Last Chance program update | Landholders Driving Change

Last Chance projects rolling out

NINE projects have been approved under the last round of grants offered by the LDC project to help graziers implement changes to better manage their land and businesses.

With LDC scheduled to finish in 2021, a final call for project proposals by BBB landholders was made in early May.

Nine proposals were successful and these projects are now rolling out. Approved projects include fencing, piping and troughing, small gully remediation and whoa boy construction activities. 

Projects received financial support in the range of $5000 to $25,000 and are due to be completed at the end of November. 

The program is part of LDC’s  BBB Grazier Support activity area. 

With the current coronavirus situation and a limited pool of available funds, the call was different to previous approaches. The application process was competitive, with project proposals ranked highest to lowest based on assessment criteria.

Key criteria included:

  •  ‘Value for money’ – the more cash, materials and in-kind you put in, the greater the outcomes, the better chance of the application being successful; and 
  • ‘Water quality’ – clearly demonstrate how land condition and the water quality leaving the property will be improved.

Applications were assessed by a panel consisting of a grazier (from outside of the BBB region), and NRM and government representatives.

High-tech watering point positioned at the intersection of four paddocks used in a rotational grazing regime.

Darryl Hill constructing an erosion control bank (whoa boy).

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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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