Learning to identify grass weeds, grasses and native plants was the focus of this event. Kris Nash and Fiona Leach, Agricultural Adviser with South East Local Land Services led a two hour walk and talk in Bungendore in April 2019.
Kris showed the participants how to use the morphology of a grass plant for identification, most importantly the ligule and auricle on the sheath of the grass stem.
Copies of Kris’s handouts explaining the different parts of grasses and identification of grass weeds and native grasses can be found here.
Clearing for agriculture, grazing and urban development has seen the decline of natural temperate grasslands in Australia. There is now only 0.5% of natural temperate grasslands left in Australia. Preserving and managing this declining valuable resource is very important.
You need some disturbance regime to manage native grassland. Aboriginal people used traditional burning techniques to manage the diversity of species living in an area.
Grass weeds are like teenagers, they change their appearance with the season making them difficult to identify at different times of the year.
Some tips to maintain a healthy pasture;
Don’t over graze the pasture and do practice rotational grazing.
Cover bare soil where possible and carry around some seed to sow desirable species.
Create micro climates for seeds to collect and germinate.
If you want to collect seed heads try using old baskets or branches to protect the seed from livestock and kangaroos.
African Love Grass can be distinguished from Hairy Panic by looking at the seed. The seed head of the African Love Grass has one seed on the end of the pinnacle. Older plants often look messy at the base with old curly leaves in the centre of the thatch. African Love Grass has a higher feed value than Serrated Tussock but is very invasive.
The purpose of this workshop was to demonstrate how to design and install electric fencing in ways that make a small farm more productive and increase the range of plants and animals living there. Dean Paton from Gallagher Fencing, Matt Chidgey from Southern Ag and David Hilhorst from Works for Water were the guest speakers at this workshop, sharing their fencing skills in practical and theory sessions.
Some key points from the workshop:
The best type of fence to install depends on many factors including land form, location and the purpose of the fence. Electric fencing is suited to managing livestock, predators and feral animals. An electric fence energiser converts mains or battery power to a high voltage pulse. Electric fences generally work by becoming a psychological barrier to animals – they learn about the ‘shock’ that is delivered when they touch the fence and start to avoid it.
Effective farm planning and observing animal behaviour can save you time and money. By observing your livestock and the movement patterns of wildlife, you could save money by slightly shifting the location of a fence or aligning it with existing animal tracks. Here are some questions to ask. Why are animals putting pressure on a fence? How can I use a fence to move and manage my livestock or wildlife better? The information sheet written by David Hilhorst (see below) outlines fencing design strategies including fencing for holistic grazing, fencing to land class and wildlife friendly design.
Permanent electric fencing can compare favourably to conventional fences in terms of cost. The cost of a fence is determined by many variables including the slope, recommended spacing of posts, dropper interval and the types of materials used. At the time of writing a standard fence will cost approximately $12 a metre for materials and labour. Permanent electric fencing will cost about $10.50 a metre for an 8 strand electric suspension fence such as the Weston Fence demonstrated in this video. The energiser for the electric fence is not included in this cost. For information and advice on pricing and design, contact a fencing supplier. It is wise to shop around and discuss options with other small farmers for the fence that you are building.
For fences in flood prone areas, the flood gates should be able to release from the posts if the pressure of water or debris gets too high. Some options for the materials used in flood areas include secondhand fencing materials and semi permanent movable electric fencing .
Choosing the correct energiser and earth return system for an electric fence is important. According to Dean Paton, the energiser should be located halfway along the fence. For an electric fence to be effective the electric circuit must be completed. This is achieved by grounding. In dry areas effective earthing can be achieved by using an earth return system or betonite to improve conductivity. More information about earthing systems can be found here.
This session was about building connections with people and the land: an opportunity to learn more about diversity, indigenous culture and the local area. The walk and talk was led by Tyronne Bell from Thunderstone Aboriginal Cultural and Land Management Services. Tyronne talked about his culture and traditional Ngunawal uses of plants and animals found at the site.
Key points from the workshop
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people have a spiritual connection with the land, that can be expressed in some part through stories about plants, insects and animals in a particular location.
By studying the behaviour of different species of insects, Aboriginal people used their traits to help them in their every day lives. For example, Tyronne told us about the ability of ants to regulate the temperature of their nest by bring different coloured gravel to the surface of the nest. White in summer and black in winter. Meat ants were used by some Aboriginal people to clean the carcasses of fish so the bones could be used as needles.
If you find Aboriginal artifacts, scar trees or other relics it is important to leave them intact and where you found them. These items hold great significance for Aboriginal people and are protected under NSW law. You can find out more information at the Office of Environment and Heritage website.
Preserving Nungawal language is very important to local Aboriginal people. The language can be spoken by everyone and children especially should be encouraged to use it. Tyronne taught us how to say thank you in the Ngunawal language ‘djan yimaba’. You can find more information about Ngunawal language in the links section below.
Some Aboriginal people used to bend over and weigh down trees in order to use the trunk as a structure to build a shelter on. In winter more permanent structures and caves were used as housing and remains of stone structures built by Aboriginal people have been found in our region.
5. Plant species commonly found in the Bungendore area had special uses for Aboriginal people. For example, the Cherry Ballart (Exocarpus cupressiformis) looks like a small cypress tree and the sweet, juicy fruit provide a spring time snack, the sap can be used for snake bite, the fresh leaves are used for headaches, the roots as clap sticks and it can also be used as a shade tree to camp under. The plant was is used as an indicator species for the coming season.
Other plants that we learnt more about on the walk and talk were Hardenbergia violacea, Indigofera australis, Diannella species, Lomandra species, Acacia species, Cassinia quinquefaria, Microseris lanceolata and Bulbine bulbosa. Tyronne told us about uses of these plants for food basket weaving and stunning fish. Some of them are poisonous and should not be eaten. Find out more about these plants and their uses by following the links below.
6. According to local Aboriginal culture there are six seasons in a calendar year and no autumn. The calendar includes two summers, two winters and two springs, each with their signature weather pattern and special traditions.
Managing worms in livestock is a tricky business for people on small farms. There are many variables to understand and manage including animal factors (breed, age, sex, pregnancy status and nutrition), grazing options and climactic conditions. This workshop was an opportunity for participants to learn about management tools that reduce the need for drenching and maximise the efficiency of drenches when they are used.
Dr Jane Morrison from Coopers Animal Health and Dr Alexandra Stephens from South East Local Land Services spent the day with our participants guiding through the theory of worms and the practical aspects of worm management. Our hosts Suzie and Catherine showed participants how to do DIY faecal egg counts using a microscope.
The following points were the highlights of the workshop for Tracey, one of the participants.
Learning about the life cycle of the different worms in sheep and cattle was really important. I now understand how the worm life cycle can help inform strategic grazing decisions and the class of animal that you might graze on a particular paddock. I found out that temperature and rainfall impact on the survival of worm eggs and larvae on the pasture. There are two main life cycles of worms direct and indirect. Direct life cycles involve only one host, for example round worms and indirect life cycles involve two different types of hosts.
Using faecal egg count tests can help inform decision making about drenching livestock and potentially save me time and money. The demonstration of how faecal egg counting is done helped me understand that using worm testing is a good management tool that can enable targeted use of drenches when needed.
Overall, the main benefit of the workshop for me is that I now realise how much detail there is in controlling worms in animals and that improving my knowledge about worms and their management can make a big difference to their health.
Five key components of a worm management strategy
Grazing management is the most important factor in controlling worms. Grazing management can include spelling paddocks and choosing the best clean paddocks for the classes of stock that have the highest nutritional demands and susceptibility to worms (weaners and pregnant or lactating ewes). Control worms without drench by using good grazing management including ‘smart grazing’, cross grazing with other species, rotational grazing and the use of fodder crops.
Breed and feed for worm resistance.Older animals in good condition have higher immunity to worms than young or poorer animals. Adult cattle and sheep are good at developing worm immunity, except when they are lambing/calving and lactating. Aim for a condition score of 2.5 or above for more resilient animals with stronger immunity. Rams and breeding ewes can be selected for worm resistance – some breeds may have higher immunity to worms including Corriedale and Border Leicester sheep.
Use strategic drenching and good drenching principles.Dose correctly to the heaviest animals, calibrate the drench gun, use faecal egg counting to check drench efficiency, choose combination drenches with 2 plus additives. Use long acting drenches judiciously as they can accelerate resistance in worms. Always use a quarantine drench when you purchase new stock even if you have been told that the animals have been drenched. There are special drench combinations that should be used for quarantine drenching. Drench lambs/calves at weaning as they are highly susceptible to worms and are usually being weaned during high worm risk weather. Seek further advice form a vet if you need help.
Tactical drenching– these are drenches that are used when a faecal egg count test shows a high result or the animals show clinical signs of worm infestation.
Manage worm resistance by informing yourself about the causes and what you can do to help prevent it. Get advice about interpreting faecal egg count tests and managing worms in livestock. Drenching may not be necessary if egg counts are low.
You can contact your Local Land Services office for guidance on managing worms in livestock. Kits for faecal egg count tests are available free from Local Land Services offices and many rural suppliers.
Community spirit, professional expertise and practical demonstrations were a feature of this erosion and revegetation workshop. Guest speakers David Hilhorst and Andy Taylor from South East Local Land Services and Scott Soper led an inspiring and educational day.
One of our participants Chris Curtis has kindly agreed to allow us to publish his notes and photographs from the day – see the link below.
Here are more ideas and strategies from the workshop.
Pioneer plants such as wattle add nitrogen to the soil and improve soil fertility and structure. You can use branches from these plants (preferably with seed attached) and lay them over bare ground to create a nursery for seeds and/or or tube stock.
Locally grown small trees including wattles, kunzea and tea tree can be lopped and placed strategically on an eroded gully floor, the branches can be bundled and pegged creating a brush raft. The raft areas catch sediment that can be direct seeded using native grasses, sedges and rushes.
Look for wet patches above and below small erosion head cuts and use these sites for revegetation using locally sourced plants. Use bendy plants that slow the speed of the water including Juncus species, Carex appressa and Lomandra species. Trees that grow thick trunks should be avoided in confined gully beds and streams because tree trunks can deflect flood waters into banks and exacerbate the erosion problem.
Protect your soil from erosion is by maintaining 70- 80% ground cover in your paddocks and by limiting stock access to dams and dam spill ways. Erosion can be caused by overland flows from vegetation removal, dams, roads and gullies and by subsurface water movement. You can use simple clues to help you read your land, for example, are larger trees dying in patches? This could indicate that salinity is a problem. The eroded site at the property we visited was most likely being impacted by saline ground water which we learned also affects the water quality in the dam.
Mapping shallow ground water with an electrical conductivity survey gives an insight into the depth of the water resource and the salinity of an area. Windellama Landcare owns electrical conductivity (EC) mapping equipment and it can be hired for use by property owners and contractors. You should seek advice from South East Local Land Services to help you plan your erosion control work and EC mapping – Contact your Local Land Services office.
Eroded patches of sodic soils in gullies look like candle wax or stalactites. You can do a simple sodicity test using a small clod of soil and a clear dish. If area around the clod becomes cloudy, this indicates that the soil is sodic and might be highly erosive. Soil sampling of your farm could help you decide if you should be planting salt tolerant species at an eroded site.
Weirs, rock structures and rock/wire mesh weirs are all examples of “controlled activities” that may require a permit. Contact the Office of Water for advice about building structures including dams in drainage lines. As a general principle, water should always be returned to the same drainage line not diverted to another site. Before undertaking major works in water courses and gullies it is wise to check that your contractor has sought the correct approvals.
Jute or hessian can be used on bare eroded sites to create zones where vegetation can be established. ‘Burritos’ can be made by wrapping jute or hessian fabric around a mixture of forest mulch and compost which can then be laid on the contour and held in place using wire pegs. Mulched areas can then be seeded with a soil conservation grass mix or local native grasses. Once micro climates have been established other plants can be encouraged to grow using the brush raft technique described above.
Weeds such as blackberry and serrated tussock can be used as a resource to help provide mulch, organic matter and plant cover at eroded sites if they are already growing there. It is important though to manage weeds to prevent flowering or setting seed by cutting, spraying or manual removal. Chip and spray the weeds or cut the canes and leave them in situ on the gully floor or bank, this slows the flow of water and traps sediment. The area can be then planted with desirable plants and grasses. The thorny plants can act as protection for new plants during establishment. Continual monitoring of weed prone sites is important.
The SIX Maps website can be used to work out the size of the catchment for an erosion head cut. For example, using SIX Maps, Andy Taylor estimated that for 1 in 50 year high rainfall events, the gully on this farm would have one tonne of water per second flowing over it. That is equivalent to one intermediate bulk container (IBC)/second. Estimating catchment size, soil testing and electrical conductivity testing are just some of the tools that can be used when planning erosion control measures.
This workshop was an opportunity for a group of small farmers to learn and practice routine animal husbandry procedures for cows and calves. ‘Marking’ refers to a set of husbandry practices for calves that includes vaccination, ear tagging, castration, dehorning and mothering up.
Vaccinations are given subcutaneously – just under the skin. The best place to give the injection is on the side of the calf’s neck (see fact sheet on vaccinations below for a diagram). The 5-in-1 vaccination covers five clostridial diseases, namely pulpy kidney (enterotoxaemia), black disease, tetanus, blackleg, and malignant oedema. 7-in-1 covers the same diseases as 5-in-1 plus Leptospira harjo and Leptospira Pomona. Using 7-in-1 is recommended if you are keeping the stock for breeding. Keep vaccines cool in an esky while you are marking. Hygiene is important – keep the needles and injection site on the animal clean. To be effective these vaccines require an initial dose, a booster 4-6 weeks later and an annual booster.
Zoonosis refers to a disease or infection that can transfer from animals to humans – examples include Q Fever and Leptospirosis. People who work with animals should be vaccinated against Q-fever and understand how to minimise the risks of contracting these diseases.
Castrate calves as young as possible (around two weeks of age), not more than 3 months or younger than 24 hours. The rubber ring method is the easiest and safest method for small farmers to use on young calves. Using analgesia (pain relief) such as local anaesthetic and/or anti-inflammatory drugs could be beneficial to reduce pain and swelling at the castration site, and improve welfare. There is a 90 day withholding period for some medications given to calves.
If you have any concerns about the condition of stock in your area you can contact the NSW Stock Squad or RSPCA. It is not anonymous but it is strictly confidential and protected in accordance with the NSW Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act.
Call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888
Do not be afraid to contact or report to your District Veterinarian. District veterinarians can help with diagnostic investigations of unexplained deaths or herd syndromes and there are often funding arrangements in place. Some specific signs to report if noted in cattle: sudden or unexpected deaths, red or brown urine, cattle ticks, chronic wasting conditions, lumps along the neck, cysts in meat, or abortions/vaginal discharge.
Cattle Husbandry for introductory information on cattle husbandry and links to the National Livestock Information Scheme (NLIS) and National Vendor Declarations (NVDs) which must be used when buying, selling and moving cattle.
This workshop was funded by the Australian Government and supported by South East Local Land Services. Thanks Dr Lou Baskind from South East Local Land Services for her contribution to this summary.
Low rainfall and high stock feed prices put significant strain on livestock managers. This workshop presented by Darren Price from Price Rural Consultants and Helen Smith, Agricultural Advisor from South East Local Land Services (LLS), looked at how to feed livestock safely and economically when pasture is in short supply.
Key points and resources
It is time to make tough decisions about your capacity (cost, feed availability and time) to feed livestock in the coming months. Reduce your numbers or destock now if you need to while the animals are in good condition.
Choose which animals stay and go with the goal of improving your herd/flock in the long term. Check the condition of your stock and cull animals that are under performing. Cull any animals that are getting old, with cracked teeth or missing teeth – as a general rule cows over the age of eight years have reached the end of their productive life, although there might be the occasional pet that gets to stay longer. Pregnancy test and cull any stock that are not pregnant (if they should be pregnant). You have to decide if the value of the animal is worth the money and time you invest in feeding them: whether this is the dollars you earn from selling weaners or the satisfaction you have in producing your own food.
Think about the water requirements for your livestock. Get your livestock water storage full and keep as full as possible. Some supplements have salt in them that increases the animal’s requirement for water. Pregnant and lactating animals have a higher demand for water than other classes of stock. Water quality testing kits for livestock drinking water can be sourced from your Local Land Services office.
Remember to undertake routine animal management procedures including managing parasites, giving vaccinations and monitoring animal health during dry conditions. Weaning early to reduce the demand on breeding stock could be a strategy to consider. The Sheep Connect website has webinars about early weaning, feeding and selling sheep during drought.
Early weaned animals need high quality feed and careful health management. You can seek advice from Local Land Services, private vets or other agricultural consultants. Talk to your livestock agent about the best time to sell weaners. It might be easier to sell them younger/lighter and let someone else manage them.
Parasite burdens can be higher when animals are under stress and pastures are low so monitor with worm egg count testing and treat as needed.
Where possible, avoid shearing during winter as this will put extra stress on sheep that already have a high energy demand because of the cold.
Develop your skills for assessing pasture quantity and quality. This is essential for working out the amount of feed that you have in your paddocks. Dry standing feed can be useful for providing gut fill when feeding stock with other supplements.
You can make your own pasture measuring stick very easily with a piece of plastic pipe with the distance from the end marked in centimetres. You can use this with a pasture recording sheet to estimate the quantity and quality of the feed that you have on your property.
Pasture assessment takes some practice. The PROGRAZE course can help with learning this skill (contact your local Local Land Services office).
Sheep and cattle can be fed grain or grain based pellets as supplementary feed (must not contain restricted animal material). They will also need a source of fibre (pasture or hay).
To work out how much supplementary feed is needed, find out the nutritional requirement of your class of stock and then work out what is the shortfall in the pastures that needs to be replaced. Animals that are in late pregnancy, lactating or growing (weaners) need more feed than other classes of stock. The energy requirements of stock increase in cold conditions. When assessing feed look at the components in the following order: water, energy, protein, minerals and vitamins.
All new feeds should be introduced gradually over a period of weeks so livestock do not gorge themselves and get bloat or grain poisoning. It takes time for the rumen microbes to adjust to a new feed (including green pastures after long dry periods). When changing feeds, shandy the new feed with the existing ration.
To work out the best value feeds for supplementing pasture, look at the energy value of the feed. Feeds that are cheaper (dollars per kilogram) may not necessarily end up being the best value if the energy content is lower or quality is poor which often results in more wastage.
After 4-6 months without green feed, young animals may need additional Vitamin A (ADE injection) and Vitamin B12 (injection). Seek veterinary advice.
Further information and advice
The NSW DPI booklet Preparing and Managing Drought 2018 provides comprehensive information on managing livestock during drought conditions including planning, feeding, calculating rations, water requirements for livestock and farm management.
Resources to help farmers in drought conditions can be found at:
For this workshop our hosts were Peter and Penny Dagg from Eastern Dorpers and White Dorpers who shared their knowledge and experience about managing sheep health with our enthusiastic participants. Our other guest speakers were Dr Kate Sawford, the District Veterinarian from South East Local Land Services and Dr Natasha Lees from Scibus Pty Ltd (so a lineup of four vets in total!). The day included some theory sessions, a paddock walk and a sheep handling demonstration.
Here are some notes from the workshop. Please note that these are general in nature and farmers should seek expert advice for their particular situation.
The best methods of disease control are good animal husbandry, including ensuring your stock have access to adequate feed and water, and vaccinating and drenching your stock following best practice advice. If you are new to farming and not sure what to look out for here are some general tips:
Does your stock have adequate nutrition for the stage they are in the production cycle? For example, breeding ewes and cattle have higher nutritional requirements than other classes of stock. Animals that have just calved or lambed have additional requirements.
Some disorders are caused by nutrient deficiencies at certain times of the year.
If you call the vet, have a good case history ready, including how old is the animal, how many are sick, has it just given birth, what do you feed it and when you last vaccinated and drenched the animal.
Learn the correct way to vaccinate your animals. Most vaccines are administered subcutaneously, between the skin and muscle. Read the instructions about dosage and administering the vaccine on the box. Try not to accidentally vaccinate yourself since some vaccines can have serious side effects. Vaccines that are particularly high-risk for
humans include the Gudair vaccine for sheep.
Learn the correct way to drench your animals for internal parasites, including worms and liver fluke. WormBoss has lots of information about the different types of worms, drenches and other management strategies for sheep and goats.
There are some animal diseases that can transfer to humans and impact on your health. These are called zoonotic diseases. One example is Q fever which is a bacterial infection that causes flu-like symptoms in people and it can have long term effects. It is recommended that people handling sheep, cattle and goats consider getting tested and vaccinated for Q Fever, particularly if they are in contact with breeding animals. See the NSW Health Website for more information. Many rural-based medical practices offer Q Fever vaccination.
You should contact your local vet or District Veterinarian to report animal health concerns affecting several animals or multiple unexplained animal deaths as soon as possible. You can also call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Line on 1800 675 888 and find more on the Animal Health Australia website.
When purchasing livestock, ask for an animal health declaration. This covers a range of diseases and parasites. While this is not a mandatory requirement, all good breeders should supply them for sheep, cattle and goats that are moved around Australia.
Some diseases move with infected breeding animals like bulls and rams. Diseases like Vibriosis in cattle and Brucellosis in sheep can have a significant, detrimental effect on herd performance.
Register for a Property Identification Code (PIC). Every landholder who manages livestock (ruminants, pigs and horses) on their property is required to have a PIC. The data collected through the annual stock return for each property is used to create an annual animal census and the data is used in times of natural disaster to aid in recovery and organise fodder drops. The PIC number is also used for food safety requirements and food traceability which is required for international trade and domestic food safety. You can find out more about livestock management including applying for a PIC on the South East Local Land Services – Livestock page.
Winter/spring period (2018) is likely to be a difficult time for livestock producers due to the very dry conditions during autumn, and the lack of feed as a result. Feed commodity process are set to rise and supply of quality feed may be low. Now is the time to reduce animal numbers if you don’t think you have enough feed to carry your stock. If you are supplementing your livestock here are some useful links.
Check out the NSW DPI Drought Hub for more information on supplementary feeding. Also look on our website for workshop summaries on animal management.
This event was made possible with funding and in-kind support from the New South Wales Department of Primary Industries, South East Local Land Services and Scibus Pty Ltd. This initiative is part of the Australian Government’s Agricultural Competitiveness White Paper, the Government’s plan for Stronger Farmers and a Stronger Community.
The Small Farms Network would like to thank the sponsor of the network The Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability and the Small Farms Network Capital Region Committee. Finally thank you to our hosts and volunteers Peter and Penny Dagg at Eastern Dorpers and White Dorpers for hosting the field day and sharing their knowledge and expertise.
We have a knack for bringing wet blustery conditions on our field days and Weeds in Waterways on the 14 April was no exception. Eighteen hardy souls donned their jackets and joined in for a day of information and demonstrations by expert presenters Rebecca Bradley – Senior NRM Manager from South East Local Land Services, Lori Gould – Grass Roots Environmental and John Franklin – Franklin Consulting.
Rebecca Bradley began by explaining the legal obligations of farmers with regard to weed management in NSW. The Biosecurity Act 2015 came into effect this year and has two key principles: biosecurity is everyone’s responsibility and all land managers have a general biosecurity duty.
All waterways are unique and behave differently depending the geology, soil type, river processes and energy level. You need to have a basic understanding of all aspects of stream behaviour before undertaking ground works. Something that works in one location may not be suitable on your property. Getting good local advice is a must. There are chemical, biological, physical and farm management factors that determine the behaviour of a watercourse. First and second order streams can have structures put in them to mitigate erosion, third order streams require a permit for structures and professional advice should be sought in this situation. See Tapping Into It: Water for Small Farms summary for an explanation about first, second and third order streams.
John Franklin and Lori Gould shared their expertise in managing weeds in waterways including a discussion about willows and managing a riparian restoration project.
Willows friend or foe?
Willows (Salix spp.) are currently identified as a weed of national significance (see weeds of national significance list). They are invasive and well adapted to Australian conditions. Key points about willows:
Willows spread and propagate in different ways depending on the species. They can also form hybrids with each other. Some willows grow from seed, cuttings (that break off the plant and move in the water) and by suckers. Hybrid willows are very vigorous and can reproduce just two or three years after germination.
The replacement of native vegetation by willows adversely affects biodiversity in waterways by reducing habitat and aquatic diversity. Willows create a flush of organic matter when they drop leaves in autumn. This reduces water quality by reducing available oxygen and releasing chemicals that harm small in stream herbivores that are adapted to living with evergreen plants (such as eucalypts).
Willows use much more water than native vegetation in streams and willows in stream beds can divert stream flows, resulting in erosion.
Any willow project should consider what other vegetation there is on the site and whether revegetation is required. Sometimes there is enough remnant vegetation to recolonise once willows are removed. Circumstances where willows shouldn’t be removed (or removal should be staged) are on eroding outer bends of rivers and creeks and in places where it isn’t cost effective. For example, large infestations where willows are removed without any major environmental benefits, such as sites with willows upstream and downstream and little remnant vegetation. These sites really need a ‘whole of reach’ approach and actions need to be well coordinated. Often these sites become beyond the landholder’s capacity to manage. However, large projects can be a great success such as the Yass River Linkages Project.
If you propose to remove or prune any existing trees or vegetation, you should contact your council first to make sure you don’t need approval for this – look in the Queanbeyan City Council Tree Guide
Some general principles for managing weeds in waterways:
Understand what you have in terms of native vegetation and weeds and do a simple map.
Cooperate with your neighbours where possible.
Prioritise weed control in high asset areas and/or where the weeds are in low numbers, removing weeds by hand or targeted spraying. Start with weeds that are the highest environmental priority (e.g. Serrated Tussock, St Johns Wort and other noxious weeds) and then progress to managing lower priority weeds if appropriate. If weeds are extensive then control may need to be staged from the outside in or from upstream to downstream. The amount that can be achieved will depend on time and budget.
It is generally considered better to poison willows in stream beds and leave them in place, rather than removing them manually using equipment. This reduces the risk of branches snapping off and plants establishing from the cuttings. The best option depends on what assets are downstream (e.g. fences, crossings, bridges).
When planning your project think about what you want to replace the weeds with. Plant a diversity of plants including ground covers, grasses, shrubs and trees. This provides valuable habitat for animals. Use local plant lists and resources from Landcare and Greening Australia to find out what to plant in your area. For example ROC Native Revegetation Species List and Local Native Plant Guide – Molonglo Valley.
Prepare tree planting sites by deep ripping and spraying in autumn and planting in winter and spring. Spraying with herbicide reduces grass competition or scalping is a chemical-free option.
Always water plants in and use tree guards.
Keep monitoring the site for new infestations of weeds and plant health.
Fence off the watercourse and manage grazing to allow the plants to establish. Timed grazing can be reintroduced once the revegetated trees and shrubs have grown to a suitable size.
Rivers of Carbon in partnership with Greening Australia and other organisations currently has funding for projects in the Burra, Goulburn and Yass areas to assist landholders with revegetation and stream rehabilitation (see Rivers of Carbon Funding Opportunities).
This field day was made possible with funding from the Australian Government and in-kind support and funding from South East Local Land Services. Thank you to our sponsors of the network, the Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability, and our host farm.
The weekend of the 24 & 25 March was a ‘cut above’ the rest of our workshops for 27 participants from the region.
Workshop trainer Barry Aitchison shared with us some chainsaw related statistics. National Coronial Information Service data shows at least 99 deaths occurred in Australia between 2000 and 2016 as a result of chainsaw use and tree felling (Source ABC News). According to Barry in 2014 there were over 60 accidents from chainsaw use requiring at least 66 stitches in NSW hospitals. Having worked in the industry for over 33 years Barry believes that the main cause of injury is apathy, complacency and fatigue as most accidents occur in the afternoon.
So what are Barry’s top five tips for safe chainsaw operation and maintenance?
Safety is the number one priority – invest in a good chainsaw and safety equipment. Including chainsaw chaps, helmet, eye and ear protection, gloves, close fitting clothing and lace up boots if possible. A dust mask is also useful to prevent dust and fungi from the wood dust getting into your respiratory system. When in the bush consider using a hi-vis safety vest. Always be aware of other people around you by keeping them in your line of sight.
Chainsaw fuel once mixed does not last forever. At the beginning of the season empty the old fuel from the chainsaw and put in fresh fuel. Use a high octane fuel and a special synthetic chainsaw oil. If the chainsaw is not working check the fuel, spark plug and chainsaw air cleaner first. For new chains soak the chain in bar oil for two hours so the reservoirs in the chain fill up with oil to lubricate the bar.
Use a safety chain with a low profile, this will help prevent kickback. Different chainsaws models require different chains. The chain, bar and sprocket must match. The chain can not be pulled in the reverse direction if the chain and sprocket don’t match. The chain can be fitted the wrong way, so check the cutting edge is facing forward.
A kickback occurs when the top quadrant (or kickback zone) at the end of the cutter bar snags on a log. The resulting torque effect causes the chainsaw bar to kick upwards towards the operator. To help prevent kickback, know where the top of the cutter bar is at all times and put the bottom part of the bar into the log first. Use a safety chain and ensure that the chain brake is working. Modern chainsaws have chain brakes as a standard safety feature. More about kickbacks .
Know your equipment and keep it sharp and clean. The chain can be sharpened using special files designed for each chain. The chainsaw bar can build up a burr that can be removed using a special tool. The burr will slow down the chain spinning on the bar. Carry a wedge to help free your cutter bar if it gets caught in a cut. And apply bright coloured paint to your tools so they don’t get lost or left behind in the forest.
By providing links to external information in this summary, the Small Farms Network Capital Region is not recommending or promoting any brand of equipment. The links contain the best available diagrams and information on the topic.
The Small Farms Network Capital Region would like to thank Mr Greg Simms from BRURAL for sponsoring this field day. Sponsorship enables us to keep the cost of our workshops affordable. Check out the range of BRURAL chainsaw equipment in store and online.
This field day was made possible with funding from the Australian Government, in-kind support from South East Local Land Services and sponsorship from BRURAL. Thank you to our sponsors ,the Palerang Local Action Network for Sustainability, and our hosts Alan and Sue for giving up their weekend to help others learn.