Leanne and Barry O’Sullivan hosted the first day of the workshop at Glenalpine Station.

NQ Dry Tropics’ Rod Kerr making a point at the workshop.

Five-year trial wraps up with workshops to discuss results

Strathalbyn grazier Bristow Hughes contributes to the discussion.

Dr Christian Roth answers questions in the field.

A five-year project that took an unconventional approach to gully management — using livestock for gully remediation — has wrapped up in the BBB. 

A two-day field day held in May provided an opportunity for project participants to discuss results.

Rather than excluding cattle to heal eroded land, the Stomping Out Sediment in the Burdekin project trialed an alternative approach using livestock as a tool to remediate gullies and scald areas to reduce sediment loss from grazing properties. 

This method involved deploying high-density mobs on gullies for short periods. They helped reshape the gullies through hoof impact, and their dung and urine provided “biological carpeting” that supplied organic material to stimulate soil organisms and promote rehabilitation with more ground cover, helping stabilisation.

Results indicate that high-density grazing has improved soil health and pasture cover, and increased water infiltration. 

More conventional treatments were also trialed and included contour banks, rock capping, rock chutes, ripping, and reseeding. Intervention and management techniques were tailored for each site, according to soil types and gully features.

A total of 16 project sites across nine properties were completed during the project.

Brian Wehlburg, from Inside Outside Management and Dick Richardson, from Grazing Naturally, provided technical support. 

Support was also provided by Department of Agriculture and Fisheries officers Bob Shepherd (Charters Towers), Jim Fletcher (Mackay) and Paul Jones (Emerald), and Raymond Stacey (Resource Consulting Services). 

Monitoring support was provided by CSIRO, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the University of Southern Queensland.

The trial was conducted from June 2017 to June 2022. 

The Stomping Out Sediment in the Burdekin project is funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust.

Day Two host Hells Gate grazier Owen Howard.

Dr Bec Bartley from the CSIRO

Ashin Ghahramani, Centre for Sustainable Agricultural Systems, USQ.

Discussion on the second day at Hells Gate Station.

Andrew Brooks, Griffith University.

Paul Jones, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF), Emerald.

 

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

KEQ #7
KEQ #6

KEQ #5

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 #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 #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

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