Mallee Farmer FOR FA RM E R S I N T H E M A L L E E REGION
Nitrogen and sulphur decisions
EMAP helps farmers plan works
ISSUE 05 â€˘ AUGUST 2013
Regional Landcare news
No-till changes the face of Mallee farming Growing winter wheat on summer rain p8
Contents Seasonal conditions
Nitrogen and sulphur decisions
Cleaning up the farm and the environment
EMAP – creating positive change in the Mallee
Growing winter wheat on summer rain
New industry network channels top on-farm issues to GRDC
Regional event dates to remember
What a difference some rain can make! The outlook has completely turned around following good rainfall right across the Mallee region and all of a sudden, we are facing a promising season. Fortunately this strategy has paid off - there rain we’ve received so far has resulted in good seed bed moisture, germination, and a prediction from the Bureau of Meteorology of a 75% chance of above average rainfall in the coming months. All eyes will be on the sky as we see how the season rolls out from here, but already you can see the region bouncing back. There’s some great crops on show across the region, particularly down around Woomelang and Lascelles. Birchip hasn’t had as much rain as other areas, but I’m reliably informed that the outlook is still positive.
Victorian Food & Fibre Marketing 14 Cooperatives Grants Program Landcare News
Stubble Management - A Guide for Mallee Farmers
Have a say in the management of the Mallee landscapes
The importance of Mallee waterways
Risk reduction options for canola establishment in 28 dry years Mildura Field Days Farming Futures Program
No-till farming sees Mallee farm size double in a decade
Pest animal field guide
Mallee Lizards Field Guide now available
ISSN: 1839 - 2229
Cover Image Terry Kiley, minimum till farming. Story page: 30
It never ceases to amaze me how quickly things can change. When the last edition of the Mallee Farmer came out earlier this year, the forecast for the season wasn’t very positive. This was followed by yet another poor Autumn break, on top of a very dry summer, and little or no sub-soil moisture. Now we are into the fifth edition of the Mallee Farmer and more than half way through the year. Despite the dry start, many farmers backed themselves for a reasonable season and thousands of hectares of crops were dry sown.
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
And while the rain looks like it might keep falling at opportune times, let’s hope the Australian dollar also keeps falling. The high Aussie dollar has had a crippling effect on all of our export industries throughout the past three years but, finally, it seems that the dollar might come back a bit. If this downward trend continues, this could make us far more competitive in the market place. Here’s hoping the good outlook for the season keeps going, and the rain and the dollar keep falling. 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.
Kord CL Plus Wheat in the Mallee. Inset: Rob Sonogan.
What a turnaround! From a summer and autumn that delivered almost no rain and had many on-edge, to the first days of June that began the true seasonal break. By
Rob Sonogan, AGRIvision Consultants PTY LTD
in many instances control activities had to be carried out. The crops are now well on track!
Extensive dry-sowing (some into moisture) had about 80% of crop sown prior to the early June dumping of some 40 to 90mm across the Mallee. Many had made the decision to reduce their area sown to canola and much discussion had occurred over concerns with chemical residue plant-back.
The dry sowing always presents some complexities and 2013 was no exception. Irregular germination due to soil moisture variability had some lighter soils germinating first and in some heavier soils the crops had difficulty emerging when it did eventually rain (especially canola).
The current scene
Weeds and more weeds
In the last week of June (time of writing this article) the Mallee looks fantastic and has responded as only the Mallee can! The plant-back concerns were greatly assisted by having the options of ClearField varieties available to substitute conventional lines. Some minor Lontrel damage has been reported but significant problems appear to have been avoided by good planning and understanding the challenge the extremely dry summer presented us. The crops of canola, vetch and lentils were subjected to early mite attack and
With no summer weed control it was to be expected that weeds would be an issue. However, for many paddocks the sheer extent of problematic weeds is a real management task that is underway and will continue well into the season. Brome grass has raised its head with vigour and crop-topping soon no doubt will play a major part in its control. Your agronomist/advisor can assist you to understand the issues involved in the sprays to use and crops that are registered.
In-crop soil testing for Nitrogen (N)
Correctly, minimal soil testing for N was carried out pre-sowing due to the unusually dry conditions. With later germinations and sowing carried out it may still be opportune to have a deep soil test done to accurately determine how much, if any, N is required. It can be a very expensive decision to topdress (or to not topdress) based upon gut feeling. It is always a good agronomic test to also leave a strip as a control, so when harvesting you can check the economic response to both yield and quality.
And for the rest of the season?
The current rainfall outlook is for a reasonable chance of getting above average rainfall for July, August and September. If this eventuates the season may conclude successfully which would be a relief after such a shaky start. It never ceases to impress me the flexibility that Mallee farmers exhibit in responding to changing circumstances and to information given, and of the three certainties in life, -taxes, death and change; that of long range weather forecasting is still not close to becoming the fourth!
Nitrogen and sulphur decisions It is now time to review nitrogen (N) and sulphur (S) budgets established earlier in the year. The recent rain allows planning of nitrogen strategies with more confidence. Organise supplies now and be ready for the next rain front. By
Kent Wooding, AGRIvision Consultants PTY LTD Nitrogen and sulphur decisions’ should be made from a good level of understanding of yield potential and existing levels of nutrients in the soil. Soil sampling in-crop to assess N & S levels should be carried out on at least a few “indicator” paddocks on the farm if they were not carried out prior to sowing. Review your top dressing budgets/ plans and re-assess yield potential. We should be looking to supply sufficient N for a realistic and achievable yield and not maximum N for maximum yield. Be ready to respond to the season. That may mean gearing up for more N if the season is favourable or locking the gate if the rain stops. Nitrogen applications should first be targeted at the paddocks likely to provide the best response or have the greatest
need. Set your priorities with your adviser now. Cereals and canola back on cereal stubbles and paddocks with a poor legume history are usually a good place to start.
The key products
Urea (46:0:0:0) - The standard product used in most situations where nitrogen is required. It is the cheapest source of applied nitrogen. Where canola has been spread with gypsum or sulphur applied up-front, further N applications are likely to be straight urea. GranAm/SOA (21:0:0:24) - this product is sulphate of ammonia. It contains 21% nitrogen and 24% sulphur. Quality varies so ensure you select the right product for the right job. Handling and spreading characteristics are features to check. The best quality SOA products behave and look much the same as urea but may attract more moisture in storage than urea. Due to the high % of sulphur in the product putting out high rates of SOA is
an expensive way to apply nitrogen. The sulphur in SOA generally costs around $1.00 per kg of S. Therefore if you want to apply 15kg of sulphur onto a paddock it will probably cost you around $15/ha more than what it would cost to apply straight urea. We often plan to use SOA in a blend with urea as generally we are chasing more N than S and to apply high rates of N with SOA is too expensive.
Slam (19:1:0:23) - this is an SOA product which looks more like MAP than urea. It may be ok for spreading with spinners but it is not suggested to run it through an air seeder. Slam contains 1% phosphorus so this may be a bonus when considering the price. Do not blend this with urea. Stimulus (30:0:0:15) & ExtraSul (32:0:0:13) - These products are an SOA + Urea blend providing a good mix of N & S. Run stimulus on canola or when chasing more S and ExtraSul on cereal or when less S is required. Other SOA/Urea Blends – SOA and Urea can be blended at the plant to achieve a desired ratio of N & S. They can be blended up to suit a specific situation or paddock.
Mallee Farmer UAN (42:0:0:0 as liquid) â€“ Easy and timely to apply with your own boom spray. At current levels UAN is roughly 50% more expensive than urea. UAN may have a fit when using low rates to give crops a short term boost (e.g. crops stressed by herbicide or disease and need a kick). It may be too expensive to consider as a single means to deliver bulk amounts of nitrogen but may be a good option if you have the man power to have one person spaying UAN and another spreading urea or SOA just prior to a rain front. At low rates, UAN can be applied with some herbicides to help with timing and application efficiency.
to a canola crop in the Mallee. Heavier soils or paddocks which have tested high for sulphur (e.g. had gypsum in the last couple of seasons) may not need S. Cereals do not have a high demand for sulphur be we still need the nutrient. We often see sulphur deficiency on light sandy soils. If your soils are S deficient, they are unlikely to respond to additional N. On light sandy soils plan to apply around 8-10kg/ha of sulphur to ensure that the wheat is not deficient. Crop requirements for sulphur vary. Wheat requires 4kg S/t. A 2t/ha wheat crop will use 8kg/ha S. Canola requires 20kg S/t. A 1.2t/ha canola crop will use 25kg/ha S. These figures are based on crop removal and nutrient efficiency.
Liquid urea or SOA/Urea Liquid blends. There are various liquid solutions of urea and or Urea/sulphate of ammonia. These products may be an option if you prefer applying a liquid and you require sulphur. These liquids may provide some growers with logistical benefits but there are generally no additional agronomic advantages.
Sulphate sulphur leaches readily so applying smaller amounts often may be more beneficial. The sulphur present in starter fertilises like MES and MESZ often provide a sufficient starter S and a trickle of available S throughout the season.
Where do I need sulphur and how much?
There is a lot of talk and research to support the process called canopy management. This has some scientific merit and is easy to manage in small plot trials. On farm over a large area we cannot afford perfect nitrogen application
The amount of sulphur you need to apply depends on the soil type and what quantity of S is present in the soil (refer to soil tests). As a general rule you would look to apply roughly 15kg of S
Timing of nitrogen
timing. We have to make the most of the two or three good rainfall events during the season. It may be more beneficial to the crop and farm returns to be slightly early and have the N out just prior to a rain event than wait for the perfect timing and then receive insufficient rain. Sandy soils often require more N early in the season to ensure the cereals produce sufficient tillers. Regardless of the timing we must be flexible and willing to respond to the season. We must always ensure we are matching nitrogen and sulphur requirements to a realistic yield estimate and this is a moving target. That may mean gearing up for more N if the season is favourable or locking the gate if the rain stops.
Kent Wooding, AGRIvision Consultants M. 0427 044 748 E. email@example.com
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Contact the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) to arrange to have The Mallee Farmer posted directly to you. T: (03) 5051 4377 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Recycled drums at MRCC depot.
Cleaning up the farm and the environment The Australia-wide drumMuster program commenced in 1999 and to date has saved over 21 million used agvet chemical containers (around 26,400 tonnes) from going into landfill, delivering benefits to both the industry and the broader Australian public. By
John Knight, drumMUSTER and ChemClear. drumMUSTER is a stewardship program that collects and recycles used containers for crop production and on-farm animal health chemicals. Eligible non-returnable, metal and plastic containers are cleaned of residue by farmers and delivered to one of more than 874 collection sites across Australia. Supported by 370 councils throughout Australia, drumMUSTER is funded by a levy of four cents per litre or kilogram of
participating agvet chemicals at the point of sale. The drumMUSTER program is managed by AgStewardship Australia and daily operation of the program is delivered by Agsafe Limited. The program was designed to enable non-returnable used chemical containers to be brought back into various locations for recycling purposes at no cost to the users. The current range of drum sizes accepted are one to 205 litres. The program canâ€™t accept returnable enviro-drums, 1000L shuttles, or the 15L cardboard box with the plastic liner inside.
There is no cost to deposit drumMUSTER logo chemical containers at any of the drumMUSTER sites, providing there is no chemical residue present inside the containers. It is important that all chemical containers are properly rinsed and cleaned with water after use, and delivered free of any chemical or liquid with the lids removed. The collected used chemical containers are recycled into a variety of new plastic products such as: conduit, concrete chair bars, wheelie bins, plastic posts, tables and chairs, and bollards. Farmers in the Mallee and northern Wimmera regions of Victoria have been great supporters of the drumMUSTER program delivering their empty clean containers to the various drumMUSTER cages located at many of the regionâ€™s council-managed transfer stations or landfill sites. Since 1999 councils in these regions have collected 1.63 million drums.
Mallee Farmer Additional community benefits
An initiative of drumMUSTER has been the formation of community collection groups in partnership with local community organisations such as local schools, tennis clubs, football and netball clubs, town community social groups, Lions Clubs, and CFA groups. This initiative was developed in recognition of the fact the some agvet chemical users are too far from their closest drumMUSTER collection site and has been very successful in the Mallee and northern Wimmera regions. Community collection groups involved receive 25 cents for every drumMUSTER logo container collected, providing community organisations with extra income for their projects. In addition, it means that more containers are collected under the drumMUSTER program and local properties are being cleaned up of unwanted stored chemical containers.
Getting rid of unwanted farm chemicals
The ChemClear program is designed for the collection of unwanted chemicals and also operates Australia-wide. The program is a free service for any drumMUSTER logo containers with current registration or within two years of that registration being expired. This is called the Group 1 classification; to be eligible containers must have the drumMUSTER logo visible and chemical must be in its original container. A Group 2 classification is for containers that have had the product label removed or the contents of the container are unclear. Collection of these containers will still be undertaken by the ChemClear program however, a fee will apply for the service. To register your unwanted chemicals, phone 1800 008 182 or go to the website www.chemclear.com.au Local Council Collection Points:
Mildura Rural City Council
• Mildura Landfill, Ontario Ave • Cullulleraine Waste Facility, Stuart Highway • Murrayville Landfill, Recreation Road • Nangiloc Transfer Station, Castle Crossing Road • Ouyen Landfill, Dunkley Road • Underbool Waste Facility, Cemetery Road • Walpeup Waste Facility, Murphy Road • Werrimull Waste Facility, King Street
Call MRCC on 03 5018 8100 or visit the website: www.mildura.vic.gov.au for more information and opening times of these facilities.
Above: 1.63 million drums have been recycled through the region’s collection facilities since 1999. Photos: Mildura Rural City Council.
Swan Hill Rural City Council
• Swan Hill Landfill, Sea Lake- Swan Hill Road • Robinvale Landfill, Sea Lake – Swan Hill Road • Manangatang Transfer Station, Moondah Road • Ultima Transfer Station, Sea Lake – Swan Hill Road
Call SWRCC on 03 5036 2333 for more information about the drumMUSTER program.
Buloke Shire Council • • • •
Donald Landfill, Stawell Road Charlton Landfill, St Arnaud Road Wycheproof Landfill, Mackies Road Culgoa Landfill, Culgoa-Ultima Road • Sea Lake Landfill, Robinvale Road
Call BSC on 1300 520 520 or visit the website: www.buloke.vic.gov.au for more information and opening times of these facilities.
Yarriambiack Shire Council
• Yaapet Landfill, Rainbow-Yaapet Road • Hopetoun Transfer Station, 8 Tip Road • Beulah Landfill, 28 Beulah Tip Road off Birchip-Rainbow Road • Woomelang Landfill, Duthies Road • North-West Ag Woomelang, 56 Brook Street
Call YSC on 03 5398 0100 for more information about opening times of these facilities.
For more information
drumMUSTER and ChemClear program contact: John Knight, Regional Consultant for Victoria and South West NSW E: email@example.com M: 0427 346 325 W: www.drummuster.com.au
Landholders inspecting a reclaimed dune.
EMAP – creating positive change in the Mallee
For the last eight years the Environmental Management Action Planning (EMAP) program has helped Mallee farmers to plan for a sustainable and productive future. By
Elizabeth Gosling, Mallee CMA EMAP is a skills, knowledge and planning program tailored to Mallee dryland farmers. Based on local environmental and agricultural issues, the program helps farmers to plan and carry out works to increase the sustainability, productivity and profitability of their farm. The program began in 2005 in the Tyrrell Basin and has since included areas around Ouyen, Millewa-Carwarp, Underbool, Murrayville, Hopetoun and Birchip.
How EMAP works
The program is built around a series of workshops on local environmental issues and sustainable agriculture, supported by one-on-one case management and follow up farm visits. The workshops and farm visits help equip farmers with the skills, knowledge and confidence to plan and carry out actions that improve the environmental and productive values of their property. These actions include on-ground works and changes in management practices that aim to improve the environmental condition of the farm, the health of its soils and the running of the farm business.
Key achievements: • 1.1 million hectares of land covered by farm plans – 46 per cent of agricultural land in the Mallee; • 497 farming families have taken part in the program; • Over 2,000 maps have been produced; • More than 110 workshops held; • Landholders have mapped over 7,900 works; • Proposed works cover over 200,000 hectares, 2,890 kilometres, and 860 sites on private land.
Mallee Farmer All proposed works are mapped on poster-sized aerial imagery of their farm; these maps then become a handy reference and planning tool.
At the workshops, landholders are encouraged to think of environmental actions or works they would like to carry out; other types of actions, such as those that are production and business related are also captured. Actions are grouped into six categories: • Biodiversity; • Pest plants, animals and diseases; • Salinity; • Water management; • Whole farm planning (including soil health and nutrition); • Safety and wellbeing. Most of the actions that EMAP participants have mapped relate to whole farm planning and biodiversity as seen in the chart to the right. Importantly, planning has led to action. For example, almost half (47 per cent) of the area actions (such as hectares identified for rabbit control, revegetation and salinity works) mapped between 2005 and 2009 have been completed.
Graduate EMAP - the learning continues
After landholders complete EMAP they can enter the graduate program, where they receive on-going support from a local case manager. Case managers link farmers to technical advice for on-ground works and let them know of any funding available to assist with their planned actions. Follow up training is also offered through workshops and field days. EMAP graduates also have the chance to review and update their plans every three to four years. This helps ensures that maps remain a useful and current planning tool for farmers.
Case study – Ian McNabb
Ian McNabb operates a mixed cropping, sheep and cattle farm at Carwarp (20km south of Mildura) with his son, David. Ian is no stranger to salt and its associated land management problems – a large area of his 2,400 hectare property is subject to salinity. Much of this salinity is natural, but some area have become increasingly saline through past farming practices and clearing. By taking part in EMAP, Ian and David could identify these salt-affected
Mapped actions by EMAP participants.
areas and plan actions to address the associated salinity issues. Capturing their vision to bring salt-affected land back into production, the McNabbs have mapped 220 hectares of salinity abatement actions and 24 hectares of biodiversity actions. The Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) has helped Ian and David to put their plan into action by contributing to 136 hectares of revegetation for salinity control. Incentives have also helped them to fence saline areas so they can be managed separately. The success of these works is already evident; older saltbush plantings have lessened salt pans to the point where plantings can now grow in areas previously thought to be unviable for saltbush.
Cover of the EMAP booklet.
“I could see my property getting worse. It was a case of either go and get more land, or fix up what I had. A lot of neighbours thought I was mad fixing it up. I couldn’t see an alternative. Now it is saving so much of my country. If I hadn’t participated in EMAP, I would have a lot of salt pans and would have had to buy more land to be able to stay farming.” Ian McNabb To get the full story on EMAP look out for the new promotional booklet, which celebrates EMAP’s achievements of the last eight years. The Mallee CMA and Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) have worked together to deliver EMAP, through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country and the Victorian Government.
For more information
Mallee CMA 03 5051 4377 DEPI 03 5051 499 W: www.malleecma.vic.gov.au
Rosella wheat on April 2, 2013.
Growing winter wheat on summer rain
In a bid to identify how farmers might make better use of summer and early autumn rain, researchers at Birchip Cropping Group (BCG) have established a trial that will compare the early grazing and yield potential of winter wheat varieties grown in the Mallee. By
Dannielle McMillan and Justine Severin, BCG The BCG 2013 sowing program got off to a very early start this year with the first research trial being sown on February 25. With 54mm of rain recorded at Curyo (25kms north-west of Birchip) on February 14, BCG took the opportunity to test the performance of long season wheat varieties when sown very early in the Mallee. In recent years the Mallee has experienced a decline in April to May rainfall, which hinders the ability for spring wheat to establish when sown during the traditional seeding period (late April to May). If this trend continues, and healthy rainfall events occur during summer and late autumn (as they have in recent years), growers could benefit from the inclusion of some longer season winter wheat varieties in their rotation.
The trial will look at how effectively winter wheat varieties use summer and early autumn rain and their early grazing and yield potential. The eight wheat varieties being compared in this trial include Rosella, Wedgetail, Revenue, Whistler, Wylah, CSIROW7A, CSIROW8A (CSIRO experimental lines) and YW443 (a Chinese winter wheat). During the season each varietyâ€™s growth, feed quality and response to grazing will be measured, with grain quality and yield measured at the end of the season.
Managing winter wheats
Growing winter wheat varieties could be used as a risk management tool as they have a flexible sowing period of two months (compared with only two weeks for spring varieties) and a vernalisation period which allows for earlier sowing without frost risk. Early sowing allows the crop to take advantage of stored soil water from late summer and early autumn rain.
For mixed farmers, winter wheat varieties could also provide a nutrition source for livestock, particularly at times when there is commonly limited available feed (after a dry autumn). Because they have a longer tillering period (prior to growth sage 30) than their spring wheat counterparts, winter wheat varieties can be grazed longer without a significant reduction in yield. There is also the theory that long season wheats produce deeper roots and this, coupled with their longer growing season, can lead to a greater proportion of water being transpired, increasing drymatter and, potentially, yields. However, it is imperative that the stored soil moisture is present, and it is available to at least 30cm within the soil profile, when sowing long season wheat early. Growers should aim to sow winter wheat between late February and late April. Currently there are no winter wheat varieties specifically adapted for the Mallee and Wimmera region for early sowing. Rosella was the highest yielding winter wheat in a 2012 BCG trial being most suited to the Mallee region. However, with Rosella being released over 27 years ago it lacks in grain yield when
Dry matter (kg/ha)
1200 1000 800 600 400 200 0 Bolac
Dry matter (kg/ha) 16 May Dry matter (kg/ha) 26 July Dry matter production comparisons for grazing on two occasions.
compared to contemporary spring wheats. There are some varieties currently being developed in this area.
Last season BCG conducted a research trial examining the performance of very early sown wheat varieties, their early grazing potential and ability to recover from grazing. The varieties examined included slow maturing spring wheats (Bolac and Forrest); a fast maturing winter wheat (Rosella ); a slow maturing winter wheat (Wedgetail); and Yitpi â€“ a mid-maturing spring wheat variety most commonly grown in the Mallee. All varieties were sown at Birchip on March 14, after 56mm of rain in late February and early March, ensuring even emergence. Plants grew well on this stored water, despite no further rain falling until late May. Frosts (air temp. <2Â°C) were very common throughout the 2012 growing season, occurring on 78 occasions. Of the varieties tested in this trial, the winter wheat Rosella yielded better than all other varieties except the midmaturing spring wheat Yitpi (Table 1). Grazing and variety had no effect on protein (site average 12%), but Bolac and Forrest had higher levels of screenings than the winter wheats and Yitpi.
This trial showed that opportunities exist for Mallee and Wimmera growers to plant winter wheats in response to late summer and early autumn rain. While winter wheat yields in this trial were less than those achieved by spring wheats, it was noted that the varieties trialled were not specifically adapted to the Mallee and Wimmera. The results motivated further investigation in 2013.
Winter wheats in 2013
After sowing on February 25, emergence of the 2013 winter wheat trial was rapid and fairly even with Rosella slightly more advanced that the other varieties. The next decent rainfall (after 54mm in February) didnâ€™t occur until the start of June and the trial did exhibit signs of moisture stress. While all varieties handled the extended dry conditions through March and April surprisingly well, by May they were clearly in need of a good drink. Visually, Rosella seemed to survive the dry conditions better than the other varieties which, by May 2, were displaying curled leaves and some faint purpling. A rainfall of 12.5mm in May saw the plots recover to varying degrees, with Rosella and Wedgetail appearing the most resilient. With crop growth now excelling after further rainfall events (approx. 55mm for June), the plots will undergo grazing.
Table 1. Yield and quality testing results for each variety. Variety
2.0ab Sig. diff. Variety
Dry matter samples will be taken from each plot, pre and post grazing to ascertain dry matter production and nutritional value between varieties at this stage in the season. The results of this trial will be published in the 2013 BCG Seasons Research Results handbook which will be released in February next year.
For more information Dannielle McMillan T: 03 54 922 787 E: firstname.lastname@example.org Alison Frischke T: 0429 922 787 E: email@example.com
Nigel Wilhelm working in the field.
New industry network channels top on-farm issues to GRDC NEW small-scale activities to address specific regional on-farm issues will be rolled out in the Grains Research and Development Corporation’s (GRDC) Southern Region low rainfall zone with the aim of fast-tracking research progress. By
Deanna Lush, GRDC Early last year, the GRDC established Regional Cropping Solutions Networks (RCSNs). There are four networks, one each for low, medium and high rainfall and irrigation farming systems, represented by 52 growers, advisers and researchers. The Low Rainfall Zone RCSN is coordinated by Nigel Wilhelm. Nigel says all group members have extensive experience and networks across the low rainfall zone of south-eastern Australia and includes a spread from Streaky Bay on the west coast of South Australia to
Condobolin in central NSW, with farming, consulting and research experience. The group met earlier this year to revise and update its list of current issues for their rainfall zone. These include: • More profitable/less risky ways to manage disease, pest nutrition and weed issues after cereals. The group would like to see research that produces more profitable and less risky break options and cheap, reliable, management techniques. Such tools are increasingly important to complement chemical controls which are running into more and more resistance issues. • Poorly integrated livestock and cropping enterprises. While
not entirely an issue for GRDC, research has shown that improving the profitability of livestock enterprises and growers’ stock management skills can improve outcomes for mixed systems, which are still widespread and well suited to low rainfall environments. • Over-dependence on agrichemicals. Increasing incidence of resistance in weeds and pests to agrichemicals is making them less effective. Farming systems in the future must be less reliant on chemical inputs for maintaining fertility and controlling weeds, pests and diseases. • Under-resourced and reactive weed science. With emerging weed control issues, the group would like to see an ongoing industry resource to anticipate new weed issues, monitor herbicide resistance, weed ecology and develop cost-effective control options. • Succession planning for RD&E expertise. Science is currently
struggling to attract the interest of students at all levels of education and this must be reversed to ensure an innovative R,D&E sector in the future. Poor business management skills. A key area to develop better business skills is in risk and responsiveness in business structures to cope with climate variability to combat lost profit and increased risk. Declining soil fertility. Australia’s older soils with low inherent fertility mean this is an especially acute issue, which for the low rainfall agriculture is currently being displayed in low nitrogen reserves. Growers need better quantification of adverse effects of N imbalances in LRZ farming systems. Poor sandy soil productivity. More research is needed to identify the cause of poor productivity on sandy soils to realise higher water use efficiencies. CTF benefits in low rainfalls. Controlled traffic is a system claiming many benefits to intensive cropping systems but its level of adoption is very low in the LRZ.
“Many of these concepts have been worked through in close detail, identifying what we believe the key outcomes growers would want addressed onfarm and which will be considered in the GRDC Southern Panel’s future investment process,” Nigel said. “Regional priority weeds impacting low rainfall zone properties were also identified. “Some of these issues are already being targeted by the GRDC and that is the next step in the process, to identify the gaps and how they can be addressed.” Nigel says while not all of the issues can be addressed quickly with short-term investments, there are some issues where there are opportunities to move quickly. “Small-scale regional investments, called ‘fast track projects’, will allow for an immediate response to issues experienced during the growing season so we can get information back to growers as quickly as possible,” he said. The fast-track projects are designed to be very local for growers with specific questions. Already, one fast-track project has been conducted last year on herbicide resistance. The project aims to quantify levels of herbicide resistance in annual ryegrass and common sow thistle and map its distribution in the Griffith region of New
FIGURE 1 GRDC Regional Cropping Solutions Networks - locations and key contacts Low-rainfall zone Facilitator: Nigel Wilhelm, 0407 185 501, firstname.lastname@example.org Linked Southern Panel members - John Minogue and Neil Fettell Number of representatives from the zone - 10
Irrigation areas Facilitator: Rob Fisher, 0428 545 263, email@example.com Linked Southern Panel members - Peter Schwarz and Keith Pengilley Number of representatives from the zone - 9 High-rainfall zone Facilitators: Jen Lillecrap, Medium-rainfall zone 0427 647 461, Facilitator: Felicity firstname.lastname@example.org Pritchard, Trent Potter, 0427 600 228, 0427 608 306 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Linked Southern Panel Linked Southern Panel members - David members - Chris Shannon, Chris Jones and Blanchard, Bill Long Richard Konzag Susan Findlay Tickner Number of representatives Number of representatives from the zone - 12 from the zone - 11 South Wales. The region was chosen because widespread flooding in 2011 resulted in significant movement of seed from farms. This will address knowledge gaps in how much seed was spread from farm to farm and resistance levels in key weed species common in low rainfall environments. Rather than conducting a random survey, seed will be tested which growers have identified as potentially resistant, along with a record of management practices used in the paddock.
For more information
Nigel Wilhelm M: 0407 185 501 E: email@example.com W: www.grdc.com.au/RCSN
Low Rainfall Zone Regional Cropping Solutions Network: • Facilitator: Nigel Wilhelm, Adelaide, SA. • Russell Amery, Wycheproof, Vic. • Andy Bates, Streaky Bay, SA. • Danny Conlan, Sea Lake, Vic. • Barry Haskins, Griffith, NSW. • Bruce Heddle, Minnipa, SA. • Chris Kelly, Woomelang, Vic. • Rick Llewellyn, Adelaide, SA. • Michael Moodie, Mildura, Vic. • Barry Mudge, Port Germein, SA. • Scott Vaessen, Griffith, NSW. • Neil Fettell, GRC Southern Panel, Condobolin, NSW. • John Minogue, GRDC Southern Panel, Barmedman, Vic. • Stuart Kearns, GRDC, Canberra.
Mallee Sustainable Farming - Events in 2013 MSF Mildura Field Day 28th August
Kyalite Technology Workshop TBA August
MSF’s trial work on Curtis’ property will be on show, with the crop sequencing trial, pulse trial and National Variety Trial. Pulse marketing will also be discussed to compliment the trial work at the site.
This event will present a range of topics relating to technology in agriculture such as making the most of your zoning data for better farm management and insight into the latest on the MSF “N Tool”. For more information on this event or to suggest topics please contact MSF.
This event will be held at Matt Curtis’ property, Merbein South (30km west of Mildura on the Sturt Hwy) with support from Westpac.
The day will take on a technology focus in the afternoon including topics such as making the most of your zoning data and what updates have been made to MSF’s “N Tool”, the Crop Disease App. for iPhone/iPad and Android devices and a demonstration of the “Rappa” temporary electric fencing system for grazing large Mallee paddocks. Another key topics for the day includes fine-tuning your trace elements for effective micro-nutrient management. For more information on this event or to RSVP, please call MSF.
As part of a joint project with Sunraysia Institute of TAFE, Mallee Sustainable Farming will be holding a technology workshop at Kyalite in August 2013.
Karoonda Field Day 3rd September
The Karoonda field day is set to be another big Mallee Sustainable Farming. This will be a great opportunity for everyone to see and discuss the extensive range of trials on Peter and Hannah Loller’s property near Karoonda, South Australia. Some of the key topics and trials being presented at the field day include: • How long can break effects last?
• Cereal strategies trial – looking at the most profitable N strategies and the impact of a pasture break • Effects of summer stubble management, weed control and break crops on soil disease and biology • New medic options • Microwave technology for weed control Supported by GRDC and AWB. This is a free event with a BBQ lunch. RSVP to MSF.
Ouyen Field Day 4th October
MSF’s Ouyen Field Day will be held on Friday 4th October. This is a free event and a BBQ lunch will be provided. For more details contact MSF
For more information
Steph Haw, Mallee Sustainable Farming T: 03 5521 9100 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: www.msfp.org.au
An international workshop on Soil Change is being hosted by Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) in Bendigo next year. As part of this event there will be a free public talk at The Capital on Tuesday evening 25th March and a one day symposium on ‘Soil Matters’ on Wednesday 26th. International and National experts will present their latest understandings regarding land use practices and soil processes. Put the dates in your diary and find further information and registration details in the webpages at www.soilmatters.org
MSF Field Day trial site
Birchip Cropping Group - Events in 2013 BCG Sheep Showcase 15th August
‘For every farmer, farm worker and his dog’ When: Thursday 15 August Time: 8.30am - 4:00pm Where: McLoughlan’s property, Sunraysia Hwy, Morton Plains Cost: FREE for BCG livestock members, $20 for non-members RSVP: Monday 12 August (for catering purposes) This event will showcase leading edge livestock technology and handling equipment available to producers, as well as a number of exhibitors demonstrating the latest products, innovations and systems designed to increase efficiencies on-farm.
BCG Crop Walk Series August/September When: Where: Cost:
August/September (Dates TBC) Corack, Chinkapook, Quambatook, Horsham, Nhill and Kooloonong BCG members FREE, non- members $20
BCG Trials Review Day 28th February 2014
Farmers are invited to join scientists, researchers and BCG staff as they review the results from trials carried out at sites across the Wimmera and
Mallee region during 2013. Having first access to BCG’s most recent research results at the Trials Review gives farmers the chance to consider the information presented and implement it for the 2014 season.
For more information
Justine Severin, PR Officer, Birchip Cropping Group T: 03 5492 2787 F: 03 5492 2753 M: 0488 583 632 E: email@example.com W: www.bcg.org.au
BCG Main Field Day 12th September When: Time: Where: Cost:
Thursday 12 September 8.15am to 4.30pm Birchip-Sea Lake road, Watchupga East BCG members FREE, non- members $50
The Main Field Day is a signature event at BCG which allows you to inspect the trials while they are in their peak condition and discuss with leading agricultural professionals what is happening in each of the trials.
BCG Main Field Day 2012.
Victorian Food & Fibre Marketing Cooperatives Grants Program The Philosophy of ‘Cooperate to Compete’ is gaining acceptance, especially in regional areas. The Victorian Government’s Food & Fibre Marketing Cooperatives Grants Program (FFMC) aims to strengthen this idea. By
Melly Pandher & Aimee McCutcheon, DEPI The program, managed by Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), with assistance from Rural Finance provides a grant of up to $50,000 to encourage cooperation between food and fibre producers and associated value chain members to form marketing cooperatives or other collaborative structures. In the current economic and business environment it is becoming more difficult for primary producers to survive. Very few individual producers have the diverse range of skills and scale to have commercial business success in these times, when the Australian dollar is high and our competitors have lower costs of production. These days producers can’t be successful by being good producers only, they have to be innovators, researchers, networkers, marketers and collaborators at the same time. The aim of this program is to encourage Victorian primary producers and associated value chain members to form cooperatives or collaborative structures to improve their collective capability to access markets and customers for their agricultural products. Helping them to derive greater efficiencies and marketing advantage, including bargaining power when dealing with large corporations, collective ability to supply critical mass and large volumes of product to meet marketer’s requirements, rationalise facilities, reduce overhead costs and access discounted supplies by purchasing in bulk. The grant is available to eligible groups on a 50:50 cost-share basis, with the remaining cash funds to be provided by the cooperative body. The maximum assistance for each eligible activity is $15,000 with the condition that total assistance provided per cooperative venture will not exceed $50,000. Financial assistance may be available for a range of approved activities such as:
Business plans and feasibility studies: Developing business plans and/or feasibility studies for forming a cooperative or collaborative structure. Legal costs: Costs such as incorporation documentation, formal agreements that underpin the establishment of cooperative group such as constitution, shareholder agreements between partnering businesses, memorandum of understanding with supply chain partners /agents Technical advice: Technical advice such as business health checks, systems development, technical advice on markets and products, laboratory testing, supply chain mapping etc.. It may also include advice on intellectual property such as brands, trademarks, databases and customer information, capability and asset audits, financial planning and management etc. Market research and intelligence: Market research and intelligence related activities such as development of market plans and strategies, selecting downstream market partners (processors, agents, wholesalers, etc.) market surveys, data collection, attendance at trade shows and marketing events. Capability development and training costs: Capability development such as training of members and/or staff in business management, corporate governance, marketing principles and export procedures and practice; acquisition of suitable computer software, development of systems (e.g. in quality or production); preparing for and achieving third party accreditation in food safety, export, organic etc.; formation of an expert advisory group or board to support the new venture. To be eligible for assistance under the program, the cooperative group and individual applicants must satisfy the following criteria: 1. The minimum number of members of an applicant group is five, of which at least three members must be primary producers, other members can be in an associated value chain business.
2. Primary producer members must be commercial in scale, turnover and profitability with estimated value of agricultural output in excess of $100,000 per annum each as a guide and derive at least 51% of their incomes from farming activities. 3. Applicants must be new, not yet incorporated or recently established cooperative marketing entities, incorporated less than four years. Entities that are assessed to be financially self-sustaining may be excluded from support. 4. Applicants must be prepared and able to cooperate and must form a shared vision for their proposed cooperative venture. 5. A ‘lead applicant’ or principal contact must be nominated in the application who can demonstrate satisfactory commercial performance in the past. 6. Eligible groups may be cooperative or companies. They will have a marketing focus and be fully commercial in size. A number of factors contribute to the success of a cooperative or collaborative venture including: • • • • •
The Right Philosophy The Right Systems The Essentials (e.g. QA systems) Aspirations (e.g. brand recognition) Bonus Points (e.g. shared infrastructure)
But the most important factor for success of any cooperative venture is honesty, trust and resolve of members to cooperate for success.
For more information
Jenny Treeby, Case Officer North DEPI P: 03 5051 4537 M: 0428 446 013 E: Jenny.Treeby@depi.vic.gov.au W: www.depi.vic.gov.au/marketingcooperatives-grants To download an application form visit: www.ruralfinance.com.au (under government schemes)
Landcare Regional Overview Well, what a difference a rain makes! Since our last Landcare Links things have turned around somewhat and we have gone from a position that was looking a bit dire to one that is now looking a little more positive. With the rain largely holding off from our traditional April break, most farmers still backed their instincts and started sowing dry. It looks as though the gamble has paid off and the Mallee is once again starting to green up and look fantastic. Now, as long as the precipitation continues to fall, particularly in that September-October period, we can at least look forward to the prospects of having an average year (whatever that is these days). Landcare in the Mallee is continuing to motor along with all the Facilitators now well and truly embedded into their roles after completing their first full year of activities. These positions are funded until June 2015 so we are now half way through the government program’s original project timeline of 2011-15. The priority directive for these Facilitators is to have established by June 2015, a network of fully self-funded and self-facilitated/ coordinated Landcare groups across the Mallee region. This process has now commenced with projects like pest plant and animal programs that were once addressed by each Landcare group in their own region now being combined for funding purposes and are targeting large-scale funding allocations. These large on-ground works programs are referred to as Landscape scale projects and are highly valued and supported by both federal and state governments, and are therefore more inclined to be funded. Achieving the target of having self-sufficient Landcare groups is going to require a high level of support from the community. This can only be realised if people are willing
to maintain group membership, including executive positions; and support the current consortium arrangements. Strong consortiums have the ability to engage and retain dedicated personnel who are then in the position to drive the wheels of their local Landcare groups. All funding programs have a margin that is available for ‘project management’ which varies from 10-15% of total funding applied for, depending on the grant. By combining project management funding across multiple funding streams it is possible to have sufficient funds available to directly employ someone to implement those projects, while at the same time applying for further funding for future community projects; and hence you start the ball rolling towards becoming self-sustaining. The challenge that all community’s face here is having enough physical, on-ground projects that can attract sufficient funds. To be able to employ someone on a fulltime basis and provide them with the basic operating requirements such as an office, car, phone, computer, etc, can cost in excess of $100,000 plus per annum. Therefore, to provide this level of funding you need to have at least $1,000,000 worth of projects happening in any given year, which sounds almost impossible but in actual fact is not. This is where a consortium/network approach can make the difference. By working together and combining projects, the target of having someone to do all the hard work is achievable. Groups can still apply for their own funding on their own patch they just need to ensure that they allocate that project management monies to a combined ‘project management account’ that is managed by representatives of all the groups involved i.e. a consortium executive. Take this one step further and I would like to put it out to all local communities to
by Kevin Chaplin start to think laterally and look to engage all your local volunteer organisations, not just Landcare groups and bring these community-based organisations together and apply the same logic to all your community projects. In doing so I believe that it would be possible to create a situation where you have at your disposal, a full or part-time funded local community coordinator, who’s role it would be was to identify community projects, apply for funding, run those projects successfully and complete all the reporting requirements. The list of groups that could be involved is endless. Groups such as historical societies, CWA, CFA, sporting groups, progress associations, Landcare groups, friends of groups, 4WD groups, Kindergartens, School groups, Cubs, Scouts, tiddly winks associations……….how long is a piece of string!!!! All it takes is a few committed people and a bit of your time (which you already do when you are involved in any of these organisations anyway) and you have a solution to what seems an insurmountable problem. Someone who can take care of all the red tape, make sure that things happen, and get people organised. You also create employment within your region, which is something we all want to see more of so as our communities can remain vibrant and active for many, many years to come.
If you would like to discuss this concept in greater detail please feel free to contact me, here at the Mallee CMA in Irymple, at any time. I am more than willing to either discuss it over the phone or I can come down to one of your gatherings or meetings where we can develop the idea and concept further. Kevin Chaplin, Regional Landcare Coordinator, Mallee CMA 03 5051 4367
Landcare and Sustainable Farming in the Mallee
by Kevin Chaplin only on the sustainability of agricultural production, but also the sustainability and protection of the remaining local native flora and fauna and the general wellbeing of their communities. Landcare and sustainable farming have been intrinsically linked in the Victorian Mallee since Landcare’s inception in the 1980’s and it is through this strong association that a massive change has now occurred in the way that Mallee soils are farmed. The days of the blinding “Mallee Duststorm” have now but almost gone and in the early days Landcare was the conduit for this major ‘farmer-led’ force for change.
Duststorm events like this are becoming less frequent in the Mallee.
By focusing on the important issue of soil
A powerful partnership in a region of
flooding events that (while causing short
erosion and nutrient loss, farmers bonded
challenges and change.
term heartache) leave the country looking
together under the Landcare banner to
a veritable oasis, bathed in an explosive
research, disseminate and implement
Australia is one of the oldest continents
palette of colour provided by the vast array
information and technics that has have led
on earth, with a harsh and unforgiving
of native wildflowers and grasses.
to the Mallee remaining extremely resilient
environment. An environment that we
in the face of rapid change.
endeavour to control, manipulate and
To live and farm in these conditions,
ultimately change just so as to maintain our
long term, takes a particularly resilient
Over the previous decade the Mallee in
very existence within it.
and resourceful soul and the Mallee is
general has experienced a period of low
renowned for sorting the ‘men from
rainfall that has been attributed to on-
If ever you need to find an example that
the boy’s’ and for producing women of
going climate change. Over the 10 year
epitomises this endeavour and embodies
character, strength, compassion and
period of 1998-2007 the average annual
the essence of what it means to strive
integrity. These are the very foundations
temperatures in the region were 0.4 °C
and struggle to achieve the holy grail of
on which Landcare has been built in the
warmer than the 30 year (1961 to 1990)
becoming ‘agriculturally sustainable in the
average. Average maximum temperatures
face of adversity’ it would have to be the
increased nearly twice as much (0.7 °C),
semi-arid regions that boarder our more
The Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group is
while there was no overall change in the
reliable, temperate continental fringe. An
located at the very top North-Western
average daily minimum1. This trend towards
area more widely known as ‘the Mallee’
corner of the state and is the oldest
hotter, dryer conditions forced many
and when you talk adversity, the Victorian
Landcare group in the Mallee region.
dryland farmers to look for alternatives
Mallee region is no exception. It too has its
The group was formed in 1989 after the
and options that would allow them to
fair share of trials and tribulations.
community recognised the need for all
continue to farm and not face the prospect
land managers to start working together
of walking off their farms as happened
Within its relatively short period of
to manage the limited natural resources
to many Mallee farmers in the time of
European settlement, modern farming
within their region, rather than doing so in
the great depression and droughts of the
in the Mallee has had to face numerous
1930’s and 40’s.
climatic, environmental, economic or
Other Mallee Landcare groups soon
Landcare in the Mallee has always had a
social. Challengers such as long lasting
followed, keen to replicate this philosophy.
big focus on the communities wellbeing
droughts that have, at times, left the
This pro-active approach has now led to
and, as the majority of the community
Mallee landscape looking something akin
an extensive network of Landcare groups
members, outside of the larger regional
to the surface of the moon, through to
throughout the Mallee, all focusing not
centres of Mildura, Robinvale and Swan
obstacles on many occasions; be they
No-till field days continue to be popular events.
Hill, are dryland farmer based, the focus
full tillage scarifier or disk plough. This initial
Enter minimum tillage farming
has always been very much on productivity.
working would do two things;
Dryland, minimum tillage farming methods
By adopting sustainable farming techniques
1. Kill all the vegetation (i.e. pasture/
have their roots established in the Western
such as minimum tillage and incorporating
weeds) that would otherwise utilise the
Australia wheat belt where farmers
cutting edge +/- 2cm accuracy GPS
stored soil moisture; and
were also combating similar soil erosion
precision farming technology, farmers
2. Allow easy penetration of moisture
problems and increasing saliniszation of
in this region are improving profitability,
as rain events occurred, this resulted in
cropping areas due to over clearing of the
maintaining the productive capacity of a
the sub-soil moisture profile increasing
native vegetation. A large proportion of this
farm’s natural resource base, and improving
and becoming a “moisture bank” for the
region is located in this same semi-arid
their capacity to cope with adversity, all
following year’s crop.
zone and is therefore similar in climatic
while maintaining or enhancing their local natural environment.
conditions to the Mallee regions of South Over the following eight to 10 months that
East South Australia, Northern Victoria
same paddock would be ‘worked’ again on
and Southern New South Wales. This
The rapid uptake of minimum-tillage
multiple occasions to prevent any weed
close climatic association proved to be the
techniquecs across the region throughout
establishment or growth. This process was
impetus for the introduction and eventual
the early to mid-2000’s was largely
known as ‘bare fallow’ and this was often
adoption of the same farming technicques
facilitated by local Landcare groups who
the genesis of the famous ‘February Mallee
here in the east.
acted as the conduit between individual
Duststorms’ and resulted in massive soil
farmers and the leading agricultural experts
erosion events and precious nutrient loss.
Although there were many environment
and agronomists of the time. Farmers used
The crop would then be sown on the
similarities, there are also many
these groups and their paid coordinators
‘seasons break or opening rains’ which
difference’s. The soils in Western Australia
to research and obtain access to leading
traditionally occurred around ANZAC day
tend to be acidic soils were the soils
advice that included on-site or in-paddock
and harvested Oct-Dec of that year.
here tend to be alkaline and therefore
demonstrations, workshops and field days
the adoption of a new practice requires
that helped reassure the farmers involved
This process is steeped in a European
refinement to suit local conditions. Farmers
that change was achievable and profitable
tradition that the first settlers bought with
often manage to achieved this refinement
at the same time.
them from their homelands and was the
through simple trial and error, and this is an
accepted way of cereal grain production in
area where Mallee farmers excel. From the
To fully understand the level of impact
the Mallee since settlement. Unfortunately,
early 2000’s, local farmers enthusiastically
this approach had on both the farmers
this attitude of making the country bend
took up this challenge and were keen to
and the communities involved, you have
to our will proved to be a disaster as
share their experiences and in some cases
to understand that you must first have
it was totally unsuitable for Australian
it became a ‘good hearted completion’
knowledge and understanding of the
conditions and has resulted in extensive
among neighbours to see who could ‘get it
then established or traditional local ways
and irreversible damage, both ecologically
of farming. The traditional approach to
and economically, and the modern Mallee
growing a cereal crop in the Mallee was
farmer could see that they could not
During this time farmers used their local
essentially an 18 month process. It would
continue this way and still have a farm
Landcare group’s to engage the broader
start the previous year around July with the
at the end of it. Hence farmers started
community and often Landcare meetings
farmer preparing the coming crop’s seed
looking for alternatives practices that would
and social gatherings became the central
bed by “busting up” the paddock with a
keep them viable well into the future.
point where many a robust discussion was
continued on page 22
Northern Mallee Landcare News
Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group president “Daryl Goldsmith” opening the groups new equipment yard.
by Patrick Mickan
Millewa Feral Festival - Teams tally up their score.
Hello Landcarers, it’s been great to
A Landcare equipment yard fencing and
works to ensure the rabbit population stays
be involved with the wide range of
group equipment induction field day was
low over the long-term.
activities and events that have taken
held in March at the Lambert’s property
place in the Northern Mallee in the first
and saw landholders from across the
Yelta Landcare Group held a plant
half of this year.
Millewa attend the event. The first task
identification day at the Merbein Common,
of the day was to fence an equipment
inviting local botanist Dr Ian Sluiter to share
This would not have been possible
yard to safely store the Landcare group’s
his knowledge on the area’s vegetation.
without Landcare committee’s giving
equipment at one location. Following
Group members had the opportunity to
up some of their time for the benefit of
morning tea group members were inducted
develop their existing plant identification
our communities, the support of group
in the safe use of group equipment.Before
skills and share their knowledge with other
members and members of the wider
lunch group members cut carrots for free
members. Everyone enjoyed a great day
community that participate in Landcare
feeds for the groups 1080 baiting program.
out in the bush, while learning about the
activities and events. I would like to take
area’s local flora at the same time.
this opportunity to thank all the people
Over lunch Annette Lambert (group
that have helped organise and participate
equipment manager) discussed the groups
Red Cliffs Community Landcare Group
in these activities and encourage anyone
new equipment management system and
recently held an Natural Resource
to have a go at running an event, filling a
upcoming projects and Brendan Rodgers
Management training day at Red Cliffs
committee role or joining a Landcare group.
(Parks Vic) gave a presentation “Mallee Bio
Secondary College, engaging local botanist
The Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group has
Fund project”. It was great to see so many
Dr Ian Sluiter to present a series of
been very active over the last few months
landholders attend the event.
presentations on Mallee vegetation.
Millewa Rabbit Control and Remnant
Topics included landscape evolution, plant
Protection Project aimed to assist farmers
communities and threated status and
The first “Millewa Feral Festival” was
to control rabbits on roadsides and protect
factors influencing distribution, persistence
held in March and was a huge success.
on farm remnant vegetation. Landcare
and survival. Group members and students
The event aimed to raise awareness of
members were busy marking rabbit
were able to increase their knowledge of
vertebrate pest management and generate
warrens with flagging tape, keeping ahead
Mallee vegetation and interact with an
community interest in the Landcare group.
of the ripping contractor.
expert in the field of botany. Everyone
organising and delivering a number of events and projects.
The Festival started on Friday night at
enjoyed the event, one member said “the
Werrimull. Fourteen teams attended the
The dry conditions ensured the effective
event briefing before heading out with
collapse of warrens when ripped. The
property owners across the Millewa for two
main outcomes of the project included
The Kulkyne Way Landcare group has
nights of spot lighting. The total tally for the
the treatment of 100km of roadsides and
started work on their “Salinity Reclamation
weekend was 267 foxes, 1069 rabbits and 7
almost 1500 warrens within the 27,000ha
and Control Project”. Sites affected by
feral cats. This was an outstanding result for
control area, 12ha of remnant vegetation
salinity have been fenced off and mounded
the environment and everyone had a great
fenced off, 500 trees planted and 12km
up prior to planting of salt bush.
weekend, with many people already talking
of direct seeding lines sown. Landholders
about next year’s event.
are reminded to carry out follow up control
day was very interesting and informative”.
Eastern Mallee News
by Kim Cross
Nyah District Primary School and Piangil Primary experienced local cultural heritage and learnt about the importance of wetlands at Yanga National Park.
The Eastern Mallee Landcare Consortium
in the last round of Communities for
It’s great to see the community work
members have been very busy over the
Nature Grants Program which has enabled
together to make these projects a success.
last few months with numerous projects.
some group members to undertake 1080
Robinvale P-12’s Community Garden is in
accreditation courses and purchase baits to
the development stage. Students have been
One of the highlights is the development of
ensure rabbit numbers are maintained to
working hard along with local support to put
the new consortium logo (pictured above).
a manageable level. Nyah West Landcare
together a well thought out and planned
Group with support from Mallee Catchment
approach to making the garden a success.
Ladies Leadership Conference
Management Authority (CMA) acquired
On the 13th of July the Eastern Mallee
funds to protect Buloke Woodland, Winged
‘Trees for Mum’
Landcare Consortium held their inaugural
Peppercress & Rigid Spider Orchid in their
Events were held at Sea Lake Lions Park
Ladies Leadership Conference in Swan
region from rabbits. This project further
and Manangatang Recreation Reserve.
Hill. The aim of the day was to engage and
supports protecting and enhancing local
Both days were well supported and saw
support rural women to achieve through
native flora which is documented in the
the planting of a variety of native plants. An
social connections. Sarah Sammon from
groups Flora and Fauna Survey of Nyah
organisation called ‘15trees’ also provided
Simply Rose Petals was MC and keynote
native trees to further support these
speaker and contributed to the overall
success of the conference. The high calibre
of guest speakers on the day covered
Nyah District Action Group is currently
topics such as ladies in Landcare, mental
working with a contractor to coordinate
On the 21st June staff and students
health & well-being, volunteering & being
their Boxthorn Bash project which will see
from Nyah District Primary School and
part of a group and supporting women to
the eradication of boxthorn in the Nyah
Piangil Primary school took a bus trip to
achieve their goals. Swan Hill District Health
District irrigation areas. To assist the group
Yanga National Park to experience local
Service conducted Ausdrisk health checks
in successfully managing the project they
cultural heritage and learn more about the
on the day which were well attended, along
recently had a guest speaker from South
importance of wetlands in the region. It was
with relaxation classes held by a local yoga
Australia, Henry Rutherford a Weeds of
a great day supported by local park ranger
instructor. From some of the great feedback
National Significance (WoNS) coordinator
received the consortium is aiming to make
who discussed with the group numerous
the conference an annual event.
ways of controlling boxthorn and other
WoNS in the area.
Group secretaries, treasurers and coordinators took part in computer training
Rabbit Control Works Landcare groups have been very active
Landcare members have been hard at work
including QuickBooks. This training will assis
in controlling rabbit populations along
finalising 25yr Anniversary Grant projects.
groups in managing projects and supporting
roadside corridors. Groups have been
Manangatang revitalising the Local Rest
finalising all Victorian Landcare grant
Stop, Kooloonong-Natya beautifying land
funds which has seen strategic ripping
near Piangil Primary School, St. Marys
campaigns being coordinated. There has
School at Sea Lake developing a unique dry
The consortium is aiming to obtain funding
been an increase in landholder participation
creek bed and Nyah West giving Blow Fly
to tackle numerous invasive cacti species
which has contributed to the project’s
Flat Reserve a well needed makeover. The
that have spread throughout the Eastern
success. Manangatang and Robinvale/
projects were supported by Landcare group
Mallee. I look forward to working with
Annuello Landcare groups were successful
members, local community and schools.
members on all upcoming projects.
South-Eastern Mallee News
by Jess Cook
Above: Wombat from the mobile native zoo. Left: Pest control works in action.
Activity in the South Eastern Mallee has
completed with a range of tree planting
Group will be creating a biolink between
been high in the past few months with a
and celebratory events. Ultima Landcare
Mahoods Corner and Goulds Reserve.
number of pest plant and animal control
Group and Ultima PS have now completed
projects completed, a range of Junior
their 25th Anniversary of Landcare project
Pest Control works
Landcare activities, news of successful
with the finalisation of Ultima PS’s “Bush
All six groups have completed their rabbit
grants, and planning of an international
Fitness Track”. The Nullawil Landcare
ripping control projects for the 2012/13
Group have completed the last section
period, with Berriwillock, Birchip, and
of their biolink between the Lalbert and
Lalbert groups also running pest plant
Tyrrell Creeks with a direct seeding project.
control projects. The groups are now
Junior Landcare has been gaining
Culgoa Landcare Group have been planting
planning their 2013/14 projects, with
momentum in the last few months, with a variety of activities, events and trips in local schools. Lalbert, Ultima and Quambatook Primary Schools are embracing their “environment” theme for the term with a special day held in May which saw a mobile native zoo visit, and an afternoon session in the Cokum Reserve, followed by a Bush Art session held in Quambatook in June. Students at Ultima PS have also finished their new “Bush Fitness Track”, with an afternoon spent planting and guarding trees and bushes. Primary students from Birchip P-12 School were involved with a Buloke Woodlands visit held by the Mallee Catchment
the cemetery and the Culgoa-Ultima Rd, and Lalbert Landcare Group worked with the Lalbert Golf Club to revegetate the green at the Golf Club.
Soil Health in Nullawil Soil health has been a hot topic in Nullawil with a visit from “No Till Bill” and an interactive soil pit afternoon with Mel Cann from the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI) and Jaron Bennett and Kent Wooding from AgriVision Consultants. The soil pit afternoon allowed local landholders to find out more about local soils and the information that can be gained from soil tests, and how the information can be used to make better decisions for farming practices.
Berriwillock, Lalbert and Culgoa already having secured Communities for Nature funding for baiting programs in early 2014.
From Nullawil to China The Nullawil Landcare Group are currently planning their first international study tour! Members from the group are heading to the Shandong and Jiangsu Provinces in October to follow their grain from the port to processing. The aim of the trip is to gain a greater understanding of what happens to the grain once it arrives in China, as well as learning about the differences in Australian and Chinese farming practices. The group will arrive during the planting season, and will observe local practices, and look into the differences in production
Management Authority (CMA). Students,
techniques and machinery.
teachers and CMA staff explored the
Communities for Nature Grants
racecourse, learning about the importance
The South Eastern Mallee groups did a
of Buloke Woodlands and the creatures and
fantastic job in the recent Communities
For more information
plants that can be found there.
for Nature Small Grant round with four
A range of projects are currently being
projects receiving close to $10,000 each.
planned for the rest of 2013. Contact your
25th Anniversary of Landcare
Berriwillock, Lalbert and Culgoa groups
local Landcare group or myself for details
All projects for the 25th Anniversary
will be running coordinated rabbit baiting
on upcoming meetings, events, or projects
of Landcare Grants have now been
projects in early 2014, and Birchip Landcare
in your area.
South-Western Mallee News
by Daniel Huttig
Welcome once again to the SouthWestern Mallee Landcare page. We are more than halfway through the year now and a lot of activity has been undertaken in regards to pest animal control. Close to $80,000 has been spent on 1080 poison carrot campaigns across the network, and the same again has been spent on roadside ripping programs. This was achieved through financial contributions from the ‘Caring for our Country’ Community Action grant scheme, Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), and Yarriambiack Shire Council. In total, over 6 tonnes of poisoned carrots were laid by over 60 landholders. The decrease in the rabbit population was almost immediately evident and many deceased foxes were also reported. Not content with this, the Landcare groups promptly turned their attention to their roadside ripping campaigns. Favourable conditions saw works completed quickly, and again, with good success. The Woomelang Lascelles group further added to these achievements by forming a partnership with the football club, and erecting a rabbit proof fence around the perimeter of the Woomelang Recreation Reserve. The oval had previously been
Above: Hayden hard at work.
Above: Getting to the ‘guts’ of livestock nutrition thanks to the DEPI vet Amy Sluggett autopsy of two ewes
local landholders and determined that
A two day profitable livestock workshop
the uptake during the subsequent poison
was held over at the Rainbow football
campaign was higher than usual. He was
clubrooms in early June and by 3pm on the
also able to join me on my travels to get an
second day, the venue had finally warmed
idea of what my role entails, and engage
up. All in attendance were impressed with
with many other government agencies
the calibre of information presented, but
across the region. It is a credit to the network that they are able to create new roles and attract quality young applicants. As we come into the wetter time of year and have finally seen some precipitation, we will be looking to capitalise on enthusiasm and get a number of
unfortunately the timing of the workshop didn’t allow for all interested people to attend due to cropping commitments. Presenters San Jolly and Amy Sluggett have both expressed interest in running additional workshops, and we would do well to take them up on this offer if there is enough demand. Further to this workshop, the network will also be hosting
revegetation projects underway. The
Department of Environment and Primary
Beulah Landcare group have a number of
Industries (DEPI) scientist Frank Henry in
landholders interested in creating some
September, for crop walks at locations near
shelterbelts and are currently preparing
Rainbow and Woomelang.
sites to be planted. Their desire to spare their own backs and get me to plant
Finally, the Rainbow Landcare group have
players can now get on with training
the trees has been admirable, but thus
been extremely busy in planning the
instead of filling in holes on a Thursday
far unsuccessful. As always there is
Pfitzner Phestival. The young person’s plant-
plenty of revegetation to be undertaken
out weekend is scheduled to go ahead
at local water bodies, and there is no
during the second last weekend in August
taking a belting from rabbit activity, and
and is to be held at Yaapeet. Four bands
The network was fortunate to obtain
exception at Hopetoun’s Lake Lascelles,
funding through Regional Development
and Woomelang’s Cronomby Tanks. The
Victoria to employ a local university student
local primary schools will be active in the
on his summer break in the form of a
works going on at both locations and this
cadetship program. The first 3 months
will hopefully pave the way for future
of the year saw Hayden Hatcher project
projects. These activities will tie in the
managing the pest animal campaigns
Planet Ark’s National Tree Day celebrations.
for the groups. As part of this extensive
VCAL students at Rainbow Secondary
program he was also able to assist in
College, with the assistance of the local
Mallee, or seeking any information
the running of two 1080 accreditation
Landcare group, are also busy planning a
regarding the aforementioned projects, can
courses held during the start of February.
revegetation project at West Paddock to be
get in touch with Local Landcare Facilitator
These courses were well attended by
completed during the third term.
Daniel Huttig 03 5083 2203
are currently locked in for entertainment on the Saturday night, and buses have been arranged to bring uni students from Melbourne, Geelong, and Bendigo. Any individuals or like-minded community groups interested in becoming involved with Landcare in the South Western
continued from page 17
Landcare and Sustainable Farming in the Mallee the supportive, co-operative approach of Landcare, have once again proven that resilience is not a given just by just working hard but is a strength that is earned through the application of an open minded and the courage of conviction to follow it through, particularly when doing so in the face of popular disbelievfe and ridicule.
No-till field day.
held, long into the night over a cuppa (or
particularly in the northern section. Where
something stronger), around the intricacies
once minimum till was considered ‘a fad’
of knife point versus shear, 9” versus 12”
it is now common place and many look
row spacing’s, press wheels, seed and
back on the old day’s and shake their heads
fertiliser placement, tow behind versus
in disbelief at what they use to do to the
tow between seeding systems, etc, etc.
very land that supported them. There are
Landcare was leading the way and riding
a few who still refuse to change and there
the wave of enthusiasm and change came
are still some challenges to overcome,
as is the case with any form of change,
particularly when you are dealing with a
Mallee CMA, Regional Landcare Coordinator
Ten years on and the farming Landscape
dynamic system be it agronomic, economic
in the Mallee has changed substantially,
or demographic. Mallee farmers, through
1 http://www.climatechange.vic.gov.au/__data/ assets/pdf_file/0012/73200/Mallee_WEB.pdf
Contacts Kevin Chaplin - Regional Landcare
Jess Cook - South Eastern Landcare
Coordinator. Phone: 03 5051 4367
Facilitator. Phone: 0409 615 846 Berriwillock Landcare Group;
Kate Nickolls - Murrayville Landcare
Birchip Landcare Group;
Facilitator. Phone: 0477 550 161
Culgoa Landcare Group;
Murrayville Landcare Group. Patrick Mickan - Northern Mallee Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 03 5051 4320 Millewa-Carwarp Landcare Group; Yelta Landcare Group; Kulkyne Way Landcare Group; and Red Cliffs Landcare Group. Daniel Huttig - South Western Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0409 655 646
Lalbert Landcare Group; Nullawil Landcare Group; and
Kim Cross - Eastern Mallee Landcare Facilitator. Phone: 0427 883 100 Nyah West/Swan Hill West Landcare Group; Manangatang Landcare Group;
the farmers and volunteers involved hold their heads high, for without this united approach we would still be wiping the dust from our eyes and watching our children’s future blow away.
Upcoming events July 31 -
Mallee Machinery Field
Days at Speed
Plant out weekend at Yaapeet
Mallee Landcare News Mallee Catchment Management Authority
Kooloonong-Natya Landcare Group;
Telephone: (03) 5051 4377
Waitchie Landcare Group;
PO Box 5017 Mildura Victoria 3502
Sea Lake Landcare Group; and
Robinvale Landcare Group.
Hopetoun Landcare Group;
Mick Peters - Mallee Landcare Group
Rainbow and District Landcare Group; and
Coordinator. Phone: 0428 561 373
Woomelang and Lascelles Landcare Group.
Mallee Landcare Group.
in what it has managed to achieve and
Ultima Landcare Group.
Beulah Landcare Group;
Landcare in the Mallee now stands proud
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. Printed on 100% recycled Australian paper made from pre- and post-consumer waste.
Stubble Management â€“ A Guide for Mallee Farmers Mallee Sustainable Farming A Stubble Assessment Guide for the low rainfall cropping areas in the Mallee tri-state area of NSW, Victoria and South Australia has been developed as part of a project which aims to improve soil health and reduce wind erosion using stubble management.
For a copy of the Stubble Management guide contact MSF T: 03 5021 9100 W: www.msfp.org.au
Steph Haw, MSF Stubble management is a key part of sustainable farming systems and can be used by Mallee farmers to improve the profitability and sustainability of their farms. Reduced soil erosion and improved soil structure are just a couple of the many benefits of stubble retention. Other benefits such as moisture conservation, provision of nutrients, improved biological activity and providing a useful feed source for livestock have also been identified through both research and farmer observations on-farm. The Stubble Assessment Guide has been well received by those who have seen it so far and has been designed to assist farmers to accurately assess stubble cover levels over the critical December to June period. It provides information on stubble management practices to ensure adequate levels of stubble are maintained to minimise erosion and harness the many benefits of stubble retention.
Improving Soil Health and Reducing Wind Erosion using Stubble Management project of the Murray Catchment Management Authority has been undertaken by MSF through funding from the Australian Governmentâ€™s Open Call Bid funds.
Community workshop has input into the Regional Catchment Strategy.
Have a say in the management of the Mallee landscapes The Mallee Regional Catchment Strategy 2013-19 provides an important tool for community-based groups and local government alike. By
Michelle Kelly, Mallee CMA Reflecting the aspirations of the Victorian Mallee’s communities for the future management of the region’s natural, productive and cultural landscapes, the role of the Mallee Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) is to guide the development of strategies and plans across the Mallee’s nine Regional Asset Classes: • Rivers • Wetlands • Threatened Species and Communities • Terrestrial Habitat • Soils • Agricultural Land • Culture and Heritage • Groundwater • Community Capacity for NRM
Based on the vision of: ‘Informed and active communities balancing the use of resources to generate wealth, with the protection and enhancement of our natural and cultural landscapes’, the RCS aims to maintain and enhance long-term land productivity, while also conserving the environment. Setting regional priorities, the Strategy is also referenced to community, industry, regional, state and federal priorities and policies.
Funding opportunities for communitybased organisations
State and federal government funding agencies have indicated they will be looking to the RCS to help prioritise investment in natural resource management (NRM).
Community and industry groups are encouraged to utilise and refer to the RCS for project planning and funding applications as the Mallee community’s views have helped set long-term (20 year) objectives, and the strategic actions required to achieve the aims of the RCS for the region.
Regional information library
To further assist in project planning and funding applications by individuals, organisations and agencies on private and public land across the Mallee, a dedicated Mallee RCS website has been established. The RCS website: rcs.malleecma.vic.gov.au is the region’s information repository and contains an extensive array of information that continues to grow, including: • Maps – including vegetation, threats (salinised land, depth to groundwater, rabbit and erosion susceptibility), soil type, threatened species, land form and tenure;
Above: Primary School students participating in bug identification at the WaterWatch trailer. Right: A Mallee wheat crop.
• Information on community and industry groups – to assist in identifying potential partners for projects; • Regional Asset information – Rivers, Wetlands, Threatened Species, Terrestrial Habitat, Soils, Agricultural Land, Groundwater, Culture & Heritage, and Community Capacity. In addition, a range of fact sheets and information papers are available.
Your ongoing input to landscape management
Individual, community and industry groups are encouraged to continue to nominate Local Assets for their economic, social, cultural and environmental values throughout the life of the RCS (2013-19). To nominate just go to the Local Assets section under the Development tab on the RCS website (rcs.malleecma.vic.gov.au). Nomination provides opportunities for linkages to projects and information for the whole community. We also encourage you to add to the information that is provided by others to already nominated Assets.
Once the information is uploaded by the Mallee CMA it can be accessed via an interactive map.
communities, industry, key stakeholders, and partner agencies from across the Victorian Mallee.
How to get your copy of the RCS
All sectors of the community are vital to the success of the Regional Catchment Strategy through a sustained and collaborative approach.
Downloadable PDF of the RCS is available on the RCS website at: rcs.malleecma.vic.gov.au or the Mallee CMA website at: www.malleecma.vic.gov.au A hardcopy is also available for viewing at the Mallee CMA office during business hours. The Victorian government gazetted the Mallee Regional Catchment Strategy in May 2013.
The Mallee RCS 2013-19 was developed after extensive consultation with
Thank you to everyone who provided valued input and feedback into the development of Mallee RCS.
For more information
Mallee CMA T: 03 5051 4377 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: rcs.malleecma.vic.gov.au
Pelicans at Hattah Lakes.
The importance of Mallee waterways Rivers, creeks, lakes and wetlands are the lifeblood of many towns and communities. Their condition is important to production, social and recreational activities, and the environment. By
Michelle Kelly, Mallee CMA Waterways underpin the well-being and productivity of individuals, communities and regional economies by providing water for dryland and irrigated agriculture production (including apiary), recreational activities, and town water supplies. The Mallee’s rivers, creeks, billabongs and anabranches extend from the southern bank of the Murray River to the southern Mallee’s north-flowing ephemeral creeks within the Avoca and Wimmera River Basins.
The region’s lakes and wetlands are also diverse and include: riverine wetlands; groundwater-fed natural saline wetlands (e.g. the Pink Lakes); shallow depressions filled by local catchment runoff and a number of artificially maintained wetlands like Kings Billabong.
Good waterway condition
Knowledge about the factors that contribute to the health of waterways continues to improve. This includes: • The influence of the catchments on waterway condition; • Natural climate variability; • Physical/ecological processes such as sediment transport, erosion, and
nutrient dynamics; • The role of connectivity; • Patterns of species diversity and habitat requirements; and • Appropriate water regimes. Declining environmental condition in waterways can have significant costs for regional economies. Algal blooms impact on access for stock and domestic supply, increasing salinity can impact on irrigated crop types, and erosion and bank instability can lead to the loss of valuable agricultural land and public infrastructure such as roads and bridges. Additionally, the costs associated with the control of invasive species such as rabbits, weeds and carp is expensive and time consuming.
Communities, landholders, Landcare networks, industry and community groups are playing an active role in
Above: Red Cliffs Landcare group tree planting.
improving the environmental condition of the Mallee’s waterways. The Mallee Regional Waterway Strategy 2014-2022 (currently being developed) will provide a framework over an eight-year period for the integrated management of rivers, creeks, lakes and wetlands in the Mallee; reflecting the communities plans for waterway management and guiding investment into the future. The development of a single, regional planning document for all waterways brings with it a number of benefits including more effective and efficient management through the establishment of specific actions. Part of an integrated management framework, the Mallee Regional Waterway Strategy (RWS) will recognise that the task of managing waterways cannot be conducted in isolation from the broader management of catchments and land. Therefore, the RWS will take into account other plans, such as Regional Growth Strategy, municipal plans, National Parks Plans, Public and Private Fire Protection Plans, and other longer-term strategies such as the Flood Management Strategies and council planning overlays.
The Mallee RWS will be an adaptive management framework providing the flexibility to respond to seasonal climatic variation, such as drought, flood and fire, and the potential impacts of climate change. It will provide an eight-year action plan (2014-2022) for managing the region’s waterways by: • Identifying the Mallee rivers, creeks, lakes, and wetlands that have high environmental, social, cultural, and economic values; • Determining which of these waterways are priorities for action to protect the values that are important to the community; • Establishing goals and targets for these priority waterways; and • Identifying the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders in the implementation of these activities. The Mallee RWS will provide an important tool for guiding management and investment activities for our waterways over an eight-year period by informing all levels of government, key stakeholders and funding partners of the Mallee communities plans for maintaining and enhancing waterway condition.
Where to next?
We need your help to develop the Strategy. We want to know which of the Mallee’s waterways are important to you and why. We also want to hear your suggestions for management activities in and around the Mallee’s waterways. Local knowledge is crucial to providing information about the many economic, social and cultural values that waterways provide. This information will help determine where priority activities should be undertaken over the next eight years. Decisions and management programs will be underpinned by the information provided by people throughout the Mallee and the best available science and knowledge. A questionnaire is included with this edition of the Mallee Farmer. Please assist us to develop the Mallee RWS by completing the questionnaire and returning it to the Mallee CMA office by Friday 23rd August 2013. Alternatively, a more detailed questionnaire is available on the Mallee CMA website: www.malleecma.vic.gov.au
For more information
Mallee CMA T: 03 5051 4377 E: email@example.com W: www.malleecma.vic.gov.au
Piangil field plot trial site
Risk reduction options for canola establishment in dry years Replicated field plot trials were set up at Walpeup and near Piangil in the Victorian Mallee in 2012 to determine the impact of 12 agronomic treatments on canola establishment and production. By
Ivan Mock, Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management Both sites had sandy soils and growing season rainfalls were 44% and 55% of the long term averages for each site. This was an ideal scenario to investigate options that reduce risks to soils and profitability by poor canola establishment in dry years. Canola is now a significant crop in the Mallee, providing diversification from cereals and is a high value grain. However, poor crop establishment occurred with approximately 20% of canola crops sown in 2011 and 2012. Areas of crop that fail to establish satisfactorily have reduced potential yields and profitability and expose the bare soil to additional risks of wind erosion and weed infestation. Caring for our Country funding was allocated to Dodgshun Medlin to explore the canola
establishment problems and develop agronomic strategies to mitigate the associated risks.
An extensive survey of 42 Mallee growers with over 25,000ha of canola in 2011 determined that 20% of canola did not establish successfully causing additional costs and lost production totalling $1.4m. This survey and monitoring commercial crops in 2012 identified light sands and clay as soils most prone to establishment problems as they had less available crop water in dry seasons. Ground cover of monitored crops one month after emergence ranged from 77% with good establishment, 17% with medium establishment and 8% for poor establishment. Stubble remaining at sowing was also identified for its potential to compromise sowing depth and later sown crops were thought to have more establishment problems.
Two field trials were established in 2012 at Walpeup and Piangil to assess landholdersâ€™ belief that agronomic options such as sowing depth, sowing rate and timing were key factors in canola establishment. The aim of the field trials was to validate the impact key factors have on establishment and to evaluate improvements achieved by alternative management practices. The replicated plot trials contained 12 treatments that were combination of the following management practices: Time of sowing: Early - close to break rains Late - delayed 2 or more weeks (as if when waiting for additional rain) Seeding rate of 43C80 canola: Light - 1.5 kg/ha Medium - 2.5 kg/ha Heavy - 3.5 kg/ha Seeding depth: Shallow - 1-2 cm Deep - 3-4 cm Number of canola plants established and the ground cover they provided (number x plant size) for each treatment is shown in for Walpeup in Table 1.
Mallee Farmer The maximum canola yield at both sites was the early, shallow sown high seeding rate treatment (0.8 t/ha at Piangil and 0.5 t/ha at Walpeup). The difference in yields reflected the relative rainfall at each site. Table 2 contains the yields for each treatment expressed as a percentage of the maximum yield and is the average for both sites.
Results were obtained over the 2011 and 2012 cropping seasons when canola establishment problems were widespread. Both seasons had little rainfall over the normal canola sowing period from April to May. Conclusions on factors contributing to poor establishment and agronomic management to mitigate them are therefore most applicable to these conditions when problems to canola establishment are accentuated. (a) Establishment problems were worst on sand and clay textured soils. Sands which store little water from the months preceding sowing and clays, which require higher water content before it is available to germinate the canola seed, were most frequently associated with poor establishment in dry starts. These soils occur most frequently on dunes or swales while intermediate soil textures on the mid-slopes were less prone to poor canola establishment. (b) Early sowing reduces the risk of wind erosion with poor establishment. Early sowing in dry starts was not associated with rapid crop establishment or greater density but those plants that did establish were larger than those sown later and generally provided 5-10 times more ground cover to protect the soil early in the season. Adequate ground cover to reduce the risk of wind erosion was therefore achieved earlier in the season although this was often still two or more months after sowing. (c) Increased seeding rates accelerated ground cover. More plants established when the seeding rate was increased although this was not always significant. When sowing was delayed until soil water improved there was generally no need to use high seeding rates to achieve satisfactory canola plant densities. (d) Sowing shallow may be better on dry soils and with light rainfall. It required less rainfall to increase moisture in the surface 1-2cm to achieve germination than it did at 3+ cm. Conversely soils close to the surface dry out quicker than those deeper in the
Table 1. Canola crop establishment with 12 agronomic treatments at Walpeup Treatment
Ground cover %
Ground cover %
Table 2. Canola grain yield (% of highest yielding treatment) for Walpeup and Piangil sites combined. Yields for each of the 12 treatments are in the boxes with averages for combined treatments between the boxes. Early sown
Seed rate Shallow Low
Late sown Deep
91 all rates
Early & late average
profile unless follow-up rainfall occurs. Sowing depth had no significant impact on establishment if sowing was delayed to coincide with heavier rainfall events.
1. Maintain stubble or trash cover on the soil surface to reduce the risk of wind erosion until crops establish. This is particularly important with canola which is often dry sown before there are clear indications that there will be a good seasonal break to ensure timely crop emergence.
Canola trial site. Photo: Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management
2. Light sandy and heavier clay soils have the worst emergence problems in dry seasons so consider if there are better options than canola on these soils when a poor start to the season is predicted and particularly if ground cover before sowing is less than 50%. 3. Sow early if the decision has been made to sow canola, possibly due to weed or disease problems in the paddock. Early sowing reduces the risk of erosion before crop ground cover develops. Also, Mallee canola yields will be low in dry seasons but far worse if sowing is delayed.
Ivan Mock, Dodgshun Medlin Agricultural Management M: 0427 329 919 E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Many people took advantage of Saturday to experience the Field Days for the first time.
Mildura Field Days Farming Futures Program Blue skies and sunshine were certainly a pleasing forecast for the new look 2013 Mildura Field Days. By
Kim Trigg, Mildura Field Day Committee Secretary The committee was slightly anxious about the weather in the days leading up to the event, however, there were many contingencies built into the program and with exhibitors and sponsors opting for some larger undercover exhibits, this year’s event was always looking to bigger and better things. The greatly increased number of exhibitors this year reflects the diversity of interest that our farming community and the committee was aware that there is increasing interest for leisure and hobby displays which supports a better
work - life balance for farmers. New concepts included a partnership with the Sunraysia Farmers Market which proved to be a huge success. Comments received from other food vendors mentioned their sales were not impacted so we believe it offered a win:win for all, presenting a true “paddock to plate” experience. Attendance numbers were well up on previous years and many commented that they needed an extra day to get around it all, which is a great start to re-invigorating this important event. An example of another highly popular exhibit was the Mallee Catchment Management Authority’s (CMA) interactive reptile display that our attendee’s couldn’t get enough of. The display allowed people to get up close and even touch live lizards and goanna’s to assist in the promotion of the newly launched Mallee Lizard Field Guide. The guide aims to build awareness of local species and
habitat requirements ensuring we keep our local lizards safe and sound. The environmental theme was further supported with the “Green Days” marquee this year. It was really great to see the number (about 350) of people come into the marque to take a look at the various environmental displays including the Mallee and Murray CMA’s, Buronga Inland Botanical Gardens and the National Parks crew from Mungo National Park, to name just a few. Spanning more than sixty years, the Mildura Field Days has traditionally had a dried fruit focus, while also being the lure for locally invented farm “gadgets”. The promotion of innovation has seen the event well attended over the years by people from a range of industries and promotion of innovation is something that will continue to be supported into the future. The innovation theme was reinforced with the Earth Systems mobile biomass
Above: Michael Alexander from Black Snake Productions with his friendly Goanna. Top right: Many people took advantage to learn about Earth Systems mobile biomass pyrolysis technology. Right: Adults and children alike enjoyed the Green Days marquee.
pyrolysis technology demonstrating the conversion of grape vine and citrus waste to biochar. Biochar is a form of charcoal produced from burning organic materials in a specially designed oven that operates at high temperatures with restricted oxygen the resultant material produced is a type of charcoal that is thought to have benefits to soil quality and even under some circumstances increased crop yields. It is also thought that there may be potential carbon credits through increasing the carbon content of soils. There is research occurring in Australia and overseas and some of this is demonstrating that biochar may support the better retention of soil nutrients, provides a good environment for soil microbes, improves soil structure and
increase water-holding capacity. This exhibited sparked a great deal of interest amongst attendees.
and especially families and towns folk experiencing the field days first hand, many saying for the first time.
The committee had to make some tough decisions this year and the Friday/ Saturday concept was introduced to see if this could expand the events messages of a “Sunraysia Food Bowl” exposè and “Where Agriculture and Community Unite”. Mildura Field Days should be an event that supports the promotion of sustainable food production, environment and community awareness; and together with the exposure of our expansive produce, manufactured products and services to outside networks it has the potential to improve our local economy.
With the assistance from the Mildura Branch of the Australian Dried Fruits Association, the Mildura Field Day Committee has been successful in receiving $55,000 through the Caring for our Country Community Landcare Grants Program and we will be looking forward to the further opportunities this will bring to the event.
The decision to open on Saturday certainly paid off with many local people
For more information
Kim Trigg, Committee Secretary M: 0439 347986 E: email@example.com.
No-till farming benefits the sandy loam soils of the Mallee from erosion.
No-till farming sees Mallee farm size double in a decade Terry Kiley, one of nine sons of Mallee soldier settler Rex, was always going to be involved in farming. By
Melissa Pouliot, for the Victorian No-Till Farmers Association While at boarding school in Sunbury he was more interested in the academic side of farming than the practical side and had very little interest in cropping. Terry spent his early working life in shearing sheds around the district and further afield and for around 20 years sheep were his bread and butter. He
finds it ironic that he is now farming their family farm ‘Kiley’s Run’, between Speed and Sea Lake, and there are no sheep, just crops. Almost nine thousand hectares of them. That’s over 21,000 acres on the old scale. Terry is also one of the trailblazers, although he would never describe himself as such, for minimum till farming – a farming system that has changed the face of Mallee farming during the past decade. Married to Vonda, Terry was one of the first Mallee farmers to join the Victorian No-Till Farming Association, move away from conventional farming and start practicing minimum till techniques. A decade later, 95 per cent of Mallee farmers are following suit. A testament to the system is a no-till event that Terry hosted on their farm in March this year. Dodgshun Medlin
organised the event, supported by Vic No-Till and the Grains Research and Development Corporation, which saw almost 300 farmers converge on one of Kiley’s Run’s sandy loam paddocks. Guests witnessed an active seeding demonstration by nine modified tyne, dedicated tyne and disc seeding machines while celebrating 10 years of minimum till in the Mallee. Minimum till is ‘one pass seeding’ with points, creating less than 20% soil disturbance. Zero or no-till is ‘one pass’ sowing system using discs for minimal soil disturbance. For Terry, the move to minimum till has enabled him to almost double his acreage in the past decade. “Due to severe erosion caused by wind and stock, I knew conventional farming methods were just unsustainable. If we hadn’t changed I’m sure we wouldn’t
Mallee Farmer have been able to expand. Reducing erosion has been a huge benefit, especially up here with our sandy loam soils. Overall our farming operation is a lot more efficient. And along with the other 95 per cent of Mallee farmers, we’re reaping the benefits.” Terry said a presentation by Vic No-Till founding president Rob Ruwoldt from Minyip in 2002, a field day on local agronomist Danny Conlan’s Nandaly farm and a visit to South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula all led to the same conclusion. “What we were seeing with No-Till farming systems was very impressive. After a particularly bad year for wind erosion in 2002, which was also a drought year, we knew we couldn’t keep farming that way, it was a no brainer. So in 2003 we adopted minimum till.” Terry remained a Vic No-Till committee member for seven years and is still part of the association’s 500-plus state-wide farming network. He said being part of the association helped broaden his scope and boost his confidence when changing his farming system. Terry believes he would’ve changed sooner but technology and agronomy support were unavailable to back him up. “I wanted to adopt no tillage, direct drill methods in the 1990s but there was no agronomy backup in this area. All the local dealers were just selling chemicals. Terry says it wasn’t until Danny Conlan came home to his Nandaly farm after working as an agronomist in Victoria’s northeast and the Southern Riverina, that Mallee farmers had the necessary backup to further explore no-till farming. “Not only did Danny have the agronomy background, he was practicing no till techniques on his own farm. “In that first year we converted a flexicoil air seeder to knife points and press wheels. The local John Deere dealer also gave us a Starfire 2, 10-centimetre guidance system to trial. I’d never even heard of this technology until then. We cropped around 5000 hectares and had a really good year. That set us up. If you’re expanding your cropping hectares it’s critical to have a good year. The following year was fairly dry but we had another good year.” Terry says it was the combination of seeing it work on-farm, agronomy support, the growing network through the Vic No-Till association plus improvements in farming equipment that helped make it happen. He also regularly travels across Australia and overseas to get a global picture of farming. He’s travelled with farming groups to countries
Terry Kiley odopted minimum till farming.
including South America, Canada, Vietnam, Denmark and Sweden. It’s all part of his ongoing search for knowledge to improve efficiency and sustainability on his own farm that he now works with son Zane and son-in-law Mick Ellis, who’s married to daughter Brianna. At the moment, the family is working towards a four-year rotation of legumes, canola, wheat and barley. “We’re constantly adapting and making changes to improve sustainability and profitability. We are starting to see a few issues with resistance to rye grass and radish so it’s important we stay on top of and address these things all the time.” Terry says that as well as enabling them to expand, minimum till has simplified their farming operation.
“It’s quite amazing how far we’ve come in 10 years. It’s been a remarkable change in the Mallee and we are getting better yields. No-Till farming is all about being efficient and using our machinery more effectively. We wouldn’t be where we are today if we were still using conventional farming methods. Who knows where it will go from here.” In the Wimmera, an estimated 80% of farmers are using minimum or zero/notill techniques. This is a similar number to the minimum or zero-till farmers in Yarrawonga in north-east Victoria.
For more information
Victorian No-Till Farmer’s Association T: 03 5382 0422
Aboriginal Burial Site. Inset: Cover of the new field guide.
Pest animal field guide A new field guide is now available to help Mallee farmers and land managers deal with pest animals on sites of cultural significance. By
Ben Parker, Mallee CMA Produced to debunk the myth that an area of cultural heritage on private property must be taken out of production, the field guide is an easy-to-use glove box guide to controlling invasive species such as rabbits, pigs, foxes and goats without damaging cultural sites. Titled “Land management practices to preserve Aboriginal cultural heritage values”, the field guide also has information to help farmers identify Aboriginal cultural places and learn more about the preferred control methods for pest animals on each type of cultural site. Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) coordinated the
development of the field guide by working in partnership with members of the authority’s Aboriginal Reference Group, Indigenous stakeholders across the region, and partner agencies. “This project has succeeded in directly involving Indigenous stakeholders in natural resource management, while also preserving vital indigenous ecological knowledge and building strong working relationships,” said Mallee CMA board chairperson Sharyon Peart. “ To ensure the project was conducted in a culturally appropriate and sensitive way, the Mallee CMA formed an Aboriginal Reference Group to act as a steering committee for the project and a number of in-field workshops were undertaken to ground-truth pest management methods.”
Ms Peart said the field guide was particularly relevant to the local region, with more than 8000 registered sites of Aboriginal significance recorded in the area. “The booklet has been designed with clear images to show you what cultural sites can look like, as well as easy-toread descriptions and pointers on what to look for, this guide is very practical.” The field guide was produced by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country.
For more information
The field guide is free and will be distributed across the region through local Landcare groups, and is available from the Mallee CMA. T: 03 5051 4377 E: firstname.lastname@example.org W: Malleecma.vic.gov.au
Above: Example pages from the field guide. Top right: Rabbit control is always on the agenda. Right: Shell midden site. Bottom right: Artifact scatter. Bottom left: Scarred tree.
Spencer’s Goanna with the Mallee Lizards Field Guide (NB: not a lizard of the Mallee)
Mallee Lizards Field Guide now available A new field guide on Mallee lizards has been developed by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) and is now available free of charge. By
Rachael Slorach, Mallee CMA More lizard species are found in the Mallee than anywhere else in Victoria, with many of these considered threatened. The field guide includes 48 lizard species, including geckos, legless lizards, skinks, dragons and goannas. “This field guide has wonderful photographs of the lizards found in the Victorian Mallee, with simple descriptions and interesting facts,” Mallee CMA Board Chair Sharyon Peart said. “It will be a useful tool for individuals, schools and groups to identify lizards when they are out and about in their local environment.”
The Mallee Lizard Field Guide is part of a series developed by the Mallee CMA to showcase different groups of fauna within the region. Other field guides include Mallee waterbirds and Mallee frogs. To launch the Mallee lizards field guide, the Mallee CMA organised a live lizard display at the Mildura Field Days, which gave people the chance to get up close and personal with a range of lizards from the Mallee and beyond.
What are lizards?
Lizards are scaled reptiles (Class Reptilia – Order Squamata). Typically lizards are oviparous, that is they reproduce by laying eggs in nests. Some species however, have other ways of reproducing such as the Blue-tongued and Stumpy-tailed Lizards that give birth to live young.
Where do lizards live?
Lizards in the Mallee occupy a wide range of habitats, from semiarid environments to those close to waterways. Many depend on the specialised habitat in which they live; others are more adaptable and can live almost anywhere, including farming and urban environments. Some lizards dig their own burrows for shelter, others shelter in soil cracks, logs and branches, tree bark, rock crevices, vegetation such as spinifex, or abandoned spider burrows.
What are the main threats to lizards? Habitat depletion and degradation are the two main threats to lizard populations.
Approximately 53 percent of vegetation in the Mallee region has been cleared for agriculture, urban development, timber and mining. As a result of this clearing, a number of vegetation communities are now quite severely depleted, fragmented or degraded. These include Buloke Woodlands, Belah Woodlands, Woorinen
Mallee Farmer Case Study – Hooded Scaly-foot
The Hooded Scaly-foot is a large, legless lizard that can grow to lengths of up 475mm. The scales on these lizards range from pale grey to reddish-brown, and are arranged to give the appearance of vague lines, or a checkerboard. It has a dark head, rounded snout and prominent ear openings. The Hooded Scaly-foot can be confused with snakes however a significant difference is that they have broad and flat tongues, while snakes have forked tongues. This lizard is found in open vegetation communities on heavy soils, such as Chenopod Shrublands and grasslands, where it shelters in soil cracks and invertebrate burrows. It is most active during the night, and is thought to become inactive during the winter. Females lay a clutch of two eggs once a year, during the summer. When threatened the Hooded Scaly-foot will rear up and flick their fleshy tongue. They will utter a long wheezing squeak if grasped, and will readily discard their tails as a defence mechanism. Mallee, Ridged Plains Mallee, Parilla Mallee and Plains Savannah. Rabbits degrade lizard habitat by intensively grazing the grasses that provide lizards with shelter and protection. Cattle, feral pigs and goats can trample lizard burrows and cause soil compaction and erosion. Burrow disturbance and destruction also occurs as a result of motorbikes and off-track four wheel driving.ich lizards are threatened? Of the lizards that are found in the Mallee, nine are listed as threatened under the Victorian Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act 1988 (FFG Act). These are: • Beaked Gecko (Rhynchoedura sp.) • Mallee Worm-lizard (Aprasia aurita) • Hooded Scaly-foot (Pygopus schraderi) • Heath Skink (Liopholis multiscutata) • Millewa Skink (Hemiergis millewae) • Dwarf Burrowing Skink (Lerista timida) • Samphire Skink (Morethia adelaidensis) • Lined Earless Dragon (Tympanocryptis lineata) • Rosenberg’s Goanna (Varanus rosenbergii)
Case Study – Sand Goanna
The Sand Goanna is a large lizard with a long, vertically compressed tail, and a forked tongue similar to a snake’s. It’s body colour is grey to dark-brown with red, brown, yellow or white blotches that form bands. It can grow up to 1.6 metres long, including its tail.
Above: Hooded Scaly-foot page. Above left: Cover of the Mallee Lizards Field Guide. Below: Sand Goanna.
The Sand Goanna can be found scattered throughout the Mallee region in heathlands and grasslands. They can also be spotted on farmlands and will flee rapidly if approached too closely. Sand Goannas use their strong claws to dig complex tunnels that often extend into the burrows of other animals. Females are known to dig chambers within termite nests to lay their eggs. This lizard actively forages in holes, crevices and logs, feeding on a variety of fauna including snakes, frogs, invertebrates, small mammals, birds and other lizards.
How can I obtain a field guide?
Copies of the Mallee Lizards Field Guide are available from the Mallee CMA at the Department of Environment and Primary Iindustries (DEPI) Complex on the corner of Eleventh Street and Koorlong Avenue, Irymple, or by contacting the Mallee CMA on 5051 4377.
The Mallee Lizards Field Guide was developed and published by the Mallee CMA, through funding from the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country. The Mallee CMA would like to thank Peter Robertson for providing technical knowledge and content review.
The Last Word Dispersal
What is worse flood or fire?
The fruit is commonly eaten by foxes and birds. Birds are the main method of spread. It’s the reason so many are found under power lines, at the base of other trees, and along fence lines, where birds sit. The mature plants can also sucker from roots when disturbed.
It’s strange how some memories just refuse to disappear or even diminish over time. I vividly remember, then aged six, the flood that followed when Arthurs Creek broke its banks, inundating our three acre market garden and piggery. It was quite a sight watching Dad and Uncle Bill wrestle the sows to safety. But what really stuck in my mind was Dad and Uncle Bill talking afterward. Uncle Bill asked Dad, “What’s worse, flood or fire?” Dad said without hesitation; “Flood; It will take years to reclaim the market garden, not to mention the two miles of road washed away, along with half the fencing. The pumpkins and tomatoes, have had it, nothing left but a mess of rotten vegetables and mud, which is now on the other side of the creek; and the bridge is gone as well. “At least you have half a chance to fight a fire, and it mostly cleans up after itself,” he said. So what is the point of my flood memoir? Well it’s the aftermath of our big wet and floods of 2010 and 2011, which caused so much destruction. What Dad was saying is that the effects of flood can dramatically change the landscape and hang around for a long time. We are still seeing the legacy of the big wet today, and there is no better example of this than the resurgence in some of our worst weeds, including our old mate the African Boxthorn (Lycium ferocissimum).
Mallee’s Most Wanted
Our second in the series of the Mallee’s Most Wanted, takes at a look at a very tough critter indeed, which has the potential to spread like honey on a hot crumpet under the right circumstances. First introduced into Australia in the 1800’s, the African Boxthorn was thought to
Mechanical removal of a large stand of Boxthorn.
be a hardy plant capable of quickly establishing hedges to contain stock. It was massively successful, stock hate going anywhere near it. So why is it a problem? In a nut shell, it spreads quickly, forms impenetrable stands, drought tolerant, and provides excellent harbour for pests such as feral cats, foxes, rabbits, and fruit fly. Once established, this plant is hard to deal with. It is a Weed of National Significance (WoNS) and in the Victorian Mallee is classified as a regionally controlled noxious weed, meaning that it is the responsibility of the land manager to deal with. Boxthorn, a perennial shrub, generally reaches two or three metres in height. Its woody, dense, thorny growth consists of rigid multiple branched stems. The main stems have spines up to 15cm long. The succulent vivid light green leaves stick out like bald bandicoots in a burnt paddock during periods of rapid growth, like now. Drought resistant, they can completely shed their leaves, but rapidly bounce back after rain. Fruit set generally occurs in autumn but given the right conditions can happen at any time. The ripe orange-red globe-shaped berries are five to 10mm in diameter, contain 35 to 70 seeds.
Mallee Farmer Contact
Mallee Catchment Management Authority Telephone 03 5051 4377 Facsimile 03 5051 4379 PO Box 5017 Mildura Victoria 3502
Effective, long-term control will require the integration of a number of techniques. Physical removal is best done with tractor and blade or similar. Chemical control on young vigorous growing plants with herbicides is an option; only use a registered herbicide according to the directions. Large plants can be treated using a cut stump treatment (a pole saw is recommended). Basic common sense principles apply, get into them while small and time your control methods for maximum effect.
The Mallee Farmer is produced by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA) through funding provided by the Australian Government’s Regional Landcare Facilitator Initiative. It would not be possible without the ongoing support received from the many individuals and organisations who continue to supply articles. Their commitment to providing up-to-date, relevant and interesting information to the Mallee’s farming community is vital, allowing locals to access information, explore new concepts, and generally keep abreast of activities taking place in the region. If you would like to submit any ideas, comments or suggestions for future editions please contact: Glen Sutherland Regional Landcare Facilitator Mallee CMA T: 0417 396 973 E: email@example.com