Landcare news and opportunities
Information and Resources
- SWTAFE are aiming to deliver the Certificate III in Agriculture from the Hamilton Campus in 2023. Read the details here. Please submit your expression of interest to Ursula Murphy (0490 239 870 or email@example.com)
- Trees on farms: MLA Feedback magazine Spring 2022 – https://www.mla.com.au/news-and-events/publications/feedback-magazine/
- Visionary country women pursuing personal goals and creating thriving families and businesses – https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2022-10-31/visionary-country-women-creating-thriving-economy/101588688
- Get inspired by ‘What’s in your backyard?’ kids photo competition – https://juniorlandcare.org.au/campaigns/winners-of-whats-in-your-backyard-photo-competition-announced
- The pivotal role NGOs play in building successful relationships between government and local communities – https://arrc.com.au/ngo-role-in-building-successful-relationships/
- Restored wetlands on a private property at Murrabit West have boosted Growling Grass Frog numbers – https://www.abc.net.au/centralvic/programs/breakfast/wirra-lo-frog-haven/101670984
- Landcare: the next generation: Victorian Landcare Magazine is available now – https://www.landcarevic.org.au/landcare-magazine/spring-2022/
- Eels are some of nature’s weirdest creatures. Here are 5 reasons why they’re such cool little freaks – https://theconversation.com/eels-are-some-of-natures-weirdest-creatures-here-are-5-reasons-why-theyre-such-cool-little-freaks-192862
- Can you put a value on nature? These scientists have found a way – https://www.abc.net.au/news/programs/the-business/2022-11-23/can-you-put-a-value-on-nature-these-scientists/101691116
Webinars and podcasts
- Increasing pollinator & beneficial insect biodiversity (online forum): presenters will share their knowledge on habitat management and beneficial arthropods in our agro-ecosystems. Please register your attendance by contacting Karen on 0409 955 396 or complete the online registration form.
- Managing erosion for multiple benefits: https://riversofcarbon.org.au/webinar-recording-managing-erosion-for-multiple-benefits-page
- MSF’s Farm Talk Podcast proudly brings Farmers, Researchers and Ag Industry connections together to chat innovative farming practices to help build a sustainable farming future for our Mallee growers. Mallee Sustainable Farming is a farmer-driven organisation specialising in Research, Development and Extension for NSW, VIC & SA’s low-rainfall Mallee region. For more information visit: www.msfp.org.au/podcast
- Cash flow budgeting webinar (and more) – https://www.feedinglivestock.vic.gov.au/2022/10/20/get-excited-about-spreadsheets/
- Farmers Helping Farmers podcast from Vic No Till – https://podcasts.apple.com/au/podcast/farmers-helping-farmers/id1652195970
Following the recent flooding across Victoria, Agriculture Victoria has published several resources online. You can subscribe to a new Ag Vic email list to get information about upcoming events, past webinar recordings, resources and support available to flood affected Victorians via our flood recovery, events and resources newsletter. Click here to sign up: https://tinyurl.com/2spj6x3f.
Other information can be found on the Ag Vic website:
- Flood information from Agriculture Victoria – https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/farm-management/emergency-management/floods
- Flystrike after floods: important information after a wet spring – https://agriculture.vic.gov.au/biosecurity/animal-diseases/sheep-diseases/flystrike-after-floods
Additionally, grants are available for flood-affected landholders through the Victorian Flood Recovery Package.
Making our Farms Safer: information about bogged farm machinery The MOFS team recently published an extraordinary edition of the MOFS newsletter to highlight some of the key safety issues for farmers affected by flooding and heavy rains.
WorkSafe Victoria have also recently issued a timely Safety Alert on the subject of recovery of bogged farm machinery. You can read the safety alert here
Locally, Nature Glenelg Trust reported on the rain and flooding in our region: https://natureglenelg.org.au/just-how-wet-has-it-been-at-walker-swamp-this-spring-here-is-a-local-and-historical-perspective/
- Get involved in the Christmas Beetle Count! Use iNaturalist to record observations on your phone or tablet –https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/christmas-beetle-count
- Become a citizen scientist and record your findings with Fungimap Australia. With the recent wet weather we may see more popping up all over the place – https://www.inaturalist.org/projects/fungimap-australia
- Are the Pobblebonks going bonkers at your place? Frog ID Week has held in November, but you can still record and share frog calls through the Frog ID App – https://www.frogid.net.au/frog-id-week
2022 Upper Hopkins LMG President’s report
Jack Tucker, President
Ayesha’s facilitator position is funded through until the end of the 23/24 period by DELWP. Thank you very much to Kelly Gellie and CC for the huge contribution they continue to make to ensure the UHLMG and Ararat Landcare Group has a Facilitator in place to assist them with the work that is done on the ground by members.
Ayesha has now completed her third year in the facilitator role. She has been working on a number of initiatives that are benefiting, and will benefit members of our group.
The Soil Health subcommittee was formed in 2020 and it has been great to hear about some of the initiatives that are starting to come to fruition as a result of this committee. Thank you Jayne Drum, Sarah Whinney, CC Tucker for working with Ayesha to come up with some great ideas for the future. This includes another workshop with David Hardwick and plans for another Garden Day.
Next I would like to thank Kelly, who has just completed her third year in her role as Treasurer for the group. Her skill and experience in accounting is of tremendous benefit to us and she has done a great job with the 2021/22 financial report which has been audited by Mulcahy and Co.
Once again thank you to Celia for her dedication to the role of Secretary which I get to see firsthand.
Succession planning is something the committee has discussed quite a bit and needs to be addressed over the next couple of years so that the Group remains dynamic into the future. New blood plays an important role in achieving this. The renewal of the UHLMG Strategic Plan is scheduled to be completed by the end of this calendar year and this will be a great opportunity to delve into this topic as well as determine our key focuses for the 2022-24 period. Sophie Bickford from Biolinks Alliance has been engaged to facilitate this process for us and we are looking forward to the Strategic Planning session with her following the AGM.
In Landcare terms the last 12 months have been very positive – It is exciting to get new members on board and the level of enquiry around Landcare related projects has been exceptional. We have had exceptional conditions for reveg works, both tubestock and direct seeding, so hopefully some successful outcomes in these fields will encourage more people to have a crack.
The current wet conditions are ideal for local wetlands, and hopefully this can be recognised by landholders and assist in their protection going forward.
As always I will finish my report by reminding everyone to encourage others to join the committee as it is important that we continue to have people with a diverse range of experience and skills leading the group. Alternatively if members of our Group have a particular interest we would welcome their input big or small.
Victorian Landcare Grants 2022
The Upper Hopkins Land Management Group was successful in receiving funding through the Victorian Landcare Grants Program.
Two projects have been funded:
- Branching Out – creating and connecting landscape features ($18,026.25)
- Connecting Corridors in the Upper Hopkins ($16,202.80)
These projects will enable our local landholders to conduct on-ground works on their properties, and add to decades of Landcare work that protects the environment and creates habitat.
Perennial Pasture Systems Study Tour 2022 – Wimmera Region
Rob Shea, Project Manager
Since the group’s inception in 2007; PPS has recognised the value of members visiting leading farms in other regions as well as being informed of regional research projects. In 2009, PPS implemented an annual study tour as part of the group’s extension activities and since then has held single and multiple day tours within Victoria, South Australia, New South Wales, Tasmania and New Zealand.
Covid delayed plans derailed plans in 2020 & 2021, then it was decided to plan the study tour for a Victorian region & the Wimmera was chosen as the destination. 32 PPS members & guests attended all or part of the tour including PPS farmer members, agronomists and CMA staff. Three Federal Government National Landcare Program representatives joined the tour for part of day one. Host farmers joined the PPS group for dinner on Tuesday night.
Two farms were visited on the Tuesday, Girvan-Lea at Wonwondah & Jardwa Farms ay Vectis. Girvan-Lea is a mixed farming enterprise conducted by the Pymer family.
The next farm was Jardwa Farms, past of the Rethus Broadacre 5,500 Ha cropping enterprise.
Conducted over three farms at Vectis, Jung & Noradjuha, it is a continuous cropping and oaten hay operation. Wheat, Durum wheat, canola, barley, oats, vetch and lentils are grown.
The Australian Grains Genebank in Horsham was the next stop, it preserves grain crop genetics and can store nearly 200,000 individual seed packages from the various grain stored. The seeds stored include old grain varieties as well as indigenous grains such as Mitchell and Kangaroo Grass.
PB Seeds at Kalkee was the day’s final visit; the company has now moved into the premium retail market with specialised pulse Halal accredited pulse products. Host farmers & guests then joined PPS members for a great night over dinner in Horsham..
After breakfast at a Horsham cafe; the study tour headed to Marnoo for a visit to Glendemar Multi Purpose Merinos. Study Tour members were welcomed to the new Glendemar woolshed by Ben Duxson and everyone was immediately impressed by the facilities provided for shed staff. Ben outlined the objectives of the Glendemar Multi Purpose Merino (MPM) operation.
The next farm was Weidemann Farms at Rupanyup; the farm’s predominantly self mulching grey clay soils receive an annual rainfall of 450mm, with 270 – 300mm of it falling in the growing season. Cropping is the main enterprise with Wheat, Barley & Canola making up 60% of the cropped area with Chick Peas, Lentils, Beans, & Vetch Hay 10% each. A 2,500 ewe commercial White Suffolk flock & the Sunnydale White Suffolk stud make up the livestock enterprise.
The final farm visit of the study tour was to Bretton Estate at Campbells Bridge. Bretton Estate’s sheep operation consists of 6,700 Merino ewes with half being joined to Merinos & half to White Suffolks. Crops are used for grazing by the sheep flock. Perennial pastures have proved problematical to implement into the cropping system so many paddocks are sown annually or bi-annually for sheep feed. A mix of ryegrass, sub & balansa clovers along with tillage radish is proving successful.
The full Study Tour report can be found at the PPS website: www.perennialpasturesystems.com.au.
The 12h Annual PPS Study Tour was supported by Glenelg Hopkins CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
PPS acknowledges the continued support of the Wimmera CMA in supporting the PPS Project Manager role.
Colin Seis – Southwest Tour 2022
Upper Hopkins Land Management Group was one of the local Landcare groups that benefited from a recent visit to southwest Victoria by Colin Seis, the renowned conservation farmer, Merino breeder, and winner of the Bob Hawke Landcare award in 2014. Colin has achieved global recognition for developing the conservation farming methods of ‘ pasture cropping’, grazing techniques and general land management that support year round ground cover of perennial plants.
At the Warrnambool NRM Expo, Colin addressed the topic of “Managing our natural resources in the Anthropocene Epoch.” The event was organised by Warrnambool Coastcare Landcare and also featured Andrew Stewart (Yan Yan Gurt West Farm, regenerative grazing and agroforestry), winner of the Bob Hawke Landcare Award in 2020. Both speakers presented to a small but very interested audience with questions generating much discussion.
A couple of days later, Colin presented to an interested group of farmers at an evening seminar in Dunkeld. This event was co-hosted by Panyyabyr Landcare Group, Upper Hopkins Land Management Group and Beyond Bolac Catchment Action Group. Colin introduced the audience to his farming enterprise and encouraged everyone to re-think the way we farm. He offered some tips about how to modify the way we graze and grow crops, and reminded everyone that soil is the most abundant ecosystem on earth.
Finally, Colin led a full day workshop at Balmoral on Tuesday 8 November. Hosted by Upper Glenelg Landcare Network, 27 farmers gained insights into the process of adaptation from being burnt out and broken, to building a prosperous low input farming system resilient to climate extremes. Best known as the creator of Pasture Cropping, Colin explained how personal tragedy, and limited choices, initiated the transformation of his conventional high input sheep/cropping enterprise into a regenerative farming system producing a diversity of commodities. A farm tour at Graeme and Justin Weavers property provided attendees to view a local farm business who has successfully adopted regenerative farm practices to achieve a profitable system that protects and improves natural resources.
These events were made possible with funding from Glenelg Hopkins CMA through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
Urban Trees in Ararat and District
Ararat Landcare Group
Recently, the University of the Third Age (U3A Ararat) hosted local Landcarers to discuss their current project: “Urban Trees: making choices for a changing climate.”
For this Urban Trees project, the Ararat Landcare Group partnered with Ararat Rural City Council and neighbouring Landcare groups in Stawell and Beaufort to investigate the future of urban trees across our region.
The captive audience at U3A had many questions about tree maintenance, climate change, and the benefits or challenges for planting trees in town. Participants were encouraged to plant trees in their backyards and care for the trees in their streets to create sustainable and liveable towns for everyone to share.
Each audience member received a copy of the new booklet that was produced as part of the Urban Trees project. As well as the booklet, Ararat Landcare Group produced a series of videos that support homeowners to make the right choices when planting trees in their backyards. The booklet and videos contain important information about choosing the right tree for the right location and caring for the growing tree. The booklet is now available for free from Council, local nurseries, and Landcare groups, or online.
Earlier in the year, the Urban Trees project hosted a seminar at Ararat Town Hall. Rob Gell (environmental advocate and former weather presenter) described the projected impacts of climate change in our region in the coming years. Dr Greg Moore (tree specialist from the University of Melbourne) informed the audience of the benefits provided by trees in urban settings for climate adaptation and mitigation. Trees can have social, economic and environmental benefits. For example, backyard trees provide shade, which can reduce the costs of running an air conditioner in summer and make the garden a pleasant destination for the family on a sunny day. Trees also provide habitat for wildlife and can increase property values.
More recently, the Ararat Landcare Group collaborated with Ararat Rural City Council to plant three demonstration sites across Ararat. The trees at each of these sites have been carefully selected so that they will not grow too tall, drop gum nuts, or create a nuisance on the footpath.
Another key component of the project was to conduct an in-depth review of current urban tree policies and guidelines, regional strategies, and national standards for the best practices for planting and maintaining trees. The outcome from this research has been presented to Ararat Rural City Council as a guiding document.
This project is supported by the Victorian Government and funded through the Sustainability Fund – Supporting Our Regions to Adapt program and our partner Ararat Rural City Council.
More information about the project can be found online:
AgriFocus Returns to Streatham for 2022
Michelle McClure, Communications & Engagements Coordinator
Wet Season #WetCrops22
2022 has certainly thrown some curve balls. The perfect start to the season with full soil moisture profiles, surving through a winter with minimal waterlogging present, until Late October – November.
With La Nina bringing us plenty of rainfall with some parts of the South West experiencing flooding events around major river systems.
In response to this wetter season Southern Farming Systems is supporting growers in the region through access to events and information/resources on our website. We have a Blog on the website where we have a list of resources on various topics around the wet season and on Twitter #WetCrops22. Checkout the recources and join the conversation share your experiences https://sfs.org.au/blog/wet-spring-2022
We recently held a very successful safe recovery of machinery event at Inverleigh with VFF, WorkSafe, National Centre For Farmer Health, Black Snake Strops and Rural Aid. The event went over recovery points on headers, trucks & tractors. What is the right equipment to use? How to be safe, as these issues generally arise when we are under peak stress. Take 5 was a key message,
- move 5 metres away from the situation and observe,
- 5 minutes to breathe,
- 5 minutes or more to think; what do I need? Think through the scenario’s if we do this?
- 5 minutes to call someone to help to work it through.
- At the end of the day we all need to go home safe and we can’t put a value on our own lives, employees and family.
Resources from the event are available on the blog, it is worth a look.
Another resource is opportunities in the wet, thinking about long term silage, check out Scott’s Tips https://sfs.org.au/article/opportunities-in-the-wet
Successful AgriFocus 2022 – Returned to Streatham
The gods were looking very favorably on SFS on the 19th October after the flood events of Firey Creek. The sun returned breifly for a few days and the water receded for AgriFocus. Two hundred fifty people passed through the gates to view the cropping trials, machinery and guest speakers. Big thank you to host farmer Ed Weatherly and Family, The Lake Bolac Kindergarten, Streatham Food Van and all our partners.
Hope to see you all there again next year, Wednesday 18 October 2023.
SFS Summer Harvest Casual Position
SFS South West Victoria are looking for casual staff, to start immediately.
Casuals are needed to help over the Summer in South West Victoria from Hamilton to Geelong area. Ideally, applicants should have an agricultural background. Main duties will be to assist SFS staff with maintaining and harvesting of crop research trials. Casuals will be guided by and work alongside SFS Staff and independently. Hours will be flexible however work will be provided throughout the Summer.
For Full Position Description https://sfs.org.au/article/sfs-casual-summer-position-south-west-victoria
Merry Christmas and Safe New Year
The staff and board of Southern Farming Systems would like to wish you all a very safe and merry Christmas. Enjoy being with your family and loved ones over the festive season.
Nest building season
I recently received a set of lovely photos from Una Allender (former Landcare Facilitator) and Steve Roper. They had noticed a Fairy-wren building a nest outside a window which gave them a birds-eye view of the process. More recently, a fantail has also nested.
Una noted that the Fairy-wren did a good job of removing the cobwebs from her windows to build the nest. I have also had a Fairy-wren visiting my kitchen window-sill to gather cobwebs. Una and I were happy to agree that providing material for bird nests was a good way to justify lax housekeeping!
Tree planting in the Upper Hopkins
Ayesha Burdett, Landcare Facilitator
Fencing and tree-planting are two simple fixes that landholders can use to create biodiversity corridors for native wildlife, protect wetlands and waterways, and improve outcomes for lambing ewes and other livestock. Working together as Landcarers, we protect our landscape and build ecological resilience in the face of climate change.
There is a long and successful history of tree-planting projects in the region, and a great deal of knowledge held by some of our more experienced members. If you are new to tree-planting, it can be hard to know where to start.
Recently, Jack Tucker and I visited a new revegetation site at Willaura North to chat about some of the options to consider when planning for your on-ground project. We made three short videos about site preparation, tree planting and caring for your trees. You can now view these videos – along with some other useful resources and tips – on the Upper Hopkins LMG website: https://upperhopkins.org.au/programs/land-restoration-vegetation/tree-planting-in-the-upper-hopkins/.
If you do have an idea for a revegetation project at your place, please contact Ayesha Burdett (facilitator@UpperHopkins.org.au).
This project has been supported by the Victorian Government through the Victorian Landcare Grant Program.
CMA Works Crew assist with Flood Recovery
Dave Nichols, Senior Project Officer
Following significant rainfall and flooding events across the eastern parts of the catchment during October and November, the CMA Regional Works Crew have been kept busy responding to landowner requests for assistance. The majority of the work focuses on the clearing of flood affected stock fences, weighted down with debris, and where necessary conducting minor repairs. Additional resourcing has been forwarded from DELWP to ‘beef’ up the crew for the next few months. The major areas of focus are the Hopkins, the Fiery Creek, Mt Emu creek and their tributaries.
To date 8.2km of fences have been cleared and righted across the properties of 8 landholder properties. There will be dozens of more farms to visit in the coming months, as waters recede and access improves.
If you would like to register for assistance clearing debris of stock fences, call the Glenelg Hopkins CMA on 55712 526.
Woorndoo Chatsworth Landcare Group – a year in review
The Group began the year with several challenging grant-supported projects, all of which were due to be acquitted during 2022. The largest of these was our DELWP-funded ‘Restore, repair and reconnect’ project on the Woorndoo-Dundonnell Rd. An 850 m (approx. 3 ha) stretch of road reserve running east from the Woorndoo-Streatham Rd. corner was mapped from drone images. These images clearly differentiated large areas of fragmented, more-or-less intact Kangaroo Grass remnant communities (Plains Grassland) from the surrounding exotic pasture grasses and agricultural weeds. The images also revealed areas of exotic vegetation within the native grassland in need of repair. The project aims to reconnect the existing remnant Plains Grassland by restoring diverse native grassland in the intervening areas dominated by exotic species. This is to be achieved by a combination of direct sowing and targeted tube stock planting.
Once the necessary permits and permissions were in place, the first crucial step was to remove the dense biomass on this long unburnt section of road reserve. With the magnificent support of the CFA, this work was done in mid-autumn. The burn cleared the way for our earthworks contractor to remove approx. 100 mm of the soil profile from the approx. 1 ha of the site dominated by exotic vegetation. This reduces the nutrients in the areas to be direct sown as well as removing a significant proportion of the exotic soil seed and vegetative bud banks. The rather radical restoration technique has been shown to significantly improve the establishment of direct-sown native seed mixes by reducing competition from the ever-present exotics.
The long, unusually wet spring has meant that the planned direct sowing has not yet gone ahead. This has left us with a challenging decision. Do we sow in summer, when rapid drying of the critical top few mm of the sown surface could risk newly germinated seedlings? Or do we sow in autumn, leaving several months when weed control will be critical? One possible advantage of summer sowing could be the early establishment of the summer germinating Kangaroo Grass, which usually takes several years to make its presence felt from an autumn or mid-spring sowing.
We have been able to start the repair process for some of the patches of exotic vegetation within the Kangaroo Grass swards. The areas were sprayed, cleared of dead material and then covered with a layer of scoria to provide a clean planting/sowing surface. No topsoil was removed because, on a small scale, that requires a lot of manual labour and creates a depression that would fill with water over winter and spring. Tube stock of one or more local species has been planted into the site and the over-sown with a mix of local native grasses and forbs. This is a new technique for us and, no doubt, it will be refined as we gain experience.
Other projects undertaken during 2022 included two more local species surveys made possible by support from Glenelg Hopkins CMA and Landcare Victoria (see David Franklin’s article in this edition), a successful community day planting with regional ANZ staff as part of an FRRR grant, and the purchase of a tractor-mounted flail mower to assist with biomass management in and around our restorations, supported by a generous donation from the Dundonnell Windfarm Community Fund.
Undescribed Wallaby-grass found at Woorndoo Cemetery
David Franklin, Woorndoo Chatsworth Landcare Group
An informative and successful two-day native plant survey was held by the Woorndoo Chatsworth Landcare Group on 23rd & 24th November. Guest botanists Neville Walsh, Andre Messina & Graeme Lorimer led a group of keen plant enthusiasts around the spectacular grassland remnants of Woorndoo Chatsworth area.
A diverse range of species including the critically-endangered Plump Swamp Wallaby-grass (Amphibromus pithogastrus) were recorded.
A highlight was finding an as yet undescribed variety of Smooth Wallaby-grass(Rytidosperma laeve) growing in the Woorndoo Cemetery. Native grass expert Graeme Lorimer plans to publish a description and name for the variety. He demonstrated the correct procedure for collecting specimens that will be sent to herbaria (plant specimen museums) in Melbourne, Sydney & perhaps Kew, England.
This survey follows on from one in early September and also last year, made possible by a grant from Glenelg Hopkins CMA and Landcare Victoria.
Productive Food Gardens – Spring Tour 2022
Ayesha Burdett, Landcare Facilitator
Eager gardeners came from across western Victoria to join the Productive Food Gardens spring bus tour with Upper Hopkins Land Management Group on Friday 28 October. Twenty-five participants visited three different food gardens in our region.
First, we visited Lakeview Organics near Stawell. Stephen Gillese walked us through his organic garden and described the way he rotates vegetable crops through the year and uses livestock as part of the rotation. After several years of gardening on this site, Steve has built healthy soil using compost, manure and skilled observation.
The second stop was at Five Ducks Farm, where we were treated to a morning tea of scones with Five Ducks jam. Anita Evans is a master jam-maker, but also spends a lot of time in the garden, growing some of the berries that are used in her jam. Anita has focused on building healthy soil by using compost and poultry (particularly chickens and ducks) to adaptively manage and continuously improve her garden.
Finally, we visited a new market garden at Norval called Possum Gully Farm. Felicity and Hamish Harrington are developing their soil using layers of compost to build organic matter. They are growing their produce from seed in a small greenhouse and have been experimenting with the best seed varieties for this region. They will have vegetable boxes available for sale later in the year.
At each of the food gardens, it was clear that the wet year had promoted abundant growth and muddy conditions. The next big challenge will be managing waterlogged soil and inevitable weed growth as the weather begins to warm.
The growers provided participants with shovelfuls of inspiration for building or expanding their home gardens. Each grower reminded us that soil health was the key to productivity. They all used slightly different methods to build their soil, depending on their location, duration at the site, and their personal skills and interests. Participants learned that each garden has its own personality, and it is always worthwhile to experiment and learn from mistakes.
Productive Food Gardens was supported with funding from Grampians Health. The goal of the event was to nurture the community of gardeners in our region, and support their learning through hands-on demonstrations and shared expertise. Often, conversations amongst participants are just as valuable as the formal presentations.
This is part of a series of Soil Health Events organised by the Landcare Group. Other events include a Garden Day with the Gourmet Farmer, Matthew Evans; field days about dung beetles and integrated pest management; and workshops for Rebooting Soil Health and Pasture Paramedic.
Invitation to participate in research on regenerative agriculture
Researchers at Deakin University are conducting a project about farmers’ experiences with regenerative agriculture. Members of the community who are applying, or are interested in applying, regenerative practices or approaches are invited to take part.
Indicative themes and interview questions
The purpose of this research is to explore and understand the experiences of farmer’s with regards to the emerging field of regenerative agriculture. The interviews will explore the following indicative themes:
- General background information about farming experience (e.g. professional experience, background/family experience, educational experience, etc).
- Understanding of ‘regenerative agriculture’.
- Current farming practices and approaches.
- Motivation to change, learning methods and preferred approaches.
If you are interested, the research project is looking for people who are either a decision maker or manager of agricultural land in South-West Victoria and are at least 18 years of age.
Participants will be asked to participate in a series of interviews at their property at intervals of 6 months, over the period of three years.
If you would like more information or are interested in being part of the research study, please contact Jaime Hogan at firstname.lastname@example.org or (03) 5563 3092. This study has received Deakin University ethics approval (reference number: HAE-22-049).
Grassland field days
Aggie Stevenson, Senior Biodiversity Officer
Glenelg Hopkins CMA has hosted two field days through November, having waited for the conditions to improve and allow access without getting too wet!
A small group of partners and interested people visited the Grassland restoration site on Penshurst -Dunkeld Rd. Prof John Morgan, from La Trobe University, talked about the project and its’ aims, how it is going so far and what the next steps are. Four of the nine sites were sown in May 2022 with a low diversity grassland mix of grasses and forbes. When looking at the sites from above, they look fairly unimpressive, however, when you get down on your hands and knees, then the sites come alive!
John had participants break into small groups to do quadrat counts to see just how many germinants there are… and there were lots! From tiny little Calocephalus citreus (Lemon Beauty heads) to already impressive Rytidosperma spp (Wallaby grasses), the sites are looking pretty good.
Participants also joined in lifting some tiles to check for fauna on both remnant sites, and on the newly sown sites; we check for slugs under these tiles as they are an indication of attack on newly germinating plants.
Overall, the restoration sites are going well. The CMA thanks their partners in La Trobe University for the monitoring they have committed to for the long haul, and Regional Roads Victoria for all their support to date.
A week later in late November, a larger group of people climbed onto a bus in Streatham to visit some privately owned remnant grasslands and grassy wetlands along the Carngham-Stretaham Rd.
Landholder Myles Read met to show us one of his seasonal herbaceous wetlands which at first, seemed void of much life but grass… until we waded out beyond gum boot depth to see what miracles were still present! Threatened species, including Corinidium gunnianum (Swamp Everlasting) and Microseris scapigera (Yam Daisy) were still present for those who dared walk out into the water.
The next site was a combination of wetland and grassland, where Dr Brad Farmilo from Arthur Rylah Institute was conducting the annual grassland monitoring with the CMAs Ben Zeeman. This site hosts a large population of the Critically Endangered Pimelea spinescens ssp. spinescens (Spiny Rice-flower), along with dozens of other beautiful grassland and wetland plants. This year saw many more wetland varieties encroaching in on the grassland area compared with previous years, which is quite a common occurrence in grassland and wetland areas.
Finally, the group travelled to the property of Neville Oddie, and landholder who has been farming his native grasslands for 30 years! Neville showed the group the reconstructed grassland site that was sown in the early 2000’s which is looking spectacular after all this time. People wandered across to the Rutidosis leptorhynchoides (Button Wrinklewort) seed production area (SPA) which was planted in September 2021, where they learned about why SPAs are so important and how they are created.
The CMA would like to thank all those who participated in the day, and look forward to more similar events in 2023.
Editor’s note: I participated in the Streatham field day, and it was great (apart from the wet socks). I look forward to more grassland and wetland events in our region. Thanks Aggie and the GHCMA team!
From top to bottom – flooding in the Hopkins
Local photographer and Landcarer, Martin Stringer (https://www.martinstringer.com/) shared these photos he took in October at Green Hill Lake and Hopkins Falls. It’s amazing to see the lake so full, and the incredible amount of water passing over the Hopkins Falls.
By the way, the foam that you see in the river (or on the beach) is nothing to worry about. Natural water bodies are made up of a mix of salts, proteins, fats, dead algae, detergents and other pollutants dissolved in the water. There may also be pieces of organic and artificial matter (like fragments of Phragmites from the river at our place). In the river, the water mix is stirred and shaken and small bubbles form on the surface. During floods, there may be an extra load of organic matter that washes in from the floodplain. Plus, the vigorous agitation of the river flow really stirs the water and helps to create more bubbles that gather together into large rafts of foam.
Many thanks to Marty for sharing these images with us!
Meanderings and reflections
What an exciting time to be visiting waterways and lakes for EC monitoring this season! The rivers and creeks were still pumping, even several weeks after the biggest rainfalls. Many of them were still running at bankfull, but it was easy to see from the debris and flattened grass that the water levels had declined substantially.
Down here at Wickliffe, we were unable to cross our little farm bridge for about six weeks. Other farmers have been busy moving livestock to keep them away from flooding danger and keeping them on fresh pasture. It sounds like many people are now trying to crutch or shear before the weather finally heats up.
While the rainfall and flooding has brought challenges, it has also brought fresh water and a burst of life for the environment. I see wetland vegetation popping up in places where it hasn’t been seen for years, swans are nesting, and frogs have been calling loudly all around us. Mosquitoes and midges are hyper-abundant (watch out for clouds of bugs at dusk near Lake Buninjon!).
Not surprisingly, EC levels were low across all of the sites this month and even lower than they were in August when I last surveyed. It sounds like it’s going to be a cool, slow summer so it will be interesting to see how this pattern continues.
EC levels for livestock water supplies. Values 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).