Mid Lachlan Landcare

Box Gum Woodland Workshop

‘Soils for the Future’ pit field day June 2021

For a full report on our recent field day held at ‘Glenbrook’ Canowindra head to the below link

Field day report – 23rd June 2021

Box Gum potential project site visits

Wow, I have been lucky enough to be invited to 12 farms this year and discuss potential projects for this round of funding. They have all been very diverse with some great ideas and projects.

It has been lovely to find new species that I haven’t seen on other farms before. It is also always amazing to see the work people have already undertaken, or been undertaking, over many years to improve their woodland areas or improve connectivity across the landscape.

Did you know that the White Box, Yellow Box, Blakelys Red Gum Woodlands this project is focusing has now been listed as critically endangered since July 2020. Every little thing we can do to help this wonderful woodland survive into the future is just so important.

Below are some pictures from a recent potential project site visit. We found what looks like 5 different orchid species along with mostly native groundcover grasses and forbs. Also a first for me, on a farm around here, was Platylobium formosum (Handsome Flat-pea). What a cool name. It wasn’t in flower yet but I can’t wait to see it when it does come into flower.

It did appear that some of the plants were being nibbled on by native and/or feral herbivore’s and so the landholder has already gone and made some protective cages to cover up some of the orchids and the young Handsome Flat-pea plants to ensure they get to flower 🙂 How great is this!!!

You all insire Mid Lachlan Landcare every day with the things you are doing on your farms to ensure the future survival of such a beautiful and important woodland while striving to be thriving, healthy, profitable farming business’s as well. What amazing people 🙂

2021 Community Purchases Outcome

This year we decided to build on the Community mesh purchases we have completed the last few years by including a second height of mesh and also to trial some new biodegradable small tree guards. This was done at the request of many of you and I must say it has been another successful purchasing effort. By purchasing together we are able to buy in bulk and reduce the costs for us all 🙂

The summary for 2021 is :-

  • 14 rolls of 1650 high heavy duty stock proof tree guard mesh which will result in 168 new scattered paddock trees on 8 farms across the region.
  • 35 rolls of 1200 high heavy duty stock proof tree guard mesh which will result in 420 new scattered paddock trees on another 8 farms across the region.
  • 2000 biodegradable tree guards being trialled on 11 farms across the region.

This is such a great result and wonderful to see some new people getting involved in the purchasing and planting of scattered paddock trees across their farms.

A huge thanks goes to Will Johnston (Cargo) and Marion Mitchell (Cowra) for volunteering to be depots for the delivery of the mesh and guards. They then coordinated everyones collection times. It worked so much better this year than other years when we have had to hand load from the office in Cowra!!

A special thanks also to NSW Saving our Species Box Gum Grassy Woodland Habitat on Farm project for providing some funds to further reduce the costs of the mesh this year.

The small biodegradable tree guards seem to be going well. We used 2 bamboo stakes instead of a hardwood stake and reports so far are that everyone is happy with them. They are suppossed to last about 18 months. You can find out more details on them here if you are interested. It worked out a much better price to purchase 2000 of them and deliver to a central depot.

We will try and do this again in 2022 so if you have any other products you think would be good to do a bulk purchase of let us know.

Feel free to send us through photos of your scattered paddock trees. We love them!!!

You can find out more about the importance of scattered paddock trees here. It gives you an idea of why it is so critically important for us to start planting new ones now and every year 🙂

Cafe Champignon Cowra

By Trudi Refshauge

When you see a humble mushroom growing in a paddock or beside a fallen log, do you wonder if it’s toxic or beneficial, can it be eaten or will it kill you?

International fungi expert, Alison Pouliot, recently visited Cowra and was invited to run a workshop for interested locals by Mid Lachlan Landcare and Cowra Council’s Natural Resource Management Committee.

A mushroom is neither animal nor plant but contains properties from both kingdoms. Mushrooms are the external flowering part of fungi, which is a third kingdom on its own.

Farmers attending Pouliot’s talk were interested to learn mushrooms have an important function in agriculture. They were told fungi play a key role in holding soil particles apart, making it sponge like and habitable to invertebrates like worms allowing soil to be further aerated.

“Fungi have a root like structure known as mycelium which allows water to trickle down deeply into the soil. Without mycelium, soil becomes anaerobic,” said Pouliot.

Pouliot explained there is a nutrient exchange going on when fungi sits around plant roots.

“Fungi forms a sheath around the root systems of trees, grasses and other plants. This can increase the surface area of the root by over 1,000 times, allowing plants to access water and nutrients more easily and send carbon from one tree to another.”

Pouliot explained this underground fungal network can source water from a drain line or dam and feed it to plant roots at higher or dryer points in the landscape.

Fungi has implications “greater than we ever once imagined” Pouliot said. An old mother eucalyptus tree can connect to up to 37 younger trees through their roots and connected mycelium. “Potentially what you do to the mother tree will effect the health of these younger trees.”

Ray Walsh from Cowra Council’s NRM committee said that farmers attitudes have changed since the 1970s and 1980s. “They understand the importance of avoiding soil compaction and minimizing stubble burning which may help fungi in their soils. They are very interested to learn about the role fungi plays in improving carbon in our soil,” he told Pouliot.

For those interested in foraging for fungi, Pouliot explained picking mushrooms has been a toxic threat feared by all except the highly trained. “You use all your senses when selecting toxic from edible mushrooms.

When touching a stem you need to assess if it feels like velvet, suede, sandpaper, butter, wax or mucous. The smell of fungi can range from iodine, ammonia, chlorine, burnt rubber or burnt hair. It’s also important to observe their shape and where they grow,” said Pouliot.

Mid Lachlan Landcare officer, Tracee Burke said she was pleased with the capacity turnout. “It was incredible to hear Alison say that fungi does the same thing as irrigation and fertilizer with its ability to distribute moisture, nutrients and minerals in the soil.”

Box Gum Grassy Woodland Site bird surveys completed

We had a fantastic time during May performing bird surveys on our nine year 1 project sites. We had our expert Dan Florance along to positively identify the bird species found during each 20 min survey.

At most of the sites we had the landholder as well as another participant taking part in the surveys. This way we all had a chance to learn more via visiting other sites and also a chance to hone those bird ID skills by taking part in a couple of surveys.

Even though we surveyed in May we identified Superb Parrots on 5 of the 9 sites surveyed which was fantastic news. It seems these birds are spending more of the year hanging around the Cowra area than ever before.

Another special find was Grey Crowned Babblers on one of the sites. Reports from a knowlegable neighbor indicates that Grey Crowned Babblers haven’t been seen on these farms in many years. All the work that these project sites along with previous works to improve habitat and enhance Box Gum Grassy Woodlands appear to be making a difference not just for the Woodlands but also those animals that rely on it to survive.

Some other notible species identified were :-

  • Nankeen Kestral
  • Noisy Miners
  • Red Wattlebird
  • Southern Boobook
  • Pied Butcherbird
  • Crested Pigeon
  • Australian Wood Duck
  • Black Kite

We also managed to get slightly distracted on one site by a gorgeous little Stone Gecko who stole the show from the birds. There is a picture of him/her in the slideshow below.

If you have a patch of ‘bush’ on your farm we highly recommend taking a little time out from all the jobs and spending a bit of time walking around in there. It is so special to have a patch of wildness and it is so important for the survival of Box Gum Grassy Woodlands in the future. Every patch is important!!

Don’t forget you can contact us midlachlanlandcare@gmail.com to find out how you can get involved in this project.

Meet the Board ‘Growing the Grazing Revolution’

It is time to introduce you all to the wonderful volunteer board that guides our ‘Growing the Grazing Revolution’ project. These passionate individuals come together to help make this project what it is and they are a big part of it’s success and continuation over the last 10 years.

We asked them if they would like to answer the following 3 questions about what drives them to volunteer their precious time to this project.

1) What do you enjoy the most about being on the Growing the Grazing Revolution board?

2) What’s the most exciting thing about your farming business?

3) Could you please give us 3 words that describe Mid Lachlan Landcare.

Matt Pearce – Cranbury
  1. Like the group of like minded people with similar farming strategies and to provide input based on experience in regen agriculture.
  2. Seeing the improving ecology of the land.
  3. Passionate, knowledgeable, diverse.
Wendy Bowman – Canowindra
  1. I enjoy working as part of a team because as a farmer you are often working alone.
  2. The most exciting thing about my farming business is seeing ecosystem functions happening right in front of you
  3. Passionate, committed, innovative.

Gus Hickman – Woodstock
  1. I enjoy my input to the board & being able to support it with decision making for continued benefit of the community. 
  2. Developing ways to continue to run a profitable business while working in sync with the landscape. The potential to continue to increase the biodiversity and health of the land.
  3. Supportive, innovative, collaborative

Ross Skene – Canowindra
  1. As I am the oldest member on the board I enjoy the progressive input and enthusiastic ideas that are generated by my fellow board members.
  2. The ease of the operation and the improvement I see in the sustainability of our property in good and bad seasons. This at my age (77) has allowed me to stay on the land and pursue other off farm income producing ventures as well as having quality time with family and friends.
  3. Enthusiastic, progressive, dedicated.

David Marsh – Boorowa
  1. I love being on the board of GGR because of the open mindedness of everyone who is part of it.
  2. Watching native warm season perennials spreading across our farm from 1 hectare max. in 1999, to big areas all over in just ten years.
  3. Committed to change.

Andrew Wooldridge – Canowindra
  1. Learning heaps – from applied discussions with other people who have interest and expertise with profitable land management businesses that are based on healthy ecology.
  2. This year seeing a huge increase in variety and extent of native pasture species. Also meeting people who are interested in the link between human health, healthy food, healthy animal practices and healthy landscapes.
  3. Action, network, community.

Sharryn Lewis – Woodstock
  1. Collaboration with like minded people. Being only new to the board I am learning so much from those who have a huge amount of knowledge and experience and are so willing to share it.
  2. That we have 3 generations of our family who have input into decisions made. Seeing the changes and improvements that have not only happened to our soil and pasture but also our stock since we have moved to an improved grazing system.
  3. Engaging, proactive, collaborative.

Lachlan Davis – Cargo
  1. I enjoy being on the board because you get to work with and learn from like minded people facing the same challenges and events that we are. Its a great opportunity to learn from a bank of experience from the fellow members.
  2. The most exciting thing about our business is seeing how much of a positive impact we can make and how drastically you can improve any grazing enterprise through simple grazing management principles. It’s a win, win, win. A win for the country, a win for the animals and a win for us.
  3. Team, education, improvement.

Dung Beetle nursery contruction in full swing

The wonderful Cowra Mens Shed is working hard to build the 24 dung beetle nurseries needed for our special Bubas bison farm breeding project. Pictured above is Rob, Chris and Peter from the Mens Shed attaching the mesh to the top of one of the nurseries.

The 12 farms around the region that are taking part are ready to go as well, which is great news.

We have heard from Bernard Doube of Dung Beetle Solutions that the beetles should be ready to travel up with him at the end of May for distribution to our project participants.

Bernard will be up to run some workshops around the region on dung beetles and their importance. Contact midlachlanlandcare@gmail.com if you would like to know more about these workshops.

Special thanks again to Central Tablelands Local Land Services for providing the funding to allow this project to happen.

You might spot this beetle around your farm now

Are you seeing much Dung Beetle activity at the moment?

They seem to have really kicked off here in the last couple of weeks. I have collected a few from our cattle dung to have them identified. I might be a bit weird but the more I’m learning about these incredibly beneficial insects the more I want to learn!!

The pictured beetle is Onthophagus gazella and it was one of four species of dung beetle successfully introduced into Australia in 1968. They were native to sub-Saharan Africa. It is a two-toned beetle and males have a pair of horns at the back of their head. Another identifying feature is that the legs have distinctive dark oval patches on their undersides when the beetle is turned over which you can see on the images below.

The dark oval patches on the legs that help identify this beetle.

They fly at dusk and dawn. They can be active from spring to autumn. These little guys can be now found across northern and eastern Australia to about the Victorian border.

The adult beetles build nesting galleries at the end of burrows approximately 20-25 cm below the dung pat. These galleries are packed with several dung masses or brood balls each with one egg. The development from egg-adult takes 6-8 weeks depending on soil temperature. There are at least two generations a year. Fattened mature grubs will overwinter in the dung balls they have been developing in underground. Adults that emerged from the soil in late summer will also overwinter in burrows underground.

Imagine all the goodness these beetles are adding to our soils and the improvement in water infiltration into our soils through the burrows!!

Note: no beetles have been harmed in the taking of these photos 🙂 To avoid them running across the table while trying to get photos you can pop them in the fridge for a little while. It slows them down for a short time. I was having terrible trouble trying to photograph them until someone gave me that little tip.

Expression of interest open for dung beetle project

If you would like to find out more click here