This three-year agricultural project is supporting farmers in the Derwent catchment to manage dryland pastures – particularly on north-facing slopes. The project is using a range of approaches to provide locally relevant information to farmers including a farmer-to-farmer mentoring program, discussion groups, a pasture program and on-ground trials, with all of the learnings available through a purpose-built website.
Nestled in the centre of Tasmania, the Derwent catchment is one of our State’s driest regions. With an annual rainfall averaging less than 500mm, it’s a region that faces some unique production challenges. The low rainfall conditions are particularly relevant when managing dryland pastures which are increasingly unreliable, especially in times of drought.
North-facing slopes within this region are particularly difficult to incorporate into grazing systems without creating significant environmental impacts. These areas are highly prone to erosion, and the loss of this valuable top soil can cause significant environmental and economic issues. Losing soils can mean production losses and declining water quality from eroded soil entering waterways.
Research has shown a significant amount of soil is lost in southern Tasmania with the Derwent a key risk area.
Derwent Catchment Project
The Australian Government’s National Landcare Program
Led by the DCP team the project is;
- Working with six commercial farmers on demonstration sites looking at pasture persistence, grazing management and the establishment of deep-rooted forage shrubs on north-facing slopes with the aim of improving ground cover and reducing soil erosion,
- Coordinating an innovative dryland pasture course (the first of its kind in Tasmania),
- Hosting themed field days,
- Running peer-learning discussion group events and a farmer mentor program, and
- Development of the Derwent Pasture Network website – a dedicated information hub for Tasmanian dryland graziers.
Beyond the scope of the Derwent catchment region, learnings from this project will be applicable to dryland graziers in other parts of Tasmania. Over the coming years, NRM South’s Regional Agricultural Landcare Facilitator will play a key role in sharing relevant information and learnings from the project to the wider farming community.
ACHIEVEMENTS TO DATE
- Delivered first dryland pasture course
- Established six demonstration sites
- Dryland pasture website developed
LINKS AND MEDIA
Derwent Valley trials of hardy pasture varieties for difficult paddocks (ABC Country Hour audio)