Improving land management practices
Increased knowledge of no-till and stubble retention practices has reduced soil disturbance and erosion in the Wimmera. The annual Wimmera Cropland Management Transect reflects the large increase in no-till practices, and the Vic No-Till Farmers Association has a strong membership base in the Wimmera region. Intensive consultation with community groups, agencies and partners through the development of the Wimmera Regional Catchment Strategy (RCS) highlighted there is now a common understanding that maintaining ground cover is the single most important thing a landholder can do to protect their soil from erosion.
Charles Sturt University undertook market research in the Wimmera in 2011, providing baseline NRM information on social trends as part of the development process for the RCS. The sample of 496 rural landholders nominated the decline in soil health as the equal most important environmental issues affecting our region.
The ILMP project integrated saltbush landholder incentives, group-driven sustainable farming trials, native pasture trials and perennial pasture trials and awareness-raising activities to improve practices and landholder capacity and intent to reduce the risk of soil erosion on poorly performing paddocks in key local salinity-prone areas.
- 13 landholder stewardship agreements for saltbush planting over 44ha.
- 3 native pasture trial sites over 24ha demonstrating the viability of establishing native pasture to improve fragile, infertile and unproductive soils and incorporating native pasture grazing into land management practices.
- 4 sustainable farming trials hosted by local Landcare groups with 76 farmers supported and demonstrating intent to improve at least 192ha of land. A site tour was conducted and landholders were surveyed about what practices they would modify and about the delivery of the project.
- 3 perennial pastures trials over 42ha.
- 36 participants attended a pasture improvement workshop on improved lucerne pasture management.
- 5 landholders supported to conduct variable lime trials over 150ha in a partnership involving the Wimmera and Glenelg Hopkins NRM regions.
Wimmera CMA engaged CSIRO to evaluate the delivery mechanisms used for this and other projects against best practice information or principles. The evaluation has found the group support which underpinned most components of the ILMP project met an important need within the community in facilitating landscape scale management. The evaluation also identified an opportunity to more effectively apply a prioritisation metric to saltbush land stewardship incentives, and this program improvement will be implemented as a result of the project.
The Perennial Pasture Systems group used support through the project to increase membership to 80 local farm businesses with a total farming area of 75113ha, managing 509,135 DSEs. The PPS group was recognised as the Wimmera Landcare Regional Group award winner and Victorian State Landcare Innovative Community Group Award runner up for 2013.
CMA Board membership has been strengthened by increased representation from the northern Wimmera plains in 2013. This outcome has been helped by the Landcare relationships supported through the ILMP project.
The project was funded by CFoC, Landcare Support and DPI (now DEPI) in-kind and ran from July 2012 to June 2013.