Funding Source: Australian Government – Smart Farms, Small Grants, Round 3 Program
Timeline: June 2020 – October 2022
Funding received: $44 000 (GST exc.)
This project will continue to build on the knowledge and momentum gained from our successful Round 1 and 2 Smart Farms, Small Grants. With the consistency of our message to our community over the past two years, we are engaging with new members in our community and helping individuals to navigate a pathway through improved property and natural resource management. The Smart Farms Grants have been instrumental in helping our community learn new skills and strategies to sensibly manage their farms.
The key objective of our current project is to increase carbon in soils and vegetation on farm. This will be achieved by establishing shade and shelter sites on agricultural properties in our area, using revegetation as a tool to mitigate the impacts of our changing climate and extreme weather events. Two workshops will also link landholders to climate web based forecasting tools recently released and regenerative agriculture concepts and practices.
Round 1 and 2 of this grant program has helped our community to understand that we need to accept these changes in weather and plan and adapt moving forward to address these climate risks. We have begun on this path and have gained great momentum for continuing to make changes in our thinking and behaviour with respect to land management.
Cumulatively increasing shade and shelter on individual properties will increase the level of vegetation right across the landscape. Carbon sequestration is a key mitigation option for climate change impacts. Carbon sequestration through the establishment of shelterbelts, corridors and blocks of shade achieves multiple biodiversity and productivity benefits.
Our project proposal is to:
- Establish shelterbelts and blocks of shade on 4 hectares of agricultural land, covering at least 8 sites.
- Present two workshops to our community.
- The first session will cover the web based climate forecasting tools that are now available online with assistance from two key Agriculture Victoria staff and the use of soil moisture probes for making decisions about crop irrigation.
- The second session will present an introduction to regenerative farming practices, with particular emphasis on crop selection and building soil carbon.
- Establish 100 new paddock trees across the catchment.
Climate forecasting tools – Webinar recordings
Soil Moisture Probes – Dale Boyd from Agriculture Victoria
In this webinar, Dale Boyd the co-coordinator for the Soil Moisture Monitoring Dashboard with Agriculture Victoria, provides an overview of how to use the Victorian soil moisture monitoring dashboard with questions at the end. Very relevant to our area, which features three probes located at Greta.
Video runs for 58 minutes. Recorded 10th December 2021
Local climate history and future climate drivers
In this webinar, Graeme Anderson, Climate Specialist from Agriculture Victoria, will talk us through seasonal variability, ElNino-LaNina, Indian Ocean Dipole – these climate drivers have their fingerprints all over our regions wetter and drier years. Graeme will run through our longer term rainfall history and will talk about what’s normal, what isn’t and what we should be planning for in the coming years, as well as sharing some new climate and forecast tools for farmers.
Video runs for 1 hr and 2 minutes. Recorded 7th February 2022.
Expression of Interest
We are now calling for Expressions of Interest for landholders wishing to undertake works on their property during 2021. The Expression of Interest (EoI) Process will open on the 1st September and close on the Monday 5th October 2020.
Note that the funding we have for next year is less than half of what we had available in 2020. We expect to be over-subscribed, so please submit your ideas for next years’ projects before the closing date to ensure we can consider your site for funding.
What type of projects can be funded?
Funding is available to support projects that provide shade and shelter for your stock. Shelter belts, paddock trees and native vegetation provide enormous benefits in extreme hot and cold weather events to livestock productivity, as well as being valuable assets for biodiversity and carbon sequestration.
Eligible types of project sites include:
– Blocks of shade – e.g. small fenced areas 30-50m square with trees for shade, or corner triangles
– Shelterbelts – multiple rows of trees and/or shrubs, designed to suit your needs, straight or L-shaped
– Fencing of farm dams – to reduce evaporation, filter inflows and provide cleaner and cooler water for stock
– Fencing of creeks – to provide windbreaks and shade
– Planting into existing fenced areas to develop shade or create a windbreak.
We can also discuss other planting arrangements for your property on an individual basis.
The following activities cannot be funded under this project:
– Construction of dams, or supply of stock watering infrastructure such as troughs and tanks
– Construction of boundary fencing
– Revegetation using exotic species. All species used must be native and indigenous to our area.
There are some excellent handouts to help guide ideas for constructing shade and shelter sites on your property on our website at www.gretalandcare.org.au/library/ . Click on the drop down menus, such as ‘shelterbelts’ or ‘farm dams’ for a list of useful short documents.
Funding rebates for sites
We will provide the same financial incentives as that offered during the previous two years for the fencing and planting:
- Fencing rebate – $4000/hectare of land fenced. This incentive is to cover the cost of fencing for your site. This rebate is paid to the landholder on completion of all fencing and revegetation at the site. If your site is already fenced, you will not be eligible for a fencing rebate.
- Tube stock planting – Up to $4.00 per unit (tree and guard) paid for by the Landcare Group. Landholder to plant. $0.50 per plant is required as a landholder contribution, retained for purchasing top up plants by Group.
- Direct seeding – using wattle species only. Up to $800/hectare paid for by Landcare Group. 25% landholder contribution (min $50 per site) towards seeding cost, retained for purchasing top up plants by Group. The landholder will also be required to hand plant trees and some additional shrubs as tube stock to create the overall structure and diversity for the site. Direct seeding is most suitable for areas of 1ha or greater.
Funding for project sites will be confirmed when sites are inspected. You will be provided with a Letter of Offer for your site that outlines what funding is available to complete your project.
- Design your site – We can provide practical advice on how to design shade and shelter on your property for a productive farming system. Under the current restrictions, this is being done with our Project Officer via phone consultation or an online Zoom meeting (with facilitated discussion using an aerial photograph of your property).
- Register your project – If you already know what you would like to do, fill in a Project Registration Form and return to us. We will get in touch to discuss further.
- Ranking of projects – Depending on the number of Expressions of Interest we receive, we may not be able to fund all projects. Proposed sites will be assessed and we will do what we can to assist as many members as possible, as fairly as possible. We will advise you if we can/can’t fund your site.
- Site inspections – Assuming restrictions ease, we will be out to assess your site pre-Christmas to finalise the site plan, allowing us to order plants with the nurseries and issuing contracts so that you can prepare sites over summer and autumn.
Please note that the Group has a clear process it follows for funding project sites. Information about our grant application process and the Project Registration Form can be found on our website at www.gretalandcare.org.au/work-on-your-own-patch/. A paper copy of the form can also be posted to you if required.
Onground works were completed during 2021 and early 2022 for this project:
- We engaged directly with 12 landholders to deliver 14 shelterbelts over a total of 12.1ha.
- 4.3km of fencing was erected and 3140 native trees and shrubs were planted as tubestock.
- 460 new paddock trees were planted in our local area.
- 3 laminated property plans were also developed for those landholders who had never used these as a planning tool previously.
- Four workshops were also held to link landholders to climate web based forecasting tools recently released and regenerative agriculture concepts and practices.
Photos for a selection of our project sites are shown below. Please hover over the photo to read the caption for each site.
This project is supported by the Greta Valley Landcare Group through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.