Category: Articles

Steel Wetlands Project

The attached article by Maddie Steel (daughter of property owner) succinctly outlines the purpose of  Stephen Murphy’s design for the revegetation of their Mt Pollock wetlands site which was carried out by members of the BHLG, along with local volunteers, members of Intrepid Landcare and pupils of Oberon High School, Geelong. It was a mighty effort over several weeks. Congratulations to all those who contributed.

 

Brolgas

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Big Barwon River Walk

in 2013  a group of enthusiast Landcarers, led by Jennifer Morrow, set out to walk the length of the Barwon River from its source to the sea. The attached Report records the Group’s traverse of the sector from Inverleigh to Merrawarp in 2016

Authors Peter Greig and Mandy Baker acknowledge the important contribution made by the Barrabool Hills Landcare Group to this venture.

Barwon Walk 2016

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State of the Barwon River

The enclosed article was extracted form the Upper Barwon Landcare Network’s “Tree Talk” Newsletter, Winter 2018 edition. It was written by UBLN President Peter Greig.

Peter Greig. Photo courtesy Tony Baldwin

HELP NEEDED FOR BARWON RIVER

Report from the UBLN Barwon River Subcommittee

Peter Greig

Two recent crises galvanized public attention to what has been obvious to some for many years: the Barwon River – particularly upstream from Inverleigh – is in trouble. The first and most dramatic event was an extensive fish‐kill in mid‐2016; the second is the river going dry in summer regularly in recent years. Much has been happening as a consequence of these events, mostly quite encouraging, but more needs to be done. This note summarizes recent actions, and canvasses some future possibilities. But first, a little background.

Context

The Upper Barwon River provides much of Geelong and district’s water. The West Barwon Reservoir (21 Gl) supplies much of the annual consumption from the Barwon catchment (13 Gl/yr), but this is only a fraction of the total stream‐flow (300 Gl/yr).

Geelong’s increasing population and a big drought in 1982‐3 required additional water sources, particularly groundwater from Gerangamete (currently licensed at up to 20 Gl/yr but 4 Gl/yr on average). Urban and industrial consumption accounts for most usage (10 Gl/yr); irrigation about 20 per cent (3 Gl); and rural usage about 3 per cent.

Evaporation from Wurdi Boluc storage reservoir is estimated to be 2.2 Gl/yr on average, while loss from channel leakage is about 0.3 Gl/yr. What is not clear is how much overland flow is diverted into farm dams built after the 82‐3 drought. Land‐clearing, too, has had an impact, by increasing overland flow from winter rains, and reducing summer flows from infiltrated groundwater, but no estimates of this are available.

As to river health, it was clear even in 2006 that over‐extraction was causing river health problems, and an “environmental bulk entitlement” of 1 Gl/yr from West Barwon reservoir was promised by State government, pending supplementary supplies being found for Geelong (such as connecting to Melbourne’s system).

That promise has recently been realized. Apart from overextraction and land‐clearing, water quality in the Barwon and tributaries has been poor, due to stock access, contaminated run‐off, and carp, which now dominate all other aquatic species. Emphasizing the point, in 2010 the Barwon’s Index of Stream Condition at Birregurra was “poor” on a five‐point scale ranging from “very poor” to “excellent”.

Nearly 80 per cent of the whole river was classed as “poor” or “moderate”. This is no surprise to locals like Jim Lidgerwood, who recalls that, as a boy, the Barwon at Winchelsea was fishable throughout the summer.

As if all that wasn’t enough, climate change is expected by all scientific accounts to exacerbate the situation, by reducing annual rainfall, and making summers longer and drier. Clearly, something needs to be done.

Groundwater Extraction

Gerangamete borefield was contentious from the start, mainly because licensed extractions exceeded the aquifer’s sustainable capacity, which is only 1.5 Gl/yr according to estimates by former government hydrologist Roger Blake (now a community member).

Loss of groundwater and stream‐flow in the Barwon and tributaries (particularly Boundary Creek) was the expected consequence, but no one foresaw the acid sulphate problem that emerged on Boundary Creek. Even then, that problem was only identified by community activist Malcolm Gardiner, who with Roger Blake then linked the problem to a fall in groundwater levels caused by pumping from Gerangamete borefield.

Barwon Water and other relevant agencies were initially skeptical that the borefield was to blame for acid in Boundary Creek. But following formal representations by Roger and Malcolm, Barwon Water has since publicly acknowledged their partial and unintended culpability. Moreover, they are considering putting a hold on any future extraction until the acid problem is remediated.

And further, they are contemplating extraction as a last resort (except in an emergency), until a sustainable yield is verified, and then only based on the “precautionary principle”, that is, testing for surface impacts like loss of stream‐flow and managing licence conditions adaptively as more information comes to light.

Taken together, these statements clearly show Barwon Water is deliberately balancing customer welfare against river health and community perceptions, consistent with their “zero waste” and “zero emissions” goals. For that corporate social responsibility, they deserve full credit.

Environmental Water

Minister Neville recently announced the I gigalitre per year entitlement for the Barwon River from West Barwon Reservoir, and Corangamite CMA has responsibility for deciding on its deployment to achieve improvements for targeted aquatic species, depending on their seasonal needs. To help with this, and to bring the community along, an advisory group has been created to include stakeholders (including UBLN).

As well, CCMA has engaged a consultant who did the ecological research leading to the specification of the entitlement back in 2006, as part of the Central Sustainable Water Strategy. All concerned are grateful that the 1 Gl/yr entitlement is better than nothing, but aware that it’s a long way short of what might bring the ISC up a grade or two. (It was mentioned that 22 Gl/yr might be needed for that).

Nonetheless, it may be possible to improve breeding conditions for species such as platypus.

Acid Remediation

Acid sulphate soils in Big Swamp on Boundary Creek (between Colac–Lavers Hill Road and Colac–Forrest Road) became active when the swamp dried out, mainly due to groundwater extraction at Gerangamete, and partly due to drought, and a fire. Now Boundary Creek downstream has a pH of less than 4; the water is crystal clear, and not a living thing can be seen. Livestock won’t touch the water, which is a major problem for graziers like Nellie Shalley, who depends on the creek for stock water.

Barwon Water is taking measures to provide alternative stock water, via a dedicated stock‐water pipeline, and has provided 2 Ml/day of supplementary flow to the creek (to compensate for an expected loss of groundwater from borefield pumping). Even more importantly, it is committed to finding a way to stop the acid flow.

A community consultation group is being formed (including UBLN) to work alongside Barwon Water personnel in this endeavor. The challenge shouldn’t be underestimated: Southern Cross University experts that Malcolm Gardiner brought in to confirm the acid sulphate problem estimated that neutralizing the acid

with lime or gypsum would require an expenditure of around $6mn. Other methods are likely to be used.

Meanwhile, Environment Protection Authority policies on river contamination are being revised. It is still unclear to me if EPA has jurisdiction in the acid sulphate episode. If they do, then Barwon Water would have legal as well moral as (sic) reasons for fixing the problem.

Land Clearing

Much of the Barwon’s catchment has long been cleared of tall vegetation, creating space for farmland and settlements. The impact on river health is obvious: ISC ratings are low in cleared catchments; high where the land is still forested.

In recent years, vegetation clearing has been regulated, and much re‐vegetation has occurred, by landowners, landcare and catchment managers, often concentrated on stream‐sides. Still, as those who walked the Barwon’s full length know, much remains to be done. As well, in the catchment’s hillier parts, gullies are still actively eroding and sending sediment downstream. Re‐vegetating such places is

still a big job worth doing.

Birregurra Creek

Another source of contamination in the Barwon comes from Birregurra Creek, which now carries salty water from the Lough Calvert drainage scheme, designed in wetter times and managed as required to prevent flooding of farmlands around Lake Colac.

These days, this isn’t such a problem, as low rainfall has kept the lake level low. Again, whether the EPA has jurisdiction over such contamination is unknown to me.

Walk The Barwon

Walking the length of the Barwon from source in the Otways to the sea at Barwon Heads is an adventure completed by a group between 2014 and 2017. Jennifer Morrow conceived of the idea, and inspired the group, which varied in composition and number from 12 to over 60, with much help from several landcare groups and funding from CCMA.

Mandy Baker did much of the administrative work, and with Jennifer and Lachie and Janet Gordon, is in the final stages of producing a book on the journey.

Walkers came away with a rare sense of the river’s interactions with those living and working nearby, including graziers and dairyfarmers, of course; and townsfolk in Birregurra and Winchelsea, Inverleigh and Geelong. As importantly, too, walkers got some sense of the first nation’s peoples, and their dependence on the river. The book should be a permanent record of these historical insights.

Platypus Monitoring

For an iconic species, platypus are remarkably hard to detect: they find their food underwater, and live in tunnels above water, but with entrances underwater. Thus they avoid above‐ground predators, like foxes and feral cats. Obviously, if the river dries out in summer (platypus breeding season), they are more vulnerable.

Until recently, detection has been a laborious process of trapping, tagging and release. New technology replaces all that by simply detecting DNA in water samples, thus increasing both efficiency and accuracy. With financial help from Barwon Water (and possibly CCMA and Wettenhall Environment Trust), a platypus DNA detection project is about to get underway, which will supplement the ISC surveys (usually five‐yearly, but not done since 2010). It is expected that platypus monitoring will add to the impression that the Barwon does indeed need more help than it’s getting.

Carp

Carp now dominate all other species in Barwon River and tributaries ‐ they’re like rabbits on land. They nullify most of the benefits of environmental water flows, which help carp‐breeding, but not the target species.

Happily, a potential remedy is under consideration, not unlike myxomatosis for rabbits: a natural virus specific to European carp. The risks from such a remedy are easily identified, not least the creation of a massive waste problem from hundreds of tonnes of dead fish, and the possible impact on non‐target species. These risks are being carefully assessed by government and university researchers under a National Carp Control Plan, and no action will be taken until all states, territories and the Australian government agree. But at least there’s hope on the horizon, and a much brighter future for the Barwon, if it works out.

Conservation Action Planning

How should these various aspects of Barwon River health be brought together coherently? By chance, a method has become available: it’s called Conservation Action Planning. It’s been used internationally for several years, as well as in Australia, where specialist facilitators are available. Fortuitously, UBLN had State funding for its application, as an example of how landcare can work more collaboratively with its regional and State partners (like CCMA, Barwon Water, Southern Rural Water, and Shires) CAP requires participants to identify major assets of concern.

Unsurprisingly, the two chosen were (a) the Barwon River and its catchments, and (b) the communities that interact most closely with the river.

At present, participants are working through a process of identifying what specific and feasible things should and can be done to achieve measurable improvements in both the river’s health, and the communities’ capacity to help do that. This promises to be something other than those glossy strategies and plans that are regularly launched and quickly forgotten.

One of the practical outcomes under consideration is a Friends Of The Barwon group. The aim, of course, is to expand awareness of the Barwon’s plight to a wider group of sympathizers, particularly (but not only) water consumers, whose individual choices could make such a difference to the situation.

Conclusion

Yes, the Barwon needs help, and probably more than is generally understood among citizens and corporates that could help make a difference. Signs of willingness to help are already in the wind, and such efforts must be encouraged, like Barwon Water’s to deal with the Boundary Creek acid problem. In time, studies on how best to deploy environmental water may reveal how much more is needed to be effective; but for now, making the best of what’s available is the best pathway. In the end, garnering public support for individual and collective action to improve the river’s health is probably the most pressing and obvious thing to do.

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Landcare: state of the art, by Kaye Rodden

The following talk was delivered by BHLG Chair, Kaye Rodden, to a “webinar” hosted by funding body, Australian Environmental Grantmakers Network (AEGN), in May 2018.

LANDCARE

Webinar – 2nd May

Hi – I am Kaye Rodden, a farmer from West of Geelong, a founding member and current President of my local landcare group in the Barrabool Hills, the deputy Chair of the peak landcare organisation in Victoria, Landcare Victoria Inc; and also the acting deputy chair of the Members Council of the National Landcare Network. As an aside….Following on from Doug’s comment regarding River Trusts I was also in 1998 one of the first women to chair one when I lived in the Yarra Valley.

I have been a landcarer for over 40 years. I say this because even though the official forming of the landcare brand now attributed to the then Minister for Conservation, Joan Kirner and co-sponsor, Heather Mitchell President of the Victorian Farmers Federation, was in 1986, the gestation period was much longer…

Probably going way back to the 1950’s when land managers realised that repairing the landscape, after widespread and often government-sponsored clearing, needed to be on a catchment basis, not farm by farm. This needed community support and some form of peer group oversight.

The launch and support of the landcare movement in 1986 was as stated by the minister, “an exciting new concept in integrated land management”. One which “enables the combined efforts of government at all levels, industry and the community to constructively achieve a better rural lifestyle for both this and the future generations”

What was integral to the acceptance and growth of the movement in Victoria was the support provided from across government and industry. This included , helping landcare groups to establish, incentives and services for projects, administrative systems such as insurance and incorporation and recognition through awards.

The recently formed Landcare Victoria Inc, who I represent, is a product of this initial support structure. In an earlier guise, as the FTLA, it was set up by the VFF to provide insurance and incorporation for the new groups,

The community landcare movement in Victoria now covers 82% of all private land and 32% public land which equates to 65% of the state. There are now 105,000 volunteers that are members of a landcare or environment group. These range from a group in the far north west of the state, Millewa Carwarp where the focus is on sustainable agriculture, developing new agricultural practices to limit soil loss to a Friends group in urban Melbourne who has transformed the Westgate construction site into an urban park and another on the Merri Creek that has rehabilitated what had become an urban drain, to groups abutting Westernport who are working to improve the water quality entering the Bay.

The vast majority of these landcare groups are organised into geographically and sometimes issue based based networks, which provide an avenue for an economy of scale, whilst allowing them to maintain their own autonomy and ability to follow many of their own objectives which are based on years of experience and observation.

The sharing of administrative resources and amalgamation of projects offers the potential to increase the size of the funding pie and also the effective portion each individual group receives. Whilst sharing administrative resources sounds a great idea, the actual funding of this is becoming increasingly difficult. It is often not very fashionable for investors to support the community to attend meetings, contribute to policy and planning processes, and report on projects and develop project bids, but this is a major contributor to community burn out.

There is now credible evidence which calculates that, when community landcare is involved at least $4 is added to the value of a project for every dollar invested and in some cases this leverage factor can be over 7 to 1 when community plan and implement National Resources Management (NRM) programs.

These figure though do not include the $ benefits to the government that accrue when healthy resilient community groups, like landcare, are established: in terms of physical and mental health and ability to respond to emergency situations etc. In a number of cases of major wildfires in Victoria, the local landcare community, with an integral knowledge of their members, is the first responder, coordinating long term support for farming families.

In some rural communities landcare is the only remaining community infrastructure that exists! What social support would these communities need from government if there was no other community infrastructure? In the far northwest of the state, which I mentioned previously, only the CFA and landcare remains to service what was a population of 600 + landholders and is now less than 70 spread over the same area. This region has, I have been told, some of the highest mental health issues in the state!

Funding for Victorian landcare comes from many sources.. and has been declining over time. Most of this funding is brokered by the Catchment Management Authorities (CMA’s) through various processes.

The state government resource a Victorian Landcare Program (VLP), which I mentioned previously, supports 78 part time landcare community facilitators, who assist landcare groups, networks and “Friends of “ groups, spread geographically across the state. A statewide indigenous facilitator, 10 Regional landcare facilitators who are embedded in the Catchment Management Authorities , a landcare magazine and website, an award process, co-sponsored with LandCare Australia Limited, and a nominal amount which is competitive for on-ground works and support.

The VLP program also has actions which address the need for work place training and employment support, and the LVI is contracted to undertake some of this.

The state government also support:

  • a river health program for on ground repair and protection of the states waterways, this is project managed by the CMA’s and is based on their waterway strategies,
  • a new biodiversity implementation program also exists , which is being implemented through a different engagement process outside the CMA’s,
  • and PPA programs for gorse, blackberries and serrated tussock, and sometimes rabbits.
  • In addition there are projects for coastal management, many implemented by volunteer coastal groups.

All the above programs are competitive, based on local, regional and state priorities or a combination of all.

Federal government also has competitive and priority driven programs which at the moment are generally brokered through the CMA’s.

The centre of community landcare’s success has been its ability to build relationships and partnerships . Between individuals in a community, with local government, schools, universities, industry and philanthropic organisations to name a few. Often these partnerships provide financial support and/or administrative and in-kind assistance.

The appeal for investing through the landcare model is that the cornerstone is people…. People “on country”. There for the long haul, not fly in fly out, but committed to their patch. Whether this is the local park, their beach and its dunes or a stretch of river or creek.

The spin off is that investing in landcare means that you are not only providing a cost effective and long term NRM investment but also and importantly you are investing in social benefits

Many talk about landscape management and cross border projects, but what we have learned from bitter experience is that the landscape needs people and they are an asset in themselves!

Landcare means many things to many people…. No single landcare group is the same. They may have been established to combat a weed, or fight rabbit infestation, improve perennial pasture production, plant trees, conserve and/or manage a plot of precious biodiversity on public or private land or create a biolink. They may be farmers, first people, city dwellers or a mixture of all and more…

The fact is, that Landcare with some help, initially formed to improve productive farming techniques and enhance environmental assets, and in partnership with others is achieving this and more on public and private land across the urban and rural landscape…..

…… but what sets landcare apart is its primary focus on building resilient and sustainable communities.

This was so succinctly expressed by Bernie Wonder(2014) in his report to the Australian Federal Government looking at Smallholder Value Chains for Food Security,

Landcare is driven by its membership and thereby empowers participants to address issues of common interest. Their individual human and accumulated social capital bring skills and expertise as well as cohesiveness and trust to the work of the group, and these are qualities essential for enterprise development as well as NRM”.

Kaye Rodden

Deputy Chair LVI

Advocacy and Partnerships.

May 2018

Editor’s note: I have published an extract from this publication to outline the infrastructure that supports the Barrabool Hills Landcare Group. In the process, I have cut a segment from the middle, which deals with state and national political issues. If you wish to view the entire document, please contact the author, or the web editor, via our email:  barraboolhillslandcare@gmail.com

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Recreating the Country

Hi followers of the Recreating the Country blog on grasslands,

The series on Managing Grasslands and Grassy Woodlands, why we are losing the battle to save them has fallen on fertile soil!

Parts 1 & 2 had more than a thousand readers each and from the diverse and wonderful comments there is a general agreement that cultural and political attitudes toward protecting Australia’s wildlife need to change quickly.

Part 3 – ‘The Wisdom of Indigenous Elders’ looks at the benefits of Traditional Owner burning practices. Part of the emerging solution to our dilemma is to empower Australia’s indigenous people to practice their craft and reconnect with Country.
Click on the link below to read part 3;
https://www.recreatingthecountry.com. au/blog/managing-grasslands-and-grassy-woodlands-in-temperate-australia-why-were-losing-the-battle-to-save-them-part-3-the-wisdom-of-indigenous-elders

(If this link doesn’t work then go to the website home page http://www.recreatingthecountry.com.au/  and choose blog).
Please keep the comments coming. They’re brilliant!

Kind regards,
Steve
Stephen Murphy
Sustainable Biorich Landscapes

stephenattreehome@gmail.com 

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Barrabool Hills geological map

Here’s the link to the online version of the geological map of Barrabool Hills. It’s free to download the high res version but it’s 4MB, which may not suit some people.
http://earthresources.efirst.com.au/product.asp?pID=370&cID=33

Elissa Ashton-Smith
Landcare Facilitator, Geelong Landcare Network
email: geelonglandcarenetwork@gmail.com

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establishing shelterbelts, tax incentives

From: john.robinson@delwp.vic.gov.au

The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has produced a fact sheet for primary producers on the tax incentives for establishing shelterbelts, entitled “Establishing shelterbelts on land used in primary production business: Can I claim a tax deduction? What you need to know” (Dec. 2016).

The fact sheet was developed in a partnership between the ATO and the Basalt to Bay Landcare Network, and it provides primary producers with useful information on the taxation, productivity and biodiversity benefits that can result from the establishment of shelterbelts.

The PDF of the fact sheet is available via https://www.landcarevic.org.au/resources/tax-incentives-for-establishing-shelterbelts/

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Bushfood Nursery

Bushfood nursery stock

by Mike Edwards

This year we have been busy planting out our new site at Barongarook with many species for stock plants, prior to moving our nursery from Colac. These stock plants will be used for cuttings and seed.

In regard to our bush food plantings, much is about trialling species which will grow in our climate, as well be commercially viable in the native food market.

The new planting only began in late 2016 so we have no long-term results as yet. To-date most plants are looking promising after one of the wettest and coldest years we have had in the 17 years we have been her

The soils on the site vary: while some are heavy wet soils, most are poor sandy soils that get seasonally quite wet.

The Native food species we have planted are:

  • Mountain Pepper (Tasmannia lanceolata)

  • Alpine Pepper (Tasmannia xerophila),

  • Lemon aspen (Acronychia acidula),

  • Illawarra plum (Podocarpus elatus),

  • Muntries (prostrate and shrub form) (Kunzia pomifera),

  • Lemon Myrtle (Backhousia citriodora),

  • Anise myrtle (Syzygium anisatum),

  • Cinnamon Myrtle (Backhausia myrtifolia),

  • Riberries (Syzygium luemannii) and

  • Midyum Berries (Austromyrtus dulcis).

  • Our local Native Currant (Caprosma quadrifida) has also gone into the mix.

We are also trialling a variety of wattle: Long-leaved Wattle (Acacia longifolia ssp longifolia), Coastal Wirilda (Acacia retinodes coast form) and 2 provenances of Golden Wattle (Acacia pycnantha). To get an idea of production potential we will have to wait till they start producing in year 2.

Both broadleaf and small leaf Tamarind (Diploglottis australis) have so far also survived the cold winter very well. Quandong (Santalum acuminatum) is about to go in along side the Sandalwood (Santalum spp) that is surviving its first year.

Perhaps some of the most potential for native food crops are with the native herbs. We are building up seed stock so as to produce enough for a serious production trial in the future.

Species we are currently focusing on are:

the native celery and parsley (fine and broad leaf forms) (Apium prostratum)

River mint (Mentha australis) and

Yam Daisy (murrnong) (Microseris lanceolata).

Other herbs in the form of shrubs and trees are:

  • Roundleaf Mint (Prostanthera rotundifolia),

  • Cut-leaf Mint (Prostanthera incisa) and

  • Strawberry Gum (E. olida).

The Strawberry Gum is one we have grown successfully here now for about 12 years.

If you are interested in more information about native edibles and botanicals and the bourgeoning industry, check Australian Native Food & Botanicals (ANFAB) www.anfab.org.au.

ANFAB is running a very successful roadshow series around Australia: “Growing the Growers”.

Their Victorian workshop is scheduled for late February next year in Melbourne. We will keep you posted.

Two OAN members are current ANFAB Directors Amanda Garner (Chair) and Marianne Stewart.

NOTE: This article is reprinted courtesy of the Otway Agroforestry Network (OAN) from the Spring 2017 issue of their quarterly magazine. Mike Edwards is a highly regarded nurseryman from Colac and a stalwart of OAN.

For the full OAN newsletter, click on link below. 

Ed.

OANNewsletterSpring17

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Tree Establishment

by John Marriott

 

John Marriott (left) and and OAN Peer Group Mentor,  Matt Armstrong discuss Coast redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) progress on John’s farm near Ferguson

Successful tree establishment is no different to the establishment of any crop, and the essential ingredients are:
• Planning well in advance – up to 12 months
• Early ordering of seed or seedlings to ensure supply of  appropriate species
• Good and effective long term weed control.
• Secure fencing and effective tree protection.
• A ‘flooded root system’ at time of planting for tube stock.
• A ‘moist tilth’ and warm conditions for direct seeding.
• Heat treatment of acacias in the seed mix.

Planning in Advance:
For 2018, planning should begin NOW. Measure up the site,  calculate the number of seedlings for the particular site, and then discuss the appropriate species with your local nurseryman. This means you will be guaranteed (almost!), well grown seedlings that are not root bound, or, if you intend to direct seed, locally collected seed that can be picked as it ripens, to ensure adequate supplies.

Plantation width or woodlot size will be another consideration.  Fencing is a major contributor to cost, so there is little point in putting a single row of trees between two fences, quite apart from the opportunity loss for environmental and biodiversity considerations.

Species selection and planting configuration will depend upon:
a) The effect that you want to achieve
b) The topography of the site –top of a slope & dry or bottom of a slope & wet.
c) Aesthetic effect of the area
d) End use – stock shade & shelter, biodiversity, long term timber production, harvesting firewood

Effective Weed Control:
After the autumn break in 2018, spray 1.0 to 1.5 metre strips with an effective knock down herbicide at the recommended rate. A ‘blanket spray’ of the total plantation area (assuming it is a plantation!) is  fine, but I consider it unnecessary. This should be followed up in late August/early September with a second spray, but this time add an effective residual herbicide to the knock down herbicide, once again, using the recommended rates.

Secure Fencing and Plant Protection:
Secure fencing is an imperative, and beware putting a new fence alongside an existing old fence to create a plantation. Stock will push hard on an old fence to gain access to the fresh growth within the plantation, and the damage can be extensive. Gates and associated end assemblies into plantations are an unnecessary expense, and a section of fence that ‘lies down’ is far more secure if periodic access is anticipated. Similarly, rabbits, hares, wallabies, deer etc., can cause extensive damage to fresh seedlings unless they are adequately protected.

Planting – Tube stock:
Various tools are available for tube stock planting, and by and large they are excellent. It should be remembered though, that these tools were primarily developed to minimize soil disturbance around the area where the tree is planted, thereby optimizing the effect of the residual herbicide.
Early to mid-Spring is by far the best time to plant tube stock. (I’ve never understood why National Tree Day is held in mid-Winter!!), but you do need to be wary of dry northerly windy days. It is  therefore imperative that the seedlings are dropped into a trough or dam for 30 minutes or so prior to planting, to thoroughly flood the seedlings root system and exclude all air pockets. You then need to ensure that the seedling is transferred to the planting site, as wet as possible, and properly firmed into place. If weed control and site preparation have been effective, rarely are dry conditions a problem. Too wet is a far greater problem than too dry! Again, if weed control and site preparation have been effective, it will not be necessary to water trees post planting. In fact, post planting watering only encourages the root system to stay near the surface, rather than encouraging the roots to search for stored sub soil moisture as a result of your effective weed control spraying. Post planting  watering is expensive and time consuming!

Plantation Width & Design:
As mentioned earlier, there is little point in establishing a very narrow plantation, but it is amazing how many people worry about ‘losing valuable grazing land’. Consider the following: Assume a 25 ha. paddock that measures 500m X 500m and carries 300 dse (i.e. 12 dse./ha)

If you establish a 20 metre wide plantation on 2 sides of  he paddock (say west and south sides), you have now reduced the grazing area to 23.04 ha (7.8% of the paddock is now in trees). If you were to put the same 300 dse’s back in the paddock, you have now raised the stocking rate to 13 dse. I don’t believe anyone has their stocking rate that finely tuned, and in any case the benefits of shade & shelter, lamb survival and biodiversity etc. far outweigh the bare paddock. The other alternative is to keep 24 dse equivalent at home!! And of
course, the bigger the paddock, the less effect on stockingrate.

© Otway Agroforestry Network 2017

Eds Notes:

  1. This is an abridged version of John’s article published in the winter 2017 edition of the Otway Agroforestry Network’s newsletter. 
  2. The opaque green tubes shown in the above photograph are designed to protect tree seedlings from wallaby attack.
  3. The article in general applies to arable land. Planting riverbanks, escarpments and stony rises requires some tweeking of the methods described in the article. 
  4. Ferguson is slap-bang in the middle of the Otway ranges, not far from Weeaprorinah.
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