Smart farmers beat the heat

Funding Source: Australian Government – Smart Farms, Small Grants, Round 2 Program

Timeline: July 2019 – June 2021

Funding received: $84 000 (GST exc.)

 


Project Description

Shelterbelts have been used successfully in our Landcare group catchment area for over 20 years. For those farmers who developed shelterbelts years ago, their productivity benefits are well known and understood. The reduction in wind and provision of shade are obvious and over time as the birds move back into these landscapes, their assistance with pollination, pest insect attack and amenity also often resonate with farmers.

This project continues to build on the knowledge and momentum gained from our successful Round 1 project, by continuing to expand on the development of essential shade and shelter across the catchment. Primarily this will be achieved by offering financial incentives to establish new shelter belts, shade blocks and shelter for farm dams; but will be extended by the inclusion of fodder species into appropriate revegetation sites to provide for emergency feed during drought years.

We are crucially aware of the loss of old paddock trees in our landscape and their vital importance for shade for stock and as a biodiversity asset. Paddock trees are the only remaining shade on some properties. Since our Groups establishment in 1992, we have had a long history of planting to provide corridors and windbreaks for our members, with many sites now well over 20 years old and performing well in our landscape. From experience we know what can be achieved.

We see the development of shade and shelter across our landscape as a key tool to mitigate climate change and support our agricultural producers. Many producers are aware of the need for shade, but do not fully understand the science behind the design of the shelterbelts (number of rows and density), appropriate species selection (shrubs must be included for adequate wind protection at ground level, not just trees) and the best methods of establishment. We can provide support to our producers to encourage them to develop appropriate plans for their properties and to assist them to actually get the shade established.

Community support for this project is high, for what we plant today, will become the shade and foundation for our future farmers.

Project activities will include:

  • Establishing vegetation to provide essential shade and shelter on 10.5 hectares of agricultural land across at least 9 sites. Revegetation to establish native indigenous trees and shrubs will be undertaken using tube stock, selectively include suitable fodder plants into some shelterbelts to provide additional fodder sources in times of drought.
  • Fencing to protect our vegetation whilst establishing and exclude stock from sites. For producers where shade is the critical issue, the belts and blocks will be sited such that they provide optimal shade during the hot afternoon sun (noon-7pm). For producers where wind protection is required, belts will generally be orientated to protect against cold southerly winds during the winter months.
  • 200 new paddock trees will also be planted, to support our long term program of paddock tree re-establishment across the catchment.
  • One Farm Gate workshop under this project to extend our planting concepts to investigate options for the inclusion of fodder species into our shelter belts, with consideration of our local rainfall conditions and what will grow successfully in our local area.

Outcomes

We commenced our onground works program in 2020 for this project. Sites completed in winter 2020 comprised:

  • Thirty one shade and shelter sites were completed during winter 2020, over a total area of 12ha.
  • 7km of fencing was erected, with 9ha of revegetation established using planted tubestock.
  • 6500 tubestock were planted, comprising of 1500 trees and 5000 shrubs.
  • 7 laminated property plans were also developed for those landholders who had never used these as a planning tool previously.
  • 200 new paddock trees were established.

Photos for a selection of our project sites are shown below. Please hover over the photo to read the caption for each site.

 

The Group has also been successful in receiving funding under Round 3 of the Smart Farms, Small Grants program. This funding will allow us to continue rolling out a program of developing shade and shelter sites across our catchment. Please check our current projects for more information.

 

This project is supported by the Greta Valley Landcare Group through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.