Have a plan for the coming season

Local graziers are taking advantage of support while planning for what is forecast to be a tough winter season.

Grass budgets, setting critical dates and adaptive planning dominated discussion when members of Watershed Landcare’s Grazing Group met recently.

“Members are preparing for a tough winter and are having to make different decisions because they don’t have their usual backstop. A lot of people don’t have the the feed or fodder reserves they had this time last year, and that’s been a big factor in decisions.” said Grazing Group Coordinator, Claudia Wythes.

“It’s a good time to re-group and members are taking advantage of support, running plans past each other and having a sounding board for their decision making.”.

The Grazing Group provides participants with support, mentoring, vibrant and interactive conversation and new ideas. The group comprises of local graziers with diverse operations, from breeding to trading, and everything in between.

Much of the discussion was focused on making a plan based on current conditions and the best information available but also being prepared to adapt that plan if conditions change.

“Just because it’s rained don’t stop thinking about it. What stock have you got on hand? What water have you got? Is the quality good? Do you need to get it tested?” said Ms Wythes.

“A decision made on planning is better than a decision made because you had to, under pressure.”

Recognising the importance of rest, especially when paddocks are under pressure, to maintain groundcover was also a principal factor in graziers decision making. Current conditions mean longer rest periods need to be scheduled when planning grazing, for example when getting paddocks ready for spring lambing.

The Watershed Landcare Grazing Group meet on-farm four times a year to discuss seasonal, production, marketing and management strategies and decisions and to explore topics of interest through guest speakers.

Want to find out more about the Grazing Group and how you can get involved? For further information contact Claudia Wythes, Watershed Landcare Coordinator, on 0412 011 064 or claudiawythes@watershedlandcare.com.au

The Grazing 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.

Pest animals and weeds – everybody’s responsibility

Expert speakers in the pest animal and weeds field will gather for two workshops next week to be held in Gulgong on Wednesday 27 March and in Pyramul on Thursday 28 March.

Landholders in both areas have requested a focus on serrated tussock. This is an invasive weed of pastures, with the potential to infest entire properties. In the local region it causes a great reduction in carrying capacity as it is indigestible to livestock. The Australian Government has serrated tussock listed as a Weed of National Significance (WoNS). This means that it is one of the thirty two worst weeds in Australia!

WoNS are seen as a priority due to their invasiveness, potential for spread and environmental, social and economic impacts.

Serrated tussock has a life span of over 20 years and a mature plant can produce more than 140 000 seeds per year which can be blown up to 20 km by wind.

Serrated tussock

It’s one weakness is that seedlings do not compete well with other pasture plants. Unfortunately, with the current run of dry seasons, ground cover is very low giving serrated tussock a prime opportunity for expansion. These workshops are therefore a timely opportunity to explore management strategies.

Staff from the Local Land Services and Mid-Western Regional Council will be on hand to discuss serrated tussock and other weeds that landholders may want more information about. People are encouraged to bring in samples of weeds that they would like identified, but remember to bring it in a bag, we don’t want your problem to become everyone else’s!

The Biosecurity Act will be overviewed to help attendees understand land manager’s obligations for pest and weed control as well as compliance options.

Wild dogs, pigs and deer will also be covered on the day with a real focus on new technologies to help combat these pests.

Both workshops are free, with morning tea and lunch provided by local CWA branches.

The Gulgong workshop will be held at the Gulgong CWA Hall on 27 March and the Pyramul workshop will be held at Green Hills Crossroads Shearing Shed, Pyramul on 28 March. Both workshops will run from 9am to 4pm. Please register by Monday 25 March.

For more information or to register please contact Watershed Landcare Pest Animal Group Coordinator, Beth Greenfield on 0438 090 525.

Remote sensing technology a highlight of workshops

Local landholders and pest managers will be introduced to some cutting edge remote sensing technology at two Watershed Landcare workshops to be held on 27 and 28 March in Gulgong and Pyramul.

A team from New Zealand’s Encounter Solutions will be discussing their long-range wireless sensor networks for rural and rugged areas, with applications for pest control operations. The backbone of the wireless network is the solar-powered Celium Hub, using the Iridium satellite or cellular networks to transport data from the field to a smartphone that can be deployed anywhere in the world.

Celium networks have been used to monitor pest traps the length and breadth of New Zealand and last year were trialled in the Cooper Basin, South Australia. This trial, in partnership with the NSW Department of Primary Industry and Australian Wool Innovation Ltd, looked at alerting the team when wild dog traps were triggered.

Celium Hub: Macraes Flat, South Island, New Zealand

Foot-hold traps were set with a Celium Mole, a device hidden in the ground beneath the trap, that transmits an alert when the trap was sprung, sending a notification to the team. The Celium Moles communicated with a series of Celium Hubs, deployed for maximum coverage of the target trapping area. The trial also tested transmission quality and speed and enabled refinement of the application of the Celium Network.

“I can see a lot of potential for this system in our area. Checking traps is time consuming, on top of regular farm activities especially in dry times like we are experiencing now.” said Greg Lawson, chairman of both the Hargraves Hill End Wild Dog Group and the Mudgee Merriwa Wild Dog Association.

Mr Lawson is keen for landholders to come along and talk to the Encounter Solutions team.

“The alert system would be great to trial in our area, it could save us a huge amount of time and cost and ultimately improve welfare outcomes for trapped animals.” he continued.

The Gulgong workshop will be held at the Gulgong CWA Hall on 27 March and the Pyramul workshop will be held at Green Hills Crossroads Shearing Shed, Pyramul on 28 March. Both workshops will run from 9am to 4pm.

Attendance is free with morning tea and lunch provided, all welcome. For more information or to register please contact Watershed Landcare Pest Animal Group Coordinator, Beth Greenfield on 0438 090 525.

Putta Bucca Carp Muster

Mid Western Regional Council will be hosting a Carp Muster at the Putta Bucca Wetlands on Sunday 17 March.

Carp have a detrimental effect on water quality and their feeding habits are destructive to plants, which provide critical feeding, spawning and nursery habitat for native fish.

Carp are benthivorous fish that feed in and on the sediments to a depth of about 12 cm. This increases turbidity by suspending sediments and mobilising sediment bound phosphorus, creating an unfavourable environment for other species. High turbidity reduces visibility for visual-feeding predators and the suspended sediment particles can clog gill filaments.

Their feeding habits are destructive to soft-bodied and recolonising plants, which provide critical habitat for fish feeding, spawning and nursery habitat. Carp have also been known to consume the eggs of other fish. Carp can also exclude smaller fish from their preferred habitat through their physical dominance and overcrowding.

There are various approaches to carp control but it has been recognised that control for wetlands is integral to overall population management.

It is estimated that a 6 kg female can produce up to 1.5 million eggs and wetlands are often primary breeding sites for carp. These are also the sites where carp are most likely to have detrimental effects on water quality and affect native fish and invertebrate species.

So whether you are young or old and whatever your fishing ability, come along and have some fun and help remove this pest from our waterways.

The main event for the day will be the fishing competition which will run from 9am to 12pm at the Putta Bucca Wetlands, Putta Bucca Rd, Mudgee. Prizes will be awarded for Junior – under 12 years, Junior – 13-18 years, adult male, adult female, most fish caught and smallest fish categories. Mudgee Camping and 4WD have also donated lucky door prizes to be awarded on the day.

Registration for the fishing competition is free but all entrants 18 years and above must have a fishing license and comply with NSW fishing rules. License or receipt of license must be presented upon entry. All native fish caught on the day must be released.

Bring your fishing equipment, hat, sunscreen and show off your angling skills. A free sausage sizzle lunch will be available from 11:30am on the day.

For more information contact Cassie Liney, Environment Coordinator with Mid-Western Regional Council, on 6378 2850.

Learn about local bats and birds

Want to learn more about our local creatures of the sky? A couple of great events are coming up where you can get out and about and explore woodland bird and bat habitat and hear from experts about their ecology. These events are supported by Central Tablelands Local Land Services through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

As part of Australian Bat Night the Central Tablelands LLS will be hosting a Mudgee Bat Night at Putta Bucca Wetlands on Friday, 22 March.

Come along and learn about our local creatures of the night, their habitat and what makes them special. Bat Ecologist Marg Turton will be speaking about the importance of bats and how to attract them to your property.

Bentwing bat Image credit Marg Turton

The evening will also include a night time walk to spot and listen to both insect- and fruit-eating bats at the wetlands, kids activities: making a bat mask, colouring in a bat or folding a bat origami and, a free BBQ dinner.

Central Tablelands LLS is also inviting anyone interested in our local woodlands and the birds which call them home to attend a morning of learning about Woodland Birds on Farms, focusing on protecting the Regent Honeyeater, on Thursday 28, March.

The event will commence with morning tea at the Cooyal Hall where we will hear from Ross Crates from The Australian National University about his recent research on the Regent Honeyeater and its recovery. Dr Crates studied the Regent Honeyeater as part of his PhD research and will offer an insight as to why this critically endangered bird has been disproportionately affected by habitat loss.

Huw Evans from Central Tablelands LLS will also speak about actions you can take to care for your woodland. The day will also include a visit to Munghorn Gap Nature Reserve to see what Regent Honeyeater habitat looks like and will conclude with a BBQ lunch.

Regent Honeyeater Image credit Mick Roderick

These events are free and all are welcome to attend.

For more information about these events, or to RSVP please contact Evelyn Nicholson, Land Services Officer with Central Tablelands LLS, on 0427 637 907 or email: Evelyn.Nicholson@lls.nsw.gov.au.

The Mudgee Bat night will be held at the Putta Bucca Wetlands, Putta Bucca Rd, Mudgee on Friday, 22 March from 5:30pm with BBQ dinner at 6:00pm. Please RSVP for catering purposes by 18 March.

The Woodland Birds on Farms event will be held at the Cooyal Hall, Wollar Rd, Cooyal on Thursday 28, March starting at 9:30am for morning tea. Please RSVP by 22 March for catering purposes.