STABILISING STREAMBANKS

11 AUGUST 2022

Rainforest trees are the newest addition to beef producer David Andersen’s property, where a swag of changes is improving the land and productivity.

Two thousand trees were recently planted along stretches of streambank on the Malanda farm.

2000 trees planted to stabilise streambanks

“They’re in areas where cattle have been eroding the steep banks, some of them (banks) three to five metres high,’’ Dave says. “In big rain, the exposed topsoil just washes away.”

The Andersens have been working with natural resource management organisation Terrain NRM to reduce erosion by fencing off and revegetating waterways, as well as fine-tuning grazing management practices.

Smaller paddocks improving pastures

They began dividing paddocks when they first bought the land and, with help from Terrain NRM’s Upper Johnstone Integrated Project, they have recently created another three paddocks.

“By reducing the size of some of our larger paddocks, all of the paddock is more efficiently grazed down instead of just the sweet stuff,” David said.

Cattle rotation changes

“The cattle are then rotated around the farm allowing the tropical grasses and legumes a good recovery period. Whereas before there were big clumps of grass with underlying patches of dirt, the grass is now starting to spread and tighten up.”

Terrain’s Vanessa Drysdale said a combination of grazing management changes and tree-planting was chosen for the Andersen property as an effective solution to the erosion issues.

“On other properties there have been earthworks like Zuni bowls installed, which are then combined with revegetation work,’’ she said. “But we didn’t need the hard works on the Andersen property. Revegetation alone should do the trick for long-term repair on these streambanks. Tree root systems hold banks together and they slow water down in heavy rain events, reducing the chances of topsoil loss and of more erosion.”

The creation of a native fruit orchard, as part of the revegetation work, has been a bonus at the Andersen family’s property.

Native fruit ‘orchard’ in revegetation

FNQ Weed Services’ Andy Lilley saw the children’s interest in the project and that gave him the idea to plant clumps of native fruit trees – from Davidson Plums and lemon aspen to tamarinds – on the edges of the reforestation areas so they were easy to harvest.

“They will be a special legacy for being involved in improving the land, as well as the quality of water flowing down waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef,’’ Vanessa said.

Johnstone River a priority for water quality improvement

The Johnstone River catchment is a priority for water quality improvement, with the Far North’s highest sediment reduction target. The Andersens are one of more than a dozen grazing families whose land was worked on as part of the Upper Johnstone Integrated Project, which is funded by the Queensland Government’s Natural Resources Investment Program. More than 50 other farming families have also been involved in soil health, business management and grazing workshops.

For more information, visit the Upper Johnstone Integrated Project page.

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