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Scoping a new Accelerated Research Project

THE Accelerated Research Project is an initiative of the LDC’s Exploring New Incentives Activity Area.  

The aim is to influence the development of a continuously improving system of catchment scale support for extension, training, farm planning support and regulatory compliance management for rangeland grazing.

It will do this by trialing different approaches to encourage practice adoption and to broker longer-term arrangements to support improved and ongoing incentives to improve water quality from grazing lands.

Are you keen to restore, and improve landscape function?

NQ Dry Tropics field officers visited Mulloon Farm in October to learn about in-creek structures and riparian management used along Mulloon Creek to repair gully erosion and hold water for landscape rehydration.  These structures are part of a catchment wide project being led by The Mulloon Institute with support from local landholders.  Similar methodologies will be used in this project.

ARE you keen to integrate innovation and technology into your management system to optimise productivity and profit?

Keen to access training and extension to build yours – and the BBB community’s – capacity and knowledge for enduring landscape function and business success?

The Accelerated Research Project (ARP) addresses three key activity areas:

  • restoring landscape function;
  • effective management through integrated innovation and technology;
  • monitoring, training and extension.

During the life of the LDC project, the ARP will establish a scalable, centralised, multi-faceted whole-of-enterprise demonstration site to ground-truth a range of management and landscape remediation techniques.

A suite of best practice, cost effective, transferrable and replicable approaches will be identified to:

  • improve landscape function;
  • restore ecological health;
  • optimise productivity, while;
  • simultaneously integrating innovation and technology into grazing management systems.  

This will be supported through the delivery of training and extension to build capacity and knowledge within the BBB grazing community.

Results are expected to produce resilient adaptive profitable grazing businesses that produce positive reef water quality outcomes.

Results will be promoted and implemented outside of the trial catchments by extension staff, scientists and the wider grazing community, to demonstrate how this Exploring New Incentives project can be replicated. 

A practical approach – backed by ground-truthing

THE accelerated project takes a holistic approach to gully management, working with the landscape and treating gullies as an opportunity to reinstate ecosystem services and restore landscape function of the demonstration properties.

This will be achieved through the installation of small scale low cost interventions that are currently being demonstrated and are functioning well in the Mulloon Creek project near Canberra, designed and run by The Mulloon Institute.  

The reduction in velocity and flow of water off property allows sediment to settle and reduce run off from the demonstration sites.

Click here for information on the Mulloon Creek project, and here to learn more about the institute’s goal of 100 landscape rehydration projects.

NQ Dry Tropics has hosted The Mulloon Institute to run landscape rehydration workshops across the Burdekin region.  Click here to read a story about a grazier who improved drought resilience on his property by undertaking a series of landscape rehydration initiatives.

Applying appropriate grazing practices to complement and support on ground works is critical to the success of the Mulloon methodologies.  These will be scoped out further in the coming weeks.

NQ Dry Tropics’ LDC Senior Project Officer Lisa Hutchinson is overseeing this project.

For further information, or to register your interest contact Lisa on email lisa.hutchinson@nqdrytropics.com.au or on mobile 0427 594 192.

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Figure 1. Total fine sediment reduction by project type and erosion source. Inset shows the proportion of the total project area for each project type.

These estimates have been calculated using two methods: 

1) The pollutant reduction component of the Alluvium/Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) investment tool for hillslope and streambank erosion management projects; 

2) The Reef Trust Gully Toolbox method for gully erosion management projects. The LDC Water Quality Report 2020 (Waterhouse et al., 2020) highlights that a number of assumptions underlay these calculations, therefore these figures should be treated as the best available estimate of sediment reductions to date.

Preventing sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef

Each wet season sediment is washed into local waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 

Most sediment is very fine, and can stay suspended for a long time and can travel great distances. Valuable topsoil is lost from production, and increased concentrations on the reef can be harmful to seagrasses and corals. 

Landholders in the BBB have completed 69 on-ground water quality practice changes, and it is estimated that these have contributed a fine sediment reduction of 6,154 tonnes per year from reaching the GBR. 

Of this, approximately half of the sediment savings are attributable to grazing land management changes on hillslopes and streambanks, and the other half as a result of gully remediation treatments across a broad range of scales, as shown in the graphs above. 

The table below also highlights the relatively small area of intervention in the gully management projects compared to the large sediment savings that these can achieve - 60 per cent of the sediment savings over only 4 per cent of the project area.

Table 1. Estimated sediment reductions (tonnes) from projects completed in the LDC Project to date.

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*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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*The Exploring New Incentives activity area has provided an opportunity for graziers to adopt improved land management practices through a range of activities. For some of these properties, it was the first time they signed contracts for on-ground works.

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The LDC project monitors four gully sites (represented in this table) with gold standard equipment and analysis, carried out by CSIRO.

Results have been compiled in a preliminary report from Bartley et al (2020), with the final report expected to be released by the end of 2020. The preliminary report shows all four sites have indicators of improvements, notably the Strathbogie and Mt Wickham sites.

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Reef regulations - grazing, standard conditions

  1. For land in good or fair condition (more than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), continue using measures to maintain land condition.
  2. For land in poor condition (less than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition.
  3. For land in degraded condition (less than 20 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition OR prevent areas from further degrading or expanding.
  4. Keep records of measures taken and also of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud or mill ash applied to land.
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