Pastoralists from the Upper Gascoyne LCDC recently met at Mt Augustus to share their great achievements in catchment erosion and sediment control.
Rangelands NRM is funding members of the Upper Gascoyne LCDC through the Catchment Erosion and Sediment Control project to undertaken work and trials, particularly to retain water in the landscape and reduce the risk of soil erosion.
At their AGM, members of the group presented and shared their considerable progress in installing sediment filters, ponding banks, self-muster yards, vegetation and grass recovery on Pingandy, Mooloo Downs, Carey Downs and Mt Augustus.
Group members were very open in sharing and highlighting what they had learnt from their own work and explaining to the group how they were improving their planning and construction methods.
Jason Hastie, Chairman of the Upper Gascoyne LCDC, presented his efforts in installing sediment filters on streams on Pingandy Station, showing what techniques worked well, what materials were not so successful, and explained some of the challenges of sourcing the ideal materials such as rolls of mesh at a reasonable price.
Mr Hastie said the briefings promoted a lot of discussion among station managers, both during and after the presentation.
“Everyone involved, including DPaW staff and the DAFWA Soil Commissioner, gave positive feedback on the usefulness of the discussion. It turned out to be a very good adult learning exercise,” Mr Hastie said.
I was surprised by positive feedback from guest speakers Bruce Maynard and Alan Peggs that this was the first Landcare group meeting that they had attended where such on ground work was discussed and how useful and interesting they thought it was.
Whilst the majority of the on ground works was funded by Rangelands NRM, some of the works were self-funded and initiated by the station managers using their own resources.
Mt Augustus station managers Don and Matthew Hammerquist have conducted their own aerial inspections to plan where ponding banks should be located, and have installed ponding banks in a number of locations where rainfall runoff was causing soil erosion to slow down the movement of water across the station.
Matthew also reported how they had fenced off some areas to keep cattle out, and also indicated where he had learnt from observation during rainfall events where he needed more ponding banks and modifications to existing banks.
Jim Caunt of Mooloo Downs Station has been installing ponding banks using his own machinery, and pointed out to the group the benefits of joining the ends of ponding banks onto existing rocks or areas of scrub to avoid the ends of the banks washing away during rainfall events.
Jim designs his banks to hold ten inches of water and to spread water across the landscape, and builds banks up to two kilometres away from the main erosion sites. One of the common learnings from the station managers was the need for further banks and sediment filters to be installed higher up in the catchments to slow down the flow of rainfall and to keep water and nutrients in the landscape.
During the AGM there were also presentations from Bill Currans (Rangelands NRM) on current funding and ESRM property planning opportunities, Bruce Maynard (Stress Free Stockmanship) on the chance for pastoralists to participate in an Innovation Grant project called Rangelands Self Shepherding, and Alan Pegg (Alan Peggs Rural) on cattle export options.
Alys McKeough (Carey Downs Station) provided a clear and constructive talk on how the LCDC is adopting OHS procedures to ensure the group’s activities are safe and compliant with OSH legislation and funding requirements.
The day finished on a highlight with a very brief but fascinating practical demonstration at the Mt Augustus cattle yards from Bruce Maynard on stress free stockmanship and an insight into training cattle to eat a wider variety of plants, followed by lively discussion and more sharing with dinner and drinks under a full moon.
For more information contact Paul Erkelenz, Sustainable Pastoralism Program Manager
Image: Bruce Maynard explaining stress free stockmanship concepts to Jason Hastie (Pingandy Station) Alys and Harry McKeough (Carey Downs Station), and Andrew Watson, Commissioner of Soil and Land Conservation at Department of Agriculture and Food Western Australia. (©B Currans)