fits all’ and will attract anything from foxes and possums through to bandicoots and even echidnas!
    • Only use the cameras on your own private property or private property where you have permission.

    If you are interested in giving the cameras a go contact Ayesha or myself.


    East Grampians Rural Pipeline e-News Update

    The East Grampians Rural Pipeline will secure the future of the region by providing a reliable, secure supply of high-quality water year-round. To receive regular updates about the Pipeline, sign up to the newsletter.

    Pipe alignments for Zone 3

    Proposed pipe alignments for Zone 3 have now been added to our interactive map, alongside Zone 2 alignments. 

    Landholders in Zone 3 have until Friday 18 September 2020 to submit an Expression of Interest (EOI) to connect to the pipeline. Any EOIs received after this date that require an extension to the pipeline may not be included in the project design or construction scope.

    Site inspections

    Environmental and cultural heritage surveys have started in Zone 4, so you may see our contractors in the area. Surveys continue across Zones 2 and 3.

    Thank you for your cooperation with our contractors while this work takes place. 

    Working For Victoria Crew has started work

    A Working For Victoria (WFV) crew has hit the ground running in the Glenelg Hopkins region. Hosted by the Glenelg Hopkins CMA, and funded under the Victorian Agriculture Workforce Plan. The crew of 10 local people has started work on a huge tree planting program on over 65 properties across the region. The program will see 35 000 indigenous trees and shrubs planted over the spring planting season, including many on the properties of UHLMG members.

    While the schedule is now full for the tree planting season, it won’t be long before our attention switches to woody weed eradication in later spring. There will be opportunities for the WFV Crew to assist landholders in managing weeds such as gorse and blackberry on their properties. Interest in receiving crew assistance weed control can be registered with group facilitator Ayesha Burdett (0429 021 500) or by filling out this short form.

    General enquiries can be made to Dave Nichols of the Glenelg Hopkins CMA (0407 321 747).

    Working for Victoria field crew, taking a break from planting trees. Photo courtesy GHCMA.

    Spring photo board

    Updates and happenings from Beyond Bolac Catchment Action Group

    By W. Howard Brandenburg (whburg@gmail.com)

    As the season shifts into spring exciting projects are in the works for the Fiery and Salt creek sub-catchments. Popping up at several wetlands near you will be an outdoor installation all about local frog species. Supported by the Wettenhall Environmental Trust and Beyond Bolac CAG the aim of this project is to enlighten people about the interesting and diverse frog species that inhabit the local wetlands, creeks and dams. Come visit the installations any time this spring and see if you can identify what species are calling. You will be able to learn about the frog species, hear their calls, and maybe be inspired to scrounge around in the dark of night listening for the unique amphibians yourself! Stay tuned to the BBCAG’s website for wetland locations.

    Frogs are obviously not the only creatures active at night and I have been fortunate to observe the activities of some of them using BBCAG’s newly purchased wildlife cameras. I have footage of wallabies, kangaroos, possum, mice, rabbit, foxes and several bird species up close and personal. If you are a member of BBCAG and are curious about critters roaming around your property let the Project Officer (me) know and we can arrange a time to set some cameras up.

    Beyond Bolac CAG is rebooting Conservation Corners. This innovative project aims to help farmers transform awkward tight paddock corners and unproductive wetland margins into pockets of biodiversity while improving farm productivity. Keep your A-B lines straight forward by fencing off these difficult to manoeuvre areas while planting out the space with native trees and shrubs. The placement of even a few native flora create microclimates promoting diversity of beneficial insects, birds, and soil biology, provide shelter for livestock, sinks for carbon in the soil, not to mention creating an aesthetic you can enjoy for decades while tending to your crop. Information about this program will soon be available at your local agricultural supply centre or you can contact the BBCAG facilitator to discuss the project details.

    Lastly, BehaviourWorksAustralia (Monash University) conducted structured interviews and produced a highly insightful report for our joint Glenelg Hopkins CMA / BBCAG investigation into cropping farmer attitudes towards wetlands. Confidentiality of the interview responses was an important aspect designed into the project, to build trust and for farmers to be open about their motivations. Ephemeral wetlands are vital habitats for flora, fauna, and the environment, and have been determined to be critically endangered communities under the Commonwealth Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. The majority of these wetlands occur on farmland, and in recent years there has been an expansion of area dedicated to cropping in the district. The understanding of farmer motivations gained from the report will help us in our interactions with farmers and also in guiding the design and objectives of future ephemeral wetland projects. We would like to thank the numerous farmers who generously shared their knowledge and experiences in these interviews, which occurred at a busy time of the year.

    I hope you all have a fulfilling spring. Even though our world has been turned upside down this year, it is reassuring to simply breathe fresh air, see the stars at night, and hear the frogs calling from the wetlands.

    Meanderings and reflections

    We have had some rainfall recently in the region. Fiery Creek and Upper Mount Emu Creek had very high flows, and all of the sites in the Upper Hopkins were flowing. Frogs and birds seemed to be enjoying the wet conditions, creating a real cacophony at many sites!

    I was lucky to have a couple of extra helpers available because of school-from-home. The kids got some hands-on science lessons and learned a bit about geography and map-reading. Apparently, the best part of EC monitoring was “throwing the bucket over the bridge.”

    Water results

    You can view the EC data in the table below, or click on the link to download a file. Numbers in bold exceed 6000 EC μS/cm.

    EC levels for livestock water supplies.   Value given in brackets for each type of livestock is the EC level at which production decline begins:   Beef cattle (6,200 EC μS/cm), lactating ewes and weaners (6,000 EC μS/cm), dry sheep (9,300 EC μS/cm)), horses (6,200 EC μS/cm), Pigs (3,100 EC μS/cm),  poultry 3,100 EC μS/cm). 

    sitespring 2020winter 2020averageminimummaximum
    Fiery Creek – Fishermans Pontoon7450990010448.5141053000
    Billy Billy creek – Buangor township242168934.01688060
    Middle Creek – Willow tree Rd333323443.01003700
    Tatyoon drainage line – Rockies Hill rd133401123014572.236028200
    Challicum Creek – Porters Bridge Rd53201160011099.014526680
    Fiery Creek – Porters Bridge Rd85172305394.155011930
    Fiery Creek – Mt William Rd80426002319.15005950
    Fiery Creek – Gordon Bridge89859704909.453017560
    Fiery Creek – Runway Swamp Rd2490114005139.386014520
    Fiery Creek – Streatham Reserve267079904465.6770116000
    Fiery Creek – McCrows Rd/Nerrin Nerrin Estate Rd3270123007575.978013770
    Fiery Creek – Lake Bolac7380100407982.885022280
    Lake Buninjon124801882016077.8880104000
    Good Morning Bill Creek and Nekeeya Creek combined – Buninjon West Road120501014011509.630039000
    Hopkins River – Bridge on Labrador Rd373043606022.833711200
    Hopkins River – Helendoite Rd402046905785.829910870
    Jacksons Creek – Coopers Rd9790104608597.224415900
    Hopkins River – Robertsons Bridge (Langi Logan Rd)406033404751.232713000
    Hopkins River – Tatyoon Rd (south of Kangaroo Point Rd)33803264548.732613800
    Hopkins River – Burrumbeep Boundary Rd441014405301.533011700
    Hopkins River – Jacksons Creek Rd529049806259.334012100
    Hopkins River – Warrak Road (Hopkins River Rd)649083009001.949023280
    Three Mile Creek – Warrayatkin Rd – South of Warrak Road1332097508029.960022400
    Three Mile Creek – Warrak Road – west of Warrayatkin Rd789100302636.639013600
    Cemetery Creek – Warrak Road (Ararat)77767901108.71309620
    Green Hill Lake (south end) – Height Gauge rec reserve352032806164.034028800
    Hopkins River – Old Geelong Rd529032008328.150016300
    Hopkins River – Dobie Road580040105761.716015900
    Captains Creek – Tatyoon North Road426479495.61003500
    Hopkins River – Wickliffe90901214010650.1159019000
    Hopkins River – Back Bolac Rd96901146011750.1162029600
    Hopkins River – Bald Hill Rd ford99201077010752.3198031800
    Hopkins River – Delacombe Way (Edgarley Bridge)984098809704.1179017400
    Hopkins River – Rossbridge703080108235.882014240
    Trawalla Creek – Back Waterloo Rd157031002634.840015300
    Mt Emu Creek – Trawalla bridge113014401911.84406400
    Mt Emu Creek – Streatham-Carngham Rd125051002812.713012200
    Mt Emu Creek – Mt Emu Settlement Rd94042004904.139011490
    Mt Emu Creek – Skipton pedestrian bridge89045004430.84408240

    Keep in touch

    Upper Hopkins Land Management GroupAyesha BurdettLandcare Facilitator0429 021 500
    Jack TuckerPresident0427 547 636
    Celia TuckerSecretary0409 138 581
    Kelly GellieTreasurer0439 722 985
    Glenelg Hopkins Catchment Management AuthorityWaterways, Wetlands, Works on Waterways Permits03 5571 2526
    Ararat Rural City CouncilDeirdre AndrewsWaste and Sustainability Coordinator03 5355 0233
    Agriculture VictoriaClem SturmfelsSoil conservation, incentives and whole farm planning03 5355 0535
    Perennial Pasture SystemsRob SheaFacilitator, Perennial Pasture Systems0438 521 357
    Debbie SheaFacilitator, Girls & Grass Advisory Group0418 205 353
    Trust for NatureAdam MerrickConservation agreements, grants, biodiversity technical advice0458 965 333
    Beyond Bolac Catchment Action GroupAnthony CasanovaLandcare Facilitator0409 506 533

    Disclaimer:    This publication may be of assistance to you but the Upper Hopkins Land Management Group does not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purposes and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence which may arise from you relying on any information in this publication.