Rod’s leading | Landholders Driving Change

Old hand takes the reins

NQ Dry Tropics’ Rod Kerr will lead the Landholders Driving Change project until the end of the year.

I stepped in as project manager for the Landholders Driving Change project in February, and will be in the position until the end of this year.

I would like to acknowledge the role Lisa Hutchinson played in managing the project up to when she resigned from NQ Dry Tropics to pursue new adventures.

Lisa helped steer the LDC project team to deliver the project’s five activity areas:

  • BBB Grazing Support
  • Landscape Remediation
  • Influencing Other Land Managers
  • Policy Engagement
  • Exploring new Incentives

Progress on these is testament to the hard work and commitment of the BBB community, and the LDC team alongside LDC’s collaborators and delivery partners. 

Progress has been reported against 45 LDC milestones across the five activity areas. Of these, 87 per cent are complete with the remaining 13 per cent (19 milestones) in progress and due for completion at the end of this year.

I welcome Daniel Hazelman to the team, who brings with him more than 20 years’ civil engineering experience within the mining, government and private sectors. Dan will lead the Landscape Remediation area this year, and has hit the road running, having already visited multiple remediation sites in the BBB.

COVID-19 temporarily paused a number of project activities during March, namely field days. However NQ Dry Tropics, and the LDC team, have taken steps to maintain business continuity while minimising risks posed by COVID-19 to clients, contractors and the general public.

Where possible, many meetings and briefings have moved to an on-line platform, which is working well.

The LDC team has committed to ensuring all planned events, field days and workshops will be held either later this year, or early next year, pending government advice. We will be in touch as soon as dates and venues are firmed up.

These events include:

  • Scottville cluster group field walk.
  • Eungella Soil and Pasture update.
  • Eungella Rainforest Recovery cluster group field day.
  • Breeder Management & Preg Testing school.
  • Mulloon Institute landscape rehydration site visits: includes Mulloon Institute in NSW, and Qld site visits Worona (near Charters Towers), and Flagstone (near Bowen).
  • Drone workshop at Mt Pleasant Learning Hub.
  • Community events to hear the latest about the LDC project.
  • Joint LDC – MLA Regenerative Agriculture group and Weeds group field days.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the annual celebration held in September may instead be a number of smaller events to ensure activities comply with government advice. We will provide updates as we get closer to the time.

The great news is the LDC project is on track and on budget. 

On-ground projects will be completed by the end of this year and the final report is due 31 July 2021.

Here’s to a successful 2020!

— LDC Manager Rod Kerr

NQ Dry Tropics’ LDC Project Manager Rod Kerr, right, with Glenn Dale (Verterra), left, and Dr Andrew Brooks of Griffith University at a Stomping Out Sediment Field Day.

Plenty of experience on which to draw

Rod lives on the Sunshine Coast and has been a fly in, fly out worker with NQ Dry Tropics since January 2013.

A sustainable agriculture consultant for many years, Rod has brought a wealth of knowledge to NQ Dry Tropics with a background as a Regional Landcare Coordinator, and eight years as the Business Development Manager for the Toowoomba based Queensland Murray-Darling Committee.

Since working with NQ Dry Tropics, Rod has undertaken a number of acting manager roles and was the project officer for the *Building Resilience in the Burdekin Grazing project which worked with Sonoma, Glenalpine and Tabletop stations on alternative grazing approaches. 

Rod is also currently the project officer for the **Burdekin Stomping Out Sediment project which is  working with six properties in the Bowen and Collinsville areas.

Rod helped to develop the original proposal for the Landholders Driving Change project. He has also worked on the project on a number of occasions since it started in December 2017. 

Most recently, he implemented the Mt Pleasant Demonstration Site and Learning Hub, which involves a number of components:

  1. A landscape rehydration project that included the construction of gully works designed by the Mulloon Institute;
  2. A grazing management plan based on natural sequence farming principles;
  3. Biodiversity surveys conducted by James Cook University to track changes over time;
  4. A knowledge sharing hub for multiple stakeholders.

We welcome Rod to the LDC team.

*The three-year (2013-2016) Building Resilience in the Burdekin Grazing Industry project is funded through the Queensland Government Regional NRM Investment Program. Here is a case study on Glenalpine Station, as part of that project.

** The Burdekin Stomping Out Sediment project is funded by Australian Government Reef Trust Phase IV investment to help deliver the Reef 2050 Long Term Sustainability Plan.

Latest story on the Stomping Out Sediment project: /sos-field-days/.

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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.

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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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