Walking landscape | Landholders Driving Change

Field days at Strathalbyn, Hells Gate and Mt Wickham

Attending the ‘shared learnings’ field day at Strathalbyn Station, from left, Glenn Dale, Verterra, Bristow Hughes of Strathalbyn, Damon Telfer, Fruition Environmental Consultancy, Peter Wilkinson, Verterra, Matt Miles, Landholders Driving Change (LDC), Garlone Moulin, LDC project panel member and of Mt Pleasant Station, Bob Shepherd, DAF, John Day, Rohan Lucas, Verterra.

Glenn Dale, Verterra, Damon Telfer, Fruition Enviornmental Consultancy, LDC’s Matt Miles and Peter Wilkinson, Verterra.

Damon Telfer, Fruition Environmental Consultancy, explains the various gully remediation treatments that are being trialled at Strathalbyn Station, at a ‘shared learnings’ walking the landscape field day at Strathalbyn. Also pictured, Glenn Dale, Verterra, Peter Wilkinson, Verterra, John Day, Rohan Lucas, Verterra, LDC’s Matt Miles and LDC project panel member Garlone Moulin, Mt Pleasant Station.

TO help improve water quality on the Great Barrier Reef, the LDC is working with landholders to reduce sediment run-off through a flexible program of innovative and tried and tested activities.   

The LDC Landscape Remediation Activity Area aims to develop fast, effective and economical approaches to gully remediation.  It is building on existing expertise and lessons learned from previous trials, and also draw upon the knowledge of graziers and technical specialists.

That’s why we host ‘shared learnings’ field days – to share what remediation techniques have been used, and why, and to listen to and discuss technical experts and landholders views.

In April, the LDC brought together delivery partners and technical experts to to inspect gully remediation sites at Glen Bowen, Strathalbyn, Hells Gate and Mt Wickham.  Trial sites have been established by Greening Australia and NQ Dry Tropics.

These trials explore different gully restoration approaches, as well as the use of different ameliorants and soil conditioning approaches – including the application of gypsum, direct application of organic matter, and other methods such as high intensity low duration controlled stocking trials.

Knowledge and information shared at this field day, and others, will help the LDC develop different methods of treating both large-scale and small-scale erosion features.  This will help to guide future investment in landscape remediation, and determine which methods may be transferable to other regions.

Tackling eroding gullies

GULLY erosion causes about 65 per cent of the fine sediment load that comes from the Bowen, Broken, Bogie (BBB) catchment.

The aim of the Landscape Remediation Activity Area is to develop effective and economical approaches to gully remediation.  It is doing this by trialing a number of different treatment methods to tackle all types of gullies – large and small.

There is no “one size fits all” method.  As we get better and more efficient we hope to deliver these solutions at reduced costs.

The remediation approaches will build on existing expertise and lessons learned from previous trials, and will also draw upon the knowledge of graziers and technical specialists.

Results of all the gully remediation trials being carried out across the BBB will inform a strategic investment plan for landscape remediation in the BBB.

The purpose of this plan is to provide a scientifically robust strategy for widespread implementation of cost effective landscape remediation in the catchment, and to guide transferring the learnings from the demonstrations sites at larger scales.

The strategic plan will be informed by landholder input on the practicalities of implementation, particularly for smaller erosion features across large areas.

It will involve a multi-pronged approach recognising works that can be achieved by landholders, works that will require dedicated public investment, and works that may be hybrid of both of these approaches.

Rohan Lucas, of Verterra, and LDC project panel grazier representative Garlone Moulin at Strathalbyn.

Bristow Hughes, Strathalbyn Station, with Glen Dale and Peter Wilkinson, of Verterra, talking about the various gully remediation methods that are being trialled on Strathalbyn.

 

Keep an eye out for field days at Mt Wickham, Riverview and Glen Bowen

THE field day will visit three properties, Mt Wickham, Riverview and Glen Bowen stations on 1 May.

At Mt Wickham and Riverview, participants will inspect the outcome of various remediation treatments and solutions.  A tailored solution is being designed for Glen Bowen, and this is a great opportunity to learn what remediation techniques will be trialled on site.

RIGHT: Land remediation works at Mt Wickham Station

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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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