WATERING is underway at Hattah Lakes, taking advantage of high flows in the River Murray.
For the past three weeks, flows have been high enough to enter Chalka Creek naturally, giving native aquatic plants and animals the opportunity to move between the river and the lakes. To top up this natural inundation, the pumps have been turned on this week to ensure water fills most lakes in the system and reaches the red gums surrounding the lakes. The higher river flows have provided natural connectivity that is so important for the Hattah Lakes system. By pumping water now, we can access some of the unregulated flows currently in the system and deliver water to the level needed to top up the lakes and reach the fringing red gums. The environmental regulators will remain closed to hold the water in the system for about four weeks, which will provide the red gums with a good drink before summer. It’s expected the pumping will deliver up to 35GL throughout September, before the regulators are opened in November to release approximately 5GL back to the river. The watering is being coordinated by the Mallee CMA, in partnership with Parks Victoria, the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Goulburn-Murray Water, the Murray Darling Basin Authority, the Victorian Environmental Water Holder and the Commonwealth Environmental Water Holder.
The watering will provide a great opportunity for visitors especially with kayaks this spring, but there may be some changes to access during the watering event. There will be regular updates by the Mallee CMA on Facebook and Twitter and on the Parks Victoria website http://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/hattah-kulkyne-national-park#changeOfConditions
Nuts now Mallee's dominant horticulture crop
Nut tree plantings have become the dominant horticultural crop in the Victorian Mallee, with the latest crop report revealing nut production surpassing grapevine plantings. The 2015 Irrigated Horticulture Crop Report is the most-recent in a series of crop reports produced every three years since 1997 to measure irrigation status and development along the Murray River from Nyah to the South Australian border. Commissioned by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority, the 2015 report was funded by the Victorian Government and undertaken by SunRISE Mapping and Research. Nut tree plantings, predominantly almonds, have increased 986% since 1997 and they now make up more than a quarter of the Mallee’s irrigable area. The Crop Report and a series of fact sheets summarising the results of each irrigation district, can be downloaded from the Mallee CMA website at www.malleecma.vic.gov.au
Mallee almond blossom photograph courtesy of Lisa Milne
Speed Field Days another great success
The Mallee CMA tent was again a hive of activity at the Mallee Field Days at Speed in August. Hundreds of visitors called in, getting up close and personal with a live native animal display (including one impressive python) and picking up information on grants and on-farm incentives. We also took the chance to launch the latest issue of The Mallee Farmer magazine Thanks to everyone who dropped by -- it was great to catch up with so many old friends and new faces over the two days.
Happy 30th Birthday Landcare!
Australia’s first Landcare group was formed in 1986 near St Arnaud, when farming neighbours recognised they could be more effective and have a greater impact if they addressed common natural resource management concerns together.
Since its inception, the Landcare movement has grown to become part of the social, environmental and economic fabric of Victoria, and indeed Australia, achieving success in nurturing a more sustainable land management ethos and practice. Today, in Victoria, there are more than 911 Landcare and community-based NRM groups and networks, consisting of more than 60,000 members and an additional 45,000 volunteers who contribute their time, resources and energy each year to undertake local action to care for the land.
The Mallee now has 26 Landcare groups, the newest was formed in early 2016. These groups work across a diverse landscape and membership ranges in age from school children through to an active older generation well into their 80s. Landcare has grown to cover around 90% (2.3 million ha) of total agricultural land in the Mallee and group membership levels range from 40% to 80% of landholders in any given area. With a combined, active membership of more than 700 members, these groups are strengthened by a membership with a wide diversity of backgrounds and skillsets that, when combined, contribute to the many tasks and activities the groups undertake.
Happy Birthday Landcare - may your future be bright, fruitful and healthy for it is only through having a healthy environment that we will continue to have healthy communities and a wonderful place to live.
New round of on-farm incentives for Mallee farmers
Landholders can now apply for the latest round of incentives to complete important on-farm works such as dryland salinity control, dune reclamation, revegetation and and building stock containment areas. Two rounds of incentives are currently available: the Mallee Dryland Sustainable Agriculture Incentives, which are available to landholders who own or occupy private land in the dryland Mallee CMA region; and the Mallee Biodiversity Incentive Program, which offers incentives to landholders in targeted areas of the Mallee. The incentives are supported by the Mallee Catchment Management Authority (CMA), through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Programme. The incentives are about building partnerships with farmers, and getting positive outcomes on-farm and for the broader Mallee environment. The application process is straightforward, through an expression of interest form and incentives are awarded based on the merit of the project and the availability of funds. More information is available from Marissa Shean (Mallee Dryland Sustainable Agriculture Incentives) on 5051 4354 or Gareth Lynch (Mallee Biodiversity Incentives) 5051 4569. Fact sheets and Expressions of Interest Forms are also available from the Mallee CMA website at www.malleecma.vic.gov.au
Pictured : (top) Stock exclusion fencing; (bottom) before and after sand dune reclamation on Robert Matthews' farm
Curiosity the key to feral cat control
It’s hoped a project getting a handle on feral cat activity in the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park will be the first step in a long-term control program for the park’s unwanted felines.
Feral cats are identified as a major risk to the ability of the iconic Hattah Lakes region to respond to the favorable conditions created through environmental watering and the Mallee CMA has been developing a Feral Cat Control Program for the Tri State Alliance.
The project is aimed at assessing the impact of cats in the park as well as their interactions with foxes and their likely consumption of baits.
The more we can learn about cats and how they behave in the wild, the more effectively we will be able to deal with the problem, and minimize the impact of feral cats in beautiful, pristine and iconic semi-arid Victorian environments such as the Hattah-Kulkyne National Park.
You can watch a video about the project here.
Mallee Farmer Magazine out now!
The second edition of our twice-yearly magazine The Mallee Farmer was released at the Mallee Field Days at Speed in August.
It is packed with farm-based research and data, natural resource and farm management information and stories about Mallee people and projects.
If you haven’t picked up the spring issue you can download it here
If you would prefer a hard copy, contact Mallee CMA to have the newsletter sent.
If you have articles or stories you would like to see included in the next issue, please get in touch with Lauren Murphy at Mallee CMA.
Feedback on The Mallee Farmer
The Mallee Farmer was first produced in its current format in August 2011 and now, 10 editions later, it's a good time to take a look at what The Mallee Farmer is delivering, and what you, our valued readers, would like to see in future. In order to make sure The Mallee Farmer continues to offer what its readers want, we are running a short survey to gather your views and advice.If you would like to have your say please click on this linkand have your say
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