Rangelands NRM Blog, News & Resources

RALF Update

Mez, Jardine and Sarah Rangelands NRM RALFs have all been busy in the last three months.

May

The Aboriginal Pastoral Forum in Port Hedland held by the DPIRD saw some tough issues raised as well as some successful exemplars of Aboriginal business models and partnerships presented. Views were heard from across the room—Government and non-government, along with important Aboriginal cultural underpinnings—discussed with a solemn willingness to continue progress towards closing the gap.

The end of May also saw soil conservation and grader-guru Col Stanton presenting KPCA Rehydration and remediation workshops along with the encyclopedia of landscape-literacy Richard Marver. Col and Richard spoke to a key issue in the rangelands; erosion caused by station road design. For all the important information on how to keep your roads and country from eroding, and your water feeding grass not ditches, check out the ‘Outback Roads’ manual was launched.

It is a collaborative project between Territory NRM, Cape York NRM, Local Land Services NSW, SA Arid Lands, Rangelands NRM and the National Landcare Program. It is a fantastic manual which aims to assist in the reduction of the environmental impacts of erosion and landscape dehydration by better managing roads. If you require a hardcopy, please get in contact with Sarah or Jardine or else you can download it from the Rangelands NRM website (https://rangelandswa.com.au/media-release-outback-roads-manual-to-help-better-manage-roads/).

June

Sarah spent two days out at Warroora and how fantastic was it to see that some of the station roads were closed due to some lovely much needed rainfall! Accompanying Aggie Forrester (Lyndon LCDC) and Rodger Syme, Taaryn Thomas and Mark Dixon (Exmouth DBCA team) went about spreading the cochineal bug over cactus infestations on both the DBCA property and Warroora Station. Both properties had some bugs released on them previously, and it was great to see that they had spread further afield without the help of humans. We were there to help spread the bugs further where natural spreading was limited or not present. Following on from this Sarah went to Winning Station with Aggie where she was shown the first cactus eradication site on Marilla where chemical spraying was all that was used. Fortunately for Aggie, this was successful and although the cactus infestation was limited in size the cactus were overhead height. Now all that remains are a few babies which will be killed with a follow up spray in the near future. Also, whilst at Winning, Sarah got to have a look at their State NRM funding project which has enabled Kim and Aggie to dig out one of their dams to increase capacity and also built a silt dam. This will increase water storage to allow for increase carrying capacity.

Jardine accompanied Richard Marver to assist with field investigations of ESRM planning on Coongan Station, now under the management of a regional champion, Annabelle Coppin (Yarrie Station), and her A-1 team. It was an immersion lesson in rangelands grasses, condition monitoring and reading historical landscape impacts. Annabelle’s work is infectiously inspiring to see – not only her management to rehabilitate country, but also the team she forges as a leader, and her noble mission to share her story with consumers to connect them to the ground from which their food has come. All in a day’s work for a superstar mum!
To round off the Coongan trip, Jardine got to further rehydration and soil conservation discussions with Col Stanton while he weaved his grader-magic to address some erosion on Yarrie Station.

In recognition of the growing need for mental health awareness, Jardine undertook a mental health first aid course

July

Jardine and Sarah attended GeoGlam RaPP training in Perth. This is a software package that allows you to monitor your total groundcover. There is 18 years’ worth of data in the system which is significant. Total ground cover is broken up into green, dead or dormant and bare soil. In the rangelands for example, this would mean that vegetation types like mulga will have a high total groundcover whereas there may be nothing actually at ground level. Therefore, this tool can’t be used from a pastoralist’s point of view to determine how much feed value there is in an area. The new technology of GeoGlam RaPP is being put to use with a number of station and regional test runs. While loaded with powerful potential, WA is still using the MODIS 500m x 500m gridded data which may be diluting ground cover representation. Your RALFs are working on this to sharpen up the great potential of the RaPP tool. This is a free software package is available for everyone to use. If you would like some help in navigating it, please feel free to get in contact with either Jardine or Sarah.

Sarah attended a field day at Murchison House Station looking at the on-farm technology. Through funding and support from MLA, station owner Calum has been able to setup part of his station using the Origo.farm platform with the vision of extending it across the whole property. Annie Brox, director of Origo.farm has used this station as a bit of a trial as she has never done on-farm technology to this scale before. The system has been very successful using Origo.farm Intellectual Property (software and electronic) with all necessary hardware coming off the shelf from local irrigation suppliers making it cost effective. Calum has setup water monitoring points where he can monitor tanks and wells, turn on and off pumps and change the direction of water flow all from the comfort of his home. He is also in the process of setting up cameras, weather stations and automated gates. The biggest advantage to this technology is it reduces risk which he said you cannot put a monetary value on.

Mez visited Gnaraloo Station in the Gascoyne to undertake a ‘Land for Wildlife’ Survey. What an interesting property and the first along the coast!

A self-herding workshop was held in Gascoyne with Bruce Maynard leading the way. It was run in conjunction with his Stress Free Stockmanship courses. Another course was also held in September at Carey Downs Station. For more information about the Self Herding project, a collaboration between Rangelands NRM, Territory NRM, NT DPIR, Revell Science, Bruce Maynard and Oxley Grazing with funding from MLA can be found here.

All three RALFs have all been working with pastoralists and groups to submit State Community grants and Smart Farm Partnership applications. There will another round of NLP Small Farm grants coming up in the next six months if you have any ideas or need any help please don’t hesitate to contact us. July also brought State NRM reporting for projects – namely West and East Kimberley Rubber Vine and Gamba Grass eradication by three dedicated, respective teams. It is incredible to see how well these weed eradication programs for Rubber Vine have successfully progressed towards total eradication – a rarity in weed management programs and not a small feat in the remote and wild terrain of the Kimberley! With capability of this caliber, it is hoped Gamba Grass efforts will follow suit.

Mez has been providing proposal support and continued advice and guidance to a variety of station in the southern rangelands. This has been valuable in maintaining and building upon existing relationships and forging the development of new land management projects.

Investigating the Fitzroy River planning of catchment management has now taken a large focus. The 94,000km2 catchment dominated by pastoral land use represents an immense opportunity for beneficial management through sincere partnerships to both protect and regenerate the mighty asset that is the Fitzroy and its catchment into the future.

Update

From September 2019, Jardine takes on the role of Program Manager. Ellie Summers will be working as Project Officer/RALF, based in Broome.