Helping to tackle Serrated Tussock

As part of the Nasty Nassella Serrated Tussock project, which is working on a new approach to serrated tussock, Watershed Landcare is inviting local landholders to a workshop to help them get the upper hand on this weed of national significance.

Serrated tussock

Watershed Landcare has partnered with Central Tablelands Local Land Services (CT LLS) and Mid-Western Regional Council (MWRC) to deliver the Nasty Nasella Workshop on Monday, 5 March.

The workshop will feature presentations from Clare Edwards, CTLLS Senior Land Services Officer (Pastures), who will discuss proactive whole-farm strategies to manage serrated tussock; Aaron Simmons, NSW Department of Primary Industries, will speak about the practicalities of serrated tussock management strategies from his perspective as a landholder and researcher; Matt Anderton, MWRC, will discuss landholder responsibilities and the new biosecurity legislation.

The Nasty Nasella workshop will be held from 9am-12:30pm, 5 March at The Stables, Market Street, Mudgee. This event is free to attend with lunch provided, but please RSVP to assist with catering by Friday, 2 March.

The Nasty Nassella Serrated Tussock project is also looking for farmers interested in developing a serrated tussock management plan for their farm.

“The project is capturing and building on the knowledge of experienced landholders as well as supporting those who have had limited experience with serrated tussock,” said Watershed Landcare Coordinator, Claudia Wythes.

“Rather than focusing only on chemical control, this project will deliver a broad range of practical management options that cater to landholders with different experience levels in dealing with the problem.”

Pasture species, alternative control strategies and the scale of the problem all need to be considered,” she continued.

Whether you are actively managing serrated tussock on your property, you have just spotted a few isolated plants, or you would like some help with identification, we want to hear from you,” said Ms Wythes.

To RSVP to the workshop or for more information about the Nasty Nassella project, contact Watershed Landcare Coordinator Claudia Wythes on 0412 011 064 or email: claudia.wythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from the Central Tablelands LLS from NSW Catchment Action and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Improve your land

Do you want to increase productivity, reduce operating costs and improve the land value of your farm?

Landholders can achieve all this by encouraging native vegetation on their farms:

  • Farms with shade trees and shelter belts are more aesthetically appealing and attract a premium over average land values. A survey conducted in the Central West indicated that farms with good quality native vegetation have a 15% increase on capital value compared to those without.
  • Crop and pasture productivity is increased by remnant native vegetation and established shelter belts. Native trees and shrubs provide habitat for birds, lizards and bats, the natural enemies of pasture pests.
  • Pastures and crops with some tree cover experience less soil moisture loss than those exposed to the full force of the wind.
  • Cold and heat stress in livestock can significantly reduce farm income by reducing stock fertility, weight gain, wool growth, milk production, and increasing the mortality rate of calves and lambs and the susceptibility of stock to disease.

Paddock Trees Project: Providing funding to landholders to enhance and protect farm vegetation. Individual landholders able to apply for up to $2,750 in funding.

Scattered paddock trees also serve an important function for native wildlife, providing a food source and nesting sites. They also act as stepping stones for animal movement between other patches of vegetation and water sources.

Many existing mature trees on agricultural land in temperate Australia are in decline. This is not isolated to paddock trees, mature trees in larger stands of vegetation are also disappearing, but often the effects are more pronounced in isolated trees.

There are a number of things landholders can do to help protect paddock trees and help their regeneration. Fencing around selected trees will help to protect them from stock and limit detrimental agricultural practices such as applying fertilizer in the root zone and reducing herbicide spray drift. Planting additional shade trees for stock can also take the pressure off the old giants.

Watershed Landcare is currently running a Paddock Trees project which aims to enhance areas of highly cleared ecosystems in the Central Tablelands Local Land Services region by increasing the extent of paddock trees and clusters.

We are seeking expressions of interest for funding from landholders in our region to conduct on-ground works to improve linkages between remnant native vegetation on the land they mange. Funding is available for materials or labour for protection of existing remnant vegetation and/or new plantings.

The project is supported by Watershed Landcare and Central Tablelands LLS through funding from the Australian Government. Total funding of $16,500 is available, with individual landholders able to apply for up to $2,750 in funding.

For further details visit our website.

Applications close 23 February 2018. Please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au for further information or to discuss your project idea.

Planning in paddock planting

Have you got a succession plan for your paddock trees?

Paddock trees have many production benefits but many of these majestic giants are reaching the end of their life span, with some estimates predicting that in 40 years all the paddock trees could be gone.

Standing Tall: Paddock trees have many production benefits including providing shade and shelter to livestock.

Paddock trees supply production benefits by providing shelter for stock and crops, habitat for pollinators as well as birds and bats beneficial for pest control, improve soil structure and fertility as well as aiding in the management of salinity. Farms with shade trees and shelter belts also attract a premium over average land values.

There are a couple of funding rounds currently open providing a great opportunity for local landholders to help protect existing paddock trees and help their regeneration on their patch.

Watershed Landcare have launched our Paddock Trees project which aims to enhance areas of highly cleared ecosystems in the Central Tablelands Local Land Services region by increasing the extent of paddock trees and clusters.

We are seeking expressions of interest for funding from landholders in our region to conduct on-ground works to to improve linkages between remnant native vegetation on the land they mange. Funding is available for materials or labour for protection of existing remnant vegetation and/or new plantings.

The project is supported by Watershed Landcare and Central Tablelands LLS through funding from the Australian Government. Total funding of $16,500 is available, with individual landholders able to apply for up to $2,750 in funding.

For further details visit our website.

Applications close 23 February 2018. Please contact Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au for further information or to discuss your project idea.

Applications are also open for Mid-Western Regional Council’s Roadside Reserve Extension Grants which aim to plant 4,000 tubestock trees along areas of high conservation value roadsides or roadsides with habitat characteristics for threatened species.

Eligible property owners in the Mid-Western Region who wish to create wind breaks along their boundary fences can apply for free native tree plantings.

Applications close 16 February 2018. Application forms can be downloaded from Council’s website.

Helping frog research

There are over 240 frog species recorded in Australia, many of which are unique to this continent.

But Australian frog numbers are declining and many are endangered.

The Australian Museum has launched the FrogID count, a national citizen science project that aims to count Australia’s frogs and learn more about what is happening to them.

Everyone is encouraged to get involved, discover which frogs live around them and contribute to research which will help scientists learn more about our frogs.

There are two ways you can get involved and find out which frogs live around you.

Grab your smartphone, download the FrogID app, register as a counter, head out in the field and record frog calls.

Once you’ve found some frogs and recorded various croaks, whistles, bleats and barks, match the calls to different frog species.

And if you can’t get out and about you can still contribute from right behind your desk by becoming an Audio DNA expert and validating frog recordings from the field.

By matching frog calls to weather and habitat, the data collected will help herpetologists to build a picture of how different frog species are responding to a changing environment.

The data will also be used to track the Cane Toad and to identify where frogs are thriving and where they are not.

What’s that sound?

Croaks, whistles, bleats and barks – every frog species makes a different sound!

By recording a frog call with our new app, FrogID, you can discover which frogs live around you and help us count Australia’s frogs!

To find out more about Australia’s frogs, or to get involved in the Citizen Science project visit the website: www.frogid.net.au.

Find out what frogs are found in NSW

There are 24 frogs listed as occurring in the region of Central.

Please bear in mind that frogs listed may not be found across the whole region and, in some cases, may only have been recorded on the very edge of the region.

Keep an eye out for swarms

The bees have been busy this spring, with a large number of swarms appearing across our district they have also been keeping members of the Mudgee Bee Group busy.

“Mudgee has been the hot spot this spring; the Mudgee Bee Group has collected at least 8 swarms around town, as well as a couple at Gulgong.” said Mudgee Bee Group swarm co-ordinator, Sandi Munro.

“The public have alerted us to several swarms, via our Facebook page and through the Amateur Beekeepers Association swarm collectors list.” she continued.

The Mudgee Bee Group removing a large swarm from a grapefruit tree in Gulgong.

Swarming is the way bees increase their population. Swarms can be spectacular when you see them flying over and settling to rest somewhere. Usually bees are at their calmest when swarming, but not always!

“Swarms are exciting to see, and usually easy to remove, from a branch or letter box, but if they move into your chimney or eaves of the house, they are a lot more difficult to remove, so let us know as soon as you spot them, the sooner the better!” said Ms Munro.

Mudgee Bee Group have a swarm co-ordinator that can assist with information or removal of a swarm, contact Sandi Munro on 0487 898 404.

Spring is when the bees do their most important work; pollinating trees, crops and flowers and, of course, making honey!

To help the bees this spring there are a few things you can do.

Bees use up to 5 litres of water a day per hive during hot weather to quench their thirst, and to keep the hive at a constant temperature for the brood to be healthy. In dry times you can help by putting water out for them. Bees can’t swim, so add some sticks, pebbles or corks to the bird bath to help them get out if they fall in.

Don’t use chemical sprays, especially on blooms. Spraying blooming flowers, trees, shrubs and lawns can kill bees! Even some deemed safe for humans are detrimental to bees. Even ‘safe’ sprays leave a residue that is picked up by bees in both nectar and pollen and can then end up in your honey.

Plant a bee garden – bees need food and most flowering plants give some benefit to bees by way of pollen and nectar. Borage, lavender and rosemary are easy to grow and very popular with bees. Annuals, perennials, trees and shrubs can all be planted to benefit bees.

If you would like to learn more about bees, come along to a Mudgee Bee Group meeting or find us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Mudgeebeegroup). For more information contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudiawythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

The Mudgee Bee Group is supported by Watershed Landcare and the Amateur Beekeepers Association and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.

Keep rain on your farm for longer

Australian is a land of climatic extremes. Farmers and land managers contend with cycles of flood and drought punctuated by the odd ‘good’ year. While we rarely complain about there being too much water, we do spend a lot of time wishing for rain.

But what if you could capture that water and keep it in the landscape, and on your farm, for longer?

Watershed Landcare will be hosting a Rehydrating the Landscape workshop in November.

The workshop will be presented by Dan and Nicki Power who have constructed a system of dams and swales on their farm to rehydrate the landscape, and regenerate degraded soils and create an edible landscape at the same time.

Dan and Nicki will discuss what our farms would look like if they were rehydrated, what influence we have as land managers in the amount of water that stays on our farm, and what interventions we can make, from small to large, to increase our influence.

They will cover the principles of rehydrating the landscape as well as showing examples of successful rehydration interventions.

Sign of things to come: Construction of a dam which, together with a system of swales, will rehydrate the landscape.

We will also go for a walk around the farm to see what’s been achieved, the particular issues faced and discuss the next steps. Adon Bender, the farm rehydration adviser, and Mark Anderson, the dam builder, will also be on hand to provide explanations and answer questions.

The workshop will be held on on Saturday, 4 November from 9am to 4pm at Hazelcombe Farm, Totnes Valley (40 mins from Mudgee). Attendance is free for Watershed Landcare members and $10 for non-members. Please wear work clothes and covered footwear and bring hats, sunscreen and drinking water.

For further information or to RSVP 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 makes waves

Watershed Landcare is very pleased to announce that we have confirmed our keynote speaker for our 9th annual Green Day event.

We have been fortunate to secure the services of Ruben Meerman, a.k.a the Surfing Scientist!

Ruben is a passionate science educator, who travels extensively throughout Australia running exciting and engaging science sessions for primary and high school students. He has featured on popular television shows including Catalyst, Sleek Geeks, Studio 3, Sunrise, Roller Coaster, and was the first ever resident scientist on Playschool. He recently authored Big Fat Myths, which explores common myths around weight loss and dieting.

Ruben will run three, one hour sessions focusing on our key themes of water, waste, biodiversity and energy, and focus particularly on the science behind the problems and solutions for key environmental challenges, including plastic pollution.

The theme of this year’s event is GoMAD, an acronym for Go Make A Difference. In addition to our keynote speaker, we will have 20 workshop sessions being delivered by a number of local businesses and organisations.

Green Day would not be possible without the support of Mid-Western Regional Council, Office of Environment and Heritage, Central Tablelands Local Land Services, Peabody Energy, Red Hill Environmental Education Centre and Niche Environment and Heritage.

These important sponsors and supporters mean that Watershed is able to plan and execute Green Day with no costs to schools and students. All aspects of the day including transport and lunch are provided.

We need you? We still need a couple more volunteers for the day. Roles might include assisting with the Sculptures in the Garden Waste to Art activity, tracking the time of different sessions or setting up or packing down before or after the event.

If you’re available to help on Thursday 7 September, or would like any additional information, please contact Vivien Howard on 0427 446 245 or 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.

Going mad for our Green Day

Watershed Landcare is busy organising its 9th annual Green Day event, happening this year at Mudgee Showground on 7 September.

We’ve got record numbers for this year’s event with 625 students from 16 schools participating.

The theme of this year’s event is GoMAD, an acronym for Go Make A Difference, the theme aligns with a popular environmental education program undertaken by the NSW Department of Education.

“This year’s theme is all about taking action. Workshops will provide students with key take-home messages around the themes of biodiversity, energy, waste and water.” said Vivien Howard, Watershed Landcare’s Green Day Project Manager.

A total of 19 workshop presenters from a number of different local businesses and organisations will take part in this event. Students will learn about managing pest species, water quality, habitat protection and waste reduction.

“The workshop sessions are a vital part of the event, complimenting the keynote speaker and providing students with hands-on demonstrations from industry.” said Ms Howard.

“This year we have workshops from staff at Central Tablelands Local Land Services, Mid-Western Regional Council, Red Hill Environmental Education Centre, NetWaste, Niche Environment and Heritage, Barnson Pty Ltd, Royal Agricultural Society, Crave Natural and Rosby Sculptures in the Garden. We are very grateful for the participation of these businesses in our event.” she continued.

Keen to help out? We are always in need of volunteers at Green Day, this year we have a particular need for volunteers to help with the Waste to Art activity being run by Kay Norton-Knight of Rosby Sculptures in the Garden.

If you’re available to help, or would like any additional information about the event, please contact Vivien Howard on 0488 224 025 or 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.

A spinning spider’s good side

A healthy spider community means a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem.

How do you measure the health of something as diverse and complex as an entire ecosystem?

Ecologists use top-level, or apex, predators as an indirect measure of the biodiversity and functionality of the entire system.

The reasoning is that if those at the top of the food chain are healthy, diverse and resilient then that must also be the case for each link in the chain – other predators, herbivores, plants and algae, insects, soil microbes etc.

But did you know that you can apply the same principles on your own farm?

Spiders can act as indicators of ecosystem health and habitat quality. They play a critical role in agricultural pest management and you are never more than about one metre from a spider as they go about their business of consuming insects and other creepy crawlies. Having a healthy spider community on your farm means you have a healthy, biodiverse ecosystem.

As part of a research project on landholder collaboration for landscape-scale conservation and sustainable production lead by the University of Sydney and University of New South Wales, Watershed Landcare will be hosting a spider monitoring workshop in Mudgee.

We are very lucky to have a special guest speaker coming to the event. Dr Mary Whitehouse is a CSIRO scientist who has spent many years researching spider biodiversity particularly in crops.

Mary will be happy to identify spiders if anyone wishes to bring some along in a glass jar.

We will look at a cost-effective and easy-to-use method of monitoring spiders by using spiders’ webs as a substitute (the Web2Spider guide and supplementary material provided by the Australian Museum).

This workshop will cover:

  • How to identify and monitor spiders on your property
  • How spiders respond to good land management
  • Why working together on spider monitoring is beneficial
  • How to upload the information onto an online collaborative tool
  • How to use this data to make more informed land management decisions

The Mudgee Spider Monitoring workshop will be held on Tuesday Tuesday 8 August, 5:30-8pm in the Burrundulla Room, Mudgee Golf Club.
All welcome. The workshop is free to attend and dinner is included.

Please RSVP for catering purposes by Monday 31 July to Agness Knapik, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0435 055 493 or info@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This event is supported by the University of Sydney, University of New South Wales and Watershed Landcare and is a part of the Landholder Collaboration Project funded by the NSW Environmental Trust.

More information on the project is available here.

Need help managing serrated tussock?

Watershed Landcare are launching a new project to help landholders manage serrated tussock on their properties.

The project, funded by the Central Tablelands LLS through funding from NSW Catchment Action and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme, will deliver a broad range of activities catering to landholders with different experience levels in dealing with serrated tussock.

Serrated tussock

“Building on interest in serrated tussock management in recent months, we have received funds from Central Tablelands LLS to help landholders develop management plans that take in a range of factors that are critical to managing serrated tussock.” said Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Co-ordinator.

“Things like grazing management, pasture species, control options and the scale of the problem all need to be considered.” she continued.

The project will utilise mentoring and support to develop a whole of farm approach to serrated tussock management, rather than focussing on individual control methods or strategies.

Participating landholders will have the opportunity to develop a serrated tussock management plan, tailored to their property, as well as some funding to assist in implementing some of the identified actions.

“A number of workshops will be held over the coming months including identification and grazing management. For those landholders who have been managing serrated tussock for some time, we are keen to trial alternative ideas you may have as well as give you support as it can be a tough battle to fight on your own.” said Ms Wythes.

Want to get involved? Whether you are actively managing serrated tussock on your property, just spotted a few isolated plants or would like some help with identification, we want to hear from you.

For further information or to register your interest contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudiawythes@watershedlandcare.com.au.

This project is supported by Watershed Landcare through funding from the Central Tablelands LLS from NSW Catchment Action and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme and is a part of the NSW Government’s Local Landcare Coordinators Initiative, supported through the partnership of Local Land Services and Landcare NSW.