Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

Improving pastoral productivity and sustainability in the Upper Gascoyne

Keeping rain in the landscape and the progress of a local mesquite control project were the big themes discussed when members of the Upper Gascoyne LCDC met at Yinnetharra Station in early April.

Fourteen local pastoralists and four guest speakers participated in a full day’s program which was supported by Rangelands NRM.

Rangelands NRM Regional Landcare Facilitator Paul Erkelenz said the day built on existing knowledge, provided some new ideas and encouraged those present to continue to try different ways of improving their property’s productivity and sustainability.

“Group members also discussed progress on exiting projects and priorities for potential future projects during the day,” Mr Erkelenz said.

Richard Glover, consultant with Biota Environmental Services, gave a very well received presentation on how pastoral landscapes can dehydrate through changes in base-level water flows and how that can affect the most productive parts of the property.

He described how well-placed structures such as ponding banks, “leaky weirs” and brush fences can assist to retain water on the landscape and enable active erosion heads to start the healing process. Group members who have already experimented with such structures on their properties shared their experiences and the benefits found so far.

The successful implementation of a mesquite control program in the Upper Gascoyne Shire was reported by the Shire’s CEO, Dirk Sellenger. The initial project, funded by the State NRM office, has controlled 12, 253 mesquite shrubs to date. The Shire is keen to access further funding to expand its control program for this serious prickly weed.

The role of livestock disease surveillance programs in protecting Australian producer’s access to overseas markets was discussed by Geraldton-based DAFWA veterinary officer, Kevin Hepworth. Kevin is keen to work with local pastoralists to ensure that livestock diseases and other conditions affecting animal health don’t compromise the productivity and profitability of their industry.

Paul Erkelenz spoke briefly on Rangeland NRM WA’s activities in the Southern Rangelands and current funding opportunities for local groups such as the Upper Gascoyne LCDC.

The day’s program was completed by group chairman Jason Hastie’s demonstration of how to set up a rangelands monitoring site. Group member and Gascoyne Catchments Group Monitoring Tool project officer, Jodie McTaggart, described how the monitoring site set up and methodology had been varied, to suit the needs of the monitoring tool.

“Thanks go to “Waddie” Robinson and his team at Yinetharra for hosting the meeting and providing a place for a multitude of additional bodies to “crash” for a night or two,” Mr Erkelenz said.

Upper Gascoyne LCDC members listen to guest speaker Richard Glover describe how changes to base-level water flows can rob productive areas of the property of precious soil moisture.