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Hobby Farms and Small Properties in the Upper Bremer River catchment in South Australia.

A report

Lynne Shandley, PhD
 
 

Abstract:

The Mt Lofty Ranges of South Australia form the major barrier between Adelaide and the plains to the east. The Bremer River catchment encompasses the south-eastern part of the Lofty Ranges and is only one to two hours drive from Adelaide. After white settlement, the Bremer has been mostly cleared of native vegetation and used for agriculture but the number of hobby farms and weekenders has increased greatly in the last thirty or so years.  Significant land degradation has occurred in the upper Bremer catchment, and the Lofties as a whole. Native bushland has been cleared, salinity and erosion rates have increased, properties subdivided, population pressure has increased, pest plants and animals have gained footholds, and so forth.  Hobby farmers and small property owners have inherited the problems faced by the previous landowners.   As the land degradation issues are faced across the whole community, not simply a select group of land users, it is seen as a problem at the level of government.  The response of local and state governments has been to introduce a local action plan for the upper Bremer as part of a wider catchment management plan for the Bremer-Barker area.  Small property and hobby farm owners are handicapped by lack of experience in land management and access to remediation resources.  The local action plan has been in operation for two years. It is too early to say with confidence that the land degradation issues are being resolved, but significant steps have been taken in the implementation of local area plans and education of local landowners.  A case study of a small property owner shows that even with limited time and budget, significant changes can occur in land degradation facing hobbyist landowners.

Introduction:

The Bremer-Barker Catchment:
The Bremer River is located about 35 kilometres south-east of Adelaide in the Mt Lofty Ranges.  It encompasses a range of land types from steep hill country with high rainfall (up to 800mm per annum) to plains with low rainfall (375mm) (BBCG 1996, Ellis 2000).  Unlike most of the other catchments in the Lofty Ranges, the Bremer Barker catchment drains into Lake Alexandrina - it forms part of the Murray Darling basin.  A number of subcatchments form the  bremer-Barker catchment (figure one).

The Peram Angk aboriginal tribe had left traces of their presence all over the valley. The Bald Hills between Mt Barker and Nairne were not cleared by Europeans. It is likely that the Peram Angk used fire to change the vegetation, as Aborigines did in other parts of Australia, to control the types of food and game available.

The Bremer Valley was first recorded in white history by Charles Sturt in 1830 (Mills, 1996). He noted fertile country to the right bank of the River Murray and a single peak standing above the highlands. Robert Cock led a party of explorers who discovered the Bremer River on christmas day 1837. John Morphett was the first white man to climb Mt Barker sometime in 1837. Since then, European colonisation has wrought many changes upon the valley.

The most obvious change is the clearing of the valley and surrounding hills (see figure two for a map of pre-clearing vegetation). An old letter dated 1849 describes the fatness of the cattle and the wide variety of useful timbers growing in the area of St Ives, where the Princes freeway now cuts through bare, dry hills (Mills, 1996). A pioneer bootmaker of Callington, WB Sexton, described the sloping banks of the Bremer River with its dense populations of young redgums. In the 1880s, rabbits found their way to the valley and bred in plague proportions, devastating both native bushland and pastureland. The release of myxomoyosis in 1951 reduced the massive rabbit population thereby reducing grazing pressure and allowed some regeneration of native plants along the roadsides.  The current main landuse is dryland grazing and agricultural cropping/grazing.  A number of small properties and hobby farms are found in the catchment along with piggeries, chicken farms, vineyards and orchards.

Upper Bremer catchment:
Little is recorded of the early history of the upper Bremer River. An exploratory party travelling from Adelaide to the River Murray in 1888 camped overnight by a spring in the valley near what is now Harrogate (Mills, 1996). The spring water turned out to be so salty that they did not have billy tea in the morning.  It would seem that the groundwater of the Upper Bremer catchment is naturally saline.

Much of the land was uncleared well into the 1900s, most likely due to the hilly and rocky terrain, some of which is over 500m above sea level (BBCG, 1996, 1999a).   Loamy soils overlay clay and skeletal soils.  Rainfall averages 500-650mm per annum.  Landuse is mainly confined to grazing, altough some fodder and grain crops are found along with piggeries and dairies.  The groundwater is generally too saline for use in agriculture.  A number of small and hobby farms are found in the area (see locality map, figure two).  The hamlet of Harrogate is the only town found in the upper Bremer catchment area.

Hobby Farms and Small Properties:
For the purposes of this report, hobby farms and small properties will be defined as those properties that are privately owned and are not used to generate the main source of income for the owners.

Many such properties are used as "weekenders" - the owners do not live on site but are based in Adelaide.  Some properties are used as bases from which the owners commute to Adelaide to work ("rural living properties").  An example of such a property will be examined later in this report.  The land use of the property may be agistment for grazing animals such as horses, sheep or cattle.  The properties may be used for growing fruit and vegetables, although this is fairly uncommon in the often steep and rocky hills around Harrogate.  Vineyards are appearing in the Upper Bremer catchment.  Some owners have the intent of restoring the native bushland on their properties and remediating the damage caused by past uses of the land.

Stakeholders:
Stakeholders in the area include:

Local property owners, the local community and those downstream in the catchment are those most affected by land management problems and the implementation of on-ground activities to remediate problems.  Governments are affected by changes in revenue and availability of resources, and are seen as having the key responsibility in formulating regional strategies to combat land and water degradation.  Government agencies and NGOs provide technical expertise in the formulation and implementation of strategies.

Hobby farms and small properties may have different effects on the different stakeholders.  For example, one non-residential property owner may not control Patterson's Curse and capeweed, unlike his neighbour.  The weeds spread to the neighbour's paddocks and his cattle and horses are poisoned.  A small salt scald alone may not be a huge problem on a property, but one each on a hundred properties ends up dumping salty water into streams which flow into the Bremer River, which then affects those downstream relying on the river water such as irrigators.

Aim:

This study intends to examine hobby and small property farming in the upper Bremer catchment and determine how past land use has affected current land use.  Land degradation issues will be identified and solutions proposed for the problems faced.

The issues:

Problems faced by property owners in the Upper Bremer catchment:
Many of the land degradation issues that face farmers and corporate property owners are the same as those faced by small property owners.

Many of the land degradation issues have arisen in the last 40 to 50 years.  The major issues identified by the local community in the upper Bremer catchment are:

The salinity of the river in its upper catchment has increased to more than 2,000mg/L (flow weighted salinity) and surface water salinity averages arounds 7,000EC, and commonly is found to measure around 10,000EC, making salinity reduction a primary target of the Bremer Barker Catchment Management plan (BBCG, 1996, 1998, 1999a).   Groundwater is too saline for agricultural use.  Watertables have risen such that patches of land in the upper Bremer suffer secondary salinisation.  The hilly, rocky areas to the north and west of Harrogate often suffers saline seepages - soils are generally shallow, underlying bedrock is fractured and recharge rate is high (Ellis, 2000).  Waterlogging is unlikely in the area due to the terrain.  Finally, the health of the headwaters of the river can have substantial effects on the health of the river downstream.

The watercourses of the upper Bremer catchment suffer a number of degradation issues (BBCG 1998, 1999b).   The BBCG surveyed around 40% of watercourse banks in the uuper Bremer area during 1998.  It found that stock can access more than 80% of the watercourse banks surveyed in 1998, which can result in poor bank stability and erosion problems.  However, about 20% of the stream beds were exposed bedrock, indicating that watercourse erosion has reached an equilibrium.  Generally, the upper Bremer catchment suffers a moderate to high potential for water erosion, although gullying is unlikely (Ellis, 2000).  Less than 10% of banks surveyed in 1998 were found to have native vegetation, whilst more than 60% had problems with woody weeds such as gorse and briar roses.

Land slips occur in the hills around Harrogate.  The shallow soils are easily saturated by heavy rain and steep slopes have frequently been cleared of vegetation that would otherwise stabilise the slope.  Little native vegetation remains in the area except in rocky areas that are not amenable to clearing (Ellis, 2000).

Compounding the situation, the Lofty Ranges as a whole are becoming more popular with workers who wish to commute to Adelaide from a hobby farm or small property in the ranges. This is placing further pressure on farmland owners and infrastructure such as sewerage disposal. It is also introducing a new class of landowners who are not traditionally farmers.

Issues specific to small property owners:
The land degradation problems which affect local, resident farmers also affect hobby and small property farmers. The major difference between hobby farmers and local farmers is that the former generally tend not to work on the property full time.  This can affect the recognition of problems and the time available to rectify them.

Land and water degradation is widespread in the Upper Bremer catchment and gives some indication of the difficulty facing non-residential or commuting land owners.  Farmers working the land full time cite lack of resources and time and budgetary restraints in their efforts to reverse land degradation issues.  Those not working the land full time have very limited time in which to implement remediation of the problems found in their land.  They also may not have access to or even know about the resources available to help them respond to the problems on their property.  They may not know which problems require the most urgent action.  Many new property owners will not have the education or experience to evaluate their land and create a whole farm/property plan.  Finally, they may not even realise that there is a problem; for example, they do not have historical knowledge of how the farm looked when it was very productive, that the waterlogging is a new phenomenon, that the bald patch in the paddock is a salt scald, or that the pretty yellow plant is gorse.

The main problems facing small property owners are:


The response:

The main response to the land and water degradation issues in the upper Bremer and wider Bremer-Barker catchment has been co-ordinated by the local community and government.  Complicating the response is the number of organisations with responsibility for whole catchment; three local government areas (Mount Barker, Strathalbyn and Murray Bridge), three soil conservation boards (Murray Plains, Central Hills and Southern Hills), four revegetation strategy groups (Adelaide Hills, Murray Bridge, Mount Barker and Alexandrina) one state government (South Australia) and one commission (Murray Darling Basin).  Further, there are a number of state and federal government agencies such as SA Water, the State Revegetation Committee, ForestrySA, the Native Vegetation Council, the NDSP and the NHT that have agendas in the Lofty Ranges that may impact upon the Bremer Barker catchment (Ellis, 2000).

This report will concentrate on the efforts of the Bremer Barker Catchment Group (BBCG) as this is the group given main responsibility for implementing on ground works in the upper Bremer area.

The Bremer Barker Catchment Group:
The problem of increasing salinity in the Bremer River has been recognised by both government and the local community for some years.  In 1992, a steering commity was formed to develop a catchment management group (BBCGI, 1999a).  At a public meeting in August 1993, the BBCG was formed from landholders and members of the local community who were concerned about the land and water degradation issues faced by the catchment.  The BBCG plan forms part of the greater Goolwa to Wellington local action planning area, which comprises all catchments west of the Murray draining into Lake Alexandrina, which in turn forms part of the Natural Resources Management Strategy of the Murray Darling Basin.  The BBCG also falls within the auspices of the Mt Lofty Ranges Catchment Program (MLRCP), and actually operates from the same offices in Mount Barker.

Government funding for the development of a catchment plan was approved and a project officer apointed in November 1993.  Community consultation followed in creating the catchment plan and Landcare groups were formed in all the subcatchments.  The catchment plan was released in January 1996, and at the same time, the local action planning phase began.  Between January 1996 and June 1997, plans were drawn up to address and prioritise the main degradation issues in the catchment.  Extensive scientific research, with the assistance of state government bodies and external technical expertise, was undertaken as part of this process.  Funding was also obtained so that the plan could be actioned.  Finally, the implementation of the plan was developed in extensive consultation with the community.  On ground works began in January 1998.

The aims of the Bremer Barker Catchment Plan are to:

The Bremer-Barker catchment plan is supported by state government agencies and local governments and conservation boards.  It receives state government and Natural Heritage Trust funding.
 

The Upper Bremer Subcatchment Plan:
Within the BBCG are a number of sub-catchments (figure one), each with its own local action plan and priority areas.  The upper Bremer catchment falls within the Central Hills Soil Conservation Board and the Mount Barker Regional Revegetation Strategy.   The local action plan for each subcatchment within the BBCG has a three year implementation timeframe, in which key issues and causes are identified and prioritised, targets set, implementation strategies devised and timeframes for full implementation of the plan set.  The upper Bremer subcatchment local action plan addresses the various of the issues raised in table one.  The full plan can be examined in BBCG, 1999a.
 
TABLE ONE.  LAND DEGRADATION ISSUES IN THE UPPER BREMER AND REMEDIATION OF PROBLEMS
ISSUE SEVERITY RESPONSE/REMEDIATION RESPONSIBILITY
Salinity* locally severe revegetation of recharge areas with deep-rooted, high wateruse plants

fencing of watercourses and saline scalds

revegetation around scalds

landowner, greater community and government
Waterlogging locally severe fencing of waterlogged areas

drainage

revegetation of recharge areas with deep-rooted, high wateruse plants

landowner
Soil erosion* by water - locally severe
by wind - very little
fencing of eroded areas

encouragement of ground cover by seeding pasture or planting native vegetation

landowner, greater
community and 
government
Soil acidity* moderate liming of pastures landowner and greater community
Weeds* locally severe Woody weeds such as gorse, roses, broom are best controlled by slashing and spraying. 

Salvation jane (Patterson's curse) is best controlled by good pasture management and if necessary spray-grazing - spray with herbicide and then graze pasture to ground with shep, not cattle or horses

Capeweed and annual grassy weeds all can be controlled by spraying or spray-grazing or spray-topping.

landowner
(by legislation)
and local community
Stream degradation* locally severe fencing of watercourses, restricting animal access

revegetation of banks and removal of pest species such as willows

rehabilitation of saline affected areas

landowner, local community, wider community, government
Loss of biodiversity* severe fencing of remnant vegetation

replanting of native species

landowner, local community, wider community, government
Pest animals* moderate rabbits - calicivirus has reduced rabbit numbers.   Local populations can be reduced by poisoning, ripping or dynamiting and fumigation of warrens, and control of pest plants such as blackberry and gorse.  After rabbit control measures are put in place, fox and cat control must occur.

foxes and wild dogs - coordinated baiting across local area.  Fumigation of dens.

cats - shooting and trapping

landowner
(by legislation), local community

* - part of Upper Bremer local action plan (BBCGI 1999a). Italicised stakeholders are those identified as responsible for the major part of funding for remediation projects by the BBCGI in community consultation.
 

Action strategies:
The BBCG has put into place a number of strategies to help it attain its aims.  It is based in the Mt Lofty Ranges Catchment Resource Centre (MLRCRC) in the town of Mt Barker, where locals and other interested parties can obtain information about the plan along with regional land and water management issues.  In conjunction with the Mt Lofty soil conservation boards, using Natural Heritage Trust funds, the MLRCRC runs courses in land management for a variety of land use types, provides free land management advice for small property owners, runs field days and demonstration sites, and produces the "Small Talk" newsletter (see  http://www.mlrcp.sa.gov.au/ for further information about programs offered by the MLRCRC).   Pasture management is a focus of the program and a number of brochures can be obtained from the centre.

The BBCG has produced a number of booklets (such as those by Bradley examining weeds and eucalypt species present in the catchment) and pamphlets with information of interest to local land owners along with various kits such as the stream assessment kit, which gives information about measuring stream salinity and degradation and ways to remediate erosion and salinity.   It has a timetable of research activities and monitoring continues of soil and water degradation issues.  It co-ordinates funding applications for landcare groups and subcatchments, ensuring that funding is appropriate to the priorities of the local action plans for the subcatchments, and then helps implement on-ground works.  Over $2.5 million in NHT funds were secured for the Mount Lofty Ranges in 1998/9, with over $1 million allocated to the MLRCP.  The BBCG can apply for funding via Bushcare, Murray Darling, Landcare, the MLRCP and a number of other NHT-funded programs.

Education of absent land owners:
One of the greatest problems facing catchment-wide implementation of the local action plan is education of all community members.  Not all property owners are on the property during business hours - the hobby/small farm owners are often non-resident or commute to Adelaide or local towns to work.  They may not be able to attend the MLRCRC during working hours.  This has required after hours visits to properties by extension officers, pamphlet drops, phone calls and other methods of contacting people who are not resident during the day.  Farm planning and management courses, demonstration sites and on-farm visits have to be co-ordinated for weekends if they are to be attended by people who work off-property.  The BBCG and MLRCRC have recognised information has to be made widely available for after hours and weekend access, no doubt as a result of its community consultation.

Other strategies:
The Mount Lofty Ranges Regional Revegetation Strategy is a new (2000) strategy released under the auspices of PIRSA, the MLRCP and the SRC.   Its main focus is, obviously, the revegatation, preferably by native vegetation, of areas of the Mount Lofty Ranges that suffer land and water degradation.  The strategy is a wide-ranging examination of the vegetation issues found in the the Ranges, the options available to landholders, economic benefits of revegetation and means of implementing the strategy.
 
 

Opinion:

The Bremer Barker Catchment Plan is a document impressive in its range and ambition.  It seeks to remediate the damage caused by past land management and prevent further land and water degradation.  It has set in place a framework for action within the catchment.

The BBCG seems to have followed best practice guidelines in its construction and implementation of the local action plan.  It has undertaken extensive community consultation, seeking to gain opinions form all parts of the community.  It has broken the plan down into subcatchments so that it can best prioritise the responses needed to local problems and also so that local people feel that they are being listened to and that issues of importance to them are addressed.  It involves local schools in the measurement of stream salinity and waterwatch-type programs.

In talking to local residents of the upper Bremer area, it seems that their main complaint is based on the limited local extension services currently offered.  They would prefer to not have to travel far to attend field days or get information.  Further education of landowners, particularly of small property owners, would be of great help in the implementation of the local action plan.  During a visit to the area in August 2000, the writer found that many farmers seems to be unconcerned about the land and water degradation issues on their properties, if the lack of on-ground works are anything to go by.  Despite limited time and resources, several local hobby farmers and small property owners were very interested in attacking land degradation issues, had undertaken various courses and participated in Landcare activities, and were enthusiastically engaged in revegetating various parts of their properties.

Most of the strategies employed by the BBCG to encourage local land owners to participate in revegetation and soil and water remediation activities are based on improving productivity, community goodwill, long term land values and aesthetics.  Financial benefits of remediating problems with land and water have not been promoted as widely as they could be, possibly due to perceived negative impacts such as those associated with revegetating land that is productive to remediate land that is non-productive.  Many landowners are not in a financial position to undertake major works.  Revegetating  reuires preparation of the land to be replanted, has a high initial cost, both pecuniary and temporal, and requires followup to ensure that weeds or poor rains have not reduced the numbers of plants.  It takes a number of years for effects on watertables and salinity to be observed, although with good pasture management, improvements can be almost immediate.  However, there are federal government tax breaks or rebates offered for Landcarers and these could be promoted more heavily.  Other financial carrots could be offered - rebates on rates or heavily subsidised plants, fences, lime, etc, could be provided for those actively involved in improving the quality of their land.

Finally, to help new property owners, whether those intending to farm the land or those creating a 'rural living" base, an outreach program would be useful.  This could be formed of local landcarers or the local extension officers or even a pamphlet drop giving the new landowners information about the area and the community and government groups available to help them with land management problems.  This would have to be administered fairly carefully to avoid the perception of evangelicism.
 
 

Case study: The Squire Farm.

The Squire farm is a triangular 85 hectare property near Harrogate in the Upper Bremer catchment (figure three, highlighted pink triangle). There are indications that a small saw mill once operated by a small stream in the region of the lowest point in the property. The mill was most likely cutting the timber cut on the slopes above. The land was cleared its mountain gum and upland redgum woodlands some forty to fifty years ago (compare figures 4a and b). The farm was then used for dairying, although the dairy was located off the property. The upper paddocks were used for potato growing by the previous owner but this venture was most unsuccessful as the soil and drainage were not suitable for potatoes.

The wedge-shaped property forms the headwaters of two to three small streams which merge about halfway down the property (figure five). Two dams on the property capture water from two of the streams. The property slopes considerably: the point of the wedge is to the north-west and forms one of two high points on the property, some 60m higher than the base of the wedge in the valley. The other high point is on the north-eastern side of the property and forms a rocky outcropping of sandstone with some remnant native vegetation, being native pastures and a scattering of shrubs such as hop bushes. Two dykes of quartzite/sandstone run across the property about one third and halfway down the slope. The land slopes down from these quite steeply. Soils are duplex and show signs of waterlogging, mainly in the valley and also uphill of the dykes. The A horizon ranges in depth from a few centimetres to about 20cm across the property.

The problem:
In 1990, the farm was bought by the Squire family who intended to build a residence on the property and use it as an out of Adelaide base. All members of the family work in Adelaide.

Along with buying a rural property, The Squires inherited a number of problems related to the past use of the land. The land around the upper, larger dam was showing signs of severe salting. For about 10 metres, the land to the east up a gentle slope, was bare and little would grow upon it. White encrustations were seen on the soil. The overflow from the dam was an eroded but relatively stable channel with a rocky base. The lower dam also had a small scald associated with it.  Further up the slope from the small dam, to the north, a salt scald was apparent (figure six), associated with groundwater flow - tunnelling was clearly visible. The ground tended to be waterlogged in all but the driest seasons (figure seven).
 


Figure Six.  Bare land associated with a salt scald north of the small dam.  April 1992.
 

closer view of scald and waterlogging
Figure Seven.  Waterlogging of soil and scald near the small dam.   April 1992.

Sea barley grass and cotula were the only plants that would grow in the area and even these did not colonise the worst affected areas. Barley and yorkshire fog grasses along with sedges marked the drainage line further up the slope (figure eight).

drainage line
Figure Eight.  Drainage line showing poor soil condition indicated by presence of sedges, yorkshire fog grass and barley grass.

The quartzite dykes running across the property were lifting saline groundwater to the surface. At the bottom of the property, about a hectare was persistently waterlogged. Gorse (figure nine) and wild roses colonised the banks of the stream near the waterlogged area. Pattersons Curse also was found in the lower paddocks.

woody weed
Figure Nine.  Woody weeds in the lower paddock near the creek.

Rabbits were common in the rocky areas at the highest points of the property.  Finally, there was a steep bank falling away from the proposed site for the residence

The response:
The Squires recognised that not all was well with their property. They sought help from neighbours and the local Landcare group and describe that their early experiences as involving a steep learning curve.  They chose to revegetate areas of the property that showed problems.

The area around the salt scald near the small dam has been fenced off and revegetation works undertaken some eight years ago (figure ten).

waterlogged area and new trees
Figure Ten.  Revegetation works in progress uphill of the small dam (looking up to the hill that the girl is standing on in figure 6).  1994.

The steep area below the residence has has a plantation of gums planted to stabilise the bank. This woodlot will be used in the future for domestic consumption.  The lower waterlogged area has had a variety of waterlogging tolerant trees planted in the mid 1990s and a surface drain dug in 1998 using Natural Heritage Trust funds. Landcare and Trees for Nature supplied plants for the revegetation works and the Squires now grow some of their own plants for revegetation. The Squires have spent many hours planting several hectares of trees to try to remediate the salting and waterlogging of their property. Landcare and NHT have supplied some funds for the restoration works, but the Squires have also invested their own money in the project. They do not care to reveal how much has been ploughed into their land.  The recharge areas on the upper slopes have not been replanted - the Squires were unaware of the importance of increasing water use in these areas.

The present:
The Squires were part of a stream-monitoring group for two years but have dropped out due to time constraints.

The property was used for grazing goats for five years but now little grazing occurs on the property. The Squires occasional let a paddock for sheep grazing in order to keep the pastures down. A small enclosure near the bottom of the property houses ostriches.

Few rabbits are found on the property thanks to calicivirus. Gorse and roses persist in the lower paddock near the creek.

The upper paddocks around the dams are showing some signs of recovering from waterlogging and salinisation. Grasses and reeds now grow all around the upper dam (figure eleven). The cause of the change is not readily apparent but may be associated with a change in water use by the pastures uphill of the dam. The property is not as heavily grazed as once it was and also, the surrounds of the dam are only infrequently damaged by hoofed animals.

the upper dam in August 2000
Figure Eleven.   The upper dam showing  vegetated banks.  Note the rocks exposed in the foreground.  August 2000.

Barley grass and cotula have now colonised all but the very worst parts of the waterlogged area near the small dam. The bare salt scalded area now is only about two square metres of land (figure twelve), considerably down from what it was in 1990 .

the scald in 2000
Figure Twelve.    The scald north of the small dam.  August 2000.

There is still evidence of subsurface tunnelling by groundwater flow (figure thirteen)and after winter rainfall, the water table rises high enough to cause ground water to pool (figure fourteen). Waterlogging is a persistent problem affecting the growth of the gums planted nearby, particularly those closest to the quartzite dyke, however the plantation is now well established (figure fifteen).
 

tunnelling in 2000
Figure Thirteen.   Tunnelling is still evident in August 2000.
 

waterlogging in 2000
Figure Fourteen.  Waterlogging of the area north of the small dam.  August 2000.
 

the small dam plantation
Figure Fifteen.  Small dam plantation.  August 2000.
 

The future:
A number of recommendations were made to the Squires for future action.  Further revegetation is planned for the property. The Squires now recognise the value of replanting the recharge areas of their property to try to lower the water table. This may reduce the waterlogging experienced around the small dam. They would like to revegetate as much as of the farm as possible but know that this will take a number of years at the present rate. They do not work on the property full time and have limited time to undertake major works, even with help from neighbours, local landcarers and family. They are also considering direct seeding of the upper paddocks in the recharge zone as this may be a cheaper way of revegetating the area.

Before they finalise any plans, however, the Squires will look at creating a whole farm plan so that they can target the areas of the property most in need of aid before revegetation and regeneration can occur.  They intend to follow the guidleines set down by Fitzpatrick et al (1997) to identify problem areas by vegetation examination and simple tests of soil consistency, sodicity and salinity.  They will also test for soil acidity to see if this is affecting remediation of the scalded area.  They know where to find the Bremer Barker Catchment management centre and are aware that there are courses run for small property owners on weekends and outside working hours.  The main constraints on completing such a course are time and budget.  They are also considering getting professional soil tests done and tests of groundwater salinity in order to monitor changes associated with their revegetation activities.

healthy creek

The end result aimed for by the Squires - a healthy creek and healthy land.

Acknowledgements:

The Squire family for help, photos and information.  The MLRCRC for technical data and many brochures.   Nathan Hurst for help with computer and networking problems.

References:

BBCG. 1996. Catchment Plan and Catchment Manual.

BBCG. 1998. Water quality data collection program report 1997/1998.

BBCG. 1999a. Local Action Plan. Bremer Barker Catchment Group Inc.

BBCG. 1999b. Watercourse Report. A community guide to stream conditions in the Bremer Barker Catchment.

Ellis, MF.  2000. Mount Lofty Ranges Regional Revegetation Strategy.  Primary Industry and Resources SA, Adelaide.

Fitzpatrick, R, J Cox and J Bourne. 1997. Managing waterlogged and saline catchments in the Mt Lofty Ranges, South Australia. CRC for Soil and Land Management.

Mills, D.  1996.  The Bremer Valley - a place of woodland beauty.  in BBCG, Catchment Plan and Catchment Manual.
 
 

Useful websites:

Atlas of South Australia 1988. 2000. http://www.atlas.sa.gov.au/Atlas1988/index.html

Community Biodiversity Network. Regional Biodiversity Planning in South Australia.
http://www.nccnsw.org.au/member/cbn/projects/LifeLines6.2/Bioreg_SA.html

Metropolitan Adelaide Development Program 1996-2000. Jan 1997. Chapter 9: Outer Metropolitan Area http://www.planning.sa.gov.au/metro_dev_prop/documents/emdp_sansmapserv/html/MDPCH9.htm

Mount Lofty Catchment Management Program. Last updated Friday 22nd September 2000. http://www.mlrcp.sa.gov.au/

National Land and Water Resources Audit Australia. Audit themes. Implemention program 6. Mt Lofty Ranges. http://www.nlwra.gov.au/full/30_themes_and_projects/48_themes/6_capacity_for_change/01_implementation_project/mtlofty_project_abstract.html

National Dryland Salinity Program Fact sheet. Dryland Salinity in the Mt Lofty Ranges. Last modified March 2000. http://www.ndsp.gov.au/15_publications/10_fact_sheets/10_SA/_SA_fact_sheet_2.html

Natural Heritage Trust South Australia. http://www.landcaresa.org.au/NHT2.htm

Primary Industries and Resources SA Soil Conservation District Planning website http://www.pir.sa.gov.au/dhtml/ss/external.php?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.soil.pir.sa.gov.au&Title=Soil%20Conservation%20District%20Planning&tempID=31
 
 

Other useful information:

BBCG.  (undated)  Stream Assessment Kit.

Jane Bradley. (undated booklet) Eucalyptus identification in the Bremer Barker Catchment.

Jane Bradley. (undated booklet) Weed identification in the Bremer Barker Catchment.

Liming for the Future.  1999.  Lime acid soils to stay in business.

MLRCP. 1999.  Mount Lofty Ranges Community Environment Groups.

MLRCP/EPA. (undated) Water Wise, managing your watercourse pamphlets

Mount Lofty Ranges Soil Conservation Boards (MLRSCB).  1999.  Dairying in the Mt Lofty Ranges.

MLRSCB.  (undated)  Land capability in the Mt Lofty Ranges.

MLRSCB.  (undated)  Managing pastures on small porperties in the Mt Lofty Ranges

Murray Darling Basin Management Commission. 1999. Review of Cap Implementation.