Far South Coast Champions

Far South Coast Landcare’s Champions of the Catchment

Sue and Paul Balfour

Balfours

Since 2006, Paul, Sue, Joshua and Matthew Balfour have farmed “Malmani”, a 124 ha property near Candelo. When they arrived, the property had only a few native trees and Tylers Creek, which runs through the farm, had unrestricted stock access and weed infestations. A 20 ha hanging swamp, which provided water over dry times, was retreating through numerous nick-points.

In addition, pastures were bare and open, pH was low, and there was a reliance on nitrogen and other synthetic fertilizers.

In the past few years, the family has planted 6000 natives, established 4.5 ha of shelterbelts, fenced and revegetated 10 kms of the creek, and stabilised the erosion of the hanging swamp. They have also moved into non-synthetic fertilizers, lifted the soil pH, and seen the worm population grow.

Much of this work has been supported by the Bega Environment Management Systems, a partnership between Bega Cheese and Southern Rivers CMA.

Heidi and Bruce Davison

Davisons

The Davisons started farming at Candelo in 2004. Then, their farm had a pH of 4.6, a good covering of African lovegrass and Blackberry, and little soil biology activity – indicated by the long time pasture litter took to break down. A consultant estimated $33,000 worth of dolomite and lime would help, but instead Heidi and Bruce turned to worms. They began spraying plots with worm juice and within 6 months the pH had risen to 6.5, soil biology had increased, and legumes were starting to re-establish naturally. By contrast, 12 months later, the plots given a dose of lime had not changed, and a faint layer of lime could still be seen on the surface.

Heidi and Bruce have a farm management system they call an “Integrated Natural Systems Approach”. The worm juice improves the soil biology, the grasses – including African lovegrass – become sweeter and more palatable. As soil fertility rises, there are more worms and the land has a much better water holding capacity, while weeds are less of a problem. Grazing management means improved soil and animal health, to the point they no longer vaccinate and drench only once a year.  In the 2009/10 drought, their heifers were growing at 1.4 kg a day on African lovegrass … a weed.

Sue McIntyre and Greg Carton

Sue and Greg

When Greg and Sue started farming oysters 14 years ago, the Pambula lake oyster industry was struggling and uncertain. The oyster growers had an “under siege” mentality and were more reactionary and adversarial than strategic and open.

Greg and Sue began by developing a partnership with Far South Coast Landcare and Southern Rivers CMA, and at the same time, mobilising local growers on the big issue of water quality.  Taking a wider catchment view meant the industry needed to work at building partnerships with land use regulators, landowners and waterway users.

The Pambula Lake oyster growers recognise their role in environmental stewardship, are now a lot more pro-active in shooting for high quality estuarine water. Hey now keep communication lines open and flowing and regularly run education and training sessions.

Far South Coast Weeds Project

 

Weeds team

The Far South Coast Weeds Project began 4 years ago when Stuart Cameron – a botanist and Coastcarer – approached Bega Valley Shire Council and Southern Rivers CMA, advocating an integrated approach to coastal weeds management.

For the first time, separate weeds control agencies were brought together to create a unified effort under a single steering committee. A comprehensive weed survey of the Far South coastline was done, priority species were established, and target areas selected.

Local contractors, Bega Valley Shire staff and volunteers then carried out on-ground control. In addition, Stuart worked with local Aboriginal Land Councils to established Koori Work Crews. These have been led and trained by Stuart and take six monthly sweeps along the coast, removing such weeds as sea spurge, beach daisy and bitou bush.

Long-term landscape scale change is occurring, as with weeds under control, revegetation projects are now under way.

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