Mt Pleasant | Landholders Driving Change

Their focus is always on the landscape and biodiversity

Tailed Emperor-Polyura pyrrhus

PHOTO: Garlone Moulin

Ocellated velvet gecko Oedura monilis

PHOTO: Garlone Moulin

Garlone Moulin and Jamie Gordon from Mt Pleasant Station

Searching for answers, the Mt Pleasant business decision makers  – Jamie Gordon, his wife Garlone Moulin, Jamie’s sister Joan and her partner Bill Jardine – attended a Grazing for Profit School that prompted them to make a strategic decision to move away from a production based business model to focus on landscape function and environmental health.

This decision has resulted in enormous economic and environmental rewards through both ecological enhancement and improved productivity. Exposure to regenerative grazing principles was a catalyst for change and led to connections with people who could provide linkages to ecological literacy, reconnection to the environment and an understanding of the complex interactions between soils, plants and animals.

The transition has been gradual and self perpetuating. The introduction of a time controlled grazing system implementing a short graze period, adequate rest, and higher density of animals has resulted in improved soil health, pasture condition and water quality. Integral to the success of the grazing system is the understanding that adjusting stocking rate to carrying capacity is crucial and forage budgeting and monitoring must be done regularly.

Landscape function analysis and Grazing BMP are used as part of a process of constant re-evaluation and modification. Animals are matched to the environment, and breeding focuses on matching traits that compliment the low input grazing system.

“We are still seeing positive changes after 15 years, including a big improvement in biodiversity,” Garlone Moulin said.

“We will continue to enjoy the rebirth of the environment. The long term results are compounding and complimenting – becoming a complex community of plants and animals.

“The sense of achievement, purpose and fulfilment we feel as a family and business is incredibly sustaining and provides ongoing motivation and emotional freedom.

“We now look at the big picture, the little niggles hold no importance. The improvement in our land condition and ultimately our bottom line means it is now looking very possible that our children can have a good quality of life on the property.

“Country needs people who understand and care for it, investing into the farm is an investment into the local community.  The more generations on the farm the better” she said.

When time controlled grazing was introduced 80 per cent of the pasture was Indian Couch and ground cover levels were at best 60 per cent. Today 90+ per cent ground cover is maintained and only 45-50 per cent of pasture is indian couch.

This has allowed a reasonable level of drought tolerance where 75 per cent of normal wet season pasture can be grown in a dry year.

Business members have more time to pursue individual interests and training. The family is cataloguing the flora and fauna on the property and to date has recorded 123 different bird species.

A 1300ha nature refuge runs through the property and joins Home Haven nature reserve which abounds Mt Aberdeen National Park. The property now carries 30 per cent more cattle and conception rates of more than 80 per cent have been recorded for the past four years.

Supplements have not been fed for four years, while weaning weights have continued to increase, with weaners averaging 200kg this year. Continual monitoring of all aspects of the operation guides decision making. Profit probe, landscape function analysis and Grazing BMP are used to constantly re-evaluate and improve the business. 

“We believe it is important to share knowledge and create awareness of how farmers operate,” Garlone said.

“We try to see things from both perspectives, be non-judgmental, build relationships, open lines of communication and provide an unbiased perspective of farming – without the dramatics.

“We know how important it is to have a social license to operate,” she said.

Glycine species

PHOTO: Garlone Moulin

Bumpy rocket frog – Littoria inermis

PHOTO: Garlone Moulin

Published by four titlesCirculation - 8,780

Published by two titlesCirculation - 9,965

 

 

 

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.

KEQ #5

KEQ #6

KEQ #7
KEQ #8

Published in The Northern MinerCirculation - 2,041

Published by four titlesCirculation - 8, 780

 

Published by four titlesCirculation - 8,780

 

 

 

 

Published by four titlesCirculation - 8,780

 

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.
Published by two titlesCirculation - 4,006

Published by one titleCirculation - 7,207