Ag program for rural women

In rural communities, many women have limited training opportunities. But Mudgee’s Women in Ag group aims to ameliorate that by allowing participating Watershed Landcare members to explore topics of interest and build capacity through mentoring, peer support, sharing of knowledge and skills and expert speakers.

In recognition of the shortage of professional development available to women working in agriculture or ag related industries, Watershed Landcare received funding from the Central West LLS to run a personal development program for rural women in 2015.

The program delivered targeted training, mentoring and built support networks to strengthen resilience, provide leadership opportunities and access to training and support services that enhanced confidence and skills through delivery of training workshops, webinars, and a regional forum.

“The feedback from the program was overwhelmingly positive. The women involved learned a lot and had so much fun we decided to keep it going.” said Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator.

“The aim of the Women in Agriculture group is to champion rural women by providing support, mentoring and professional development through vibrant and interactive conversation, and exposure to new ideas, approaches and innovation.” she continued.

The group is now in it’s third year and in that time has covered diverse topics such as social media, leadership and team dynamics, handling stress and building resilience, personal goal setting, conflict resolution, accounting, book keeping and financial training, fermentation, gardening

and has conducted a number of field trips.

The women involved have diverse backgrounds, from grazing and horticulture to running their own food manufacturing plants and natural resource management.

The Women in Ag group meets once a month for a cuppa and a chat and to explore a topic of interest and provides an opportunity to ask questions and share experiences and skills. Specialist speakers are also engaged to run workshops on different topics.

The Women in Ag group meets on the last Wednesday of the month, 9-11am.

This month the group will be exploring the Putta Bucca Wetlands, learning the history of the site, and gaining some bird identification skills.

Want to get involved? Contact Watershed Landcare Co-ordinator, Agness Knapik, on 0435 055 493 or email: info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

The Women in Ag group is supported by Watershed Landcare and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Got a bushfire plan for your property?

With the recent rain experienced in our district the immediacy of bushfire risk has passed. But if you’d had a fire at your place would you have been prepared?

This year saw a late but active fire season in our region with a number of severe events experienced, such as the Sir Ivan fire. With more than 55,000 ha burnt the property and stock losses were devastating. However, no human lives were lost and this has been put down to people having, and acting on, their bushfire plans.

Do you know who your local Rural Fire Service (RFS) brigade is? Have you got a plan for you family, pets and livestock in the event of a fire? Are you adequately insured? Are your business records backed up off-site?

There’s a lot to consider in the preparation of a bushfire plan and it may seem daunting, so Watershed Landcare will be hosting a workshop next Thursday to help you work through the process.

The Bushfire Planning workshop will be held on Thursday 30 March in the Lecture Room, Small Pavilion, Australian Rural Education Centre (Opposite the AREC office). We will commence at 9:30am and aim to finish by 12:30pm.

We have invited Jayne Leary from the RFS to facilitate the workshop and walk us through the planning process.

We will also be joined by Brett Littler (Livestock Officer) and Nigel Gillan (District Vet) from Central Tablelands LLS who will discuss considerations for livestock in bushfire planning. They will also share their experiences from the recent Sir Ivan fire. Nigel will also cover companion animals.

This will be a hands-on workshop with plenty of opportunity to ask questions and bounce ideas off others. The intention is that you will walk away with a bushfire plan for your property, or at least a draft.

The workshop is free and everyone is welcome, you don’t have to be a member. So please bring along your family and tell your friends and neighbours.

If you would like to attend please RSVP by Monday 27 March. For more information or to register your interest please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or by email: info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by Watershed Landcare and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW. Watershed Landcare would like to acknowledge support from AREC.

Digging deeper into soil care management

Agro-ecologist, David Hardwick, will be working with local landholders to improve the soil health on their patch. Watershed Landcare have collaborated with Mr Hardwick on a number of soil health projects in the past and have invited him back for the Digging Deeper into Watershed Soils project.

The participating landholders will have their soil tested and work with Mr Hardwick to analyse the soil test results and determine management options.

The landholders will have the opportunity to increase their knowledge of the aspects which impact on soil health, such as soil chemistry, soil biology and ecology, and discuss their proposed on-ground works with Mr Hardwick to find solutions which are relevant to their operation, management approach and location.

Interested to see what they come up with? Watershed Landcare will be hosting a field trip to visit the participating properties in May.

David Hardwick will join us on the bus trip from Mudgee to visit the 3 farms and discuss the soil test results, work conducted and how the decisions were arrived at.

The discussion during the field day will also focus on soil biology, soil water, soil acidity and other soil health issues within our region more generally.

For more information on the Digging Deeper into Watershed Soils project or to register your interest for the field trip contact Bethany Greenfield, Project Coordinator, on 0438 090 525 by email: info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from Landcare Australia and the Jaramas Foundation and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

AREC Abuzz with learning

The Mudgee Bee Group hosted a Backyard Beekeeping Course on the weekend of 25 and 26 February at the Australian Rural Education Centre’s (AREC) Straw Bale Shed.

Novice and experienced beekeepers, as well as people interested in starting up their first hives, attended. Participants came from the local area and further afield, including Parkes and the Capertee Valley.

Renowned beekeeper and industry expert Bruce White OAM presented the course and in no time at all had people opening hives, lighting smokers, trapping pollen, finding the ever elusive queens in amongst her thousands of offspring and catching and marking drones.

Participants learnt how to extract honey and even got to take a jar home.

Missed out on the course this time? The Mudgee Bee Group are planning to run another beekeeping course this autumn. If you’d like to participate send an expressions of interest to Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

The Mudgee Bee Group and Watershed Landcare would like to acknowledge support from AREC, for hosting the Mudgee Bee Group hives and providing a venue for meetings and the course.

Pitch in and help clean up the wetlands

Sunday 5 March is Clean Up Australia Day. Now in it’s 27th year, this simple idea has become the nation’s largest community-based environmental event.

The Friends of Putta Bucca Wetlands are inviting members of the community to help them clean up, fix up and conserve the environment of the Putta Bucca Wetlands.

The public reserve is managed by Mid-Western Regional Council and it’s main attraction is a large disused gravel quarry containing freshwater that seeps in through alluvial aquifers from the Cudgegong River. The quarry now function as as an oxbow lake (billabong) wetland supporting a highly biodiverse wetland ecosystem.

The fluctuating water level, periodic mudflats and abundance of snags and water plants contribute the vital habitat for a high diversity of waterbirds, frogs, fish, and turtles. A number of mammals also inhabit the wetland, including the platypus.

The wetland is also an important breeding site for many birds such as the rainbow bee-eater. Over 150 bird species have been documented at the site.

Rubbish is not only unsightly but can also harm the birds and animals that make the wetland their home.

Animals can become trapped or tangled in bottles, cans, plastic bags and other packaging. This can result in injury or even cause them to drown. Ingesting plastic can also have devastating effects.

Rubbish can also harm or kill wildlife indirectly, chemicals leaching form rubbish can impact on water quality or introduce toxic compounds into the environment.

Why not come along and do your bit to conserve the biodiversity in this little piece of wilderness right in Mudgee’s backyard?

The Clean Up Australia Day event at the Putta Bucca Wetland, Putta Bucca Rd, will be held on Sunday 5 March. We will meet in the car park at 9am and finish around noon.

Fully covered shoes or boots are essential. Please also bring gloves, hat and drinking water. Children are welcome but must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

For more information contact John McCrea jsmccrea@hwy.com.au.

Mobile phone App to map wild dogs

Wild dogs are not only a threat to native wildlife but also generate significant losses for primary producers; direct impacts such as killing and maiming stock, as well as the time and resources invested into control strategies, affect operational costs.

Landholders have a new tool available for use in their wild dog control toolkit, they can now access WildDogScan with their mobile phones to record wild dog data while in the field.

The new, easy to use website and Phone App (free for Apple and Android devices) was designed by landholders and enables iPhone, Android and iPad users to record sightings using their mobile phone. It also allows users to examine wild dog data throughout their local area.
Watershed Landcare spoke to FeralScan Project Coordinator, Peter West, to find out how landholders can utilise the new resource to aid in wild dog management.

“We are trying to encourage people to document wild dog activity in their local area and over time see a regional picture emerge in regards to wild dog movement, behaviour and timing of problems.” said Mr West.

“Wild dog research suggests that there are patterns in activity and we are hoping that providing farmers with a tool to easily record wild dog activity will help them to build a picture of wild dog activity for their entire region, and that this helps all landholders in a region to improve wild dog management by reducing costs and increasing benefits.” he continued.

The WildDogScan Mobile Mapping Facility allows landholders to:

  • record wild dog sightings, their damage and control activities,
  • use the data from their local area to create and print a map,
  • identify the priority areas for control on their property and local area,
  • link with neighbours and local groups and coordinate resources,
  • monitor the effects of control programs and improve their effectiveness,
  • review the map to see changes over time,
  • inform their community about wild dog problems.

“An added benefit is that it will help landholders and biosecurity staff connect. Key Local Land Services biosecurity staff can be notified of wild dog activity as it is recorded to keep everyone in the picture about current wild dog problems.” said Mr West.

Visit www.feralscan.org.au with your mobile phone or download the free FeralScan App to get full use out of the WildDogScan mapping service.
Landholders who would like more information about WildDogScan can contact Peter West on 6391 3887 or by email peter.west@dpi.nsw.gov.au, or contact the NSW Local Land Services.

Buzzing with Landcare

Are you interested in learning about bees, or perhaps having your own hive but don’t know where to start?

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Want to improve the health of your soils?

Healthy soils are the foundation for healthy pastures and, in turn, healthy livestock. But how can you improve the health of your soils?

Landholders in our region will have the opportunity to explore soil health through a series of workshops and hands-on projects.

As part of the ‘Digging Deeper into Watershed Soils’ project, Watershed Landcare are looking for 3 sites in our region to host workshops and conduct on-ground works on their properties focusing on soil health.

The project, which is made possible through funding from Landcare Australia and the Jaramas Foundation, aims to improve landholders knowledge of aspects that influence their soil; including soil chemistry, biology, hydrology, botany as well as local knowledge.

A series of workshops will be held across our region linking with the on-ground activity sites. The workshops will explore soil health further with a focus on:

  • soil health issues within our region;
  • soil biology, soil water and soil acidity;
  • adapting management decisions as a result of understanding the landscape; and
  • improving soil health.

The first workshop in the series, focusing on pasture establishment and management, will feature Robert Freebairn and will be held later this month.

The remaining workshops will be tailored to the individual project sites, giving the participating landholders an opportunity to work with the experts engaged to discuss their proposed on-ground works, determine the best management options and address the issues at the project site.

Participating landholders will also receive a free soil test.

Watershed Landcare is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from interested landholders to host workshops on their property and receive funding to assist with on-ground works to improve soil health on the land they manage.

On-ground works eligible for funding include erosion control work, works to improve hydrology, compost or compost tea applications, pasture cropping, increasing nitrogen-fixing plant composition of pasture or any other innovative and creative ideas that meet the project objectives.

Individual landholders will be able to apply for up to $750 in funding and will be required to provide a 25% in-kind contribution (labour or materials) to the project.

For further information contact our Coordinator, Claudia Wythes, during business hours on 0412 011 064 or email: claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from Landcare Australia and the Jaramas Foundation and is part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.