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The

Mallee Farmer FOR FA RM E R S I N T H E M A L L E E REGION

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Improving productivity on sandy soils

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Our local Landcare hero

ISSUE 13 • Autumn 2018

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Case Study: Dryland salinity and Dune seepage

Dune seepage emerging again as an issue in the Mallee

This publication is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.


The

Mallee Farmer Contents Mallee seasonal update

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Can productivity be increased on Mallee sandy soils?

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GrowNotes Alert is the Australian grain growers’ new best friend

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Sowing strategies to improve productivity on sandy Mallee soils

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Can A Shielded Sprayer Reduce Ryegrass?

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Wheat disease breakthrough to help feed the world

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Australian Drone Technology Assisting a Significant Step in Crop Tolerance to Heat and Drought Stress

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Regional Overview - Regional Landcare Coordinator

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Getting the most out of your Facilitator

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Landcare Facilitator Biography: Claire Kelly

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Good governance guarantees great results for everyone

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Victorian State Landcare awards – Mallee Winners

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Connecting Mallee Parks Wraps Up

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Funding to reap benefits for two cropping groups

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Will mice be a problem in 2018?

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New Fox Baiting Technique Trialled in the Patchewollock State Forest

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Citizen science – Water increases biodiversity

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Dryland Salinity Control Works Case Study

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Is automated farming a threat to job security?

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EMAP Program comes to an end

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Livestock Production Assurance Program showcased at Nullawil

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The experts – where and when you need them

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Getting on your goat

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New Biodiversity On-ground Action projects for the Mallee

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Berrook and Baring State Forest Malleefowl Wildlife Corridors study

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ISSN: 1839 - 2229

Cover Image Photo: Derick Boord, Mallee CMA

Emerging technology looks to support agriculture and the environment

With each passing year lessons are learned and through those, we can plan for improved productivity and outcomes going forward. No industry demonstrates this more clearly than the agriculture sector. Farmers across the Mallee are constantly adapting the way they farm, from embracing new technology to monitor pest, disease and weather risks, to adopting new cover crop and interrow sowing to improve the quality and productivity of soil.

DISCLAIMER The information in this document has been published in good faith by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA). This publication and the information contained within may be of assistance to you but the Mallee CMA Board and staff do not guarantee that the publication is without flaw of any kind or is wholly appropriate for your particular purpose and therefore disclaims all liability for any error, loss or other consequence that may arise from you relying on any information in this publication. You should obtain specialist

As more research is done and information is shared, Mallee farmers are at the forefront of modern, best practice agriculture. In this issue we explore some of the latest innovations, achievements being made in our region and provide the links you might need to further your own farming business. Also among these pages you can read about programs the Mallee Catchment Management Authority has developed to support our farmers and our unique environment, including control works initiatives. We look back on some of the successes of past projects and look ahead to the potential risk posed by mice in 2018. We discover how environmental watering is making a difference to our region’s biodiversity and celebrate some of our Landcare champions. As always, I extend my thanks to everyone who’s contributed to this issue of the Mallee Farmer and I wish everyone a happy and productive 2018. Sharyon Peart Chairperson, Mallee CMA Board

advice on the applicability or otherwise of the information in this document. Neither the Mallee CMA nor any of the agencies/organisations/people who have supplied information published in the Mallee Farmer endorse the information contained in this document, nor do they endorse any products identified by trade name. The information in this document is made available on the understanding that neither the Mallee CMA, nor any the people who have supplied information published in the Mallee Farmer will have any liability arising from any reliance upon any information in this document.


The

Mallee Farmer

Mallee seasonal update The Mallee (in mid-September 2017) was on track to potentially be on par with last season’s record yields and in some more favoured districts, even in a position to give those records a good poke! Whilst September itself had been dry, we had a legacy of stored soil moisture, some of which was from as far back as late in 2016. By

By Rob Sonogan, AGRIvision Consultants

2017/18 seasonal situation Things can change quickly though with a September record-breaking minus 3°C one week, to another record-breaking 37°C within 6 days and this associated with howling winds, it certainly reminded us that we farm in one of the most testing regions of the world. As we progressed into October and November rain was very limited and any stored soil moisture was utilised. Harvest was an inconsistent affair across the region. It commenced early for many and with minimal rain interruptions then progressed steadily. For some, mice damage, frost and heat-shock took a serious toll upon yields whilst others had paddocks of above average expectations. In summary the season ended for the Mallee with average yields and grain quality. Planning and preparing for the coming seeding program is well underway. It is a good time to review plans and remember why you first made that plan. Long term strategic thinking and planning can often be more rewarding than short term kneejerk reactions.

Mice Mice numbers are still in worrying numbers at the time of writing. • Paddocks baited with success in autumn 2017 generally have lower numbers now • Paddocks that had mice in spring are more of a concern now • The word from CSIRO is that 2017 was a slow build up year and not a “rapid peak” plague. The 2018 season just might see the peak of mice numbers before plague proportions cause a natural decline. The message is to keep a close eye on mice numbers. Mice are not just active within the paddocks but are travelling long distances to their preferred feed source.

You have to be in the paddock to identify the damage.

Hay The Mallee scenery has changed over the last few seasons. Hay was once a specialised crop for few but now it is part of the rotation for many Mallee growers. Hay has proved to be one of the best herbicides ever seen and is a very important part of the rotation.

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) After four years as one of your representatives on the southern panel of GRDC, I can report that it was one of the most rewarding and beneficial periods of my career. The issues raised by you and addressed to the best of my ability within this research organisation have been progressively advanced and/or adapted and the Victorian Mallee and its farm businesses are now better understood and appreciated.

that record straight, it was western district black dust that hit Melbourne in 1983, our red Mallee dust rolled over NSW and mostly finished up in New Zealand). My answer reminded me of just how things have changed in less than a generation and how positively responsive you’ve become to dramatic weather events over the last decade, in particular. The whole region goes from strength to strength, as crops are given every agronomic and economic opportunity to flourish. As an outsider looking in on the Mallee, over the last 40 years I’ve been truly blessed to witness such transformation. Congratulations Mallee Farmers!

The importance of nitrogen and legume options, of having more research projects upon sandy soils, of whole farm economics and more activity by people funded within the Mallee are all achievements occurring during this time. The Mallee is currently superbly represented within the southern panel of GRDC by Kate Wilson from Woomelang and Rohan Mott from Ninda. They are greatly assisted by a network of advisors, being Michael Moodie - Mildura; Chris Kelly - Woomelang, Tim McClelland Birchip and Alistair Murdoch - Kooloonong. I strongly recommend you contact any of these (your direct representatives to GRDC) on any issues you would like addressed.

Rob Sonogan

For more information Contact Rob Sonogan at AGRIvision Consultants Pty Ltd 259 Beveridge Street Swan Hill 3585 Mob: 0407 359 982 Ph: 5032 3377

The Mallee – from dust to dawn It was not too long ago that a Melbournebased person questioned me about a photo he had just seen of the dust storm that rolled over Melbourne in March 1983 and asked whether the Mallee has changed since then. Where do you begin when one’s knowledge of a region is based upon one old photo? (And to get

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The

Mallee Farmer

90 kg N/ha (195 kg Urea/ha) which was placed behind a deep ripper prior to sowing.

Can productivity be increased on Mallee sandy soils? Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) has commenced trials looking at methods to improve production on sandy soils. Two new long-term trials were established at Ouyen in the Victorian Mallee in 2017 as part of a new GRDC project: ‘Increasing production on sandy soils in the low-medium rainfall areas of the southern region’.

By Michael Moodie, Mallee Sustainable Farming The project aims to improve access to cost effective techniques to diagnose and overcome the primary constraints to poor crop water-use on sandy soils where there is evidence for limited rooting depth and crop water extraction. The key soil constraints include physical and chemical impediments to root growth, nutrient supply and biological cycling, water repellence and poor establishment, and movement of water and nutrients beyond the rooting zone. Opportunities for increasing crop production exist through a range of management strategies that can be broadly categorised as: • Mitigation Approaches: lower cost, annual strategies that aim to minimise the impact of a particular soil constraint on crop water use.

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• Amelioration Approaches: higher intervention, higher cost approaches that aim to have greater, longer-lasting impact, through changing the properties of the soil profile. The trials at Ouyen are a collaboration between Moodie Agronomy and Mallee Sustainable Farming, CSIRO and UniSA. The trials are investigating both mitigation and amelioration approaches to improve productivity through enhanced nutrient supply in the root zone to increase rooting depth and water extraction.

Spading and organic matter trial (Amelioration)

Fertiliser placement trial (Mitigation)

2017 Results: Fertiliser placement trial (Mitigation)

The fertiliser placement trial compared surface banding (7-8 cm deep) of nitrogen (N) and other nutrients to deeper nutrient placement using a predrilling (20 cm) or deep ripping (30 cm) operation ahead of seeding (Table 1). Nitrogen was applied as urea alone, or urea plus a wider nutrient package (P, K, S, Zn, Cu, Mn). Furthermore, nutrients were applied at an annual (30 kg N/ha) or once in three-year (90 kg N/ha) rate.

Six different types of organic matter were incorporated to a depth of 30 cm depth using a one pass spade and sow operation (Table 2). Each organic amendment was applied at a rate which supplied 2.5 t/ha of carbon, but varied in carbon:nitrogen (C:N) ratio (Table 2). Spaded organic matter treatments were also compared to spading only, spaded urea (supplying equivalent quantity of N as vetch hay) and a non-spaded control.

Deep ripping had a positive impact on penetration resistance, significantly reducing resistance in the 15 – 40 cm soil layer compared to the control (Figure 1). However, disturbing the soil using the pre-drilling approach had little impact on reducing penetration resistance. Deep ripping resulted in a significant increase in yield of 0.85 t/ha (Figure 2).


Fertiliser placement trial (Mitigation) G r a in Y ie ld

approach had little impact The on reducing penetration resist during tillering. Weeds were controlled using 0.6 L/ha of Intervix and 0.5 L/ha of MCPA LVE 5

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Table 1: Key factors in the mitigation trial Table 1: Key factors in mitigation trial C

Mallee Farmer

increase in yield of 0.85 t/ha (Figure 3). Pre-drilling did not al that reducing the penetration resistance of the soil increase

Fertiliser treatments did not impact on yield, however apply resulted in a 3 % increase in protein compared to the annua either the differing depth of fertiliser placement or the addit Deep ripping had a positive impact on penetration resistance, significantly reducing resistance yield or protein.

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The fertiliser placement trial compared surface banding (7-8 cm deep) of nitrogen (N) and other 1 nutrients to deeper nutrient placement using a pre-drilling (20 cm) or deep ripping (30 cm) operation 2017 Results ahead of seeding (Table 1). Nitrogen was applied as urea alone or urea plus a wider nutrient package (P, K, S, Zn, Cu, Mn). Furthermore, nutrients were applied at an annual (30 kg N/ha) or once in three-year Fertiliser placement trial (Mitigation) 0 (90 kg N/ha) rate.

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40 cm soil layer compared to the control (Figure 2). However, disturbing the soil using the Fertiliser Figure 1. Impact of pre-sowing soil disturbance Nutrient approach had little impact on reducing penetration resistance. Deep ripping resulted in a Placement on soil penetration resistance. package Physical *2017 Nitrogen Figure 3. Grain response to pre-sowing soil disturbance using pre-drilling (20 cm) or deep ripping (30 Description increase in yield of 0.85 t/ha (Figure 3). Pre-drilling did not alter yield and therefore, there was Disturbance Rate (kg N/ha) 7.5 20 30 (P, K, S, Zn, cm). 50 Cu, Mn) D cm cm cm that reducing the penetration resistance of the soil increased production. 100

D e p th (m m )

P 150 ü Control Nil 30 +/- Spading and organic matter (amelioration) 200 C ü Pre drill control Pre Drill 30 +/- 250 Fertiliser treatments did not impact on yield, however applying urea at the 1 in 3-year rate (90 300 Incorporating N rich organic matter such as vetch hay, chicken litter compost and compost significantly ü Pre drill N (annual) Pre Drill 30 +/- 350 resulted in a 3 % increase in protein compared to the annual rate (30 kg N/ha). There was no 400 increased yields by up to 1 t/ha (Table 2). Establishment was variable in the spaded treatments which Pre drill N (1 in 3) Pre Drill 90 ü +/- 450 either the differing depth of fertiliser placement or the addition of the nutrient package on eit 500 were sown using a spade and sow system and establishment in the spaded treatments was 50-60 Deep rip control Deep Rip 30 ü +/- 550 2 2 600 while the non-spaded control established 110 plants/m . The higher establishment variability plants/m Deep rip N (annual) Deep Rip 30 ü +/- yield or protein. 650 Deep rip N (1 in 3) Deep Rip 90 ü +/- in the spaded treatments may have limited the ability to detect significant effects of spading against the 700 750 control. 0 1000 2000 3000 4000 5000 *All treatments received an additional 10 kg N/ha as DAP S Z and 10 kg N/ha as Ammonium Sulphate P e n e tr a t io n R e s is t a n c e ( M P a ) *All treatments received an additional 10 kg N/ha as DAP S Z and 10 kg N/ha as Ammonium Sulphate top dressed Table 2: Application rates and C:N ratio or treatments applied and the 2017 grain yield and grain protein top dressed during tillering. during tillering. achieved for each treatment in the spading and organic matter trial 50 Figure 2. Impact of pre-sowing soil disturbance on soil penet D e e p R ip p e d Spading and organic matter (amelioration)

Application Rate (t/ha) 1 0 0 C:N Ratio

Treatment

150

2017 Grain

2017 Grain

Spaded Compost Spaded Urea Spaded control Non-spaded control LSD (p<0.05)

15.8 0.34 Nil Nil

D e p th (m m )

Yield (kg/ha) Protein (%) Six different types of organic matter were incorporated to a depth of 30 cm depth using a one pass spade 200 250 Spaded Vetch Hay 6 16:1 2 13.3 and sow operation (Figure 1). Each organic amendment was applied at a rate which supplied 2.5 t/ha of 300 Spaded Oaten Hay 5.9 72:1 1.4 11.0 carbon, but varied in carbon:nitrogen (C:N) ratio (Table 2). Spaded organic matter treatments were also 350 Spaded Vetch + Oat Hay 3.3 + 2.7 equivalent 25:1 of N as 1.6 4 0 0 quantity compared to spading only, spaded urea (supplying vetch hay) and 12.2 a non450 Spaded Chicken Litter Compost 6.8 16:1 2.8 12.7 spaded control. 500 550 600 650 700 750

10:1 N/A N/A N/A 0 1000

2.2 1.8 1.7 1.3 2000 0.6

10.8 17.4 10.6 11.0 3 0 0 01.7 4 0 0 0

P e n e tr a t io n R e s is t a n c e ( M P a )

P re D r ille d C o n tro l - In te r o w

variability in the spaded treatments may have limited the ability to detect significant effects of spading against the control. 5000

Conclusion

The first-year results have shown that Table 2: Application rates and C:N ratio or treatments applied and the 2017 grain yield and grain protein achieved Conclusion there is potential to significantly improve for each treatment in the spading and organic matter trial.Figure 2. Impact of pre-sowing soil disturbance on soil penetration resistance. The first-year results have shown that there is potential to significantly improve production on Mallee production on Mallee sandy soils sandy soils using both mitigation and amelioration approaches. In this first year of the trial, deep ripping using both mitigation and amelioration Pre-drilling did not alter yield and 2017 Results: Spading and organic matter alone resulted in a 0.85 t/ha increase in yield, while benefits of up to 1.5 t/ha were measured with higher approaches. In this first year of the trial, therefore, there was a clear link that (Amelioration) deep ripping alone resulted in a 0.85 t/ cost treatments where N rich organic matter was incorporated using a spader. Both trials will continue reducing the penetration resistance of ha increase in yield, while benefits of up for at least two more seasons (2018-19) to measure the longer-term benefits of the treatments which is Incorporating N rich organic matter such the soil increased production. to 1.5 t/ha were measured with higher important to determine the most economic options for improving production on Mallee sands. as vetch hay, chicken litter compost and Fertiliser treatments did not impact on compost significantly increased yields Further Information yield, however applying urea at the 1 in by up to 1 t/ha (Table 2). Establishment 3-year rate (90 kg N/ha) resulted in a was variable in the spaded treatments Please contact Michael Moodie (0448612892 or Michael@moodieag.com.au) 3% increase in protein compared to the which were sown using a spade and annual rate (30 kg N/ha). There was sow system and establishment in the no impact of either the differing depth spaded treatments was 50-60 plants/m2 Logo’s: Please Use MSF, Moodie Ag, CSIRO, GRDC, University of South Australia. of fertiliser placement or the addition while the non-spaded control established of the nutrient package on either grain 110 plants/m2. The higher establishment yield or protein.

cost treatments where N rich organic matter was incorporated using a spader. Both trials will continue for at least two more seasons (2018-19) to measure the longer-term benefits of the treatments, which is important to determine the most economic options for improving production on Mallee sands.

Sandy Soils Sandy Soils Sandy Soils

Incorporating organic amendments using a spade and sow system.

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Mallee Farmer Continued from Page 3 Blue dye indicating the distribution of surface amendments through the profile.

G r a in Y ie ld ( t/h a )

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Figure 2. Grain response to pre-sowing soil Figure 3. Grain response to pre-sowing soil disturbance using pre-drilling (20 cm) or deep ripping (30 disturbance using pre-drilling (20 cm) or deep cm). ripping (30 cm). Spading and organic matter (amelioration)

For more information

This work is funded under the GRDC project CSP00203; a collaboration between the CSIRO, Mallee Sustainable Farming Inc., Moodie Agronomy, the University of South Australia, the SA state government through Primary Industries and Regions SA, and AgGrow Agronomy. Please contact Michael Moodie (0448 612 892 or Michael@moodieag.com.au) for further information.

Incorporating N rich organic matter such as vetch hay, chicken litter compost and compost significantly increased yields by up to 1 t/ha (Table 2). Establishment was variable in the spaded treatments which were sown using a spade and sow system and establishment in the spaded treatments was 50-60 plants/m2 while the non-spaded control established 110 plants/m2. The higher establishment variability in the spaded treatments may have limited the ability to detect significant effects of spading against the control.

GrowNotes Alert is the Australian grain growers’ new best friend

Table 2: Application rates and C:N ratio or treatments applied and the 2017 grain yield and grain protein achieved for each treatment in the spading and organic matter trial Treatment

Application Rate (t/ha)

C:N Ratio

2017 Grain Yield (kg/ha) 2 1.4 1.6 2.8 2.2 1.8 1.7 1.3 0.6

2017 Grain Protein (%) 13.3 11.0 12.2 12.7 10.8 17.4 10.6 11.0 1.7

Spaded Vetch Hay Being on top of issues is 6 imperative16:1 for a healthy crop – and that’s why the Grains Spaded Oaten Hay 5.9 72:1 Research & Development Corporation Spaded Vetch + Oat Hay 3.3 + 2.7 25:1 (GRDC) and Agriculture Victoria continue to Spaded Chicken Litter Compost 6.8 16:1 urge Spaded Compost growers to get on board with the GrowNotes™ Alert priority notification system. 15.8 10:1

By

Spaded Urea Spaded control Non-spaded control LSD (p<0.05)

0.34 Nil Nil

Kellyanne Harris, Agriculture Victoria

N/A N/A N/A

Conclusion

GrowNotes™ Alert is a free crop The first-year results have shown that there is potential to significantly improve production on Mallee notification service, co-invested by the sandy soils using both mitigation and amelioration approaches. In this first year of the trial, deep ripping GRDC and Agriculture Victoria, which alone resulted in a 0.85 t/ha increase in yield, while benefits of up to 1.5 t/ha were measured with higher is helping nationwide grain growers and cost treatments where N rich organic matter was incorporated using a spader. Both trials will continue industry to produce great crops and limit for at least two more seasons (2018-19) to measure the longer-term benefits of the treatments which is potential threats and issues. important to determine the most economic options for improving production on Mallee sands.

Since its release in September 2017, Further Information more than a thousand growers and advisers across the country have Please contact Michael Moodie (0448612892 or Michael@moodieag.com.au) successfully signed up to GrowNotes™ Alert to receive personalised, early and actionable pest, disease and weed Logo’s: Please Use MSF, Moodie Ag, CSIRO, GRDC, University of South Australia. warnings; as well as important, national biosecurity alerts. With an in-built surveillance tool, subscribers can send in crop photos of suspected pest, disease and weed issues – as well as highlighting their healthy crops, which helps to promote market access. Users choose to receive information specific to their needs, such as crop types and locations, delivered as an SMS and/or email, an app alert, or by logging into the GrowNotes™ Alert

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Mallee Farmer subscriber website portal. Personalising what each subscriber wants helps to cut out irrelevant ‘noise’ and concentrate on what needs attention. Alerts are only sent when there is something urgent, actionable and economically important for the subscriber to focus their immediate efforts on. Agriculture Victoria Program Manager for the GRDC GrowNotes™ Alert project, Kellyanne Harris, said there is an everincreasing demand for the service. “More than 4000 people saw the GrowNotes™ Alert on sclerotinia in May last year, and a large number of those visitors clicked through for further information,” Ms Harris said. “GrowNotes™ Alert links users to the most up-to-date and relevant information and sources, such as eXtensionAUS,

Plant Health Australia and state government, to enable correct and valuable action on the farm.” Critically, the system is two-way, allowing growers to upload photos on the spot, and feed relevant and immediate information back to an extensive range of experts across Australia. “We also give all of our subscribers a free macro lens, which attaches to their smart phone or tablet,” Ms Harris said. “Subscribers can take clear, close up photos on the spot – in the field – and feed back into our system for alert triage to identify the cause and severity of each report,” she said.

One alert in 2017 for Victoria, South Australia and NSW on Blackleg in canola was received by almost 400 direct subscribers, and received more than 6300 views via Twitter. After initially subscribing to the web portal, iOS and Android apps are available to download in the Apple and Google Play stores respectively, so that users have instant access to GrowNotes™ Alert information and surveillance tools whilst they are out in their paddocks.

To date, more than 25 endemic and biosecurity alerts have been sent out across Australia and the service receives user-submitted surveillance almost daily.

For more information

To subscribe to GrowNotes™ Alert, please visit: www.grdc.com. au/grownotesalert and follow any or all the three regional Twitter handles @GNAlertSouth @GNAlertNorth and @GNAlertWest. To find out more and to claim your free macro lens, please email the GrowNotes™ Alert team directly at: grownotesalert@ecodev.vic.

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Mallee Farmer

Sustainable Farming (MSF) in collaboration with CSIRO with funding from the GRDC investigating the potential benefits of on-row sowing to improve crop establishmen Mallee sands. This research has been undertaken over the past three years at Karo the SA Mallee. Soil properties

Sowing strategies to improve productivity on sandy Mallee soils

Measurements have been taken to assess differences in key soil properties betwee inter-row positions at the time of sowing. Due to the water harvesting effect, surfa often been higher on-row than in the inter-row at the time of sowing. At Karoonda 15 mm more water in the top 40 cm on-row compared to the inter-row position.

Differences in mineral N levels in the surface 10 cm depth at sowing have generally row positions. However, higher levels of microbial biomass and N supply potential Food for thought: Brome Grass previous year’s crop row. For example, a larger microbial biomass and 10 kg N/ha establishment may be reduced through on-row sowing; potential was measured on-row at Karoonda in 2017 (Table 1).

early results from Karoonda trials indicate higher levels of biomass and soil moisture. By

Table 1. Microbial biomass carbon (C), mineral N and N supply potential on-row a Table 1. Microbial biomass carbon (C), mineral N and N supply potential on-row and inter-row at the time of sowing during May 2017. time of sowing during May 2017.

Michael Moodie (MSF), Therese McBeath and Vadakattu Gupta (CSIRO) Global Positioning System (GPS) guided seeding presents the opportunity for strategic placement of seed in relation to last season’s crop rows. Inter-row sowing between the previous crop’s stubble is often viewed as an attractive option due to improved stubble handling by seeding equipment and separation between the crop seedling and root and stubble borne diseases present in the previous crop row. However, the development of implement steering systems (eg. ProTrakker, ITill) has sparked interest in the use of on-row (or edge-row seeding) to improve establishment and crop growth. Mallee Sustainable Farming (MSF) in collaboration with CSIRO with funding from the GRDC have been investigating the potential benefits of on-row sowing to improve crop establishment and production on Mallee sands. This research has been undertaken over the past three years at Karoonda and Loxton in the SA Mallee.

Row position

Microbial biomass

N Supply potential (kg N / ha)

Mineral N

kg C/ha

<decile 5

>decile 5

kg N/ha

On-row

231

29.6

46

21

Inter-row LSD (<0.05)

183 29

21.9 3.2

35 4.8

18 not sig.

Soil disease is often seen as the greatest drawback of on or near row sowing. Inocu Rhizoctonia, Take All and Crown Rot are generally higher in soils from previous yea compared to inter-row which reflected in disease incidence. However, in spite of t inoculum, disease incidence is often low with on-row sowing, which could be attrib

Soil properties Measurements have been taken to assess differences in key soil properties between the on-row and inter-row positions at the time of sowing. Due to the water harvesting effect, surface soil water has often been higher on-row than in the inter-row at the time of sowing. At Karoonda in 2017, there was 15 mm more water in the top 40 cm on-row compared to the inter-row position. Mineral nitrogen (N) levels in the surface 10 cm depth at sowing have generally been similar at both row positions. However, higher levels of microbial biomass and N supply potential can be found on the previous year’s crop row. For example, a larger microbial biomass and 10 kg N/ha greater mineralisation potential was measured on-row at Karoonda in 2017 (Table 1).

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Increased brome grass when wheat sown between the rows compared to on-row.


into significant benefits in grain yield. The

Mallee Farmer

Weed competition

Brome plants per m2

One of the major benefits of near-row sowing at Karoonda has been to increase crop competition which has suppressed weed seed set by brome grass. For example, in 2017 there were approximately 10 more brome plants m2 where wheat was sown inter-row rather than on-row and no pre-emergent herbicides Soil disease is often seen as the greatest were used (Figure 1). Where trifluralin and metribuzin were used in conjunction with on-row sowing, Figure 1. Brome grass population in a wheat crop sown on-row or inter-row on a non-wetting sandy soil at Karoonda 2 drawback of on or near row sowing. . In 2016, this weed suppression the brome grass population was reduced by a further 20 plants m in 2017. Inoculum levels for Rhizoctonia, Take All benefit led to 72% less brome grass seed being set. and Crown Rot are generally higher in soils from the previous year’s crop row 45 (on-row) compared to inter-row which 40 was reflected in disease incidence. However, in spite of the high levels of 35 inoculum, disease incidence is often 30 low with on-row sowing, which could 25 be attributed to the overall increase in disease suppression potential of soil 20 from long term stubble retention and 15 conservation management practices 10 (Table 2). 5

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Crop production

No pre-em herbicide

trifluralin @ 1.5 l/ha + metribuzin @ 100 g/ha

Sowing near the previous crop row often improves crop establishment, especially On row Inter row on non-wetting sands such as at increase in disease suppression potential of soil from long term stubble retention and conservation Karoonda. For example, establishment management practices (Table 2). was improved by nearly 40% by sowing near-row at this site in 2017 and this Table 2. Soilborne disease risk ratings for Takeall (Ggt), Rhizoctonia (RsAG8) and Fusarium crown rot in resulted in greater early biomass at first Table 2. Soilborne disease risk ratings for Takeall (Ggt), Rhizoctonia (RsAG8) and Fusarium crown rot in soil on last soil on last year’s crop rows and in the inter-row at the time of sowing in 2017 and a combined disease node (crop growth stage 31). However year’s crop rows and in the inter-row at the time of sowing in 2017 and a combined disease incidence rating (GS31) incidence rating (GS31). in previous seasons, early benefits in establishment and crop biomass by Sowing Disease risk from pathogen inoculum Disease incidence sowing near row have not transformed Treatment Rhizoctonia TakeAll (Ggt) Fusarium Root rating (0-5 scale) into significant benefits in grain yield.

On-row Off-row

High Low

Medium Low

crown rot High Low

1.4 ± 0.2 0.6 ± 0.1

Weed competition

One of the major benefits of nearrow sowing at Karoonda has been to increase crop competition which has Crop production suppressed weed seed set by brome grass. For example, in 2017 there were Sowing near the previous crop row often improves crop establishment, especially on non-wetting sands approximately 10 more brome plants such as at Karoonda. For example, establishment was improved by nearly 40% by sowing near-row at per m2 where wheat was sown inter-row this site in 2017 and this resulted in greater early biomass at crop growth stage 31. However in previous rather than on-row and no pre-emergent seasons, early benefits in establishment and crop biomass by sowing near row have not transformed herbicides were used (Figure 1). Where into significant benefits in grain yield. trifluralin and metribuzin were used in conjunction with on-row sowing, the Weed competition brome grass population was reduced by a further 20 plants m2. In 2016, this weed One of the major benefits of near-row sowing at Karoonda has been to increase crop competition which suppression benefit led to 72% less has suppressed weed seed set by brome grass. For example, in 2017 there were approximately 10 more brome grass seed being set. brome plants m2 where wheat was sown inter-row rather than on-row and no pre-emergent herbicides were used (Figure 1). Where trifluralin and metribuzin were used in conjunction with on-row sowing, Summary the brome grass population was reduced by a further 20 plants m2. In 2016, this weed suppression On-row sowing regularly results in benefit led to 72% less brome grass seed being set. improved crop establishment and early biomass, however to date this has 45 not resulted in a significant crop yield 40On row sowing increases competition against brome grass benefit. The greatest potential benefit of on-row sowing on sandy soils appears 35 to be from increased weed competition 30 provided by the on-row sown crop. 25 This competition comes from improved 20 crop establishment and vigour, in the location where a high proportion of the 15 Sandy Soils brome grass seed is germinating on the 10 5 0 Brome plants per m2

No pre-em herbicide

On row

trifluralin @ 1.5 l/ha + metribuzin @ 100 g/ha

Inter row

For more information

For further information please email Michael@moodieag.com.au or Therese.McBeath@csiro.au

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The

Mallee Farmer

Can A Shielded Sprayer Reduce Ryegrass? In a high ryegrass situation, a shielded sprayer reduced ryegrass tillers by 43 per cent. Shielded sprayers achieve higher levels of control in low weed populations, however multiple weed management strategies and modes of action are the best defense in a high weed situation. By Amy Smith (Birchip Cropping Group)

Background Herbicide resistance is a growing area of concern in Australian farming systems. Weed management is a complex issue, trying to maintain a balance between resistance, control achieved and expenses. The shielded sprayer is a piece of technology that promises to make weed management simpler, however there is little research evaluating its use. There are two types of shielded sprayer technology: one that is physically tracked down the row by the standing crop; and one that uses a camera to guide the shield apparatus down the row. Both these setups are being used successfully in commercial farm situations and the development of GPS and seeder technology now allows for near perfect inter-row sowing and spray technology. Despite the technological and agronomic advances in shielded sprayers there has been relatively low adoption due to time, costs and risks in setting up the system. Possible challenges to adoption are: • cost of machinery: it is not as simple as just buying a shielded sprayer – you need to invest in the entire system for effective adoption. This includes wide rows (15 inches or more), precise seeding equipment (2cm steering accuracy and possible seeding implement steering if needed to keep from going offline, this allows for perfect straight rows down the paddock); • paddock layout: obstacles such as trees in the paddock increase the risk of going offline and nonselective sprays killing the crop;

8

• time, labour and skills for setting up the system; • loss of yield in cereal rotation from wide rows; • loss of yield from herbicide damage; • possible increase in reliance on herbicides like glyphosate which may lead to an increase in herbicide resistance. However there are many advantages of using a shielded sprayer system including:

Plant density: 130 plants/m² Seeding equipment: Knife points, press wheels, 15 inch row spacing Sowing date: 6 June 2017 Replicates: Four Harvest date: November 2017 Trial average yield: 1.2t/ha Previous crop type: Wheat, stubble harrowed

• lower chemical costs: cheap, effective, non-selective herbicides can be used during a cereal rotation without the need for expensive pre-emergent and selective chemicals;

Trial Inputs

• doesn’t limit rotations and can avoid getting locked into a group B herbicide rotation;

Pests and disease were controlled according to best management practice.

• advantages of wide rows for pulses in the rotation such as better disease control and better moisture availability;

Method

• excellent weed control which will constantly lower the weed seedbank; • higher returns, with lower risk of production over time. Note: Some of the herbicides used in this trial are not registered for use in certain crops, and were tested for experimental purposes only. Always read the label and adhere to directions when using herbicides.

Aim To investigate the agronomic use and economic value of shielded sprayers in the Wimmera and Mallee.

Paddock Details Location: Jil Jil GSR (Apr-Oct): 214mm Soil type: Sandy clay loam

Trial Details Crop type: Kord wheat Treatments: Refer to Table 1 Target

Fertiliser: Granulock Supreme Z + Impact® @ 55kg/ha at sowing and 100kg/ha of urea applied at GS13.

A replicated field trial was sown using a complete randomised block design according to the treatments in Table 1. Assessments included weed counts (50x76cm including two crop inter rows), tiller counts at GS70 (crop), yield and grain quality parameters. The shielded spray was applied using a rigid 12 inch shield set-up. It was applied at a water rate of 180L/ha with DG TEEJET 80015VS nozzles. The water rate was exceptionally high as a balance of speed and accuracy in a plot setting needed to be achieved. A much lower water rate could be used in a broadacre setting with modified shields to track the crop rows.

Results And Interpretation The trial site was selected based on its high ryegrass population and to provide a consistent weed population so that treatments would not be easily skewed by variability. However, this had its limitations. Due to exceptionally high ryegrass numbers and rainfall not allowing high efficacy in all of the pre-emergent herbicides used, no treatment provided


with DG TEEJET 80015VS nozzles. The water rate was exceptionally high as a balance of speed and accuracy in The a plot setting needed to be achieved. A much lower water rate could be used in a broadacre setting with modified shields to track the crop rows.

Mallee Farmer

Table 1. The treatment list including herbicides and rates used in this trial. Treatment

Pre-emergent herbicide

1

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha (IBS) (control: farmer practice, low cost)

2

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha + Sakura® 118g/ha (IBS)

3

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha (IBS) Boxer Gold® 2.5L/ha at GS11

4

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha + Sakura 118g/ha (IBS) Boxer Gold 2.5L/ha at GS11

5

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha (IBS) Paraquat 1.5L/ha (via shield) at GS59

6

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha + Sakura 118g/ha (IBS) Paraquat 1.5L/ha (via shield) at GS59

7

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha (IBS) Boxer Gold 2.5L/ha at GS11 Paraquat 1.5L/ha (via shield) at GS59

8

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha + Sakura 118g/ha (IBS) Boxer Gold 2.5L/ha at GS11 Paraquat 1.5L/ha (via shield) at GS59

9

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha (IBS) Glyphosate 540 2L/ha (via shield) at GS59

The selected site had a known ryegrass problem caused by resistance to several products. This included low

Table 1. The treatment list including herbicides and rates used in this trial. trifluralin resistance (30 per cent), medium B-Imidazolinone resistance (60 per cent) and high level A-Fops (95

RESULTS AND INTERPRETATION

per cent) resistance. Consequently, the products that could be used on the site were limited – group B’s were

The selected site had a known respectively and 79 per cent when an adequate level of ryegrass control. avoided. It is acknowledged that in this situation it would be unlikely that a grower would plant wheat, however ryegrass problem caused by resistance used in combination (Table 2). The Despite this, there were still significant the site was chosen for its weed numbers and the resistance was worked around by using products with no to several products. This included low efficacy may have been higher in the The trial site was selected based on its high ryegrass population and to provide a consistent weed reductions in weed number which trifluralin resistance (30 per cent), individual treatments if followed by while not necessarily economical, can detected resistance. population so that treatments would not be easily skewed by variability. However, this had its medium B-Imidazolinone resistance more rainfall – there was only 1mm in be applied in principle to a farming (60 per cent) and high level A-Fops (95 June following the sowing of the trial system. limitations. Due to exceptionally high ryegrass numbers and rainfall not allowing high efficacy in all of Sakura and Boxer Gold provided effective control, achieving a reduction of tillers of 62 per cent and 55 per cent) resistance. Consequently, the and 14mm broken into small rainfall The weed assessments were carried the pre-emergent herbicides used, no treatment provided an adequate level of ryegrass control. per cent respectively and 79 per cent when used in combination (Table 2). The efficacy may have been products that could be used on the site events following the Boxer Gold out in an area that included both were limited – group B’s were avoided. application. The size of the ryegrass Despite this, there were still significant reductions in weed number which while not necessarily higher in the individual treatments if followed by more rainfall – there was only 1mm in June following crop row and inter-row as this could It is acknowledged that in this situation may also have reduced effectiveness be converted into an overall level economical, can be applied in principle to a farming system. it would be unlikely that a grower would of the Boxer Gold application – the sowing of the trial and 14mm broken into small rainfall events following the Boxer Gold application. of control for the crop. It should be plant wheat, however the site was ryegrass plants ranged from 1–2 leaf noted that particular treatmentsmay would The The weed assessments were carried out in an area that included both crop row and inter-row as this size of the ryegrass also have reduced effectiveness of the the Boxer application – ryegrass chosen for its weed numbers and so Gold it is possible the larger ones were have targeted certain areas; the IBS resistance was worked around by using unaffected. could be converted into an overall level of control for the crop. It should be noted that particular plants ranged from 1–2 leaf so it is possible the larger ones were unaffected. herbicides and shielded sprayer would products with no detected resistance. The shielded sprayer (paraquat: have treatments would have targeted certain areas; the IBS herbicides and shielded sprayer would have targeted the inter-row while only the post emergent Boxer Gold spray Sakura and Boxer Gold provided treatments 5–8) achieved on average, effective control, achieving a reduction 43 per cent reduction of the present wouldtargeted the inter-row while only the post emergent Boxer Gold spray would have included both have included both weeds in the Table 2. Pre-emergent and in-crop ryegrass control. Per cent reduction shows per cent tiller of tillers of 62 per cent and 55 per cent ryegrass tillers (Table 3). This was inter and intra-row.

weeds in the inter and intra-row. reduction of the treatment compared to the control. Treatment

reduction of tillers

356a

140a

-

Trifluralin fb. Boxer Gold (post-em)

159

86

55

Trifluralin + Sakura (pre-em)

136b

153a

62

75

76

79

P<0.001 * 8.8

P<0.001 * 10.7

Sig. diff. LSD (P=0.05) CV %

Plants/m2 %

Trifluralin only

Trifluralin + Sakura (pre-em) fb. Boxer Gold (post-em)

Tillers/m2

b

c

b

b

-

*LSD is not provided as data was transformed for analysis. *LSD is not provided as data was transformed for analysis. Significant differences are shown by different letters: a,b,c,d (P≤0.05).

Table 2. Pre-emergent and in-crop ryegrass control. Per cent reduction shows per cent tiller reduction of the treatment compared to the control.

The shielded sprayer (paraquat: treatments 5–8) achieved on average, 43 per cent reduction of the present ryegrass tillers (Table 3). This was notable although not remarkable – the high ryegrass cover and width of the 9 shields meant many plants escaped spray between the shield and the crop row. This was escalated by the IBS


inaccuracy in the GPS system causing spray to drift into the crop row. While effective for weed control,

The

Mallee Farmer

spraying glyphosate in-crop comes at a huge risk, even minor drift could wipe out a large amount of crop.

notable although not remarkable – the high ryegrass cover and width of the shields meant many plants escaped spray between the shield and the crop row. This was escalated by the IBS treatments controlling ryegrass in the interrow but not within the row. A wider shield could reduce this occurring, as long as the sprayer is able to accurately track a line down the row and not put the crop at risk. In a lower ryegrass population, weed control of the shielded sprayer would increase because fewer weeds would be in the crop row where the shields can’t reach. Due to the irregular nature of a natural weed population the differences between treatments are not clearcut however, some conclusions can be drawn. Of the shielded sprayer treatments, the most effective at reducing tillers was treatment 8 – the ‘all in’ (Sakura + Boxer Gold + shield) followed by the individual Sakura + shield (Treatment 6) and Boxer Gold + shield (Treatment 7). The high ryegrass numbers remaining in Treatment 5 (trifluralin + shield) made it no different to the control (Treatment 1), suggesting that shield use is unlikely to achieve adequate control when weed numbers are particularly high. Shielded sprayers will have limited impact in yield increases as the herbicides are applied later in season so weeds are likely to have affected growth before the herbicide application. This will vary with different shield setups as some are safe to use earlier in the season. Despite this, there was some effect; yields were better in treatments with a higher degree of ryegrass control – particularly those where some extra early weed control was added. This reinforces the message that it is important to control weeds every year as a blowout will eventually effect the bottom line. The glyphosate treatment controlled ryegrass as effectively as treatment 8, however there was some crop damage, 0.14t/ha yield loss compared to the control. This may have been due to a degree of inaccuracy in the GPS system causing spray to drift into the crop row. While effective for weed control, spraying glyphosate in-crop comes at a huge risk, even minor drift could wipe out a large amount of crop.

On-Farm Profitability The shielded sprayer was able to achieve 43 per cent control in an extremely high ryegrass population. The effectiveness of the shielded sprayer didn’t appear to vary between

10

Table 3. Ryegrass tiller reduction, grain yield and cost of herbicide application of each treatment. Treatment

Viable

Yield (t/ha)

Cost ($/ha)

267d

1.01cd

7.5

tillers/m 2 remaining

1

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha (IBS)

2

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha + Sakura 118g/ha (IBS)

152bcd

1.25abc

47.62

3

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha (IBS) Boxer Gold 2.5L/ha at GS11

188cd

1.17abc

46.75

4

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha + Sakura 118g/ha (IBS) Boxer Gold 2.5L/ha at GS11

92bc

1.24abc

86.87

5

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha (IBS) Paraquat 1.5L/ha (via shield) at GS59

280d

1.04bcd

15.75

6

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha + Sakura 118g/ha (IBS) Paraquat 1.5L/ha (via shield) at GS59

73ab

1.16abc

55.87

7

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha (IBS) Boxer Gold 2.5L/ha at GS11 Paraquat 1.5L/ha (via shield) at GS59

75ab

1.26ab

55

8

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha + Sakura 118g/ha (IBS) Boxer Gold 2.5L/ha at GS11 Paraquat 1.5L/ha (via shield) at GS59

40a

1.35a

95.12

9

Trifluralin 1.5L/ha (IBS) Roundup 2L/ha (via shield) at GS59

155bcd

0.87d

16.6

Sig. diff. LSD (P=0.05) CV%

P<0.001 * 11

P<0.012 0.24 14.5

(control: farmer practice, low cost)

*LSDisisnot notprovided provided as data *LSD data was was transformed transformedfor foranalysis. analysis. Significant differences are shown by different letters: a,b,c,d (P≤0.05). Table 3. Ryegrass tiller reduction, grain yield and cost of herbicide application of each treatment.

treatments, however ryegrass numbers would be considered high in a broadacre situation. It is expected that with lower ryegrass numbers and some alterations to the shield setup this could easily reach higher levels of control, particularly as a larger proportion of the ryegrass in this trial was located in the crop row due to IBS treatments. Due to the trial being late sown and a dry winter and spring, the trial didn’t reach high yields. Despite there being a yield response, there was no direct economic benefit for ryegrass control in the given year. Regardless, the benefit of controlling weeds cannot be overlooked and shields provide another tool in integrated weed management. When paired with more expensive products in a lower weed situation it is an effective way to reduce seed set for the following year. Additionally, it can be used in conjunction with other weed management strategies such as chaff lining and windrow burning. In a high ryegrass situation like the one described it would be best practice to put in a legume or hay to reduce the weed number to one that would respond more effectively to herbicide in the following season. Depending on the current system, adoption of shielded sprayers involves

adopting the entire system which may involve changing row spacing and ensuring that GPS technology is precise enough for inter-row accuracy or that the system is flexible and moves with the crop. Although the uptake of the system can be costly it has potential to increase profitability over time through lower chemical costs as well as achieving high weed control.

Acknowledgements This project was funded through the Hugh DT Williamson Foundation. Thank you to Lincoln Lehmann for his knowledge and assistance which aided in the design of the shielded sprayer system used in this trial.

For more information Amy Smith, Birchip Cropping Group, 73 Cumming Avenue, Birchip. Ph: 5492 2787

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The

Mallee Farmer

Wheat disease breakthrough to help feed the world In recent years the re-emergence of a disease that can kill wheat - which provides food for a fifth of humanity - has threatened food security. However, a breakthrough was recently announced. By Darius Koreis, CSIRO and University of Sydney In a world first, science has leaped a step ahead of an old foe that has recently re-emerged in some parts of the world, where it has devastated crops because of its ability to evolve, undoing much of the hard work that began in earnest with the Green Revolution – using natural techniques to isolate the first rust pathogen gene that wheat plants detect and use to ‘switch on’ in-built resistance. The breakthrough in research targeting the stem rust foe – historically the most dangerous pathogen of wheat – will mean suspect samples could be analysed within hours in an emergency rather than weeks, potentially saving crops from being destroyed. “For the first time it will be possible to do DNA testing to identify whether a rust in a wheat crop anywhere in the world can overcome a rust-resistance gene, called Sr50, which is being introduced in highyielding wheat varieties,” said Professor Robert Park, corresponding author from the University of Sydney. “This will indicate whether or not a given wheat crop needs to be sprayed with expensive fungicide quickly to protect against rust – which would otherwise devastate the crop in a matter of weeks.” Rust disease epidemics have emerged at times in tandem with carefully refined selective breeding in cereals; the disease is once again extremely damaging in East Africa and is making a comeback in Europe.

• Wheat provides about 20% of the world’s food; demand to skyrocket • Rust pathogens devastating crops in Africa, making a comeback in Europe • Scientists have isolated the very first rust pathogen gene that wheat plants detect to ‘switch on’ resistance. • Collaboration includes the University of Sydney, CSIRO, UK’s Rothamsted Research and the University of Minnesota and USDA in the United States the work by sequencing and analysing the genome of a virulent rust isolate, said this was the first important step in addressing the diagnostic challenges posed by ever-changing fungi, which result in new rust pathogen strains.

recognise the fungal protein, said Dr Peter Dodds, from CSIRO’s Agriculture and Food team. “We are gaining a better understanding of the whole process – what’s going on at the protein level, at the gene level.” Co-author Dr Kostya Kanyuka from Rothamsted Research, an agricultural science centre in the United Kingdom, said stem rust had been making a comeback in Europe, for example in Sweden as recently as 2017, and was threatening Asia and the US. “The highly virulent Ug99 race of the stem rust fungus – which emerged in 1998 in Uganda – has become even more potent as it has spread through Africa and the Middle East, with winds threatening to carry it into Asia,” Dr Kanyuka said.

Professor Park explained: “It’s like an ongoing arms race – we’ve got to keep one step ahead of this changing pathogen.

US collaborators Professor Melania Figueroa, Professor Brian Steffenson and Dr Yue Jin were able to extend the results of the study by examining strains of the stem rust pathogen from other parts of the world, including the US and Africa.

“The last major epidemic of wheat stem rust in Australia alone, in 1973, caused $AU300 million in damage – imagine what that would be today.”

“It is important to look at this gene in worldwide rust strains to gain a picture of where virulence is most likely to evolve,” Professor Figueroa said.

Co-corresponding author, Dr Peter Dodds from the CSIRO, said demand for wheat in the developing world was expected to jump 60 percent by 2050 and in economic terms alone the ramifications were huge.

Professor Park, from the Plant Breeding Institute, part of the University’s Sydney Institute of Agriculture and School of Life and Environmental Sciences, said the results should also lead to a better understanding of how rust pathogens infect wheat, evading detection by the wheat plant, and causing yield losses.

The new findings have been published in one of the world’s leading journals, Science.

“Now that we’ve identified how stem rust strains are able to overcome Sr50 resistance – by mutation of a gene we’ve identified called AvrSr50 – this information can be used to help prioritise resistance genes for deployment.

Mr Jiapeng Chen, a PhD candidate from the University of Sydney who initiated

“Our results so far show the plant immune system is able directly to

“In addition to the immediate practical benefit regarding the important rustresistance gene Sr50, our world-first finding could potentially have a longerterm payoff in the 10-15-year horizon,” he said.

11


The

Mallee Farmer

Australian Drone Technology Assisting a Significant Step in Crop Tolerance to Heat and Drought Stress using third party software, such as Pix4D and Context Capture. Sophisticated scientific analysis is required to make use of the information contained within the raw data packages. The analytical service has been developed in collaboration with Murdoch University.

Unmanned aerial survey drones equipped with sensors are increasingly being used by corporate farmers, agronomists, biologists, and environmental ecologists to make important production decisions.

Summary Early identification of plant stress is essential to ensuring maximum crop yield. A detailed and timely visualisation of a cultivated crops can identify many plant stresses and can be vital to informed quality decision making. Research now being undertaken at Murdoch University in Western Australia and conducted with technical assistance from aerial imagery by Perth based company, Scientific Aerospace, is providing a precise new tool in the farmers’ toolbox for increasing profits.

Analysis Researchers have been working to

using third party software, such as Pix4D and Context Capture. Sophisticated scientific analysis is required to make use of the information contained within the raw data packages. The analytical service has been developed in collaboration with Murdoch University.

range of biological and non-biological stresses such as heat, frosts, drought and pests events using Figure 3. Further processing of the same area revealing optimal sites for installing Leaky Weirs. unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Source: the author. Scientific Aerospace has made a significant research and development investment to integrate the

heat, frosts, drought and pests events using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones.

By Karl Svatos, PhD Candidate Murdoch University. Geoff Trowbridge, Managing Director of Scientific Aerospace & FDI Associate.

UAV based technologies can provide an increasingly wide range of sophisticated data. Farmers can now access survey quality contour and three-dimensional mapping, digital surface and terrain models, plant counts, plant height, or optical output with the third party and drone software. This is achieved using Application Programming geotagged vegetation index maps. Figure 3. Further processing of the same area revealing optimal sites for installing Leaky Weirs. Interfaces (API’s) developed and built in house. Scientific Aerospace also utilises a custom application Further processing of the same area revealing optimal The processed data is made visible in for a computer tablet, tailored prior to each mission for a specific flight based on each client’s Scientific Aerospace has made a significant research and development investment to integrate the sites for installing Leaky Weirs. optical output with the third party and drone software. This is achieved using Application Programming various ‘layers’ so that farmers get very requirements. Interfaces (API’s) developed and built in house. Scientific Aerospace also utilises a custom application graphic answers to specific questions for a computer tablet, tailored prior to each mission for a specific flight based on each client’s requirements. about, for example, soil temp, soil moisture, crop nutrient status, biomass Figure 1. Western Australian Wheatbelt Crop at Katanning. prediction, grain yield prediction, and UAV based technologies can provide an increasingly wide range of sophisticated data. Farmers other traits. Data processing beyond the can now access survey quality contour and three-dimensional mapping, digital surface and terrain models, plant counts, plant height, or geotagged vegetation index maps. The processed data is made visible in capacity of a home computer can now various ‘layers’ so that farmers get very graphic answers to specific questions about, for example, soil be professionally provided on site via a temp, soil moisture, crop nutrient status, biomass prediction, grain yield prediction, and other traits. Data processing beyond the capacity of a home computer can now be professionally provided on site datalink. via a datalink. Source: the author.

Source: the author.

Comment [LN2]: If using images, please also insert captions, deleting ‘Figure 1.’ From each and also deleting source, crediting all images to Geoff Trowbridge once on page.

Figure 4. In-field assessment of aerial imagery and data processing. Source: the author. Figure 4. In-field assessment of aerial imagery and data processing. Source: the author. In-field assessment of aerial imagery and data processing.

Page 3 of 5

Page 3 of 5

The integrated system technologies needed to provide information of this fidelity have been locally developed viticulture, dairy), and non-irrigated range of biological and non-biological stresses such as Figure 2. Aerial Survey processed to show 20cm Contour Intervals. heat, frosts, drought and pests events using for precision, targeted, agricultural The integrated system technologies needed to provide information of this fidelity have been locally Aerial Survey processed to show 20cm Contour (broadacre grain and livestock) more surveying. Data sources include developed for precision, targeted, agricultural surveying. Data sources include NDVI, thermal, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) or drones. Intervals. able to cope with a range of biological multispectral and a new miniature spectrometer recently developed by the University of Western NDVI, thermal, multispectral and a Australia’s microelectronics laboratories. The acquired raw data images are processed and enhanced and non-biological stresses such as new miniature spectrometer recently developed by the University of Western Australia’s microelectronics laboratories. The acquired raw data images are processed and enhanced using third party software, such as Pix4D and Context Capture. Sophisticated scientific analysis is required to make use of the information contained within the raw data packages. The analytical service has been developed in collaboration with Murdoch University.

discover ways to make Australian farms, both irrigated (market garden,

Source: the author.

Page 2 of 5

Figure 1. Western Australian Wheatbelt Crop at Katanning. Source: the author. Western Australian Wheatbelt Crop at Katanning. All images: Geoff Trowbridge.

UAV based technologies can provide an increasingly wide range of sophisticated data. Farmers can 12 now access survey quality contour and three-dimensional mapping, digital surface and terrain models,

Scientific Aerospace has made a significant research and development investment to integrate the optical Comment [LN2]: If using images, please also insert caption output with the third party and drone deleting ‘Figure 1.’ From each and also deleting source, crediting all images to Geoff Trowbridge once on page.


sensors looked vertically and sideways to capture three-dimensional imagery.

The

Mallee Farmer

ed systems are a routine part of agricultural iciency. It is the vision of the project partners sophisticated, real time, analysed data on the onse and thus, optimise production. This will a systems engineered software suit that will ds, rainfall, meteorological logs and real time nerated which can then be uploaded to a Farm ctly to irrigation systems, seeders, spreaders, tering, fertilising, nitrogen optimisation, weed Figure 5. The UAV in flight over the Rye Wheat and Barley Test Field at Katanning. Source: the nt in real time. author.

The UAV in flight over the Rye Wheat and Barley Test Field at Katanning.

a crop that will enable a timely response and thus, optimise production. This will be achieved by collaborating in the development of a systems engineered software suit that will autonomously incorporate and integrate climate records, rainfall, meteorological logs and real time drone acquired, crop data. Prescription maps will be generated which can then be uploaded Data Processing to a Farm Management Information Case Study in Collaboration Data Processing System (FMIS) system or directly to The raw data was gathered and Assessing Heat Stress Resilience in irrigation systems, seeders, spreaders, The raw data was gathered and transferred to the on-board computer and saved for processing after transferred to the on-board computer Wheat and Barley Crops tractors, combine harvesters or and saved for processing after the flight. the flight. Geographically tagged photos were extracted from the files and a grid map was overlain on headers for sowing, watering, fertilising, With the aim of discovering which Geographically tagged photos were nitrogen optimisation, weed control wheat and barley varieties and soil extracted from the files and a grid map data. These reference photos were then used to determine individual aspects of the traits in question yield monitoring and harvest timing combinations provide the best resilience was overlain on data. These reference management in real time. to a combination of non-biological stress specific to each plot in the trial. The aerial data may be further processed using index map solutions photos were then used to determine (heat and drought), Scientific Aerospace individual aspects of the traits in question teamed up with Murdoch University specific to each plot in the trial. The researcher and PhD candidate, Karl aerial data may be further processed Svatos, to help develop a ‘proof of using index map solutions such as SMS, concept’ drone experiment. This was AgPixel, ArcGIS, and other GIS systems Page 4 of 5 performed in the field at the Katanning to produce other data ‘layers’ that Research Station. provide further, value-added insights. The research is an extension of study in The results from the various images evaporation, transpiration and drought (NDVI, thermal, RGB, multispectral) are stress with ground based thermal then used to identify which wheat and remote sensing in agricultural cultivation. barley varieties and soil combinations For simplicity, the algorithm for the provide the best resilience to heat stress internal energy status of plant systems in the field. The researchers hope that is not shown here, but involves several this may then be used to produce better temperature parameters, emissivity, heat varieties suited to the environment where transport and leaf resistance. the cultivation is located. software. This is achieved using Application Programming Interfaces (API’s) developed and built in house. Scientific Aerospace also utilises a custom application for a computer tablet, tailored prior to each mission for a specific flight based on each client’s requirements.

reflectance and saturation benchmarks, so that any deviation in the raw drone data could be corrected during data processing. The UAV was flown at altitudes to capture high resolution data specific to each flight requirement. The sensors looked vertically and sideways to capture three-dimensional imagery.

y experienced program manager in nd resources sectors. A former held senior management roles and acle and BHP Billiton. He has also n, Chicago and at Curtin University. Capture Conclusion For more information tific DataAerospace in November 2016. Scientific nes in Australia. Two drones were equipped with either the NDVI multispectral and optical lenses or a thermal camera. Two flights were made at the coldest time of day (dawn) and later in the afternoon at the hottest time of the day. Ground truth testing was also used to provide reference absorption,

Scientific Aerospace envisions a world where automated systems are a routine part of agricultural production as a tool for promoting productivity and efficiency. It is the vision of the project partners that the farmer, in the paddock, will be able to access sophisticated, real time, analysed data on the stress condition of

Geoff Trowbridge, Future Directions International Pty Ltd. 80 Birdwood Parade, Dalkeith WA 6009, Australia. Ph: 08 9389 9831 www.futuredirections.org.au

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Want Want to to be be mailed mailed a a copy copy of of the the Mallee Mallee Farmer? Farmer? The

Mallee Mallee Farmer Farmer The

F O R FA R M E R S I N T H E M A L L E E R E G I O N

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biodynamic farming in Murrayville p6

management strategies to address p16 herbicide Weed resistance management strategies to address herbicide resistance

F O R FA R M EAnRinsight S I Ninto T H E M A L L E E R E GWeed ION An insight into biodynamic farming in Murrayville

ISSUE 09 • Winter 2015

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New ideas the key to farming in Werrimull

Using harvest weed seed management win the fight Using harvesttoweed seed against brometograss p2 fight management win the against brome grass p2 This publication is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from theAustralian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

This publication is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from theAustralian Government’s National Landcare Programme.

Two editions of the Mallee Farmer are produced each year. The spring edition is Two editions of the Mallee Farmer are autumn produced each is year. The spring edition is available around July–August and the edition released around late March. If available around July–August and the autumn edition is released around late March. If you would like to register to have a copy mailed direct to you, fill out the form below and you would like to register to have a copy mailed direct to you, fill out the form below and return to the Mallee Catchment Management Authority. return to the Mallee Catchment Management Authority. Registration for Mallee Farmer mailing list Registration for Mallee Farmer mailing list Name: ________________________________________ Name: ________________________________________ Postal address: _________________________________ Postal address: _________________________________ Town: __________________________ Town: __________________________ State: ____________________ State: ____________________

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Email a scaned copy to reception@malleecma.com.au Email scaned reception@malleecma.com.au Fax a a copy to 03copy 5051to4379. Fax Mail aa copy copy to to:03 5051 4379. Mail a copy to: Mallee Farmer Subscriptions Mallee Farmer Mallee CMA Subscriptions Mallee PO BoxCMA 5017 PO Box 5017 Mildura Vic 3502 Mildura 4. Jump online and click onVic the3502 link to subscribe at www.malleecma.vic.gov.au 4. Jump online and click on the link to subscribe at www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

This publication is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the This publication is supportedAustralian by the Mallee CatchmentNational Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Government’s Landcare Program. Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.


LANDCARE LINKS Autumn 2018

PO Box 5017, Mildura Vic 3502 | Telephone 03 5051 4377 | www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

Regional Overview – Regional Landcare Coordinator By Kevin Chaplin, Mallee CMA Welcome to the latest edition of Landcare Links. Let’s take a look at what has been happening in the world of Landcare in the Mallee over the last six months as well as take a glimpse at what the future might hold in 2018. Since our last edition, Landcare groups across the Mallee have been frantically applying for funds for projects they hope to implement in 2018. In that time, 17 Mallee Landcare Groups have been successful in receiving over $463,000 in funding that will support activities developed to improve our local habitat for our native flora and fauna. Included in the works will be the establishment of corridors of native bushland, the protection of priority areas through pest plant and animal control measures, and the protection and enhancement of local native wildlife at two Mallee wetland sites. There was a diverse range of project applications and Landcare Groups have already begun to tackle their 2018 projects with the aim of completing them by the end of November this year.

This was reflected in our submissions to the 2017 Victorian State Landcare awards ceremony, which was held at Government house in Melbourne on September 1st last year. First of all, congratulations goes to the Mallee’s Victorian Landcare Award winner, Sandii Lewis. Sandii has been a dynamo for Landcare in the Eastern section of the Mallee and the driving force behind the reinvigoration of a number of groups. Her friendly, enthusiastic, can-do approach has won her much admiration amongst the Landcare community and her anticipated study of Andrew Campbell’s Natural

Sequence Farming training provided by Tarwyn Park Training will be received well in 2018. Read more about Sandii’s award and the Landcare awards on page 20. 2017 proved to be a tough season for Mallee Landcare Members with large stubble loads and reasonable sub-soil moisture left behind from 2016 promising a good follow-up season. However mice numbers were high early in the season causing some significant heartache for some growers. There are reports now coming in that there are still significant numbers around so be vigilant as they will have to be monitored closely if they are to be held at bay this year. 2018 is shaping up to be another interesting year with the National Landcare Program’s current funding round coming to an end as of June 30. The Mallee CMA has applied for funds in the second round, which will be for the next five years, so hopefully they will be successful and we can keep the good works happening in the Mallee. In the meantime good luck with all your projects.

Sandii Lewis pictured with Mallee Catchment Management Authority’s Chair Sharon Peart at the 2017 Victorian State Landcare awards at Government House in Melbourne.

Happy Landcaring! Kev Chaplin

Indigenous recognition in the southern Mallee is gaining momentum with the Birchip Landcare group currently developing a series of information boards and a permanent display of artefacts at a central point located in Birchip. This display will link directly with proposed works highlighting Indigenous culture around Lake Tyrell and surrounding wetlands and will help raise the awareness of tourists visiting the area. The Mallee has once again proven that our community and Landcare members care for our environment and are proud of our achievements.

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Getting the most out of your Facilitator by Kevin Chaplin, Mallee CMA Landcare Facilitators turn community ideas into projects. Working behind the scenes, they provide crucial administrative support. They listen, encourage and provide technical advice on action. They help start new groups, and re-energise established landcare groups. Facilitators strengthen communities People trust their local Landcare Facilitator. They connect experienced farmers and experts with enthusiastic landholders who want to learn how to manage their properties more efficiently and sustainably. They connect communities and government, finding resources and keeping up with what government programs offer. Landcare is a platform for long-term change For 32 years, Landcare has been leading the adoption of sustainable farming practices and increasing habitat quality across Victoria’s farmlands and periurban holdings. This is not something government can do on its own — it needs volunteer effort from local communities. Landcare is a credible, trusted platform for long-term change, helping to make landscapes and communities more resilient. The role of a facilitator is to enable the effective participation of Landcare groups and networks, landholders and the wider community in natural resource management activities that protect, enhance and restore our natural environment, and improve agricultural productivity. So are you using your Facilitator to the fullest extent? Getting the most out of your Landcare Facilitator is important, not only from the community’s perspective but also from the Facilitator’s as well. Having a fulfilling and satisfying job is what makes us want to work and your Landcare Facilitator is relying on you to help them achieve that. A facilitator relies on community ‘buy

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in’ and support for them to be effective in their role and to ultimately benefit to the community. Below are the roles and responsibilities of a Landcare Facilitator, are they achieving this in your area?

d. Helping build community knowledge and understanding of natural resource management policies, plans and programs and priority setting processes.

1. Build local community capacity to enable groups to be self-sustaining by:

4. Support the development of onground natural resource management projects by:

a. Assisting with the development and delivery of capacity building activities such as courses, workshops, seminars and field days;

a. Facilitating access to natural resource management advice, specialist information and expertise to support the development of projects; and

b. Increasing the provision of information to groups by keeping them informed of funding, learning and other relevant opportunities; and

b. Assisting with the planning and development of on-ground projects.

c. A ssisting groups/networks to function effectively and adopt appropriate governance processes and procedures. 2. Undertake community engagement and build partnerships through: a. F acilitation of information sharing, cooperation, collaboration and networking among Landcare groups/networks and with Landcare staff; b. Assisting groups to engage local communities in Landcare activities; c. Assisting groups with their efforts to engage landholders in Landcare; d. Promoting and providing opportunities for broader community participation in Landcare activities; and e. Development and support of local partnerships with other community groups, organisations and schools to increase awareness of, and involvement and participation in Landcare. 3. Assisting with planning and priority setting processes by: a. Assisting groups with the development or review of action or strategic plans; b. Assisting with the interpretation of regional natural resource management plans and priorities at group or network scale; c. Assisting with the development of landholder property plans; and

5. Securing project grants and other funding by: a. Identifying and promoting grants and funding opportunities; and b. Facilitating to assist groups to apply for and secure funding for projects. 6. A ssisting with monitoring, evaluation, and reporting by: a. Assisting groups to establish systems or processes for the monitoring of projects; and b. Collaborating with Regional Landcare Coordinators to assist with data collection, group/network health surveys and group/ network mapping. 7. Extend support to more groups, networks (and landholders) by: a. Facilitating the establishment of new groups/networks in gap areas, i.e. where there are currently no groups/networks, and/ or extend support to adjoining Landcare groups/networks that currently don’t receive facilitator support; b. Facilitating the revival or re-establishment of Landcare groups/networks that are currently dormant; and c. Pursuing new or different ways of engaging more landholders and the wider community in Landcare. Whilst the program provides for a high degree of autonomy for host organisations in delivery, the primary outcome of the program centres on the building and enhancement of capacity.


If you have any questions or concerns about the Landcare Facilitator program, or if you have any concerns with how your Facilitator is operating in your area, please feel free to contact the Mallee CMA (Ph. 03 5051 4377), to discuss your

situation. Actively engaging your Facilitator is the only way you will gain maximum benefit from the program and it is only by working together that growth is possible, remember:

“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success” Henry Ford 1863-1947.”

Landcare Facilitator Biography: Claire Kelly by Megan Frankel-Vaughan Claire Kelly wants nothing more than to see Mallee communities become more resilient and offer a bright future for her young family and the wider community. Claire hopes her role as a Landcare Facilitator for the South Western Mallee Region, based in Hopetoun, will make that a reality. Claire grew up in Bunnaloo, NSW, and spent time in West Wyalong. In 2005 she moved to study at Longerenong College and it was there that she met her husband, Sean and after Claire had

“The conservation side of things I’m not hugely familiar with, but it’s something I’m very interested in,” she said. Claire represents Rainbow and District, Hopetoun, Woomelang and Beulah Landcare groups. She researches grants that are available, contacts community groups, and then assists them through the application process. Although she admits it’s been a steep learning curve, she’s already had some success in grant applications, recently gaining funding for a heritage walking track at the Rainbow Recreation Reserve.

“It’s a really nice area down there and it’s just going to waste,” Claire said. She hopes the project will include rabbit, boxthorn and bridal creeper control, installation of bird hides and, eventually, the delivery of environmental water to the natural waterway. “We’re trying to enhance it. We’d like a little bit of water for the birds and the animals. “Hopetoun has such a focus on it -- they know that’s what they want to do.” Claire said creating an attraction out of Lake Coorong would be a “huge benefit” to the town, which had already seen an influx of tourists as the Mallee Silo Art Trail grows. “It would be somewhere to go and relax and learn about Hopetoun. Our plan is to put signs out there as well with information for birdwatching.” Claire has applied for two grants to get the project started and said she would be happy if there was action in the next 12 months. “I think it’s a really good project for the area and would just enhance the town so much. “We do have Lake Lascelles, which is full - that’s our recreational lake and there’s camping down there. “It’s unbelievable the number of tourists that come here and we want them to stop over.

completed her Advanced Diploma in Agriculture, she moved to Sean’s family farm at Woomelang.

Claire said the 1.5 km track would showcase heritage sites and include signage to teach people about flora and indigenous heritage.

The family, including Sean’s brothers Nick and Grant, run a 400-sow piggery and also farm 12,000 acres of broad-acre cropping.

“I was also successful with the (Victorian) Rabbit Action Network.

Claire said her diploma stood her in good stead for life on the farm, as well as in her most recent undertaking as a Landcare Facilitator, which she began last year.

“I got some money to run a rabbit workshop this year, which attracted 9 participants.” One of the biggest projects on the horizon is to rejuvenate Lake Coorong, which neighbours Hopetoun’s recreational Lake Lascelles.

“We want to make them stay a bit longer and spend money in the town.” In the meantime, there will be rabbit ripping projects and a workshop for landholders to learn about how they can rip and reduce the impact of rabbits on the area. “Rabbits are a big thing in my area - they’re a big focus of the groups,” she said. “A big part of the work is getting everyone to play their part.” Claire said while she has eagerly embraced her role and some community members

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The Hopetoun community hopes to rejuvenate Lake Coorong, which is next to the town’s recreational Lake Lascelles.

have already approached her with their ideas for their land or community, Claire always encourages others to get in touch. “It can be anyone — the community or farmers — to make suggestions for projects. “Some may think that Landcare is for farmers but I think it’s for community — it involves the farmers and the people in town, together. “I just want the communities to be resilient in the future. I want a future for my kids and it’s looking positive at the moment.” Claire Kelly can be contacted by calling 5083 3001 or by email at southernmalleelandcarenetwork@gmail.com

South Western Mallee Region Landcare Facilitator Claire Kelly with her children Hunter, 6 and Esther, 9.

Good governance guarantees great results for everyone by Kevin Chaplin, Mallee CMA Over the years, good governance within Landcare groups, as well as in many other small community groups, has struggled to be maintained due to ongoing changes in governance rules and regulations. It must be understood that good governance is an absolute imperative if a group is to remain an efficient and effective force within their communities.

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Good governance is about the processes for making and implementing decisions. It’s not about making ‘correct’ decisions, but about the best possible process for making those decisions. The value of community groups Communities rely on a myriad of small to medium sized not for profit

organisations, to provide a focal point or ‘hub’ in response of their local community’s needs. Community bodies like sporting clubs, art and cultural groups, community development organisations, support groups, youth organisations, playgroups, senior citizens groups, environmental organisations such as Landcare and heritage groups are but a few of the organisations that we see contributing


daily to our society. Most often these community-based organisations do their work unrewarded and unrecognised, but the people involved achieve more than just an outcome for themselves. Perhaps it is the feeling of helping or assisting, perhaps it’s the enjoyment of responsibility, perhaps it’s a social opportunity for fun and to do something that they would not normally do. Whatever the case, the results bring benefits beyond themselves, to many others now and into the future. What is governance? Our society is built around communities which exist within, and in turn generate, democratic principles and processes. Multitudes of small organisations contribute to the functioning of our communities and in the majority of cases these organisations and clubs are run by committees. Governance is the system by which a committee ensures an organisation’s responsibilities are met. Governance is not a separate activity, but an overarching framework for running an organisation. It refers to the processes by which organisations are operated, guided and held to account. Governance involves authority, accountability, leadership, direction and control in an organisation. Governance keeps our organisations and communities functioning soundly and democratically. The two main components of governance: • PERFORMANCE - Every organisation is formed for a purpose. The performance of an organisation determines whether it is meeting its purpose. Performance can be measured through planning, reporting and feedback. • COMPLIANCE - Community organisations are set up to be accountable. They must fulfil (or comply with) the requirements of legislation, government contracts and community expectation. These obligations include matters such as taxation, workcover, insurance and the meeting of contractual and service obligations. What is “good” governance? Good governance is the effective and efficient use of policies and practices to

guide the operation of an organisation. It is the fundamental means of caring for the organisation and the members. • Effective means doing the right things • Efficient means doing things the right way. The complexity of governance procedures and practices will vary according to the size and function of the organisation, however the principles of good governance are essential for the long term viability of the organisation. Why do we need good governance? Our communities are better, stronger, places with well-functioning, non-profit organisations in place. Sound governance practices enable organisations to endure and serve the community. We also need good governance so we can abide by the requirements of the law, and so we can always act, and show we’ve acted, for the good of the organisation and the community it serves. Most clubs and associations are incorporated. The Model Rules for an Incorporated Association state: ‘The committee shall control and manage the business and affairs of the Association’. ‘The committee…has the power to perform all such acts and things as appear to the committee to be essential for the proper management of the business and affairs of the Association’. Incorporation brings benefits to an organisation, however, it also brings the responsibility of managing its affairs carefully. What are the benefits of good governance? Good governance = Sustainable performance. The major benefit of good governance is that the organisation remains viable; it can carry out the purpose for which it was designed. The sporting clubs can organise seasons of quality sporting activities, the training organisations and neighbourhood houses can continue to deliver the education and leisure courses the public desire, and service organisations such as Landcare can continue to serve the community.

Secondly, good governance will allow organisations to thrive. They may grow in size and capacity, or they may deliver superior products or services, through sound management, direction and leadership. Thirdly, good governance does offer security to the people in organisations, thus allowing them to become involved and serve their community in a positive, caring and constructive manner. The process of incorporation itself, which requires good governance, brings advantages to organisations, such as allowing them to independently and legally receive donations, buy and sell property, and continue on regardless of changes to their membership. Probably the most significant benefit of incorporation is that it addresses the problem of legal exposure. However as stated, incorporation has specific compliance requirements that must be met. Organisations that do not fulfil these requirements will not receive the benefits of limited liability, should the matter arise. The Mallee Catchment Management Authority is keen to offer the opportunity for Landcare groups and community NRM groups to be involved in a training sessions focused on governance. These sessions would be open to all Landcare executives and interested members to improve their management skills and knowledge to be able to effectively run a group and can focus on things like: • Group governance (executive positions – roles and responsibilities) • Keeping the books • Project management • Meeting contractual obligations • Committee structures and planning for succession • Running effective and efficient meetings (meeting procedures) • Conflict resolution If you are interested in having a governance training session please contact the Mallee CMA to discuss your requirements and see what can be arranged. http://www.awcc.edu.au/portals/0/ WhatisGovernance.pdf

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Victorian State Landcare awards – Mallee Winners by Kevin Chaplin & Marissa Shean, Mallee CMA The Mallee has once again proven that our community and Landcare members care for our environment and are proud of our achievements. This was reflected in our submissions to the 2017 Victorian State Landcare awards ceremony, held at Government house in Melbourne on 1st of September. The awards provide an opportunity to celebrate the level of innovation and commitment our Mallee Landcare community maintains when it comes to looking after our natural environment and the wellbeing of our communities. Firstly, congratulations to our awesome Landcare Facilitator, Sandii Lewis, who won the Victorian Farmers Federation/Landcare Victoria Inc. Heather Mitchell Memorial Fellowship. The $4,000 Fellowship is open to community Landcarers and Landcare support staff, including Landcare facilitators, coordinators and project officers working for Victorian Landcare groups or networks. The fellowship has been developed to support Landcare staff to broaden their knowledge and experience in Landcare by undertaking further study and personal development that will benefit the Landcare community.

Individual Landcarer Award. This award is made to an individual volunteer who has demonstrated leadership and commitment to improving land management practices through practical on-ground or community awareness actions. Although this award is championing an individual, in reality they rarely ever achieve their success alone and this was very much a case in point with this award. It is very much a joint effort with Merryn, James’s wife, being an equal partner in all their efforts. James and Merryn have always led by example when advocating for sustainable land management in their local area. Their commitment to re-establishing native vegetation on their farm has been proven over many years, with James, Merryn and the Beckmann family continuing to regularly plant areas of up 10 hectares at a time, even during the millennium drought and up to the present day. James and Merryn are big advocates for the social and environmental benefits of

adopting the Landcare ethic, both on farm and throughout their community. Australian Government Partnerships for Landcare Award is made to a partnership of individuals, groups, or organisations that have demonstrated leadership and achievement with their Landcare related activities because of the partnership. This year the Millewa Carwarp Landcare group was nominated. The group was recognised for their work in developing a very effective partnership between three Landcare groups. It covered an area of over 1,000,000 ha, partnering with Mildura Rural City Council, DELWP, Parks Victoria, Vic Roads, VicTrack, Lower Murray Water and others to manage pest plants and animals on roadsides. The main focus of this partnership is primarily rabbit control on roadsides. Battling this introduced pest has been the number one priority for the majority of the Mallee’s Landcare groups since their inception in the late 80’s. It has always been an issue when it came to the development and implementation of a truly coordinated and integrated approach

Sandii has undertaken the Natural Sequence Farming training course provided by Tarwyn Park Training. Tarwyn Park Training is an applied farming methodology and understanding, based on natural patterns, processes and functions of the Australian ecosystems. Sandii hopes to bring this knowledge back to the Mallee to share what she has learnt in the course, providing Mallee farmers with additional options and farming methodologies to further improve on sustainable farming and land management practices. Our regional champions for Landcare were James and Merryn Beckmann from the Murrayville Landcare group, who were nominated for the Australian Government

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Kate McWhinney pictured with Cameron Flowers and landholder in the Mallee CMA tent at the Speed Field Days


work with as many modern technologies, software, and smart phone apps (such as Feral Scan) that they can. They were an official Calici K5 Release Site, and members contributed hundreds of hours to ensure a successful release. Using methods from ‘the good old days’’ (face to face meetings), emails, text messages and integrating the new technology into their operations, the group is now a leader in the district with regards to uptake and acceptance of these new devices. The other two awards that we nominated for were the Dr. Sidney Plowman Travel and Study Award which is made to a staff member of either: • Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning (DELWP). • Department of Economic Development, Jobs Transport and Resources (DEDJTR).

Sandii Lewis pictured at the Victorian State Landcare Awards

• A Victorian Catchment Management Authority. On this occasion the Mallee CMA project officer, Kate McWhinny, was nominated and she was rewarded with a commendation for her efforts. The award recognises her commitment and enthusiasm in supporting private landholders to improve land management practices. Kate has worked on a number of biodiversity projects in the broader Mallee region, with a focus on raising awareness and building the capacity of private land managers to improve their management of pest animals.

James Beckmann pictured at his property in Murrayville

by all land managers, when trying to eradicate this pest on a landscape scale. The partnership identifies potential funding opportunities and on-ground activities that complement each other’s existing and future control programs and focuses on maximising their impact in a cooperative manner. The Waitchie Landcare group was nominated for the Fairfax Landcare Community Group Award - which is given to an outstanding community group that is working towards sustainable land use and/or is undertaking on-ground action to protect, enhance or restore an area on behalf of the community. With a declining and ageing population base, the group

decided that they had to become more savvy with their approach to rabbit control, so they sought alternative methods of attack and worked closely with their Landcare Facilitator to implement a large, all-out attack on this pest that is now reaping great benefits. They are using the GPS units to record assessment tracks, the location of treated rabbit warrens and to identify future project target areas. Waitchie Landcare Group have limited access to modern communications technologies as they are located in a mobile phone blackspot and have limited and expensive satellite internet services. Despite these significant obstacles, Waitchie has continued to

And finally, Kevin Chaplin was nominated for the Joan Kirner Landcare Award. The Joan Kirner Landcare Award is made to an individual who has championed the Landcare movement in Victoria, has contributed significantly to Landcare for at least 10 years, and has demonstrated commitment to forging partnerships and effectively engaging the community in Landcare. Kevin has been involved with Landcare for almost 25 years and he has always been focused on the value and importance of collaboration. From the early days of the Murrayville Landcare group advocating for the introduction of no-till farming in the Mallee and the formation of Vic No-Till, through to the development and adoption of the Murrayville Groundwater Supply Protection Area, it was always about getting everyone together and moving in the same direction. Kevin has tried to extend this ethic across

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the region in his role as the Malleeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s RLC and has successfully developed the Landcare group consortiums, with the groups now actively talking and working together when it comes to implementing on-ground works and planning for future programs.

nominees. These awards are held every two years so we encourage you to keep this in mind and maybe we can have another crack in 2019. For further information on the Victorian State Landcare Awards contact your local Landcare Facilitator.

Congratulations to Sandii, our winning facilitator and to all our wonderful

Contacts

Regional Landcare Coordinator, Mallee CMA. Phone: 03 5051 4377 Claire Kelly - South Western Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0478 170 765, southernmalleelandcarenetwork@gmail.com Beulah Landcare Group, Hopetoun Landcare Group, Rainbow and District Landcare Group, Woomelang and Lascelles Landcare Group. Sue Pretty - Eastern Mallee Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0458 922 033 Nyah West Landcare group, Swan Hill West Landcare Group, Manangatang Landcare Group, Kooloonong-Natya Landcare Group, Waitchie Landcare Group, Annuello Landcare Group, Robinvale Indigenous Landcare Group. Eboni Musgrove - Murrayville Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0477 550 161 murrayvillelc@hotmail.com Murrayville Landcare Group.

Sandii Lewis pictured at work

Sue Pretty - South Eastern Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0458 922 033 Berriwillock Landcare Group, Birchip Landcare Group, Culgoa Landcare Group, Lalbert Landcare Group, Nullawil Landcare Group Ultima Landcare Group, Sea Lake Landcare Group, Curyo-Watchupga Landcare Group (NEW) Annette Lambert - Northern Mallee Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0487 178 582 millewalc@outlook.com Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group, Yelta Landcare Group, Mallee Conservation and Landcare Group (NEW), Red Cliffs Landcare Group, Lindsey Point Landcare Group.

Mallee Landcare News Mallee Catchment Management Authority Telephone: (03) 5051 4377 PO Box 5017 Mildura Victoria 3502 www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

Kevin Chaplin, Leigh Pyke, Cameron Flowers and Kate McWhinney pictured holding a python outside the Mallee CMA tent at the Speed Field Days

Project Partners

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This publication may be of assistance to you but the Mallee Catchment Management Authority refers readers to our Terms and Conditions, available from our website.


The

Mallee Farmer

Connecting Mallee Parks Wraps Up Overview of the achievements of the Mallee Parks Program. By

Achievements of the program have included:

Megan Frankel-Vaughan

“The delivery of the project has provided land managers with funding opportunities that have enabled on-ground works to be delivered outside their normal operations, which has been crucial to improving habitat connectivity and condition between the parks.”

• Planting more than 48,000 trees over 500 hectares, establishing about 25 kilometres of revegetation corridors; • Establishing new corridors on private land and existing roadside vegetation has enabled broader linkages between state forests and reserves, creating a mosaic of corridors and linkages across the landscape that connect the Murray-Sunset National Park to the Big Desert Wilderness Park and Wyperfeld National Park; • Completing over 47 km of stock exclusion fencing, protecting 1,986 ha of priority remnant vegetation on private land from stock grazing; • Over 72,321 ha of priority native habitat has been managed for weeds, 76,983 ha managed for rabbits and 14,248 ha managed for foxes; • 1,943 ha of land has been treated for erosion; • 38 sites were assessed using the commonwealth government vegetation assessment methodology; and • 47 pest animal monitoring activities and 28 weed monitoring activities were completed. Constructing new fencing has reduced stock access and thereby reduced grazing pressure which in turn will hopefully lead to the recruitment of native plants.

Mr Lynch said the project also allowed for targeted weed control works on private land that complemented works already undertaken on public land roadsides.

The delivery of pest plant and animal control through the involvement of private and public landholders has been fundamental in ensuring that landscape scale project outcomes

Private and public land managers have participated in a four-year project focusing on the protection and enhancement of major linkages between the Murray-Sunset and Wyperfeld National Parks. The Connecting Mallee Parks project brought together private landholders, community groups and public land managers from 2013 to 2017 to improve connections between the two major parks. On-ground works completed over the duration of the program included revegetation, stock exclusion fencing, pest plant and animal control, off-site soil erosion, salinity works, conservation covenants and community engagement activities. Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) Project Officer Land and Biodiversity, Gareth Lynch, said the participation of landholders and land managers was fundamental in undertaking the on-ground works.

Completed revegetation under the Connecting Mallee Parks program.

Completed roadside WoNS control under the Connecting Mallee Parks program

have been achieved leading to an increase in the condition of native vegetation. Approximately 280 hectares of significant priority remnant vegetation adjoining Murray-Sunset National Park was permanently protected through a conservation covenant, ensuring longterm environmental outcomes. In addition, two Landcare groups, Parks Victoria, Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Mildura Rural City Council were able to complement works undertaken on private land by addressing pest plants and rabbits on public land in adjacent National Parks, state forests and along roadsides.

Acknowledgements

The project was supported by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government.

For more information

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Gareth Lynch | Project Officer Land and Biodiversity| Mallee Catchment Management Authority PO Box 5017, Mildura, Victoria 3502. T: 03 5051 4377 | E: Gareth. Lynch@malleecma.com.au | www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

Completed fumigation on public land under the Connecting Mallee Parks program

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The

Mallee Farmer

Wheel track renovation day organised by the Warracknabeal East group. Photo: Jamie Saines

Funding to reap benefits for two cropping groups Farmers with vision are benefitting from a new Australian Government program that helps them add value pre- and post-farmgate. By Lorraine Gordon, Farming Together Warracknabeal East Conservation Farmers (WECF) group has already received $41,350 from Farming Together to develop a marketing plan for the group’s commodities and Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) received $105,000 to establish a farmer-led co-op to investigate collecting, curating and selling the big data collected across members’ cropping operations. WECF treasurer/secretary, Jamie Saines, lives on a family owned partnership growing wheat, barley and lentils at Sheep Hills. He said the marketing plan project will aim to involve about 30 local farmers. “Currently, most of the group’s members market their own grain through a broker, or sell directly to local grain-handling facility. Farmers have the option to source their own buyers, but this takes time to manage and contracts/negotiation is generally done by the buyer who has the resources to develop appropriate policies,” he said. “Brokers are generally paid by the acre and get paid whether the farmer has a

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good year or not. Handling facilities come with limitations such as specific buyers and storage fees.

“This collective capturing, storing and utilisation of agricultural data will be for the benefit of growers,” Chris said.

“Most of WECF members now have on-farm storage, putting them in a prime position to be able to sell grain throughout the year however, they still manage their sales on an individual basis.

BCG has undertaken preliminary work, securing Victorian Government help to initiate stakeholder interviews with key figures from across the grains sector. BCG is also preparing an economic analysis in collaboration with an agribusiness consultancy to identify the value proposition. “This value will be expressed as a $/ha figure, to give it relevance to farm budgets,” Chris said.

“WECF is proposing to develop a vertically integrated model where member growers can pool their resources to quantify stored grain, reach into new markets, form policies to direct sales, increase bargaining power and have our quality product in high demand by both buyers and consumers.” WECF will undertake a feasibility study to determine the channels-to-market options for commodities produced by WECF growers both for domestic feed and human consumption markets. They will seek to determine market sizes – both in tonnages and segments. They will investigate differentiation of WECF products and will look at opportunities to vertically integrate raw material from farm-gate to end product. Meanwhile, BCG is using the funding to help establish a data co-op among its members. According to CEO Chris Sounness, this business will see growers pooling big data harvested automatically through digital agricultural technology.

“There is the potential to generate direct revenue (either for participating growers or platform development and maintenance) through on-selling yield and volume-forecasting data to marketers, traders, bulk handlers and others further down the grains supply chain (CSIRO). “The high cost of entry and lack of relevant IT and data management experience have traditionally been barriers for growers considering implementing digital agriculture technologies. It is anticipated that participating in the farm-data repository will help to mitigate these barriers, increasing uptake among a wider cross section of growers while helping them develop agricultural IT and data management literacy.


The

Mallee Farmer “The project is expected to generate interest among private sector organisations and investors, acting to stimulate the development of new digital agriculture services,” Chris said. The Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Program is a two-year, $13.8m initiative from the Australian Government designed to help agricultural groups value-add, secure premium pricing, scale-up production, attract capital investment, earn new markets or secure lower input costs. Program Director Lorraine Gordon said:

“These projects are good examples of the way the Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Program supports agriculture from the grower upwards. The program is farmer-driven and has attracted unprecedented levels of engagement. In less than a year we have had interaction with well over 16,000 farmers, fishers and foresters across the country and across many commodity groups,” Lorraine said. The Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Program recently launched a free online co-op builder for groups considering forming themselves into

these tax-effective structures. The simple, DIY template is available at www. farmingtogether.com.au The Farm Co-operative and Collaboration Program is being delivered by Southern Cross University on behalf of the Australian Government. It comprises of a highly experienced senior team drawn from a wide range of commodity groups from across Australia and is backed by an industry advisory group, representing experts from Western Australia, Northern Territory, Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and New South Wales.

For more information

For more information go to www.farmingtogether.com.au

Will mice be a problem in 2018? By Glen Sutherland (Mallee CMA) As we approach the start of this year’s cropping season it’s timely to again take a close look at what our furry little mates are currently up to and how the last season panned out with mice issues. Happily mice numbers in the Mallee last year didn’t explode into a full blown plague. However some areas really took a hammering having to actively manage mice throughout the season to keep numbers under some semblance of control. As you would expect canola crops bore the brunt of the damage with multiple re-sowing of crops, mostly in the southern Mallee and Wimmera, commonplace.

it’s fair to say that the extent of mice activity in many paddocks prior to sowing may have gone unnoticed, or under estimated, due to residual heavy stubble loads from the previous year’s bumper crops. According to regional agricultural supply services there was a significant amount of mouse bait sold compared to other years with the pressure on to keep up with demand early in the season. Generally speaking mice didn’t move around much, where they were, they pretty much stayed all year and this suggest that they had sufficient food and shelter requirements throughout. So is there potential this season for mice to again cause significant crop damage? In a word, yes.

The key lesson learnt from last year is to get out early and look for those tricky paddocks, chances are they will be same ones as last year, but that’s not a given. Early detection and treatment of identified problem areas, before sowing, is considered the best course of action to avoid costly crop losses and re-sowing. These is a lot of very good information readily available to guide how to find mice, determine if they are, or could become a problem and then how to manage them. Handy information sites on the internet include the following: • https://issuu.com/malleecma/ docs/mallee_farmer_ edition_12?e=1598260/46534126 • https://grdc.com.au/resourcesand-publications/all-publications/ publications/2017/07/tips-and-tacticsbetter-mouse-management • https://www.feralscan.org.au/ mousealert/

Canola wasn’t the only victim though, with localised damage to all crop types reported. Most damage seemed to have occurred soon after sowing and

Look for mice in paddock well before sowing.

But to be fair that can be said for any season as mice are great survivors who will take full advantage of favourable conditions to do what they do best: multiply.

Now is the time to act, while feed sources are low.

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New Fox Baiting Technique Trialled in the Patchewollock State Forest 1080 bait injecting systems appear to be a more efficient and effective form of fox control over traditional baiting methods. By Megan Frankel-Vaughan New technology is being trialled to control the fox population in the Patchewollock State Forest in an attempt to further protect the endangered Malleefowl. The Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) team has been baiting the Patchewollock State Forest’s perimeter twice a year since 2014, however a new method is now being trialled, as Malleefowl continue to struggle. FFMVic’s Scott McLean said foxes had a significant impact on the flora and fauna in this particular area of the state forest, where Malleefowl habitat is present. “When Malleefowl chicks first come out they’re very vulnerable. Foxes decimate them at times and we’re trying to reduce the numbers to give the Malleefowl a good chance at surviving into the future,” Mr McLean said.

“Sixty-seven bait stations were set up around the perimeter of the state forest. In order to compare the effectiveness of the CPE’s, 30 of the bait stations used CPEs and the rest used fresh meat baits. “The baiting was done to protect the Malleefowl within the state forest, and livestock, such as lambs, on the adjoining private land. “I am happy to say the project has shown the CPEs are an effective way of controlling foxes in Patchewollock State Forest. Looking at the bait take statistics, we assume predation pressure has lessened over the baiting period. “Our FFMVic results show one triggered CPE device equals one dead fox. The same cannot be said for traditional baits. This is due to foxes burying the fresh meat baits to eat at a later date. “The CPE bait takes during the project may have been slightly lower than

In late 2016 and early 2017, the team used canid pest ejectors (CPEs) to help control foxes, replacing traditional forms of fox control, such as fresh meat baits. Mr McLean said the relatively new CPE technology was a spring-loaded device that propels 1080 into the mouth of the fox. “They are loaded with a 1080 capsule and a dried meat bait lures in the foxes,” he said. “The fox then tries to pull on the bait in an upwards direction, which sets off the ejectors, which puts 1080 into the mouth of the fox. Hare caught on motion camera in Patchewollock State Forest

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the traditional baits, but the CPEs demonstrated other benefits such as being target-specific, having a longer life than the fresh meat baits, the 1080 capsules are easy to use, and baits don’t have to be checked as often. “The CPE results also show they provide a quicker death for the foxes and therefore are more humane,” Mr McLean said. As part of the project, the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) also monitored the control program using remote cameras. Mallee CMA Project Officer Land and Biodiversity Kate McWhinney said cameras were set up at various CPE baiting stations to monitor the foxes for frequency of occurrence, bait takes and incidental observations of native animals approaching the CPEs.


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Mallee Farmer “The information we collect from the remote cameras is really valuable and can help us to design a targeted and effective control program to manage a specific pest species,” Ms McWhinney said. “This project aims to raise awareness of available control options and to increase the capacity of landholders to implement

their own control programs for pest animals.” Mr McLean said he hoped the positive results of the project would build community awareness of the new technology and highlight the benefits of using CPEs over traditional baiting methods.

“Initial outlay for the ejectors maybe an additional expense, but their flexibility has many benefits,” he said.

Acknowledgements The fox baiting program was jointly funded through the Mallee CMA and the Australian Government in partnership with Forest Fire Management Victoria.

For more information Scott McLean Forest Fire Management | Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning PO Box 905, Cnr Eleventh St & Koorlong, Mildura, Victoria 3502. T: 03 5051 4362 | E: scott.mclean@ delwp.vic.gov.au

Feral cat caught on motion camera in Patchewollock State Forest

Fox caught marking its territory on motion camera in Patchewollock State Forest

Citizen science – Water increases biodiversity Anyone can be a scientist! Opportunities to be involved in real scientific research By Megan Frankel-Vaughan Keith Barber has always had an interest in birds and now he is using that interest to help monitor the effects environmental watering is having on a swamp near his Birchip farm. Mr. Barber, along with his wife Helen, are citizen scientists for Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and they

are taking great pride in the birdlife that is flourishing at Barbers Swamp. Barbers Swamp is among a number of sites across the Mallee to receive environmental water and the Barbers say it’s created a haven for a variety of woodland, wetland and seed-eating birds and other wildlife. Keith and Helen, now semi-retired, live on their family farm, which is primarily operated by their sons, Lachlan and Andrew.

“We’ve been monitoring the birds for about six or seven years. I think we’ve saved birdlife and created more. If we lost the water, we would have lost the birds,” Keith said. Keith has also been excited by the evidence he’s found which suggests some birds are using the swamp as a breeding site. He said in the past three months at the swamp he had noticed about 35 different varieties of birds, including dotterels, spoonbills and musk ducks.

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Mallee Farmer “We also get lace monitors and bats and it’s amazing at night with the frogs. We’ve seen carpet pythons nearby too.” Keith has no doubt that the environmental watering has helped support the biodiversity of the region and he says contributing to the bird monitoring is not a huge task. Keith and Helen record what they see in a book at home and later, report those findings to Mallee CMA. Word has spread around the district, about Keith and Helen’s bird monitoring — they’re often approached by people, keen to tell them what birds they’ve seen in the wetlands. “It makes you interested in seeing the birds annually, when they’re migrating,” he said.

Getting involved in the bird monitoring program has fueled the couple’s interest in birds and they both encourage other people to become citizen scientists.

The Mallee CMA also uses the data to help understand the impact environmental watering is having on Mallee waterways.

Like Keith and Helen, Mallee CMA engagement and education officer Susan Saris believes citizen scientists play an important role in supporting the environment and she said the bird data collected from Barbers Swamp is entered into the online database, Atlas of Australian Birds.

“Monitoring of birds provides a good indicator of general environmental health, including habitat condition and ecosystem function. Bird data will also be used by the Mallee CMA in reports for State Government and water holders, to inform the outcomes from environmental watering events,” Susan said, before joining Keith and Helen, in encouraging others to get involved.

“This database collects data from birdwatchers all over Australia to determine the distribution and abundance of all bird species in Australia,” she said. “This data is analysed to track changes in bird populations across Australia.”

“This citizen science project gets people outdoors, builds their experience in birdwatching and helps people to reconnect to nature,” she said.

Barbers swamp restored to former glory

Acknowledgements

This project is part of the Victorian Government’s $222 Million investment over the next four years to improve catchment and waterway health across regional Victoria.

Mallee Catchment Management Authority’s citizen scientist Keith Barber

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For more information Susan Saris | Engagement and Education Officer Waterways T: 03 5051 4384 | E: susan.saris@ malleecma.com.au www.malleecma.vic.gov.au


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Dryland Salinity Control Works Case Study More effective summer weed control, in conjunction with more frequent heavy summer rainfall events, has seen the return of dune seepage issues in the sandy soils of the central Mallee. By Glen Sutherland, Mallee CMA The salinisation of some dryland farming areas in the Mallee region is a significant concern for land managers. Localised induced saline discharge areas are a relatively new problem directly associated with the historic large-scale land clearing of deep rooted native plants such as Mallee trees and their replacement with annual, shallow rooted agricultural crops and summer fallow practices. This results in more rainwater being able to percolate down through the soil profile, collecting salts and other minerals on the way until its downward path is slowed or stopped by water impeding layers such as impermeable subsurface clay layers, which underlie much of the region. This can result in the soil profile wetting up to the point of waterlogging and the eventual seepage of this salt contaminated water back to the surface. These localised patches of topsoils with elevated salt levels are rendered near sterile and devoid of plant growth and eventually lead to the formation of salt scalds. The re-introduction of salt tolerant vegetation, particularly native species, to the border zones of salinised areas is a very effective way to stop, and in some cases reverse the spread of these problem areas. Deep rooted plants do this by maximising the use of the available fresh water (rainfall) through evapotranspiration, before it has a chance to drain down through and collect in the soil profile. In 2016 the Australian Government provided funding under the National Landcare Program in the Mallee for on-farm salinity control works. Grants were made available through the Mallee Dryland Sustainable Agriculture program, delivered regionally by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority. Grants supported farmers to undertake

on-farm works for re-vegetation and associated fencing to help control salinised areas. Jason and Ryan Scott’s 3200 ha cropping and grazing mixed farming enterprise is located near Ouyen in the central Mallee. This area is known for having a higher than average production capacity and ability to attract above average annual rainfall. The area is also known to have more than its fair share of secondary salinity affected sites. The Scotts applied for and were granted salinity control works funding, available through the Mallee Dryland Sustainable Agriculture grants program in 2016. “We have seen multiple seepage problem areas emerge on our farm since about 2005 onwards when we adopted direct drilling over conventional fallow. These areas have become a real eyesore,” Jason Scott said. “Better chemical control methods for deep rooted summer weeds, like skeleton weed on our hills and more frequent heavy rainfall from summer storm events have certainly contributed to the problem, we believe. “Being involved in the Mallee Catchment Management Authority’s Environmental Management Action Planning program (EMAP) meant that we learnt more about our salinity problems, our EMAP case manager picked up on the issues and encouraged us to apply for funding available through the Mallee CMA’s Sustainable Agriculture grants program,” Jason said. “We found the whole application process easy with the case manager clearly explaining how the process works, from planning right through to the finish of the works. We had a lot of help along the way, with the case manager on hand to advise us on project design and even what plants to select and how and where to plant them. “Because we have run sheep we have incorporated fencing with the plantings, this will enable us in time to properly manage

Jason Scott with sons Sam and Isaac, committed to fixing their seepage issues

For more information Further information about the Mallee Dryland Sustainable Agriculture grants program can be found at malleecma.com.au or by contacting Glen Sutherland, Mallee CMA, 5051 4308. the saltbush as a supplementary sheep feed when required.” Jason added. “This was our first attempt to control our salinity problems and we will certainly be continuing the work in stages across our property. “We learnt some valuable lessons this time round including timing the planting to be closer to the autumn break and to stage the works over a lesser number of sites per year, as watering by hand takes more time than we thought and finally, to make sure we have enough hands on deck when we make a start. “We would certainly encourage other farmers to get on to their small problem areas sooner rather than later, as this was the mistake we made, to let our little areas go, thinking that the problems would eventually go away; they don’t, they only get bigger and harder to control,” Jason concluded.

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Is automated farming a threat to job security? The unforeseen benefits of new technology in agriculture. By Dr Ray Johnson, Managing Director, Agricultural Appointments. There is a digital revolution underway in Australian agriculture, with the timely confluence of record production levels marking agriculture as one of the key ‘industries of the future’. Yet it is the digital revolution that is changing the traditional harsh image of farming to an industry sector that is increasingly becoming attractive for the younger generations. But will the pace of implementation of automated farming technologies threaten or enhance the job opportunities of the future? Many experts such as billionaire investor Jeff Greene believe that artificial intelligence, big data and robotics pose a serious challenge to both white collar and blue collar jobs. It has been predicted that by the year 2025, robots will take up a third of all jobs. There is no doubt that these factors will play a key role in the future of agriculture as well. Food and farming systems are now already experiencing a new era of revolutionized farming. There have been major advances in autosteering of farm machinery, and there is a range of farm production and sensor technologies directed towards livestock monitoring and the optimisation of water, fertiliser and pesticide applications.

underway to train a ‘farmbot’ to herd livestock, monitor their health and check they have enough pasture to graze on. There is also a range of hovering platforms (drones) suited to ultrahigh resolution scanning and targeted surveys, and even for interaction with the environment such as targeted spraying of weeds for example. The first fully robotic dairy in the southern hemisphere is in Tasmania, indicating that Australia is both a developer and rapid adopter of new technology. So we would be wise to perhaps advise caution on predicting the future job market for young people in agriculture. However, there are four significant factors at play in Australian agriculture at present: • Continued strong growth in agricultural production – in 2016 the national value of agricultural output increased by a remarkable 28 per cent. The global importance of agriculture in providing sufficient food for the ever-growing human population means that Australian agriculture will continue on its major expansion path barring national climatic occurrences. • Low unemployment levels – the level of unemployment in Australia

Research on automated farming is also rapidly expanding. For example, the University of Sydney has research

Photo courtesy of Australian Centre for Field Robotics

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Will farmbots be a threat to agricultural jobs in the future?

is currently around 5.6 per cent and appears to be relatively steady between 5-6 per cent, and in the long-term, the Australian unemployment rate is projected to trend around 5.6 per cent in 2020. • On-going skills shortage in Australian agriculture – many experts have written about the relatively low agricultural graduate level compared with the available jobs, with estimates showing that there are around three jobs available for every graduate. While there is now a consistent increase in university enrolments, it is unlikely to change this statistic significantly into the near future. • Baby Boomers retiring – across farming and the agribusiness services sectors there is good evidence to show that the average age is approaching the mid-50s, indicating a potential surge in retirements over the next few years. In conclusion, there will be increased automation and robotics in Australian agriculture, but the future remains bright for those wishing to make a career in this key industry sector. Agricultural appointments specialises in recruitment for agriculture, wine and food.


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EMAP Program comes to an end After 13 years of operation, the Environmental Management Action Planning (EMAP) program has successfully helped 647 landholders, covering more than 55% of the Mallee’s agricultural land, to better manage their land for both production and environmental outcomes. By Megan Frankel-Vaughan 2018 will see the end of a long running Mallee CMA program known as EMAP (Environmental Management Action Planning). This program has successfully assisted farmers across the Mallee to document and implement whole of farm management plans, identifying all their on farm assets associated with productivity through to biodiversity and has helped them prioritise actions that have increased their knowledge and understanding of the environment they work and live in. Environmental Management Action Planning (EMAP) began in 2005, when regional government agencies (Mallee Catchment Management Authority and the then Department of Primary Industries) teamed up with local landholders and businesses to develop a planning program that met the needs of Mallee farmers. EMAP drew on the concepts of environmental management systems, whole farm planning and agricultural extension to implement a program achieving environmental and agricultural results. Actions proposed on farmer’s plans fell under various categories including: irrigation and water management; salinity; pest plants and animals; whole farm planning; soil and nutrition; biodiversity; and safety and wellbeing. A total of 647 landholders completed the whole farm planning program between 2005 and 2018, covering more than 1.3 million hectares of agricultural land, equating to 55% of agricultural land within the Mallee. One farmer who participated in the program was Millewa farmer Matt Curtis. A third generation farmer, Matt, grew up on his family’s farm 35km west of Mildura and has been running the 4000 hectare property, which produces wheat, legumes, vetch and lentils, for the past 11 years.

As farmers embraced the program and adapted their processes in order to support their ongoing viability and productivity, Matt feels the future of Mallee farming is looking very bright. “We’ve been growing legumes over the past four or five years now,” Matt said. “We needed to change to improve soil and to get better wheat yields when cropping.” Matt believes change in the industry is inevitable and vital for the ongoing productivity of the land. Matt took part in the Mallee Catchment Management Authority’s (CMA) Environmental Management Action Planning (EMAP) program about six years ago. The primary focus of the program was building skills, knowledge and planning and tailoring it to Mallee farmers. Centered on local environmental and agricultural issues, the program helped farmers to plan and carry out works to increase the sustainability, productivity and profitability of their property through attendance at workshops where they developed whole farm plans that included local natural resource management issues. The program then developed further with a focus on individual case management and follow up farm visits by Mallee CMA and DPI(Department of Primary Industries)/ DEDJTR (Department of Education, Development, Jobs, Training and Resources) to help farmers review and update their proposed environmental actions. Using the information from the workshops, landholders identified and mapped assets, threats and proposed actions through an aerial photograph of their property. “The EMAP (program) helped with farm planning and putting the most suitable land to the best use. We’ve got some clay land that isn’t as good for cropping and it’s not as productive, so we were able to choose to run lambs on that land.”

Matt said that now the farm’s plan had been established, it was used as a reference point to keep changes on track. “It’s made us more efficient and it’s making sure we’re getting better use of the land,” he said. “It identified problem areas so we’re not wasting money on unproductive land.” By adopting GPS technology, Matt has also been able to change the way he plans fertiliser output, and instigated the planting of saltbush as part of his revegetation work. “We can use the saltbush when we’re low on feed for stock,” he said. “Outside influences have changed how we do things — we have to protect our green image. “Everyone wants to know where their food is coming from and social media has probably played a part in that, too.” To remain productive and competitive, Matt said farmers needed to be prepared and open to changes and development in their industry, using his inclusion of legumes in his farming business as an example. “Better varieties of legumes, are coming in all the time. There’s been a big focus on that in the past five years and getting better varieties to suit dry areas and varieties that are more productive and more disease resistant is important. “We’ve been adapting wheat varieties for the past hundred years and now legume varieties will just keep getting better and better.” Since commencing in 2005, the EMAP program has supported participants to collectively identify and map 9,360 areas of works, covering an area of over 201,660ha.

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Livestock Production Assurance Program showcased at Nullawil The Livestock Health and Biosecurity Victoria Program - An introduction to the new program and what it hopes to achieve By Glen Sutherland, Mallee CMA The Livestock Production Assurance (LPA) program is the Australian livestock industry’s on-farm Food Safety Accreditation program. The LPA is critical to ongoing successful export market access for Australian red meat and it’s experiencing some changes. To advise about the changes and what it means to meat producers, the Victorian Farmers Federation’s Livestock Health and Biosecurity Victoria program has been conducting information sessions across rural Victoria. I was able to catch up with the team running these sessions at their Nullawil event and learnt just why the information days are being run and what is being talked about at the events. There was an impressive line-up of speakers for the day including representatives from Agriculture Victoria, Meat and Livestock Australia and Livestock Health and Biosecurity Victoria. Meat and Livestock Australia’s Jo Quigley was first to address the 25 plus farmer audience and deftly summarised the LPA program and its importance to red meat production and overseas market access for Australian producers. Jo explained that the LPA is the Australian red meat livestock industry’s on-farm assurance program covering food safety. The program meets our market’s expectations and requirements by providing evidence of livestock history, right through the value chain. Jo outlined the current five elements of the LPA accreditation, these being: • Property risk assessments; • Safe and responsible animal treatments (medicine); • Fodder crop and grain treatments (livestock feeds); • Preparation of livestock for dispatch; and • Livestock transactions and movements. Jo highlighted how the current system is changing with two additional

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From left, the team presenting on the day, Gary Armstrong, Kimberly Henman, Jo Quigley and Catherine James.

elements being added to the LPA from 1st of October, 2017. Agriculture Victoria’s Gary Armstrong spoke next talking about the rollout of the electronic National Livestock Identification System (NLIS) for sheep and goats (electronic ear tags) and how this new system will also directly support the LPA program. Gary was followed by the speakers on the main topic for the day: Livestock Health and Biosecurity Victoria’s Catherine James and Kimberley Henman presenting on how to meet the new requirements around biosecurity and animal welfare on farm. The farm biosecurity element will include the need for producers to develop a farm biosecurity plan, which has the following purposes: • Minimise the risk of introducing and spreading infectious diseases; • Manage and record the introduction and movement of livestock; • Plan for the reasonable and practical control and record of people, equipment and vehicles entering the property; and • Control and regularly monitor livestock health on farm. The other new LPA element is the requirement for producers to meet prescribed animal welfare standards. The requirement includes producers needing to: • Have access to a copy of the Australian Animal Welfare Standards and Guidelines (S&Gs); • Be familiar with its contents;

Catherine James highlighting components of onfarm Biosecurity to Nullawil district farmers

• Complete the LPA Learning, Animal Welfare module or other equivalent training; and • Train and oversee others handling livestock on the property in a manner that is consistent with the S&Gs. The presentations were well received by the audience and prompted positive discussion and questions about the changes. Farmers recognised that they already met a lot of the requirements which were talked about and recognised that the job ahead was really about putting their current practices down on paper. Catherine went into some detail about the resources available to assist producers to meet the requirements of the LPA, including accessing a range of online tools and information including online videos, frequently asked questions, LPA Fact Sheets, record keeping templates and online learning modules available through the LPA Learning web site. Relevant links about the LPA changes include the following: www.mla.com.au/lpachanges www.animalwelfarestandards.net.au www.mla.com.au/LPALearning

For more information Those wanting more information can contact the Livestock Health and Biosecurity Victoria team on 1300 882 833 or email lhbv@vff.org.au


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The experts – where and when you need them ExtensionAUS™ - An online research resource for farmers By Johanna Couchman, ExtensionAUS™ ExtensionAUS.com.au is home to experts in Crop Nutrition, Extension Practice, Field Crop Diseases, Stored Grain and more recently the Victorian Rural Women’s Network. Grain growers and advisers looking for the most current crop nutrition and disease information cannot go past ExtensionAUS™, a national online network that provides information and advice 24/7. Delivering real-time information exchange with grains experts, ExtensionAUS™ also supports research-based learning networks. Field Crop Diseases, Stored Grain and Crop Nutrition networks are supported by the Grains Research & Development Corporation (GRDC), in partnership with Agriculture Victoria and the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries. Agriculture Victoria Knowledge Broker, Johanna Couchman, said these networks help decision-making around crop nutrition and disease by providing the latest information straight from the experts. “ExtensionAUS™ provides direct access to crop disease and nutrition experts, no matter where you are – out in the field on your mobile device, at home, or at your desk” Ms Couchman said. “The service is an online learning network that complements regular information gathering systems, like Mallee Farmer, and is an extension of your current advice channels.” ExtensionAUS™ gathers experts in crop nutrition, grain storage and diseases and offers: • Real-time information exchange between farmers and research & development experts;

• Coordinating sources of information and decision-support tools, streamlining the task of finding the right information; • Timely, relevant, peer-reviewed and up-to-date information; and • the opportunity to pose a question directly to the expert panel via the Ask an Expert tool. Ms Couchman said the service taps into public and private sector research, development and extension specialists.

builds on much of the work previously completed by RIRDC related to extension and capacity building. Key topics on the Community of Practice sites are presented as articles, which describe the topic and importantly link to other references, presentations or tools that may be of use to the reader.

“ExtensionAUS™ helps scientists, industry organisations, advisers and growers share and exchange ideas and deliver the best research-backed information available, in a range of formats. You can access ExtensionAUS™ through a number of channels – the website, social media, and through Ask an Expert. All the ExtensionAUS™ tools, channels and information are free for all members of the grains industry to access. The eXtensionAUS platform and the Community of Practice sites have been developed to meet the needs of rural and regional Australia for the extension of knowledge and to enable collaboration on important issues. They have been developed as part of a RIRDC project called Extension and Adoption for Australian Farmers and Fishers. RIRDC has developed the eXtensionAUS platform in partnership with Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, with funding from the Australian Government Department of Agriculture and Water Resources as part of its Rural R&D for Profit Programme. RIRDC has a long tradition of investing in people in rural Australia. RIRDC has funded projects related to extension, education and training, rural leadership, women, safety and capacity building to achieve innovation. The Extension and Adoption for Australian Farmers and Fishers project

For more information Visit the website at www. ExtensionAUS.com.au or follow ExtensionAUS™ on Twitter @AuCropNutrition and @AusCropDiseases.

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Mallee Farmer

Getting on your goat New Goat Management Strategy â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Information about the new strategic action plan for feral goat and landholder involvement By Brendan Rodgers, Parks Victoria

A new strategic action plan for feral goat management on public land in North West Victoria is nearing completion. The plan is a key component of the larger Total Grazing Management Plan for Mallee parks, which aims to restore degraded natural values by reducing grazing pressure from kangaroos, rabbits and goats. In addition to the ecological reasons for undertaking feral animal control, Parks Victoria has legal and â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;good neighbourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; obligations to reduce numbers of feral goats on the land it manages, using humane and cost-effective control methods. Parks Victoria also acknowledges that by reducing the number of feral animals it makes an important contribution to the broader landscape and all public lands. This plan is designed to support the implementation of the management objectives in the Total Grazing Management Plan. Four key objectives are identified for management actions in the plan: a) the restoration of semi-arid woodlands, b) resilience of floodplain vegetation community, c) protection of animal welfare and d) the protection

of Aboriginal sites and values. This new plan contributes toward these management objectives. Management actions to help undertake feral goat control include enhancing existing partnerships and the building of new relationships with key partners and stakeholders. In addition to Traditional Owners, new and existing partners and stakeholders include other government agencies, non-government organisations, community and special interest groups, volunteers and landholders. Another aim of this plan is to reduce the expense to the agency of aerial culling by enhancing sporting shooter involvement, building adjacent landholder capacity, Traditional Owner involvement and commercial operators in removal operations, and the monitoring of agreed performance measures. While this plan addresses the density and impact of feral goats on public land in the broader landscape, there is a focus on national parks such as MurraySunset National Park, where feral goats are a known threat to regeneration of endangered vegetation communities.

Feral goats trapped on adjoining freehold farmland near Murray-Sunset National Park

Goats photographed on remote camera at Hattah-Kulkyne National Park.

Surveys across some of these parks have recorded large numbers of feral goats, and this information provides a sound basis for planning across NorthWest Victoria. Feral goat browsing on Cattlebush Alectryon oleifolius in Murray-Sunset National Park

Feral goats trapped in Murray-Sunset National Park

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Mallee Farmer Key Milestones 2012 Aerial goat survey of MurraySunset National Park estimates over 8100 goats. 2013 Feral goat movement research project using GPS tracking collars. 2014 Goat fence built around Hattah Lakes to protect valuable wetlands. 2015 Aerial shooting in MurraySunset and Hattah-Kulkyne National Parks. 2016 Repeat aerial survey of MurraySunset National Park estimates goat population has reduced to 5300.

For more information Brendan Rodgers | Total Grazing Management Coordinator | Parks Victoria PO Box 5065, Mildura, Victoria 3502. T: 03 5051 4648 | M: 0439 201 333 | E: Brendan. Rodgers@parks.vic.gov.au | www.parks.vic.gov.au

Acknowledgements

This project was jointly funded through Parks Victoria and the Australian Government’s Mallee Biodiversity Fund Project

2018 Strategic Action Plan for feral goats on public land in North West Victoria.

New Biodiversity On-ground Action projects for the Mallee New projects will now target feral cats and pigs as well as the traditional rabbits, foxes and weeds. By Megan Frankel-Vaughan A new, large-scale biodiversity project in the Mallee will unite private landholders and public groups in an effort to tackle pests and protect the area.

The project’s activities will include goat, cat and pig trapping, rabbit control, weed control, fox baiting, revegetation, stock exclusion fencing on private land and stewardship on existing covenants.

The project will be delivered through Parks Victoria, Trust for Nature, Mildura Rural City Council, Landcare groups,

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DEWLP) and private landholders.

The four-year project, which began last year with planning, has moved into its first year of on-ground works. On-ground works will finish in June, 2019, before the fourth year of assessment and monitoring.

The three Biodiversity On-ground Action projects that the groups will focus on include the Northern Mallee Woodlands, from Lake Cullulleraine to the South Australian border, Murray to Mallee Connections (Hattah/Annuello), and Mallee Dunefields to the Big Desert (Pink Lakes). Leading the project is Mallee Catchment Management Authority’s (CMA) Project Officer Riparian and Flood Recovery, Nicole Wishart, who said the Biodiversity On-ground Action projects were the first of their scale in the district. “(Mallee CMA) offers a lot of incentives for biodiversity works, but to this scale and to this extent we haven’t done anything like this,” she said. “It’s a collaborative approach and it’s complementing what we’re already doing.”

Northern Mallee Woodlands Project Area

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Mallee Farmer So far, Nicole said Mallee CMA had been working with the different groups and landholders to find out what they wanted to achieve in their area. “It’s about a collaboration with different groups and taking a landscape-based approach to pest animal and plant control and stock exclusion,” she said. “It’ll work with farmers to look at an environmental approach to what they’re doing.” Acknowledging that many farmers are busy year-round, and that they all did their own rabbit and weed control already, Nicole said the strong relationships the Mallee CMA has

developed with farmers will be vital in the success of the large-scale project. “We’ve built really good relationships, so for that to continue is great and landholders have been really willing to get involved. “For example, the Murray to Mallee project is working with about 5-10 landholders, as well as other stakeholder groups.” DELWP has commenced works, as has Mildura Rural City Council, which is responsible for roadside control.

Riparian and Flood Recovery Project Officer Nicole Wishart

Murray to Mallee Project Area

Acknowledgements This project is jointly funded through the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)

For more information Nicole Wishart | Project Officer Riparian and Flood Recovery| Mallee Catchment Management Authority PO Box 5017, Mildura, Victoria 3502. T: 03 5051 4667 | M: 0427 514 303 | E: Nicole.Wishart@malleecma. com.au www.malleecma.vic.gov.au Mallee Dunefields Project Area

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Mallee Farmer

Berrook and Baring State Forest Malleefowl Wildlife Corridors study Large bio-link corridors linking fragmented vegetation will give the endangered Mallee Fowl more hope in the battle to survive. By

Scott McLean, Forest Fire Management Victoria Exciting times in the Mallee with two new Malleefowl wildlife corridor projects recently completed! These corridors in the Victorian Mallee link fragmented habitat and facilitate the movement of Malleefowl. The projects were developed through a successful partnership between the Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic), the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (Mallee CMA), Greening Australia, adjoining landholders and the ecological research company Ogyris. The projects were identified by DELWP in a report from Ogyris, who undertook survey work on behalf of the Victorian Malleefowl Recovery Group, to address Objective 5 of the National Recovery Plan for Malleefowl (Benshemesh, 2007), “An Investigation of Potential Landscape Links to Enhance Malleefowl Conservation in

Northwest Victoria – June 2014”. The first project completed was at Berrook, approximately 36km northwest of Murrayville, and the second was at Baring, 11km southwest of Patchewollock. Ian Sluiter from Ogyris provided technical advice on the projects and was thrilled to see the Ogyris report used to identify and complete targeted on-ground works for Malleefowl conservation. The project at Berrook was finished in May 2016. Murray-Sunset National Park is now linked with a large block of state forest at Berrook by a corridor, created across previous grazed and cleared cropping land. Approximately 12km of new stock-proof fencing was erected by the Mallee CMA to protect 498ha of remnant vegetation. Within this fenced area, Greening Australia – SA, revegetated 88ha by planting 8,730 locally sourced tube stock seedlings and direct seeding using 52kg of locally sourced seed. The project at Baring finished in July 2017 and was delivered by DELWP. Wyperfield National Park is now linked

with the Baring/Bronzewing State Forest. This also involved creating a corridor across previously cropped and grazed land, requiring 3.72km of new stock-proof fencing to protect 80ha of land (40ha remnant and 40ha cleared), with a total of 7,800 trees planted over the cleared areas. Sites will be continually monitored and tree guards removed once trees are established. Rainfall has been average on the sites so far and it is hoped that more falls before the summer sets in. The project at Baring has been signposted as the “Baring Gypsum Wildlife Corridor”. These projects are a significant success story for the Mallee and thanks goes to the partner organisations and people who made it happen. Hopefully future funding applications will be successful and enable more corridors, reducing fragmentation and increasing habitat and connectivity.

Acknowledgements

The wildlife corridors were jointly funded through the Mallee CMA and the Australian Government in partnership with Forest Fire Management Victoria.

For more information

Newly established wildlife corridor at Berrook

Scott McLean Forest Fire Management | Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning PO Box 905, Cnr Eleventh St & Koorlong, Mildura, Victoria 3502. T: 03 5051 4362 | E: scott. mclean@delwp.vic.gov.au

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The Last Word

By Glen Sutherland

Mallee’s Most Wanted is going retro this issue and for good reason. We have some news worth sharing on the battle against African Boxthorn. The Mallee CMA has been trialling alternative methods of controlling Boxthorn, based on the experiences of the South Aussies on Kangaroo Island. But more about that later. Way back in Mallee Farmer edition 5 (August 2013), we had a good shot at exposing African Boxthorn as being one of the Mallee’s worst weeds and how it was really taking hold on the back of the extremely wet summer of 2010-11. The guts of the story being to get onto Boxthorn control early, while the plants are small, because the bigger they get, the harder (and more expensive) they are to control. Just to recap the main points from back then: • Boxthorn is one of Australia’s worst invasive weeds; • It spreads quickly, mostly from bird and foxes ingesting its fruit. Seeds survive digestion; • Can form impenetrable animal barriers to water and shade; • Displaces other vegetation, including natives; • Its spines can blind stock and ensnare birds; • Is drought tolerant, salt tolerant and does well on good and hard country; • Provides shelter for pests, like cats, foxes, rabbits, and even fruit fly; and • Is harder to kill than Bruce Willis in Die Hard movies. Boxthorn is a declared Weed of National Significance (WoNS) and in the Victorian Mallee is classified as a regionally controlled noxious weed. So back to our news. Mallee CMA has been trialling an alternative way of controlling Boxthorns. Traditional Boxthorn control methods, whilst effective, have their limitations and almost always require a number of retreatments to be 100% effective. The mechanical methods applied to remove

The

Boxthorn can also cause other issues and aren’t always appropriate to every situation. This trial is to assess the effectiveness of a method developed on King Island in Bass Straight where Boxthorn is a major issue, and if this approach can be used in the Mallee environment. The method is based on the controlled application of a granulated herbicide to soil under the plants drip line. The soil-applied herbicide moves through the root zone after rain and is absorbed into the plant. The trial is important as the King Island experience has demonstrated the effectiveness of the method and has potentially a number of benefits compared to traditional controls and these include: • Unlike foliant spray applications of herbicides, treatments can occur at any time of the plant growth cycle; • Cut and paste and other mechanical methods are time and resource consuming in comparison. What can take many hours traditionally, can be literally done in minutes; • May be more effective in hard to access places such as Boxthorn thickets or challenging terrain. The trial is being conducted by a licenced and experienced contractor in Boxthorn control. The herbicide being trialled has an active constituent of the chemical Tebuthiuron. Careful application of the herbicide is necessary due to the labelled restraints and consequently is best left to professionals. Early indications are that the trialled method is effective in certain circumstances and whilst it cannot replace other methods it may prove a valuable addition to the African Boxthorn control toolkit. One of the more obvious benefits of this method

Mallee Farmer

Mallee CMA Employment Program Crew Members treating Boxthorn

is the enormous time savings compared to more traditional controls, particularly when compared to mechanical methods and or a combination of mechanical and chemical (cut and paste). Time savings will also equate to significant cost savings. This trial is being conducted on both public, including roadsides, and private land and is supported by the Australian Government through the Connecting Mallee Parks program. For anyone wanting more comprehensive information about controlling African Boxthorn, you will need to go a long way to find better than the 2013 Weeds of National Significance, African boxthorn, National Best Practice manual, which was produced and published by the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment, with funding from the Australian Government. This publication is available online via this link: http://weeds.ala.org.au/WoNS/ africanboxthorn/docs/African_boxthornnational_best_practice_manual.pdf

Contact

Mallee Catchment Management Authority Telephone 03 5051 4377 Facsimile 03 5051 4379 PO Box 5017 Mildura Victoria 3502

www.malleecma.vic.gov.au

This publication is supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Profile for Mallee Catchment Management Authority

Mallee Farmer edition 13  

In this issue we explore some of the latest innovations, achievements being made in our region and provide the links you might need to furth...

Mallee Farmer edition 13  

In this issue we explore some of the latest innovations, achievements being made in our region and provide the links you might need to furth...

Profile for malleecma