About Sustainability on Small Farms
Many small farms managers in the Molonglo catchment are new to
the land and lack experience. This is impacting adversely on sustainable
agricultural practices and biodiversity protection, and collectively affecting
large areas of the landscape. Issues often associated with small farm managers
include misidentification of weeds and native plants, inadvertent introduction
of weed species and overstocking and overgrazing of small areas inadvertently
increasing erosion and leading to water quality issues in dams and waterways.
The Sustainability on Small Farms project recognises that
small farms have not been a focus for regional bodies aiming to achieve large
catchment targets. Combined with on going rural subdivision this has resulted in
a overwhelming demand for information and on-ground support from small farms in
the Molonglo catchment. The Small Farms project will cater to the needs of small
farm managers by providing field days, on-site advice and tailored incentives to
achieve real on ground change.
The Molonglo catchment covers an area of about 200,000 ha, much of which was
once covered in threatened Box - Gum grassy woodland and natural temperate
grassland. Agriculture and urban expansion, particularly peri-urban expansion,
have impacted heavily on these habitats. The protection, extension and
connection of the remaining modified woodland and grassland patches are critical
for maintaining biodiversity and habitat values in this area. Much of the
remaining habitat is present on small farms, so Sustainability on Small Farms
aims to educate these landholders about what is present on their property
and provide incentives to allow them to preserve, expand and connect these
remnants. Among the species reliant on this vegetation community are Superb
Parrots, Brown Tree Creepers, Rosenberg monitors, pink-tailed worm lizards,
grassland earless dragons and sugar gliders.
Small farms now cover large areas of the Molonglo catchment.
Their managers are often new to the land and lack experience which can impact
adversely on sustainable agricultural and biodiversity protection. The Molonglo
Catchment Group and its member groups have long recognised the potential impact
of small farms on the landscape and have developed publications, field and
training days, regular meetings with guest speakers to influence and assist farm
management within the catchment.
Similarly, Greening Australia Capital Region has been working
with the small acreages in the ACT region for over a decade. Projects such as
VIP, Corridors of Green and, more recently, Under New Management and Good
Neighbours have recognised the importance of actively engaging small farms
managers in improving their land, water and vegetation management practices.
Sustainability on Small Farms aimed at supporting the
overwhelming demand for information and on-ground support from small farm
hotspots around the ACT in the Molonglo catchment. This project was a partnership
between the Molonglo Catchment Group and Greening Australia Capital Region
supported by the Australian Government's Caring for our Country initiative and provided
extensive on-site advice, support and tailored incentives aimed at improving the
sustainable management practices across several small farms in the Molonglo
catchment such as:
- Tailored incentive package that caters to the needs of
small farm managers
- Face to face site visits, technical advice, site
assessments and management agreements
- 10 year management agreements and fixed incentive rates
- Fencing for remnant vegetation and riparian
protection and revegetation
- Revegetation, pest plant control, erosion
prevention and control
- Follow-up support for land managers to implement
incentives and management actions
- Open farm days and the distribution of supporting
materials and publications
- Groups equipped and trained to monitor water quality at 4
new sites within the project area
The project was completed on schedule at the end of December
2010 and included nine open farm/field days which attracted a total of 216
people. The field days included
- Native Grass and Pasture Weed seminar with Geoff
Robertson and Alison Elvin.
- Jane Myers Managing Horses on Small Properties seminar
- Managing Horses on Small Properties field day with
Jane Myers of Equiculture and Alison Elvin of Natural Capital.
- Organic Farming in the ACT at Pialligo Apples.
Presenters at the session were Jonathan Banks of Pialligo Apples, David
Dumaresq of the Fenner School and David Pearson from University of Canberra
and Australian National University.
- Soil Carbon under Pastures farm day with local
farmer Sherry McArdle-English, and representatives from the Department of
Industry and Investment and the Department of Environment, Climate Change,
Energy and Water.
- Two field days with local bird expert Nicki Taws to
discuss the biodiversity benefits of revegetation on properties.
- A Reading the Landscape with David Tongway field
day in Burra.
- Workshop on use of the Vegetation Monitoring Manual, A
Step-by-Step Guide to Monitoring Native Vegetation in the ACT (Sarah
Sharp and Lori Gould, 2010) was held in Carwoola.
On-ground outcomes included:
- A total of 79.1ha under voluntary management agreements,
33.8ha of revegetation, 38.9ha of serrated tussock control and 6.4ha fenced.
- The 33.8ha of revegetation utilised local provenance
tubestock and provides habitat linkages and stepping stones between remnant
- Two landowners were provided with funding towards the
cost of chemicals, as part of integrated control programs across 38.9 ha.
- Thirty four land managers informed of appropriate
grazing, weed and feral animal control during site visits and a further 216
at field days and farm visits.
- 6.4ha of grassy box woodland protected by fencing.
The MCG are proud of the projects achievements and would like
to thank everyone involved in field days, property owners who undertook
on-ground work and management agreements and a special thank you to Angela
Calliess of Greening Australia for all her hard work in ensuring terrific
on-ground outcomes were achieved.