Eungella multi species field day was a popular event

Landholders in the Eungella region attended a field day in October to discuss the benefits of growing multi species pastures.

Graziers also got the chance to see a new machine designed for multi species planting in action.    

There is growing evidence that multi species pastures can increase soil carbon, nutrient cycling, soil biology and water-holding capacity.

Multi species trials are underway in the Mackay region with NRM group Reef Catchments, and Eungella landholders were keen to learn more about multi species pastures.

The field day was led by Nutfield Farm Scholar Simon Mattsson, of Central Queensland Soil Health Systems (CQSHS). Topics discussed included:

  • positive influence of multi species cover crops on soil health;
  • crop biomass;
  • soil food webs;
  • nutrient availability; and 
  • perennial plant diversity.

The group also attended a farm owned by local landholders Paul and Linda Oates, who have introduced mixed plants into their pasture for improved soil health and pasture.

CQSHS has recently acquired a multi-species planter, and landholders got an opportunity to see it in action. It has been designed to sow multiple seeds to achieve a diverse cover crop.

Gerard Dogao from PGG Wrightson Seeds was on hand to provide expert knowledge on sensitive and tolerant plant species and seed selection advice. Planting methods, pre-planting preparation, post-planting management and monitoring were also discussed.

The event was hosted by the NQ Dry Tropics’ Burdekin Regional Landcare Facilitator, funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program, with support from Reef Catchments Regional Landcare Facilitator Program, and NQ Dry Tropics’ Landholders Driving Change project.

 

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.
KEQ #8

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KEQ #4

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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*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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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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