Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Aiming to halt erosion in Avenel

A group of farmers gathered at Avenel to see erosion control works and to discuss what has been successful during the years.

GEOFF ADAMS March 18, 2014 4:07am

An excavator looms over Landcare co-ordinator Kerri Robson and property neighbour John McCracken, with property owners Jane Starey and Dick Ranken (above) in the deepening gully.


Soil erosion might have dropped down the popular environmental list but it is still having an impact on many grazing properties in the Goulburn-Broken Catchment.

Last Friday a group of farmers gathered at Avenel to see erosion control works and to discuss what has been successful and what has failed during the years.

Joint property owner Dick Ranken said the issue raised questions about a landholder’s legacy.

‘‘We have to be concerned about how we look after the land and not just about what we make out of the sheep.

‘‘It’s a big deal for us. It’s not just erosion but salinity problems,’’ Mr Ranken said.

‘‘We need to find a solution.’’

District farmers gathered on Mr Ranken’s family property to witness a project co-ordinated by Landcare, dropping about 100 tonne of rock to stabilise an eroding gully.

‘‘It’s a lot of trial and error; we can learn from what worked in the past and what didn’t.’’

The gully runs like a deep gash through the 330ha grazing property, stripping topsoil, threatening to cut off access to another part of the farm and sending sediment downstream to neighbours.

Working closely with neighbours is one of the recommendations that has emerged from the ‘Reverse the Dirt’ erosion project co-ordinated by Gecko CLaN Landcare Network which received about $55000 of federal funding for works, field days and education.

A neighbour, John McCracken, attended the field day and was there to confirm the importance of working together and getting cross-catchment co-operation.

Providing groundcover has also emerged as one of the preventive strategies.

Even weeds have been found to have a beneficial effect on soil conservation.

Gecko CLaN co-ordinator Kerri Robson pointed to the need for well planned revegetation planting days, the need for rabbit and kangaroo control and the impact of varying weather on recovery sites.

Last Friday’s discussion touched on the use of geo fabric, a material that looks like carpet underlay, used in making rock chutes. One farmer said he had seen a variation of the material used more than 20 years ago.

Over time sediment builds up so native vegetation can be planted to help stabilise the chute and to halt the progress of the gully head.

Brad Costin from DEPI said the Upton Rd property was typical of hill country around the area, where erosion was prevalent in poorly structured sub-soils.

The land frequently had only ‘‘a few inches’’ of topsoil and was vulnerable to erosion.

Further erosion field days are being planned.

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