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Come study native legumes

Legumes are desirable species in any pasture mix, not only for their stock feed value but also because of their nitrogen fixing ability. But did you know there is a diverse range of native legume species?

Native legumes have the benefit of being adapted to local environmental conditions and it is thought they may be more drought tolerant than their current exotic pasture legume counterparts. But relatively little is known about these plants.

Local Land Services Senior Pastures Officer, Clare Edwards, is conducting a project to learn more about native legumes and where they are found in the Central Tablelands.

“Many of our native and naturalised paddocks on the Central Tablelands have native legumes as part of their composition. They play a vital role in biodiversity, as well as a legume component in our pastures for livestock.” said Ms. Edwards.

“Unfortunately, we know very little about some of the native legumes such as Glycine and Desmodiums or their associated rhizobia and their potential to fix nitrogen. This study will investigate the nodulation of these native legumes and record where they are found in the landscape. Sometimes, we overlook these species even though they can play an important part in our pasture systems.” she continued.

The Central Tablelands Local Land Services is looking for landholders who have native legumes in their pastures to be part of the first survey to be undertaken into such species.

As part of the study, the Local Land Services will be taking plant and root samples from the paddocks, a soil test to correlate soil nutrients and an estimation of the composition of the other plants found alongside the native legumes.

“The Desmodiums, often known as native tick-trefoils, and the Glycines are woody year-long green perennials. They are commonly found in our grasslands all year around, however they are more noticeable at the moment due to their flowering at this time of year.” said Ms. Edwards.

“We are seeking producers who think that they may have these species in their paddocks to call in and register their interest in being part of the study.” she continued.

For further information and to register your interest as part of the survey please contact Clare Edwards on 0428 435 615 or by email clare.edwards@lls.nsw.gov.au.

Paddock trees in 40 years

When we think of the ecosystem services provided by trees, we often picture large stands of forest. But scattered paddock trees are also an important part of the landscape and deliver multiple benefits on healthy and productive farms.

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, and improve soil structure and fertility as well as aiding in the management of salinity.

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.

Paddock 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.

A lot of these trees are simply dying of old age; most of the existing mature trees are old and little regeneration is occurring.

However, factors such as insect damage, mistletoe infestation, wildfire, stubble and log litter burning, clearing and cultivation also contribute to dieback. Changes to soil fertility and water retention levels due to pasture improvement and the use of fertilizers and hebicides can also have an impact.

The extent and severity of tree decline has reached historically high levels in the past few decades and some estimates predict that in 40 years all the paddock trees could be gone.

But even these dead or dying trees have a role providing homes and shelter for wildlife, particularly mature trees with hollows which are scarce nesting sites for a number of species. The cracks and crevices in bark likewise provide habitat for invertebrates and small animals.

There are a number of things you can do to help protect paddock trees and help their regeneration on your patch.

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. Wire netting can also protect from ringbarking by stock and feral animals.

Planting additional shade trees for stock can also take the pressure off the old giants.

Installation of temporary fencing will help natural regeneration to take place; an area twice the size of the tree canopy is ideal. Managing grazing and pest herbivores such as rabbits, hares, goats and kangaroos will also give the young saplings the best chance of survival.

Logs, stumps, and fallen branches are also habitat for ground-dwelling animals and allowing timber to rot on the ground benefits soil fungi, which play an important role in nutrient cycling. So refrain from burning; leave timber where it is or relocate to a more convenient remnant vegetation area or creek as wildlife habitat.

Pro Event Calendar

Dry Creek Farm walk & swale workshop

Save the Date: Thursday 15th June 10am – 1pm
Where: 448 dry creek Rd, botobolar.

event details 

Join us at Dry Creek Farm for a farm walk & talk. Mike & Billie will give us a tour of their thriving garden setup and farm enterprises. There will be a focus on setting up a permaculture farm and growing food.

We will have morning tea and then be treated to a demonstration on how to measure and dig a swale. There will be the option to get hands-on, planting out the swale and to see more established swales and their effects on the landscape.

What to bring: Mug for tea/coffee, chair, hat & warm clothes

RSVP by Thursday 10th June

4WD or All Wheel Drive Recommended

Registrations essential.