July 2019
Stories, News & Events from the District
Our Land Champions Series:
Tim Crimp - Generational Farmer & Sustainability Advocate
“I grew up in the bush… exploring the bush. I’m probably never happier than when I am working alongside the bush or in the bush”. The Crimp family farm has consciously left more than one fifth
of their farm as native forest and maintain a natural flowing waterway all year round (including summer). “I am open minded about science and working with the land, we need to keep learning, if you don’t learn, there is no point”, Tim expresses.

In his role as Chair of the LBLCDC Tim continues to learn about & advocate for sustainable agriculture practices, and is tireless in communicating agricultural perspectives on behalf of farmers to various interest/industry groups and governing bodies.

Read more here about Tim's journey from a young dairy farmer to a leading voice on agricultural sustainability in the catchment.
Junior Landcare Champions in Action!
These Augusta Primary school students were undaunted by the wet & windy conditions when they got down in the dirt to plant around 250 seedlings at a Lower Blackwood property recently.

Our project officers were on site to help the students who are learning all about landcare with Nature Conservation's 'Our Patch' program . This enthusiastic bunch has been involved from the very start of this revegetation project, including growing the Peppi seedlings from seed with a little help from the Augusta Community nursery.
uPtake - Cutting edge technology to improve water quality & help farmers.
Fertiliser trials that aim to improve confidence in fertiliser recommendations for local soils and conditions are now underway in the Lower Blackwood Catchment. A desired outcome of the trials is increased uptake of evidence-based fertiliser application that optimises production whilst reducing excess run off of nutrients into waterways and estuaries.

The major aspect of the trials will be to test different levels of phosphorus application to optimise production and minimise runoff . Some trials will also include evaluation of innovative technology to measure pasture productivity and soil nutrient status (such as nearinfrared and x-ray fluorescence).

This month, trial coordinator Rob McFerran and the uPtake trial teams have been busy visiting the 3 Lower Blackwood trial sites, taking cuts and measurements, liaising with the Host Farmers and monitoring the progress of the trials.   

How do I get to be a Host Farmer? Expressions of Interest for the 2020 uPtake program will be open later in the year so stayed tuned!

Funding for the trials has been secured by the Department of Water and Environmental Regulation through the Commonwealth National Landcare Program Smart Farming grants.
Weeds - A Holistic Approach to Management.

In Allan Savory's seminal book Holistic Management , he discusses the necessity of testing the decisions you make against your holistic goals - in other words asking yourself questions that help you systematically consider the social, financial, and environmental aspects of decisions you make and to determine whether a proposed action takes you toward or away from your holistic goal. 

How does any of this relate to managing weeds you say? In Allan's framework there are 7 basic checks that help you to consider the impacts that may flow from any actions you decide to take. Even if you don't want to explore holistic decision making any further, the two checks listed below are worth considering when determining what action will give you the best long term result in managing weeds on your property:

Cause and effect: Does the action I am planning to take address the root cause of the problem, or merely a symptom?
Biological Weak link: Does the action address the weakest point in the life cycle of the plant I'me trying to control?

Case Study: Guildford (Onion) Grass
Cause: The two main causes of onion grass infestation are autumn bare ground and lack of competition from desirable pasture species .

Action to Address the Cause: Prevention involves managing pastures to maintain above 70 per cent ground cover and maximising growth during autumn and winter. Include in pastures a high proportion of desirable perennial species (grasses, legumes, herbs) in the pasture, maintain good soil fertility and use rotational grazing to maximise growth and persistence of perennials.

Biological Weak link: If you choose to use herbicides to manage Guildford Grass then it is important that spraying is conducted at the point that the old corm is exhausted and the new corm is developing approximately six to eight weeks after onion grass has emerged. This will permit enough chemical to be absorbed by the new corm to kill it.

Read more about how to manage Guildford Grass without using a herbicide.
Want to know more? Watch Holistic Management at Work (6 minute watch)

If you are landholder in the Lower Blackwood District and you have Arum lily on your property you are invited to drop by the Lower Blackwood Landcare office on Thursdays from 10.30-2.00pm to collect some free chemical and information to help to assist you with the control of this invasive environmental weed.

For further information or to arrange a time to collect your materials contact the Landcare office on 97584021 or email Erica Teasdale at project.officer@lowerblackwood.com.au.
Project Update: Moving Water - Fencing & Revegetation
Another local landowner in partnership with the Lower Blackwood LCDC has completed around 3km of creekline fencing and planted just under 8000 plants. A wide variety of tube stock was used including:

  • Agonis flexuosa (Peppi tree)
  • Eucalyptus patens (Blackbutt)
  • Juncus subsecundus (Finger Rush)
  • Various Melaleucas
  • Taxandria parviceps (Tea tree)
  • Corymbia calophylla (Marri)
  • Lepidosperma effusum (Spreading Sword-sedge)
  • Baumea articulate (Jointed Rush)

This impressive effort adds to an incredible 12 hectares of revegetated riparian area for the total Lower Blackwood Regional Estuaries Initiative Project since it started in 2016, plus approximately 30km of fencing completed or currently under contract. A fantastic effort by participating landowners!

If you are interesting in fencing your own creekline then WE CAN HELP! you may be eligible for funding for fencing works so register your Interest or give us a call to find out. 

This project is funded by the Regional Estuaries Initiative (REI), a four-year, $20 million Royalties for Regions program to improve the health of six Western Australian estuaries being delivered in partnership with the Department of Water.
Eucalyptus patens (Blackbutt)
Lepidosperma effusum (Spreading Sword-sedge)
Unique & Special to the South West: White-bellied and Orange-bellied Frogs (Geocrinia species)
In the Know!
Estimating Feed On Offer (FOO) for Your Livestock
What is FOO? It's the amount of pasture available for your livestock to eat. It's measured as dry matter per hectare, and then used to budget feed available and stocking rates for a given period.

It's been a very slow season so far in terms of grass growth so it is even more important to understand what's in your paddock - making an informed feeding decision can save you significant money plus avoid the risk of damaging roots systems, baring soil, soil erosion and other impacts of over grazing.

 Here are a couple of great tools that can help you with your estimation.
Feed on Offer Photo Gallery: Although aimed at sheep farmers this great little booklet could be applied to other livestock - it has series of photos of paddock close ups of different levels of FOO for annual pastures during the green period for Autumn/Early Winter, Mid Winter, & Spring. Included are targets for pasture & sheep management, some great tips for estimating FOO and an accuracy check procedure.

You can download the booklet here or contact Mandy Curnow from DPIRD for a copy at mandy.curnow@dpird.wa.gov.au
Pastures from Space: Is a space view of pastures to help assess FOO & pasture growth rate for WA Farmers.
The service has been re-released by the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development (DPIRD), with a new zoom-in function so landholders can assess food on offer (FOO) and pasture growth rates (PGR) down to 6.25 hectares.

Check it out here.
Knowing Your Soil - Start with a Visual Soil Assessment.
The maintenance of good soil quality is vital for both the environmental & economic sustainability of farmland. A decline in soil quality has a knock on effect on soil cover, pasture growth & quality, animal health, production costs, nutrient loss (into ground water & waterways), carbon sequestration & green house gas emissions. Safe guarding the soil is therefore arguably the number 1 task of any land manager. 

A Visual Soil Assessment (VSA) is a quick and simple method to assess soil condition & plant performance. The VSA Method is a visual assessment of key soil 'state' and plant performance indicators of soil quality, presented on a score card. This in depth guide provides the reader with a virtual 'how to' with detailed pictures and notes to enable you to compare & assess what you are seeing.

Other VSA Guides for Annual Crops, Orchards, Wheat & Vineyards are available from the Regen WA website .
The Wrap Up - Developing Your Farm Ecology

A record turn out crowd for our July 'Talkin' After Hours event saw participants gain some valuable insights into the importance and need for paying close attention to your farms ecosystems - that is your farm's energy flow - your living green solar panels (plants) , water cycling & nutrient cycling. 

Mark Tupman of Productiv Ecology , outlined that the key to a healthy functioning ecosystem is is a dynamic and diverse community of plant types & animals (both above & below ground). Biodiversity is essential as the unique functions each organism brings supports others in the system and the strength of the community as a whole.

This event wrap up provides a great segue into this comprehensive presentation by Gabe Brown on Treating the Farm as an Ecosystem Part 1, The 5 Tenets of Soil Health.

Gabe Brown is one of the pioneers of regenerative agricultural practices in the US and in this video he shares his transformative journey of cultivating his farm from modern conventional use to a thriving living ecosystem. It's a movie length presentation but a 'must see' if you are planning to transition to regenerative agricultural practices.

If you want to drill deeper &/or prefer reading to watching then get hold of Jerry Brunetti's fascinating book The Farm as Ecosystem , in which he wraps together a lifetime of learning and observations on the interconnected dynamics in place on a farm.

If you would like to contact Mark regarding developing your own farm's ecology then his first consultation is free of charge. Mark can be contacted at:
M: 040 124 0115
E: productivecology@ gmail.com
W: productivecology.com.au
Have Your Say On Regenerative Agriculture
Global trends are increasingly leading the way when it comes to consumers’ food choices and today’s consumers are increasingly focussed on sustainability, provenance, traceability, freshness and the quality and health properties of food. This presents huge opportunities for those in the food and agri-business sectors who can respond to these shifts, and a considerable challenge and even risk for those who don’t.

Regenerative agriculture is one way in which farmers can remain profitable by ensuring their farm products meet these demands, which is why the Department of Primary Industries and Resource Development (DPIRD / DAFWA) has started looking into these practices.

The seven regional natural resource management (Landcare) organisations in WA are conducting this survey to find out what the key barriers are that might stop farmers and others from actually taking up regenerative agriculture. The results will be pro vided to DPIRD to help guide their future priority research.

The survey is anonymous and does not ask for any personal or financial information. It is only two pages long and should not take more than 10 minutes to complete. Thank you in advance for your input into the survey, which will help inform State investment into the sector.
Upcoming Events with Lower Blackwood LCDC
' Talkin' After Hours, A Free Workshop & Networking Event:
Getting Your Legumes to Work Harder
Best practices to ensure your legumes fix more nitrogen for your pasture & cropping systems
This event is proudly bought to you by:
Our August ‘Talkin’ After Hours brings you the latest information on factors affecting legume nodulation and the best practices to ensure your legumes fix more nitrogen for your pasture and cropping systems.

  • Hear about the rhizobia populations and strains in clovers & sub clovers and what that means to the nitrogen fixing potential.
  • Find out about the different nodulation scores and how you can score your own legumes.
  • Hear about the influence of soil chemistry and chemicals on clovers & sub clovers and the rhizobia population.
  • Discuss what this means for clovers, sub clovers and legumes for 2019

There will be a hands-on component where you have the chance to understand nodule scoring and try it on your own pastures. So, bring along some legume pastures!
Where? LBLCDC Office, 403 Kudardup Road, Kudardup.

When? Thursday August 8th
Workshop: 4.00pm to 5.00pm
Networking : 5.00pm to 6.00pm
Other Events You Might Want To Attend

When? 28 August 10.00am to 5.00pm
Where? Blackrock Angus on 6394 Bussell Hwy Vasse 6280

Registrations Essentials: Contact Jeisane Accioly - McIllree M: 0403 327 216, E: Jeisane.alis@gmail.com
To register your interest email info@regenwa.com
Come and join us at the Nillup Rural Store on Friday the 20th of September for an informative Ag afternoon including:

  • A pasture walk with agronomist Sam Taylor - showcasing over 20 varieties
  • Demonstrations on new drenching, drafting and fencing innovations
  • Finishing up with a trade show & BBQ
September 'Talkin' After Hours

Dung beetles do not cause crop or pasture damage, which is probably why so little attention is given to them! Besides dung removal – most obvious by summer “shredders” – what other benefits do they bring to livestock production?

Bought to us by MLA & Rural R&D4 Profit, this ‘Talkin’ After Hours presentation will discuss ways dung beetles can work for you to improve animal health, address soil constraints and reduce input costs.

Where? LBLCDC Office, 403 Kudardup Road, Kudardup.

When? Thursday September 12th
Workshop: 4.00pm to 5.00pm
Networking : 5.00pm to 6.00pm
We know there is such a wealth of knowledge & experience out there amongst all of you..so..
If you have a great story, just read a great book, tried a brilliant a piece of new technology, or any other piece of news that you think the rest of the Lower Blackwood Catchment community will want to know about then please share!

Contact Kate on 0414476015 or email kate.tarrant@lowerblackwood.com.au  
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Lower Blackwood LCDC | 9758 4021 | kate.tarrant@lowerblackwood.com.au | www.lowerblackwood.com.au