Workshops 2020

Benefits of retaining native vegetation

Hay Plains Landcare was delighted with the response to the Zara Conservation Sandhill Field Trip last week.  In excess of 30 interested landholders and community members gathered at the Wanganella Store for registration and morning tea before undertaking the short drive to Zara to observe the unique landscape that has been protected from livestock grazing since 1994. The significance of the site was not lost on the wider community when members travelled from Hillston, Morundah, Jerilderie, Deniliquin and Hay to take part.

District landholder, Martin Driver, “Barrabool”, Conargo; shared his ecological knowledge, giving an interesting history of the site with those present. He also provided resources to help identify many of the species being observed.  Hay Rangelands Plant ID Photo Guide, produced in 2018 in conjunction with NSW Local Land Services, Murrumbidgee Landcare and  Bel’s Rural Photography, was made available to members and provided a record of the observations at Zara.

The natural beauty of the landscape and many of species, that were in various stages of reproduction was spectacular and the cameras were working overtime.

Murrumbidgee Landcare who partnered with Hay Plains Landcare and Riverina Local Land Services to stage ‘the walk’ saw the opportunity presented and had the day filmed.

Members came away with a renewed vigour for the collection of native seed which will roll well into the schedule of Hay Plains Landcare first activity for January 2021, Native Seed Collection and Storage. New members are always welcome and all members should keep an eye on the Hay Plains Landcare Facebook page for upcoming events. Drones in Agriculture and Soils, ‘what lives beneath’ are on in the lead up to Christmas so there has never been a better time to be a member of Hay Plains Landcare. 

Soil Biology

Soil, our lives depend on it.

When Hay Plains Landcare Chairman Bert Matthews and wife Liz, chose to disperse their Merino flock in August 2018, the decision was taken so that their property would not be reduced to bare ground.

Bert recalled their property had been bared twice in his memory, first on the 21st of November 1990 by a bushfire which devastated many properties south east of Hay,  and a second time when nearly all vegetation was removed after raging duststorms  at the end of the millennial drought , 2002 – 2009, and soils also began to move.

“Observations during the recovery phase following those two events put me in a state of alert as to how we manage the land resource we all rely on. In February 2019, while most landholders were busy attending to the welfare of their livestock, I undertook a Soil Biology Course online through the “Soil Food Web”.

Bacteria , fungi, protozoa, flagelettes , amoebe, nematodes, micro and macro arthropods,  were all  terms I had heard about but never really understood the relationships between the plants that grow in the paddocks and the soils that they grow in. It is the biology in the soil which determines which plants grow.”

Every decision we make on the land and in the gardens which we manage, directly affects the ‘critters ‘in the Soil.

Hay Plains Landcare have been able to secure David Hardwick of, Soil Food Land, to deliver a one day course to help us understand that what we do on the surface of the land directly affects the biology in the soil and hence the vegetation growing in it.

“I consider this knowledge to be in the interest of every resident in Hay and District. Right up there with the “Life Time Ewe Project” rolled out by AWI and MLA.” said Bert.

Drones in Agriculture Training

Hay Plains Landcare kindly hosted two informative Drone workshops with Ben Watts from Bralca. The course held on Tuesday 15th December was run at Wooloondool Farm and made available by a successful partnership with NSW Farmers and the AgSkilled 2.0 program.

The Course held on Wednesday 16th December was run at the Booligal Hotel and cricket oval with the support of Murrumbidgee Landcare Inc.  

The courses promoted the use of drone facilitation in agriculture. This informative session was run by Tristan and Ben to educate 25 local farmers and community members on how to operate drones and take advantage of their forward technology for efficient farming. The day started with a theoretical component, ensuring all participants were educated on the rules and regulations involved with using a drone, as per CASA (civil aviation safety authority) guidelines, as well as ensuring proficiency in basic drone operations. This aspect of the course was crucial before handling the drones themselves, to ensure safety for all involved. We then had an interactive discussion to gain a deeper understanding on how drones can benefit farmers and potentially alleviate current agricultural practices to minimise costs and maximise yields on the farm. This was highly informative as Tristan explained his experience with the technological advances of drones on a greater and more advanced scale, especially in Canada. This included practices such as monitoring crop health, crop spraying, irrigation mapping and surveying and livestock management using thermal imaging cameras on drones. After a quick break for morning tea, the real fun of operating the drones commenced. Supervised by Ben and Tristan, all participants had the opportunity to fly Phantom drones in a controlled environment. We practised the basic functions of flying drones and familiarising ourselves with their capabilities by performing short stints at a time. Following lunch, we tested their capabilities a little further by flying the drones higher and farther, which presented other challenges such as native birds and wind. We also had the pleasure of witnessing crop mapping using one of the more advanced drones, producing a highly accurate and detailed geothermal image of the farm in minutes. Overall, the day was a great success and a lot of knowledge was consumed. Hopefully, some of it will be put into practice on local farms soon.

Humane destruction of pest animals and livestock

Hay Plains Landcare are offering a free Firearms training course for women on the Land.

Hay Plains Landcare are aiming to help raise the profile of women in farming, recognising that women are taking a much more active role in day-to-day farming activities. The group hopes to help empower women to use firearms safely for the humane destruction of pest animals and livestock, through a new firearms course being offered to women on the land.

The humane destruction of livestock, animals caught in traps or shooting pest animals on the farm requires qualified, licensed and capable firearms operators. During times of economic depression or emergency, stockowners are faced with the difficult decision of on-farm destruction of their animals. Pest animals also require the use of firearms, in order to prevent the significant impact they can have through loss and damage to stock and infrastructure, as well as damage to the environment and cultural heritage sites.

While many male landholders hold Firearms Licenses and are confident in the safe handling and storage of their guns, the same is often not the case for females. Yet it is often the female that encounters an animal in need of euthanizing.

The firearm Safety and Training course has two components, a theory test and practical handling test. Once completed, the firearm safety training council will send out a Statement of Attainment direct to Applicant to be attached to their Firearms Licence Application, this is done online through NSW Police Force Firearms Registry, and is independent from the course we do, course participant will need proof of identity i.e. Drivers licence.

Reinvigorate Hay Plains Landcare

Hay Plains Landcare Network Gathering. 1st October 2020.

Hay Plains Landcare held a very informative Network Gathering last week, 34 landholders and Landcare enthusiasts took advantage of the gathering listening to guest speaker Geoff Minchin, Mixed Farming Systems Officer with Riverina Local Land Services, give a presentation on Sustainable Options for Irrigators.

 Peter Ewin from NSW Biodiversity Trust, Albury, conducts conservation assessments for projects that can receive funding from that agency.  He outlined opportunities for landholders to participate in the next round of tenders in the Plains-wanderer Incentive Project.  This tender process is part of the NSW Government, Save our Species Project, and is in partnership with the Australian Government and National Landcare Program. 

The key to a successful tender is having in excess of 100 ha of ‘primary habitat’ on your property. Interested landholders should express their interest in participating in the project at the office of Riverina Local Land Services.

The evening was brought together by recently appointed Bidgee West Murrumbidgee Landcare Co-ordinator, Jade Auldist. Jade has injected a great deal of enthusiasm into her role and created a display of Native plant seedlings, Bush Tucker seedlings and recipes to give away along with many publications which document our Aboriginal heritage, photographic plant guides and Wiradjuri  plant use in the Murrumbidgee catchment.

Jade also has created a Hay Plains Landcare, facebook page and it contains a wealth of information and will highlight all the activities of Hay Plains Landcare in the future. Be sure to give it a ‘like’.

Renee Woods gave a brief summary of the benefits being seen with the river flows into Gayini wetlands and a Murrumbidgee water update.

 Hay Plains Landcare Annual General Meeting.

The Hay Plains Landcare Group, cleverly, held their Annual General Meeting following the Network Gathering and all positions were vacated and an election was held.  A vote of thanks was passed to the former Chairman Geoff Chapman for keeping Hay Plains Landcare active during the last particularly dry period when a lot of landholders were focused on survival of their businesses rather than participate in Landcare activities.  

The meeting elected the following office bearers for 2020 / 2021;

President: Bert Matthews

Vice President: Rene Woods

Secretary: Lucinda Williamson

Treasurer: Adrian Lobbe

Publicity Officer: Daisy Barnes

Public Officer: Nerida Reid

The meeting also elected the following committee members:-  Dean Whitehead, Kerry Barnes, Mick Cattanach, Ian Lugsdin, Sally Ware, Rowan Houston, Richard Cannon, Linda Stewart, John Headon, Bede Schiller, Michelle Spence, Geoff Chapman, Jan Auldist and Will Schiller.

A planning meeting will be convened on the 29th of October 2020 where it is expected a full and active program for the next 12 months will be adopted. 

Any persons with ideas on community projects that relate to Landcare are asked to make it known to any one of the Hay Plains Landcare Committee members and we can work together to make it happen.