September 2019
Stories, News & Events from the District
Community
Our Land Champions Series: Completed But Not Forgotten!
Last month saw the close of our Land Champion Series. The series was inspired by our many land managers, land carers & other unsung heroes who caretake the land within our catchment. We really wanted to celebrate them and share some of their wonderful stories with you - they are not forgotten now that the series is over however - we have all their stories up on our website to remind us of the diversity, energy & creativity that exists in the Lower Blackwood. Why not take a moment sometime to revisit those stories yourself.
Keep watching this space though - we will be starting a new series soon - this time telling the stories about landowners taking up new & innovative practices to improve their land & businesses.
Lower Blackwood Landcare on Air!
Our Executive Officer Jo Wren is now a regular feature on 2Oceans FM radio . Jo made her radio debut earlier this month at the 2Oceans studio in Augusta for the first of our monthly landcare updates on the Wednesdays with Wendy show.

Tune in live the first Wednesday of every month or catch the podcast of the Wednesdays with Wendy show here.
Nillup Landmark Field Day & Trade Show a Hit!
The rain held off to allow the 60 to 70 participants the opportunity to see & hear about automatic drafting from Gallagher Fencing controlled release drench from Boehringer Ingelheim , & the automatic gate and other fencing products from Southern Wire .

Sam Taylor from Landmark, with support from Rob Bell of Bell Seeds gave a comprehensive presentation on a range of grasses, legumes & forbes that are not commonly found in south west pastures but could be considered to address seasonal feed gaps. Demonstration strips of over 20 different species were planted in autumn and were viewed at the field day. Take a look at the species list here.

The event wound up with a BBQ and time to take a look through stalls & talk to reps from a range of Ag service & product providers.

All in all a great event, many thanks to the Nillup Rural Store & Landmark for putting it on.
Projects
GRAZING MANAGEMENT PROJECT COMING SOON.
We are delighted to announce that our project application "REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE IN PRACTICE - FARMING IN A VARIABLE CLIMATE" received approval under the Augusta Margaret River Shire's Environmental Management Fund .

The project aims to increase the adoption of sustainable and regenerative agriculture techniques by farmers in the Lower Blackwood Catchment.

The project's main focus will be on grazing management & will include a mix of practical on ground activities, workshop and farming planning consultations with a grazing management expert, and a comprehensive resources tool box. Find out more.

Applications are now open for this exciting new project, places are limited to 10 farmers only so get in early and APPLY NOW
Project Update: uPtake
The beginning of Spring meant trial testing time at one of our uPtake Fertiliser trial sites a couple of weeks ago. 

Trial Coordinator Rob McFerran and agronomist Graham Mussell led participating farmers and fertilizer reps through the trial design and establishment process. The major aspect of the trials will be to test different levels of phosphorus application to optimise production and minimise runoff, with some trials also including evaluation of innovative technology to measure pasture productivity and soil nutrient status.

After a good discussion and pasture walk, it was time to get to work with the team taking pasture cuts for measuring and also collecting data with the push pasture reader. 

We’ll be visiting another one of our Lower Blackwood uPtake sites on our upcoming Spring Field Day on October 10th – so make sure you’ve reserved your spot! Book Your Ticket.

This project is jointly funded through the State Government’s Regional Estuaries Initiative and the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.
Planning & Monitoring Key to Success
Participants at yesterday's DEMONSTRATION WORKSHOP - Planting & Weed Control Techniques for Riparian Revegetation Success, were treated to some great practical tips from planting & weed control professionals Rick Ensley & Debbie Legge.

Weed Control tips included techniques like basel barking of woody weeds (e.g Weed Wattle) prior to seed maturity, spray coverage to get targeted results on weeds like Arum, & spraying with dye so you know what you have covered. Minimising soil disturbance to avoid awakening a weed seed bank was a key preventative message. It was also clear that different strategies have to be applied for different situations - planning, monitoring & maintenance control over the long term after the initial weed control hit are an integral part of getting & keeping on top of invasive weeds.

The 'think ahead' message was reinforced again in the planting demonstration with a number of key considerations talked about including:
  • Is the area fenced off from stock?
  • What species are most likely to thrive on the selected site?
  • What density of species has been allocated to the area?
  • Is the area free of weeds or competition?
  • Is the planting hole the right size?
  • Will the plants be protected during their establishment?

Also discussed were some key planting rules:
  • Plant deep enough to cover the tube stock root ball well. Depth is more important than width
  • Loosen the roots slightly prior to planting
  • Loosen the planting hole soil to give the new roots the best chance to grow into the new soil.
  • Make sure your tube stock is wet prior to planting.

Participants took away with them some useful 'how to' reference materials as well as a free sample of chemicals for the control of Arum Lily.

Couldn't get to the workshop? Download the reference materials:


If you want advice or help for riparian planting or weed control then please contact:
Rick Ensley - M: 0439907119 | E: ensleyrick@yahoo.com.au
Debbie Legge - M:0456639661 | E: debbielegge801@gmail.com
This Demonstration Workshop was supported by funding from the Western Australian Government’s State NRM Program, from 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.
Be Weed Aware: Bridal Creeper ( Asparagus asparagoides )

This weed is a real 'nasty' character, as, unlike other invasive weeds which often only get a foothold in degraded sites or where there is bare soil, Bridal Creeper can take over a perfectly healthy area of bush without any problems. As a consequence it is considered the most important weed threat to biodiversity In South Australia and southwestern Western Australia.

How does it do it?
A thick mat of underground rhizomes and tubers makes up the bulk of the plant, which impede the root growth of other plants and often prevents seedling establishment. These tubers provide water, energy and nutrients that enable the plant to survive over summer and allow rapid shoot growth in autumn when its climbing stems and foliage smother native plants.

How can we control it?
Despite its obvious competitive advantages there are also weaknesses in its biology – it has a relatively short-lived seedbank, seed production only occurs on early emerging stems, and the seed output in old infestations is small. Depending on the density & location of the problem a choice of control options are available.
Find out more about this landscape menace & its control.
Unique & Special to the South West: Our Beautiful Orchids ( Orchidaceae)
In the Know!
RegenWA - Regenerative Agriculture Conference

Held earlier this month at Perth's Optus Stadium, a packed audience of 300 were introduced to the concepts of regenerative agriculture on a big picture scale & how they may be able to address the challenges we face now & into a future with our rapidly changing climate.

The State Government is on board with Minister MacTiernan telling the audience that Regen Ag projects are now included in the $7.5 million State NRM funding, plus a special Regen Ag section has been created within DPIRD to assist with the uptake of Regen Ag.

A who's who of the Regen Ag scene made up the list of speakers including Charles Massey , Terry McCosker , Walter Jehne & Dianne Heggarty with presentations that ranged from the very concerning to the amazingly positive & inspirational.

Here's what they had to say:



What all the talk really boiled down to was soil & water - regenerating & preserving what we have. This recent landline story, Future Soil: Excess carbon regenerating soils , gives an insight into how some farmers in Australia have managed to do both, and showcases what can be done without great cost but with enormous benefits both environmentally and to a farm's bottom line.
Minister Allanah MacTiernan speaking at the conference
There’s an old saying about soil ‘they’re not making any more of it’ - but some farmers are. They’re drawing on the excess carbon that’s warming the atmosphere and putting it in their soil – building fertility and holding precious water.
Why Cover Crop Your Pasture?
Why spend money on a crop I don't intend to harvest?
That's a fair question but there is more and more evidence pointing to the benefits of cover cropping ..so what are they? Here's what the evidence is showing - cover crops will:

Produce above ground biodiverse biomass that is beneficial for:
  • Livestock grazing - including filling the feed gaps on seasonal shoulders & in dry periods.
  • Pollinator and beneficial insects

Provide living roots in the soil that are beneficial for:
  • Mycorrhizal fungi and other soil biology
  • Nitrogen fixation
  • Nutrient (particularly phosphorus) availability, scavenging and cycling
  • Disease and pathogen suppression
  • Increased water infiltration
  • Increased soil structure and aggregation
  • Reduced soil compaction

Create soil armour through a residue mulch layer that is beneficial for:
  • Reduced or eliminated soil erosion
  • Decreased soil temperature
  • Decreased evaporative water loss
  • Increased water infiltration
  • Improved drought tolerance
  • Increased soil organic matter

Provide decayed root channels that promote:
  • Air and water movement into soils
  • Increased soil organic matter
  • Deeper rooting of subsequent crops through “pilot” holes

Convinced yet? Want to know more?
The Soil Health Education & Resource Guide produced by Green Cover Seed is a collection of articles that provide easy to understand but practical explanations on how, why & when to cover crop, their website even has a Smart Mix Calculator to help you determine your own personalised cover crop seed mix! Even though it's an American site, it's still useful!
This Nuffield Scholar is certainly sure of the benefits with his plan to 'keep it simple for year round grazing' . Read more .

“My three take-home messages from my Nuffield Scholarship are that:

  • We need to treat pastures like crops;
  • Subdivision and rotation are both critical in terms of rotating those cropping and pasture cycles, but also in terms of animals.
  • We need to find that centrepiece plant species and keep it simple.”
The Wrap Up - Dung Beetles - Unsung Heroes of the Soil

Another great 'Talkin' After Hours this month - this time all about Dung Beetles & what fantastic ecosystems engineers they are. Warren Catchments Council presenter Kathy Dawson also outlined their Dung Beetle project (funded through Rural R&D4Profit/MLA), which includes activities to identify current species, import new to fill ecosystem gaps, & build producers’ capacity to manage dung beetle populations.

Key benefits to having Dung Beetles on your property included:

  • improved nutrient cycling
  • improved soil structure & fertility
  • improved water use efficiency
  • enhanced pasture production
  • improved pest control

If you missed the presentation you can download the notes here . Another great resource well worth a look is the actual project website.

For those of you that want to 'dig deeper' into Dung Beetles in hard copy - get yourself a copy of 'Dung Down Under - Dung Beetles for Australia, by Bernard Doube & Tim Marshall. This great little book provides a detailed insight into the world of the dung beetle. If you would like a copy then contact Kathy Dawson on 08 97718180 or email   kathy.dawson@warrencc.org.au

The Lower Blackwood LCDC will be working with Kathy to identify species present in our neck of the woods & to see what species gaps we have. YOU CAN HELP - we are keen to hear from farmers who would like to help out by letting us know what beetles you have on your property. Alternatively you can download the MyDung Beetle Reporter Ap p & report your findings directly..detailed instructions on how to do this here:

Upcoming Events with Lower Blackwood LCDC
LOWER BLACKWOOD 2019 SPRING FIELD DAY
Showcasing 4 amazing properties in beautiful Rosa Glen
& the great diversity of sustainable farming enterprises in the area.
Proudly presented by the Lower Blackwood LCDC & the Lower South West Growers Group , this promises to be an information packed event not to be missed. Featuring great presenters & a fantastic combination of topics, we’ll be focused on local landholders’ sustainable agriculture enterprises & their secrets for success - get ready to be inspired!

Talks On ... - Grazing, Pasture & Fertiliser Management - Stacked Enterprises - Agritourism - Small Vineyard Production - Small Batch Wine Making

Demonstrations of ... - Fertiliser & Innoculant response comparisons - Pasture & soil measurement tech innovations - Sheep Shearing

On the Social Side ... - Lunch at the Berry Farm - Drinks & nibbles at Bullich Vale Vineyard

Where? Rosa Glen
When? Thursday October 10th 11.00am to 5.00pm
This event is proudly bought to you by:
HARDY INLET ESTUARY FORUM
What's happening in your local waterways?

The Department of Water and Environmental Regulation (DWER) and Lower Blackwood LCDC are providing an update on Hardy Inlet.

Come along to hear from DWER, Lower Blackwood LCDC, Augusta Margaret River Clean Community Energy Incorporated and other groups about the latest information on the health of the estuary, scientific research and on-ground actions implemented as a part of the Regional Estuaries Initiative.

Where? Augusta Hotel, 53 Blackwood Ave, Augusta
When? 4.30pm to 6.30pm, 22 October

Other Events You Might Want To Attend
Hit the trails at this fabulous birding spot. Join the hunt for theses beauties & more:

  • Splendid Fairy Wren
  • Western Spoonbill
  • White-breasted Robin

When? Monday September 30th 9.00 to 10.00am
Where? Ngligi Cave
How? RSVP to Cave staff T: 9780 5911 | E: attractions@margaretriver.com
“Symphony of the Soil”
  Farmer’s Seminar & Retreat
 
Join Bee Winfield from Merri Bee Organic Farmacy for 2 big days of practical soil building activities such as composting, worm farming and creating quality compost tea for broadacre. View tea under the microscope. See successful Permaculture strategies live
 
Where? Merri Bee Organic Farmacy, Nannup
When? November 2nd & 3rd
How? Contact Bee on 089756 1408 or by email merribeefarmacy@gmail.com
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 040 920 3056 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