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RESOURCES FOR SMALL FARMERS

Our workshop summaries, webinars and videos

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  • 27 Mar 2020 11:22 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    This workshop examined rural landscape issues emerging as a result of prolonged drought and recent bushfires. The workshop was held in Bombay, just south of Braidwood.

    Led by Andy Taylor from South East Local Land Services (SELLS) in Braidwood, the workshop was an opportunity for local farmers learn about actions they can take to mitigate the effects of erosion. We also learnt from Judy Carmody about the support available from the Rural Mental Health Resilience Program and Felicity Sturgiss, Senior Land Services Officer (SELLS), talked to us about ways to support wildlife after fires.


    Andy Taylor has written a handy guide to managing erosion after fire.

    Jane Ambrose from Upper Shoalhaven Landcare talked about Landcare in the area and how to get involved in the projects they run. Jane kindly agreed to share her notes from the workshop.

    Key points from the workshop were:

    • The scale of the drought and fires has made erosion events more likely due to lack of ground cover. A question asked at the workshop was “How do I to prioritise erosion control activities?” Andy suggests using Six Maps to calculate the catchment size above an erosion point and prioritising groundworks on the gullies with the largest catchment. You can slow water higher in the landscape by using grazing management to maintain ground cover and sediment traps to slow water runoff.
    • Understanding your soil type is vital for remediating erosion. Around the Bombay area, where the soils are sodic and highly erodible, protecting the topsoil is critical to prevent erosion. Information about your soil type can be looked up on eSpade along with soil testing results for your area. Here is the eSpade link and an example of the soil report you can get from eSpade.
    • Dams and rivers away from the fire grounds have been adversely affected by debris from ash, soil and dung. These contaminants can cause water quality issues for stock, fish and other water users. It is possible to build a sediment trap above a dam using vegetation, rocks or a sediment fence to slow down the movement of water into the dam so that debris is dropped in the trap before the water reaches the dam. This will improve the quality of the water collected in the dam.
    • Repairing containment lines created by bulldozers during the fires is important to reduce erosion. Replacing the topsoil with a grader is a good way to start. Mitre and roll over drains can help slow down and divert water in steep sections. Weed free hay bales can also be used as sediment traps to slow water movement.
    • Because of the intensity of the recent bushfires, the seed bank in the soil could be depleted. A hot fire can change the soil chemistry including soil pH and soil structure. Generally speaking, native grasses have evolved with fire and will recover better than introduced species of grasses. Perennial grasses with deeper root system can also recover well, depending on how hot the soil surface became. Consider using sterile Rye Corn to help establish groundcover. Rye Corn is a better choice than other exotic species on sites with high conservation values where you don’t want to introduce weeds and new exotic grasses. Branches, jute mesh, rocks and other vegetation can all be used to slow down water and create niches for plants and pastures to establish.


    Branches create a planting niche


    Using old lucerne hay under jute matting to slow down water


    Jute matting with seed spread over the top

    Felicity and Andy reiterated the importance of biosecurity when planning erosion works and when feeding wildlife. For example, use straw or other inert materials for erosion management rather than hay or materials containing seed to prevent the spread of weeds. Seek appropriate advice on what to feed wildlife in fire affected areas and avoid feeding meadow hay that could accidentally introduce weeds.

    The following are links to more information:

    Understanding the impact of the 2020 fires

    Building a sediment fence

    Pasture recovery after fire

    Fire retardant plant list from Yarralumla Nursery (but remember all plants can burn)

    Bushfire Customer Care NSW Government

    Healing the land techniques for managing erosion workshop summary

    The Small Farms Network Capital Region received funding from the Every Bit Counts project. The Every Bit Counts project has been funded by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.

  • 22 Mar 2020 11:05 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    The network’s very first webinar was a discussion about sheep handling on small farms. Things like yard setup, weighing sheep and feeding out can be done in many ways. The scale of small farm operations means that producers need to find cost-effective, practical solutions to everyday sheep handling tasks that our larger farming cousins take for granted. Sometimes these solutions can be slower to carry out but when there are only a few sheep, this is not necessarily a problem.

    This webinar, presented by Jennie Curtis from Roogulli Farm, was a chance for small farmers to see some ideas for sheep handling equipment, learn from each other and ask questions.

    Jennie, with assistance from Alice McGlashan, created a video showing ideas for yards for small flocks, a way to weigh sheep, a method for tipping sheep up and a variety of feeders.

    Watch the video

    Weigh bars and race set up


    Homemade sheep feeder

    Download design for sheep hay and pellet feeder used at Roogulli Farm (based on many others found in Google searches)

    For general principles of yard design and the U-Bugle design in particular see The ‘U’ bugle sheep yard from NSW DPI.

    Thank you to Jennie Curtis, Alice McGlashan and Chris Curtis for assisting with this webinar and donating their time.

    The Small Farms Network Capital Region received funding from the Every Bit Counts project. The Every Bit Counts project has been funded by the New South Wales Government through its Environmental Trust.

  • 21 Nov 2019 10:15 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    A vision splendid, a place filled with trees and koalas, while the rivers teamed with fish and platypus. From the historical records this is what Bungendore would have looked like to the early European settlers who arrived in 1820. It was the country of the Ngunawal people and to this day a culturally significant place for their descendants.

    This workshop was about stories of past times, honouring Aboriginal and early European history, while learning the importance of the fragmented vegetation that remains. The guest speakers were Wally Bell, Karen Williams and Jasmyn Lynch.

    Wally Bell is a Ngunawal man from the Yharr clan group and a Traditional Custodian of the Ngunawal. Wally welcomed us to his country and called upon the spirits to guide and protect us during our visit to Day’s Hill Reserve in Bungendore. Wally’s story telling about the local area was moving. He talked about Budjabulya the creator and water spirit who lives in Lake Ngungara (renamed Lake George). Ngunawal people believe that since the beginning of time this spirit has nurtured the Ngunawal people and created the lakes, rivers, valleys, people, animal and plants.

    Wally talked about the importance of Mother Earth to him and how we can all play an important role in restoring and healing the land. Wally’s advice is to sit, observe and listen to the land on which you live. Respect it and look after it because land is a gift.

    Wally also emphasised the importance of scar trees and how they were used as directional markers. Often they were located up high so people could see them from a distance.

    We looked at some Aboriginal stone artefacts and asked a lot of questions about what to look out for on our own properties. Wally told us that Aboriginal artefacts retain the spirit of the person who made them and must be left in the location where they are found.

    Karen Williams shared her knowledge of the early European history of the area, including a story about the first explorer in 1820, Joseph Wild. Jasmyn Lynch talked about the fragmented native vegetation that remains, including nationally threatened ecosystems such as the Temperate Grassland of the Southern Highlands, White Box, Yellow Box and Blakely’s Red Gum Woodland.

    You can download a copy of Ngunawal-stories-of-Lake-George-2019, the handout prepared by the speakers. The notes include a comprehensive list of online resources.

    Read more about the Aboriginal history and culture of the Canberra region by the Buru Ngunawal Aboriginal Corporation.

  • 5 Nov 2019 10:26 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    We all know that water is essential for life and making every drop count, especially during drought, is essential. How to maximise water harvesting and efficient irrigation methods was the focus of this workshop.

    Two successful market gardeners from Canberra’s rural outskirts, Chris Curtis from Roogulli Farm and Geoff Foster from Jerabutt Organics showed us how they manage water and grow enough to sell at the local farmers market. Planning effectively for water resources on small farms is challenging. Running a commercial small-scale enterprise is a remarkable achievement during drought. Geoff and Chris manage to do both.


    Chris Curtis has written two fact sheets on how to design a small-scale drip irrigation system and how much water to apply to different crops.:

    Drip-irrigation-design-example

    How-much-water-to-apply 

    Key points

    Secure your water supply from the threat of bushfire. Geoff demonstrated his bore and pump set up with a backup generator if the power is cut. Geoff has designed the system so that the water used for firefighting can be sourced from the bore or the house tanks via gravity feed. There is a sprinkler system that surrounds the western fire sector of the house including one on the top of the bore shed.

    Invest and plan for the largest water capacity you can and then have extra tanks to collect the overflow. Rainfall is sporadic in this region, often falling over a short period of time with high intensity.  Geoff showed us his set up for the market garden. Water is collected from the greenhouses using a viaduct system into a storage tank that can also be filed from the house tank over flow. There is a bore which is used to irrigate the outdoor garden beds while the plants in the three bay greenhouse are irrigated using rainwater.


    Always use a tap timer so you don’t accidentally drain your tanks. Buy the cheapest tap timer you can because they are not very durable. Tap timers are suitable for low pressure set ups and automating the irrigation of garden beds.


    When you dig a trench for irrigation consider laying an extra pipe for future upgrades. Geoff has a duel irrigation system from the bore and tanks. Two lines have been run in the same trench so if one water source dries up a back-up supply can be used.

    You can fit your garden beds with two types of irrigation. Geoff uses fine sprays to establish seeds and seedlings. Once the plant roots have grown, pressure-compensating drip irrigation is put onto the beds. 


    More information

    Water NSW Farm Dam Handbook

    How to calculate how much rainfall you can collect from a house roof

    Chris Curtis’s wicking bed research

    This project received grant funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program.

  • 30 Sep 2019 10:46 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    Horsewoman Helena Warren from Cadfor Equestrian and Murray Greys shared her expertise with a group of participants over a two-day workshop in 2019.

    This project received grant funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program

    Key points

    Pastures for horses

    • When planning your horse property, think about ways to minimise runoff and nutrient loss. This can include locating horse infrastructure away from water courses, fencing along contours, rotational grazing, using windbreaks and installing vegetation buffers. A two-metre fenced wind break can provide adequate ground cover to prevent significant erosion and water loss.
    • According to Helena, reseeding a pasture from scratch is a three year process that takes a lot of planning including soil testing, managing weeds, planting a break crop and final seeding. Refer to the DPI Primefact on Pastures for Horses for more information. When the cost of pasture establishment is compared to the ongoing cost of supplementary feeding, fertilising and maintaining pasture becomes financially viable.
    • Being able to assess your horse’s condition score and weight is a useful tool for feeding management and worming. The amount of feed a horse requires depends on their weight, activity, growth stage and body condition. The NSW DPI Primefact 928Estimating a horses condition and weight gives a step by step guide on how to do this.
    • For optimum feed production, perennial grasses should be rested (ideally at the flowering stage) to allow them to develop their basal buds and roots. This will maintain the vigour of the grasses. Allowing native pastures to seed in autumn will also encourage the spread of these grasses in a pasture.
    • Helena described the optimum resting of pastures in a rotational grazing system as the ‘three leaf rule’. The three leaf rule allows the grass roots enough time to recover to maintain good production and for the grass to have the optimum sugar level for horses. The leaf stage of optimum grazing will depend on the species of grass. The Grazing Management Tool provides advice on how to grow more pasture and influence the species mix in your pasture.

    NSW Local Land Services runs Prograze courses that can help property owners develop skills in managing their pasture. Contact your local office.

    Stringhalt

    Stringhalt is a plant poisoning syndrome that affects horses and is caused by the ingestion of flatweed. At the workshop over one third of the participants had horses that were affected by stringhalt. Helena recommended the Investigations into the Australian Causes of Stringhalt in Horses publication for managing horses with stringhalt.

    Laminitis

    After colic, laminitis is the second largest killer of horses in Australia. Laminitis is caused by overconsumption of grasses or feeds high in sugar, but it is often associated with some other stress factor. The critical point to remember when feeding a horse with a high risk of foundering is to keep the structural carbohydrates low. The availability of sugars in grasses is impacted by a number of factors including the species of grass, moisture stress, time of day and amount of shade in a paddock. The production rate of sugar in grasses is linked to photosynthesis.

    Perennial pastures require resting to maintain their leaf production and to be safe for horses at risk of laminitis to graze. Continually grazed grasses at the 1 leaf stage are high in sugar and can increase laminitis risk. More mature grasses in the three leaf stage of production have lower sugar levels. Native pasture grasses are lower in sugars than introduced pasture grasses. The types of grasses suitable for horses are different to those suitable for ruminants. Cattle and sheep digest sugars in grass in the rumen to feed the microbes in the stomach. In horses sugar is digested in the hindgut, from here the sugar enters the bloodstream which can cause metabolic syndromes such as laminitis.

    Weeds in hay

    Helena recommends that you monitor your feed sources, especially hay, for weed contamination. Some pasture grass hay can be contaminated with undesirable pasture species and weeds.  If hay you are buying is cheap this is usually for a reason. If you are unsure of a grass species advertised you can look up the NSW DPI Weed Wise website and NSW Plant Net website.

    Feed rations

    The quote of the day was ‘feed to work’. Would it surprise you to learn that some pleasure horses are overfed? Helena explained how to calculate a ration for a horse based on condition score, growth stage, level of work, pasture availability and feed types.

    You can create a feed budget for your horse using the links below. Having a feed budget can save you time and money and you can tailor the ration to what feeds are available. Please note that these are general guides and the condition of individual horses should be monitored to ensure animal welfare requirements are met.

    Feed requirements of horses – for working out what to feed

    FeedXL on line – application (fees apply) for working out feed requirements.

    Parasitic worms

    Worm testing and rotational grazing are critical elements in an effective worm management program. Some horses have high worm burdens, while others have developed natural resistance. The only way to find out if your horse needs a drench is by doing a faecal worm egg test. You can get testing kits from Local Land Services or many rural suppliers.

    Faecal worm egg testing allows you to choose the appropriate type of drench to use. It is important to not routinely drench using the same active ingredient as this increases the likelihood of developing worms with drench resistance.

    Integrated pest management for horse farms
    Primefact – Worm Control in Horses

    Soils

    According to Helena the best time to take soil samples is in October when the soil is depleted during the pasture growing season. Further advice about soil sampling and fertilising pastures can be found in the Fertilisers for Pastures booklet. Some benchmarks for healthy soils can be found here.

    During the field day we looked at the soil test results from the property. The test results indicated that the soil pH was probably too low and the Aluminium too high. Y

    Harrowing horse paddocks and using rotational grazing can help increase organic matter in the soil and reduce fertiliser costs. Soil testing and working out a nutrient budget can help you decide if additional fertilisers are required. Fertilisers for Pastures contains a guide to working out a nutrient budget for a horse property.

    More information
    Pasture Management and Laminitis Risk
    Diagnosing and treating gastric ulcers in horses
    How to discourage your horse from eating sand
    Poisonous plants of horses field guide
    Strategic planning for horse properties

  • 19 Sep 2019 11:11 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    Owen Whitaker is a fifth generation farmer with 25 years’ experience revegetating farms and managing large scale revegetation projects.  At this workshop he shared his revegetation wisdom and practical knowledge.

    “Planting trees is an investment, well designed windbreaks can mitigate production losses from cold winds, improve pasture productivity, provide fodder and enhance biodiversity” Owen Whitaker 2019

    Read more in The Economic Benefits of Native Shelter Belts

    The 3 P’s of successful revegetation according to Owen are planning, preparation and persistence.

    Owen Whitaker’s Planting Guide

    Tips for revegetation projects:

    • Before deep ripping contact Dial Before You Dig and/or get professional advice to locate services, this can save you thousands of dollars. (Note that some services on rural properties may not be on record with DBYD.)
    • Tree and shrub tube stock can be planted in rows using existing fences or in strategic clumps around the paddock to provide stock with access to shade and shelter from all directions. This can be achieved by using circular ‘ring style’ fencing around star pickets without strainer posts with either electric or hinge joint wire, depending on livestock.
    • Trees can be incorporated into lane ways so that paddocks can be split up for rotational or holistic grazing.
    • A typical shrub and tree planting layout would be 2 metres away from fences, 3 metres between rows and 4 metres between plants. Plant shrubs in the outside rows and trees in the middle rows creating a tapered profile effect to deflect winds. Offset the plants between the rows. The minimum tree row width for a good shelter belt effect is 3 rows x 10 metres however for a better return on outlay 5 rows x 20 metres would deliver the best micro-climate and ecological outcome.
    • Controlling biomass and ripping 6-12 months ahead of planting will help water to penetrate into the ground and build moisture profile to aid seedling establishment. Removing pasture by using a knockdown herbicide will reduce the allelopathic effects of pasture and competition for water when the tube stock is planted. Do not use a residual herbicide when preparing the planting site as the active ingredients will inhibit tree establishment.
    • Have a tree guard making party and have all guards assembled ready to go before planting day.
    • Mulching around the base of plants (but not against the stems) can help the seedlings to establish. A woody mulch is preferred over pasture hay.
    • A Pottiputki planting tool can be used with seedlings grown in a HIKO tray. The seedlings are inserted into the top of the planter so you don’t have to bend down to plant seedlings.


    Pottiputki Planting Tool (above)


    HIKO tube stock (above)

    Owen’s tips for direct seeding:

    • A four-wheel drive direct seeder is a good option for lighter soil types on slopes that are not suited to ripping. Plants sown using direct seeding can take three to five years to germinate. Seeds will germinate at the ideal time and when moisture is available, usually during summer rains.
    • Native grass seed is often expensive. You can reintroduce native grasses cost effectively by sowing or blowing small amounts of seed into degraded pastures. The seed can also be hand sown. Smaller seeds should be mixed with sawdust or vermiculite so they can be spread more effectively.
    • The composition of pasture can be manipulated to include native grasses by allowing the grass time to seed and using rotational grazing. Animals will move the seed around your farm on their coats and in their dung. Wind and rain will increase native grass density over time and seasonal events.
    • The benefit of direct seeding is that the store of seed remains in the soil and will germinate over a number of years. This helps mitigate the risk of plant failure due to drought. You may need to thin some of the seedlings that emerge over time.
    • Some seeds require treatment before planting. For example, some Acacia seeds require scarification (i.e. soaking in hot water) before planting.

    More information:
    A Guide to Native Pasture Management
    Greening Australia Revegetation Guides for Victoria
    Guide for planting temperate grasslands
    Plant Net Online – Comprehensive listing of plants in NSW
    Braidwood Local Planting Guide for Upper Shoalhaven Landcare
    A Guide to Managing Grassy Box Woodlands

    This project received grant funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program

  • 18 Sep 2019 10:26 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    This workshop explored options available for fox and rabbit control in peri-urban areas. The workshop presenters were Nicky Clark and Phil McGrath, Biosecurity Officers from South East Local Land Services and Alice McGlashan, a local small farmer.

    A combination of management tools delivers the best results when it comes to managing feral animals. To manage rabbits and foxes, persistence and planning is required.

    Trapping

    Alice showed us methods that she uses to ‘out fox a fox’ when it comes to soft jaw trapping combined with wildlife cameras. The benefit of soft jaw trapping is that non target species including your neighbours’ dog, possums and other wildlife can be released.

    When deciding on where to focus your control program, a wildlife camera can be helpful. Foxes tend to use established pathways and young kits will follow adult paths even if the adult has been killed. You can use a trail camera to learn the favoured routes and pathways of the foxes so you know where to set the traps. This might include locations close to the tracks, chicken pens and adjacent to fences and gates. Once you have established their typical routes on your property, you can use the information to set fox traps in the same place in subsequent years.

    Alice’s tips for buying a trail camera: you get what you pay for, it is worth shopping around and USA sites will often be cheaper. There have been advances in camera technology over the past few years. A no-glow camera is essential. Do not buy a low glow/red glow camera because the light is visible and foxes are put off by the glow.

    The use of soft jaw leg hold traps requires skill and training but the results can be good in peri-urban areas. The use of the traps is governed by legislation. The traps should be buried in soil or sand and disguised with surrounding leaf litter. Alice demonstrated laying a number of traps around a bait like a dead chicken or other meat. She suggested wearing gloves and minimising body contact with the ground and nearby objects to minimise the human scent left in the area. Ensure that the trap chains are secure.

    Once you have trapped the fox you can transfer to fox to a cage and cover the cage with a blanket. Local Land Services biosecurity officers are licensed to euthanize foxes or you can organise a local shooter.

    Alice has published guides to managing predators and using trail cameras.
    Nest Box Tails Feral Predator Control
    Wildlife cameras for feral predator monitoring

    Fox management

    Nicky and Phil advised that Spring and Autumn are the best times to manage foxes. Options for control include laying 1080 baits, trapping and shooting. Other exclusion methods such as fencing and companion animals can also be used.

    South East Local Land Services delivers training on the use of 1080 baits for fox control to minimise risk to other animals. If you use a 1080 baiting program it is essential that the baits are laid in the areas where foxes travel. Any uneaten baits must be picked up to avoid poisoning non-target species.

    In NSW there is a Fox Control Pest Order and control programs are most effective when a number of neighbours in an area work together. According to the Department of Primary Industries, re-invasion by foxes can re occur within two to six weeks so ongoing planning and trapping over a number of years and in coordination with neighbours delivers the best results.

    More information about managing foxes:
    Principles of pest animal management
    Standard operating procedure for using soft jaw traps for foxes
    Feral Scan website

    Rabbit control

    1080 and Pindone are toxins registered for rabbit control and are listed under the Pest Control Orders issued by the Environment Protection Agency. To use these baits you need to undertake training with Local Land Services. Contact your local office for more information.

    Nicky and Phil suggest the following steps for effective rabbit control:

    • First reduce rabbit numbers using a bating program. A rabbit baiting program involves a pre-feeding routine so that the rabbits learn to eat the carrots before poisoned carrots are put out for one night. Where possible it is good to get a group of neighbours involved in a baiting program. Rabbits can move up to one kilometre from their warren. When they are 20-60 days old, young rabbits will disperse.
      Poisoning of non-target species and secondary poisoning are both factors to consider when deciding on a baiting program.
    • Remove warrens and harbours. The removal of habitat is essential when managing rabbits. This includes the removal of fallen logs, rubbish and blackberries – anywhere that is providing burrow protection for the rabbits.  For warren ripping use an experienced contractor with tines up to 900mm long and rip no less than 50 cm apart.
      Warren and harbour destruction guidelines
    • Reassess rabbit numbers. Follow up with another control program that could include baiting, trapping or fumigation. If you decide to use a fumigant you can run a dog over the warrens so that all the rabbits go into the burrows before you start. The use of soft jaw traps is approved under legislation for rabbit control and can be effective once rabbit population are brought under control.
    • Calicivirus is part of the rabbit control story but many rabbit populations have developed resistance to the virus. According to Phil, the second release of the calicivirus only had a 20-40% knockdown effect. You can read more about the biological control of rabbits on the CSIRO website.
    • You can revegetate the area after ripping and baiting but you will need to monitor for rabbit activity. Of all the methods discussed above, fumigation poses the most risk to humans.

    More information for rabbit management:
    Local Land Services Rabbit Control
    Uses and effects of 1080 poison
    Soft jaw trapping of rabbits
    NSW DPI Rabbit Control

    This project received funding from the Australian Government through the National Landcare Program.

  • 6 Jun 2019 9:55 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    Learning to identify grass weeds, pasture grasses and native plants was the focus of this Farmers Postcard event led by Kris Nash and Fiona Leach, Agricultural Adviser with South East Local Land Services.

    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. Here are copies of Kris’s handouts explaining the different parts of grasses and identification of grass weeds and native grasses:

    Parts of grasses
    Field ID for native grasses
    Field ID for exotic grasses

    Key messages

    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.

    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 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.

    African Love Grass fact sheet
    Serrated Tussock fact sheet
    Chilean Needle Grass fact sheet

  • 27 Feb 2019 9:28 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)

    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 presenters.

    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 second-hand 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 bentonite to improve conductivity.

    More information about earthing systems can be found here.

    Resources and links

    Free fencing handbook

    Guidelines for fencing in flood prone areas

    Wildlife friendly fencing design

    Fencing how and where for small farms

    Basic Information on Electric fencing

    Gallagher Fencing Website

    There are a range of fencing materials online. The product demonstrated at this workshop was from Gallagher but you could also try Waratah Fencing.

  • 12 Dec 2018 9:25 PM | Jennie Curtis (Administrator)
    This event 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, which 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 everyday 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 artefacts, 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 Ngunnawal 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 Ngunnawal language ‘djan yimaba’. You can find more information about Ngunawal language in the links section below.

    Some Aboriginal people used to bend 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.

    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 the 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.

     Australian National Botanic Gardens Aboriginal Trail

    PDF Information Resources Aboriginal Plant Uses – Australian National Botanic Gardens

    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.

    Other useful information and contacts

    Protect and manage objects – Office of Environment and Heritage

    Aboriginal Plant Uses in Southern Australia

    https://www.anbg.gov.au/aborig.s.e.aust/exocarpus-cupressiformis.html

    ACT Environment and Planning Website for indigenous NRM

    Plant Net Flora online – http://plantnet.rbgsyd.nsw.gov.au/

    Aboriginal Cultural Heritage ACT pdf brochure – includes pictures of plants

    Ngunnawal Plant Use book

    Ngunnawal language – simple list of words

    Language revival project – https://aiatsis.gov.au/research/research-themes/ngunawal-language-revival-project

    Indigenous Weather Calendar BOM

    http://www.bom.gov.au/iwk/calendars/gariwerd.shtml

    Indigenous weather knowledge

    http://www.bom.gov.au/iwk/calendars/gariwerd.shtml

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Small Farms Network Capital Region Inc
PO Box 313
Bungendore
NSW 2621

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