Creek crossings to stop erosion

October 2, 2019

Creek crossings built on a Tablelands farm are the latest stage in a major project to tackle erosion, improve productivity for graziers and better protect the Great Barrier Reef.

Beef cattle breeder Rob Pagano has been working with Terrain NRM on his Tarzali property where stream banks and springs dissect the land and cause erosion problems in the wet season. Three crossings have been installed using a series of standard industrial-strength poly pipes.

“We have springs all the way along stream banks so it gets pretty muddy and disturbed when the cattle are going through, as well as the tractor,’’ Mr Pagano said.  “They feed into Ithaca Creek and then the North Johnstone River.

“We’d created smaller crossings with pipes before, put troughs in all the paddocks and fenced so this work has built on what was already happening.”

The new crossings are part of the $2.3 million Upper Johnstone Integrated Project, funded by the Queensland Government’s Natural Resources Investment Program and delivered by Terrain NRM. The focus is on erosion hotspots in the Tablelands-Innisfail region.

Terrain NRM’s Jen Mackenzie said landholders were building on the help they were being given.

“We are providing assistance with the earthworks and increasingly we’re seeing that this reinvigorates people’s enthusiasm for changes to grazing management practices,’’ she said. “These changes include re-grassing, fencing areas off and installing additional water points.”

Other Upper Johnstone Integrated Project works have included rock features known as Zuni bowls to stop gully erosion and a series of workshops for Far Northern landholders on ways to improve grazing practices, pasture management and soil health.

Mr Pagano said his next steps were planting grasses along the stream banks and doing more fencing.

“The cattle are locked off the new crossings and they will be until after the wet season,’’ he said. “I want to plant grasses and let them grow with no pressure on them. This has been great for me. You want to do what’s best for the land and the cows but you can’t always afford to take those steps all at once.”

Mr Pagano bought his 72-hectare property in 2002 when it was made up of three large paddocks. He has fenced to create 28 paddocks and planted trees.

“Cattle cross waterways where they want to cross them, so all my crossings are now where the cattle want to go,” he said.

“With the extra fencing we can keep the cattle away from erosion spots and manage our pastures better when it gets wet by moving stock through paddocks more quickly so there is less damage to the soil,” he said.

Ms Mackenzie said the Johnstone River catchment was a priority for water quality improvement and had been given the Far North’s highest sediment reduction target in the Australian and Queensland Government’s Reef 2050 Water Quality Improvement Plan.

“This project is all about reducing sediment losses to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon while helping graziers to help themselves by addressing erosion problems and improving their pastures and livelihoods,’’ she said.

For more information about the Upper Johnstone Integrated Project, visit our project webpage.