The amazing diversity of our local woodland environment was on display for our field day near Cowra yesterday. In partnership with Young District Landcare, the field day was held at “Kooragindi”, a 100 acre bushland property in the Ilunie range. “Kooragindi” is under a conservation agreement with the Nature Conservation Trust and is protected in perpetuity. Owners John and Fiona, a photographer and artist respectively, kindly opened their property for over 30 people who were able to see and learn about a range of flowering orchids as well as other native plants and woodland birds. The weather was beautiful and the location was fantastic – a good day was had by all.
Mid Lachlan Landcare had the pleasure of hosting a field trip for delegates at the recent NSW Landcare and Local Land Services Conference held in Orange. The conference theme was “From the Ground Up” and was celebrating the International Year of Soil. MLL’s field trip visited productive farms where solutions to a number of NRM issues are being applied. Our farmers were able to showcase how we can design farms to have multiple on and off site NRM benefits while also producing healthy food and maintaining viable businesses, and how specific techniques and actions are being used to restore ecological function. The field trip also described how MLL is undertaking real capacity building with a range of partners and clients, and included a visit to the internationally renowned Age of Fishes Museum to get up close and personal with local fossils which showed how changes in climate can affect the progress of species.
Huge thanks to our speakers and helpers on the day – Ian Packer, Andrew Wooldridge, Ian Cooley, Scott Hickman, Wendy Bowman, Warren Keedle, Shaley Allen, Casey Proctor and Vanessa Cain.
Almost 2,500 mid-storey and shrub species of plants have been installed for the John Holland Squirrel Glider Conservation Project at Bendick Murrell and Crowther along the Blayney to Demondrille non-operational rail line. The seed was collected from local provenance and will provide habitat and foraging opportunities not only for Squirrel Gliders but also for a range of woodland birds including the beautiful but threatened Superb Parrot. Chris from John Holland Pty Ltd rolled up his sleeves and joined in the planting activities with the crew from Oz Plants in Cowra during a week of very cold temperatures. Forecast rain later this week and warming temperatures at the onset of spring should ensure a good start for all the plants.
Science teacher Bronwen Roberts from Brisbane Waters College on the central coast of NSW has been bringing her HSC Earth and Environmental Science students to the Mid Lachlan Landcare district since 2012.
After staying overnight in Canowindra, the group undertook MLL’s Landcare Tour, which includes farm and site visits which demonstrate landscape processes and land management issues, as well as a visit to the Age of Fishes Museum.
The tour was conducted by Wooly and Emma Sawyers. Emma is a graduate of Cowra High School who has just completed a degree at the University of Canberra. Emma is volunteering her time and expertise to MLL and presented valuable content to the group.
Our recent field day at “Talinga” Woodstock attracted 60 people from as far as Merriwa and Sydney.
Our guest speakers were Brian Wehlburg, a certified holistic management educator that delivers grazing management courses to a diverse range of groups. He also runs his own pasture grass-based beef, pork and egg enterprise. Gus Hickman also spoke to attendees, providing an insight into the transformation of “Talinga”.
At the field day, Brian talked about the importance of covered soils all year round and having a range of grasses and plant species in our landscapes. He also talked about the challenges faced when moving away from repetitive systems towards natural processes. The focus should be on working with the landscape and farm ecology.
Brian highlighted the importance of reducing production costs by utilising things that are provided to us for free such as sunlight, oxygen, water, soil and biology. By enhancing those processes with the use of grazing animals, they assist in landscape regeneration and contribute to profitable farming businesses. Brian explained that to make sure our businesses and ecology are moving forward, constant monitoring is required, he said “It’s critical to be managing our businesses and landscapes by a plan, monitor, control, and re-plan process”. He also stressed that planning is an essential component, all levels of management should be consulted in order for clear goals to be set.
Gus Hickman spoke passionately about the journey his family has made at “Talinga” over the last 20 years. Moving towards a bio diverse landscape has helped improve their profitability, build resilience in the landscape, and provided a sense of achievement and enjoyment.
Mid Lachlan Landcare’s Grazing Project Officer, Scott Hickman commented that “Brian is passionate about working with nature and making nature better by using grazing animals, ensuring we leave something for future generations but also making sure people can run a profitable business that has flow-on effects to whole communities as well.”
Following the field day, a paddock to plate dinner was held at The Oxley Wine Bar in Cowra for those attendees interested in marketing and selling their own brand. On the menu was a range of local produce including free range, holistically managing chicken from Carbeen Pastured Produce at Cudal and holistically managed lamb from “Oatleigh” Canowindra. Forty people attended to hear Brian’s story on his own Kindee Valley Farm products and his reasons for marketing his own produce.
Brian’s key points on marketing and selling are:
Mid Lachlan Landcare would like to sincerely thank Brian for providing his time and knowledge. Thanks also to Gus and Anna Hickman for hosting the field day and to The Oxley Wine Bar for preparing and hosting the dinner.
If you would like more information about this field day or would like to be involved with Growing the Grazing Revolution please contact Scott Hickman 0427 450 416 or email email@example.com
Seed collected locally for the John Holland Squirrel Glider Conservation Project is germinating and growing nicely at the Weddin Community Native Nursery in Grenfell. Threatened Squirrel Gliders have a varied seasonal diet with wattle plants playing an important role in providing some of their food requirements. Acacia gum is an important winter food source with pollen and arboreal invertebrates, which are attracted to the wattle flowers, providing essential protein.
A key activity to assist in the recovery of Squirrel Gliders is to retain or reinstate food resources, particularly sap-feeding trees and midstorey feed species such as Acacia. This portion of the project has the potential to provide critical foraging habitat by providing plants which are now largely missing from the local landscape not only for Squirrel Gliders but a host of other species which rely on native shrubs for nesting and feeding.
Grazing Project Officer Scott Hickman highlighted just how important the benefits of group support through networking and information sharing at the recent Grazing Cluster Meetings held at Yass, Boorowa and Crookwell as part of the South East Local Land Services Grazing Management Project. Over three days more than 45 landholders met locally to discuss a range of topics including grazing management and planning, grass assessment, pasture biodiversity, improving soil health and planning for water infrastructure. Livestock management and health were also important with discussions had on pasture and fodder needs, mineral supplements, animal performance and parasite monitoring and control.
The meetings were the first of two planned with each local group, with two large field days also scheduled. The projects aim is to form local groups of producers that can provide encouragement and support to one another during transition to best practice management. Key to the project, is its inclusive nature, bringing people together in a flexible learning environment in order to harness local knowledge and experience.
Thirty nest boxes have been installed in the rail corridor between Cowra and Young as part of the John Holland Squirrel Glider Conservation Project. Lachlan Valley Tree Services expertly climbed and installed the boxes in a variety of eucalypts in a location where Squirrel Gliders were detected earlier in the year. Nest boxes play an important role in providing denning and nesting sites when there is a shortage of suitable natural habitat. All the nest boxes were constructed with rear entrances, which helps to discourage invasive bird species such as Starlings, and carpet has been attached to the inside of the lid to prevent European Bees attaching their hives.
After a busy summer of identifying and collecting local seed from Acacia (wattle) and other native shrubs from roadside reserves and Travelling Stock Routes, propagation for the John Holland Squirrel Glider Conservation Project has begun. The seeds from almost twenty species of native plants were collected which were then cleaned and prepared for sowing into forestry tubes and trays.
Once the plants are grown they will be planted at specially selected sites along the non-operational rail line between Cowra and Young to help improve habitat within remnant woodland vegetation by increasing the amount of forage plants for threatened Squirrel Gliders. Squirrel Gliders have a diet of nectar, pollen, insects, manna and Acacia gum, and some studies have found that one of the most important food sources for most months of the year, particularly during winter, is nectar and pollen from flowers of Eucalyptus and Acacia plants, making this portion of the project extremely important in sustaining the local Squirrel Glider population.
Mid Lachlan Landcare is pleased to announce that our Grazing Project Officer Scott Hickman will be the facilitator for South East Local Land Services Grazing Management Project. The project’s aim is to engage with the communities of Boorowa, Upper Lachlan and the Yass Valley in order to support and improve knowledge and skills in sustainable land management practices and to assist land managers in implementing on-ground practice change.
Scott is an experienced facilitator and mentor who aims to build confidence in land managers by providing encouragement and ideas within a flexible learning environment that is focussed on local, topical issues. The Grazing Management Project will enable Scott to coordinate a series of local group meetings and organise two major field days, while also providing mentoring and support to individuals.
Stay tuned for project updates.