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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Improve your soil health

Watershed Landcare are launching a new project which will provide landholders with the opportunity to increase their knowledge of aspects that influence soil health.

The Digging Deeper into Watershed Soils project will explore improving soil health with a focus on soil health issues within our region; soil biology, soil water and soil acidity; and adapting management decisions as a result of understanding the landscape. Read more

Landcare celebrates milestone

November 19 marks an important milestone – Watershed Landcare turns 20!

That’s quite an achievement considering that the Landcare movement in Australia is only 25 years old.

Watershed Landcare spoke to Sam Hamilton who was involved from the outset and did a stint as Chairman of the then fledgling organisation.

“Back then Landcare in our region consisted of a whole lot of small groups with set boundaries, acting independently and focused on their own needs.” said Mr Hamilton.

“As specific programs concluded and some of the smaller groups waned, representatives from the different groups came together to form a steering committee and over time individuals became members.”

“Eventually it developed into Watershed Landcare as we know it today.” he continued.

Watershed Landcare now has a footprint of around 900,000 ha, approximately the Mid-Western Regional Council area, and has run countless events and projects over the last 20 years focusing on raising awareness of environmental issues and promoting and supporting innovation in sustainable agricultural practices.

Although no longer involved in committee, Mr Hamilton is an active member of the Grazing group and has participated in a number of projects on his Lue property.

So what makes Watershed Landcare relevant to landholders 20 years on?

“Landcare is not an event or a project, it’s a movement.” Said Mr Hamilton.

“By promoting innovation and bringing sustainability into agricultural production, getting people to do business in a sustainable and viable fashion, it creates not just something that will be around in 100 years time but be profitable today.” he continued.

Watershed Landcare would like to invite our members and the community to help us celebrate this significant achievement.

We will be holding our AGM followed by a BBQ dinner at 6pm on Friday 25 November at the Straw Bale Shed, Australian Rural Education Centre.

Come along for a fun and relaxing social evening with other Watershed members.

This event is free to attend but please RSVP for catering purposes by Monday 20 November.

For more information or to RSVP contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

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Innovative cropping techniques

Watershed Landcare will be hosting a workshop on Multi Species Pasture Cropping with Colin Seis, pioneer of this innovative cropping technique which was developed right here in the Central Tablelands.

The concept developed over a beer when Mr Seis, together with Daryl Cluff, started exploring the idea of ‘fast tracking’ improvement in degraded soil and grassland while producing crops for human consumption and/or stock feed.

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Don’t put your land out to pasture

As the old adage goes, there’s more than one way to skin a cat and, likewise, there’s more than one way to improve and maintain the condition and productivity of pastures.

Watershed Landcare have a couple of events coming up that will address various aspects of pasture management.

The first of these will focus on pasture establishment and management and will feature Agricultural Consultant and Journalist, Robert Freebairn.

The field day will be held on Thursday 3 November at ‘Maidavale’, 978 Castlereagh Highway, 10 km north of Gulgong.

The field day is being held as part of the Digging Deeper into Watershed Soils project and discussion topics will include ground cover, various pasture types, the logic for each, establishment, management, soil quality and other relevant aspects.

Native pastures will be included as well as the role of tropical, annual legumes, Lucerne and winter forage crops. The hosts have also asked Mr. Freebairn to address how to best manage competition from other species when establishing pasture in their situation.

Participants will have plenty of opportunity for discussion and to ask questions during the paddock walk and Mr. Freebairn’s presentation.

Watershed Landcare have invited local landholder and inventor of Pasture Cropping, Colin Seis, to run a workshop on this innovative technique.

Unlike conventional techniques where crops are sown into bare soil or stubble, Pasture Cropping allows sowing directly into a dormant pasture.

This produces an annual crop, either for grazing or harvest, with multiple added benefits to soil health. By avoiding the need to kill the competitive pasture, soil structure, biological health, nutrient cycling and water retention are not only maintained but improved and there is a reduction in wind and water erosion and cost.

Utilising multiple species in a pasture crop also has the added advantage of minimising risk, if conditions are not ideal for one of the crops.

This workshop will be an introduction into pasture cropping, looking at principles, practical implementation and the benefits of pasture cropping with multiple species.

The Multi-Species Pasture Cropping Workshop will be held on Monday, 14 November 1-4:30pm.

These events are free to attend for Watershed Landcare members and $10 for non-members.

For more information or to RSVP contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Co-ordinator, on 0412 011 064 or by email: claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

These events are supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from Landcare Australia, the Jaramas Foundation and Central Tabllands Local Land Services and are a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

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.