Gully symposium | Landholders Driving Change

8th International Gully Symposium

More than 100 delegates including engineers, scientists and practitioners, from Australia, USA, China, Japan, Germany, Spain, France, Poland, India, Italy, Ethiopia and South Africa attended the symposium. The symposium included field trips to Virginia Park Station near Charters Towers and Mount Wickham Station, Collinsville. Participants on the Mt Wickham field trip outside the Bowen River Hotel as part of the 8th International Symposium on Gully Erosion.

Glenn Dale from Verterra presenting on Mt Wickham works.

Associate Professor, Griffith University Dr Andrew Brooks (left) with NQ Dry Tropics Sustainable Agriculture Consultant Rod Kerr.

NQ Dry Tropics Landscape Remediation Officer Sheyanne Frisby (left) speaking at Mt Wickham with Dr Rebecca Bartley, Research Scientist, CSIRO.

Glenn Dale (Verterra) standing waist high in pasture on a spot that was scaled and badly eroded only six months earlier.

Dr Bec Bartley CSIRO at Mt Wickham.

Verterra’s Glenn Dale and delegates within a major gully system at Mt Wickham that has been rehabilitated.

Delegates at the Inernational Gully Symposium on a field trip to Virginia Park Station near Charters Towers posed for a photograph beside the historical flood marker at the Macrossan Bridge over the Burdekin River after listening to a presentation delivered on the riverbed beneath the bridge (photo below).

Jared Sunderland and Scott Wilkinson (CSIRO Chair of Symposium organising committee).

NQ Dry Tropics Soil Conservation Officer Neil Cupples (left) and Mauro Rossi (Istituto di Ricerca per la Protezione Idrogeologica).

NQ Dry Tropics LDC Acting Landscape Remediation Officer Sheyanne Frisby, Graeme Curwen (Griffith Uni), and Belinda Wedlock (Mary River Catchment).

NQ Dry Tropics Senior Project Officer Scott Fry, Prof. Xiong Donghong (Institute of Mountain Hazards and Environment, Chinese Academy of Sciences IMHE), Chris Poole, Xiaobing Liu (Chinese Academy of Sciences).

Brett Baker (CSIRO) (left), NQ Dry Tropics’  Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator – Burdekin Dry Tropics Peter Arthofer and Sunny Behzadnia Greening Australia).

Virginia Park Station grazier Matt Bennetto (left) with NQ Dry Tropics Grazing Team Leader Jared Sunderland.

Graeme Curwen (Griffith Uni) flanked by NQ Dry Tropics Soil Conservation Officer Neil Cupples (left) and Grazing Field Officer Chris Poole.

Anne Kinsey-Henderson from the CSIRO during her presentation on the field trip.

Grazing Field Officer Sam Skeat with Chinese delegates during the field trip.

Anne Kinsey-Henderson and Brett Baker from CSIRO.

Delegates at the conference came from all over the world.

NQ Dry Tropics Grazing Soil Conservation Officer Neil Cupples (left), and Field Officer Sam Skeat present during the 8th International Gully Symposium.

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KEQ #1

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.

KEQ #2

*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

KEQ #3

*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.

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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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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