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Transcript of ISSUE TALK SMALL - .Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges | 03 SMALL TALK Continued from

  • WINTER 2016 ISSUE

    www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/adelaidemtloftyranges

    TALKSMALL

    INSIDE THIS ISSUE

    02 Sampson Flat one year on: The Whiteway family story

    04 Case study: Scattered tree landscapes in production systems: Hutton Vale trial 2015

    06 Native grass pastures and the benefits of horses

    08 Handy hint Remnant vegetation assessments

    DONT MISS OUTDo you receive a copy of Small Talk posted to your property, without an address label? From the next edition

    spring 2016 only those registered to have Small Talk mailed to their address will receive it.

    If you would like to continue to receive Small Talk, please send your address postal if you would like it in hard copy, or email to view it online to Lucy Hyde on lucy.hyde@sa.gov.au, 8130 9066 or 0408 678 890.

    We look forward to continuing to share land management information with you.

    Rehabilitating a watercourse improves water quality, reduces erosion, provides habitat for birds and improves on-farm production. However, which are the best plant communities to do the job?

    With the support of the Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges and 25th Anniversary Landcare Australia Grant Scheme funding, the Barossa Improved Grazing Group (BIGG) is helping landholders investigate how effective different native plant communities are at watercourse rehabilitation.

    The project is exploring and demonstrating native plant communities that provide 100% annual groundcover to help stabilise soil, prevent erosion and reduce runoff, and those that improve habitat for birds by

    having perching, nesting and feeding sites. It will compare the costbenefit of different communities.

    Getting startedThe project began in May 2015 on Klemms dairy farm in Moculta by fencing off a 250 m length of watercourse that runs during winter months and was significantly pugged through summer months. The centre of the watercourse had 1020% ground cover and areas along the bank were completely bare. Before planting, woody weeds more than 20 briar rose plants, and artichoke and thistles were removed, and plant species and birds surveyed.

    Angaston Ag Bureau visit to watercourse in February 2016. Photo: BIGG

    Continued on page 03

    Demonstrating watercourse rehabilitation with native plant communitiesGeorgie Keynes, Technical Facilitator, BIGG

  • 02 | Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges

    SMALL TALK

    Post fire changes in the landscape Bushland weeds like blackberries and

    gorse have made a strong comeback in areas where they existed before the fire, and gorse has popped up in new locations. Weed control has been a painstaking process as theres a lot of natives coming up in the same areas.

    We havent seen any echidnas since the fire and far fewer possums, although weve spotted kangaroos in reasonable numbers, and feral deer. Numerous small birds are starting to return and feral bird species, including sparrows and pigeons.

    Positive moments The spectacular regeneration and

    flowering of Xanthorrhoeas was heartening through spring and we saw the return of lots of insects and small birds. There was also abundant germination of native orchids that created small, vibrant patches of colour in the forest. Recently, the Christmas bush (Bursaria spinosa) provided stunning white displays among the blackened tree trunks.

    Revegetation is a challenge; the soils in some areas since the fire appear to repel water and with limited water supply

    not everything planted has survived. However, weve had some great successes which are supporting the return of birds, butterflies and native bees.

    We bought a trampoline for Ella and Sam which is a much-loved and used escape.

    One of the most positive outcomes for us is that we now feel part of a tight-knit community despite being new to the area.

    Challenges Making decisions. Theres so much you

    have to decide in such a short time, it can be overwhelming.

    The work involved in setting up temporary accommodation, planning and building a new house, re-fencing and re-establishing livestock, gardens, orchards and water infrastructure is massive.

    We were unable to collect water over winter due to burned pipes and tanks and reduced roof space.

    Dust has been a constant presence since the fire, which has been testing. The dust clouds and dark skies following the Pinery fire triggered memories of Sampson.

    In 2014, Ben, Vicky, Ella and Sam Whiteway moved to their property near Kersbrook in the Adelaide Hills and got to work making the most of the small areas of productive land. Clearings with orchard and grazing potential were set among larger areas of remnant mixed eucalypt woodland that sheltered a diverse understorey of wattles, tea-tree, Xanthorrhoeas, and many native shrubs, grasses, herbs and orchids. The bird life was magnificent and native animal sightings, including kangaroos, echidnas and possums, were frequent.

    The block, including the house, was not well prepared for fire so the Whiteways spent much of spring raking, clearing and cleaning, and agreed to leave should a fire occur. On 2 January 2015 this plan was put into action. Already on alert due to the catastrophic fire danger rating, the Whiteways packed their vehicles and left well ahead of the fire front. At Kersbrook, Ben joined the CFS to help while Vicky, Ella and Sam headed to safety in Adelaide.

    At around 3am the following morning, long after the fire front had passed through, Ben returned to their property to find that only the shed remained.

    Having lost almost everything the family returned home to start to rebuild and recover. They share their observations from the past year.

    Sampson Flat one year on: The Whiteway family storyDepartment of Environment, Water and Natural Resources

    Regeneration 12 months on. Photo: Tom BrookmanDust on Christmas Day 2015. Photo: Ella Whiteman

  • Natural Resources Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges | 03

    SMALL TALK

    Continued from page 01

    Tubestock was planted in July after a shroud spray to remove initial weed competition. Plant communities local to the area were planted in replicated 20 metre plots and compared against three control areas. The communities were:

    native grasses including wallaby, kangaroo and spear grass

    understory plants (approx. 60 cm tall), including Juncus, Lomandra and Hardenbergia species

    trees including sheoak, peppermint box and red gums

    trees and midstorey plants including Acacia, Bursaria and Dodonaea species.

    Due to the extremely dry spring, the plants were watered in October, December, January and early March.

    Year 1 resultsThe most noticeable results one year later were the reduced pugging and groundcover over 90100% of the entire site. These results would significantly reduce the risk of erosion and runoff, and improve water quality. They demonstrate the effectiveness of simply removing stock from the watercourse area.

    Even in the dry conditions, more than 70% of plants survived, with most losses from the understorey plant plots. Most planted Juncus species did not survive, but plants originally there have thrived and flourished a much cheaper option than tubestock planting!

    Weed control has been a continual problem with Caltrop, which was already present in small numbers, flourishing in areas sprayed out for plants. It will continue to be monitored but should decline with competition from the native plants.

    Plans for the futureIn the second year of the project, an adjacent section of watercourse will be fenced off to determine the cost effectiveness of machine direct seeding.

    As the plants become more established, the bird and fauna surveys will be repeated. The benefits of increased pasture production through rotational grazing and improved milk production as a result of shade and shelter for the cows will also be determined.

    Visit www.biggroup.org.au for more information.

    Demonstrating watercourse rehabilitation

    Continued from page 02

    Helpful tips Keep a record of what youve done when

    rebuilding, even a basic diary. Sometimes its hard to see progress and it feels like youre not getting anywhere. If you can look back at a list of all youve achieved it helps with a much-needed sense of satisfaction.

    We tried to maintain a positive outlook and use the fire as an opportunity to step back and plan the property from a blank slate. The process was difficult, and still remains a challenge on some days, but ultimately is very rewarding. At the end of this process we will have a beautiful new house on the site we love.

    We decided to stay on site for the rebuild and recovery, setting up a temporary shipping container for accommodation. It was difficult to live in and each season has brought new challenges. However, being on site everyday has facilitated rapid progress and meant that weve been able to observe all stages of recovery on the property. Seeing changes day to day gave us a real sense of hope throughout the journey.

    Support We received wonderful support from

    many friends, local groups, businesses and charities. The first being the Toyota Landcruiser Club, which came and helped us demolish the house and clear the site. Food for us and the animals, and water regularly appeared. At times it was overwhelming as people would either arrive on site to help or send gifts of clothing, vouchers, household goods or even cash. At the time we didnt always know where the gifts had come from and there wasnt always a chance to say thank you, but we are incredibly grateful for all of the support we received.

    We have also been assisted by Natural Resources Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges (AMLR) in a number of ways in