E-News Issue 213
Events  |   Funding  |  NRM Dashboard Spotlight  |  Sustainable Agriculture  |  Biodiversity  |  Sustainable Communities  |  Aboriginal NRM  |  Job Opportunity  |  Other News  |  Other Events  |  Donations 

Life lessons for Muresk students

Wheatbelt NRM staff will swap tree planters, soil testing kits and feral animal traps for the opportunity to step into lecture theatres at the Muresk Institute.

The group of environmental and agricultural scientists has been given the opportunity to become part of the new Integrated Diploma in Agriculture.

The two-year course is being run through the University of Queensland and the South West Institute of Technology at the Northam campus.

The course offers students the chance to study and gain a diploma before heading to work in the agricultural industry.

Read more

Merredin Bat Night

Join Wheatbelt NRM and bat expert Joe Tonga for this FREE event about Wheatbelt bats. Learn about different bat species and their importance to the environment and agriculture, plus take part in building a successful bat nest box.

When: Saturday 23 April 2016
Time:  3pm - 5pm Workshop | 5pm - 6pm BBQ provided | 6pm - 7pm Bat stalk
Where: Merredin
Contact:  Leigh Whisson Regional Landcare Facilitator  |  (08) 9670 3136  |

Download the flyer  |   Register online

Enrich Mixed Forage System Field Day

Forage for the feed gaps!

There's a great event coming up soon in Pingelly, on the border between Wheatbelt NRM’s region and the South West Catchment Council’s.

Come along and see first-hand Gary and Linda Page’s farm – a fantastic working example of incorporating forage shrubs on a large scale.

Guest speakers include Dr Dean Revell from Revell Science and Ben Cole of Wide Open Agriculture.

There's a wealth of new information being discovered about forage shrubs from research and on-farm trials across WA – come along to find out more!

When: Tuesday 19 April 2016, 9am-12pm  Where:  Pingelly Community Centre

Contact: Fiona Brayshaw   |  (08) 9670 3110  |
Danielle Short  |  (08) 9881 0202  |

Download the FLYER

Wheatbelt Conference 2016

For the latest in sustainability and innovation

Wheatbelt Conference 2016 aims to help the Wheatbelt stride confidently towards regional resilience with strong, sustainable communities.

The busy program includes workshops and networking opportunities along with  presentations from keynote speakers – Gus Balbontin (Lonely Planet), Darren Lee (Market Creations) and Rachael McIntyre (NBN Co).

Wheatbelt NRM’s CEO Natarsha Woods will also be running a session on our NRM Dashboard.

When:  Thurs 7 – Fri 8 April 2016
Where:  Narrogin Town Hall

Read more  |  Registration  |  Download the Program


Protecting remnant bushland in the Mortlock

Wheatbelt NRM can provide funding for landholders in the Mortlock to protect or connect remnant vegetation on or near their properties through:

  • feral animal control
  • biodiverse revegetation
  • environmental weed control
  • fencing of remnant vegetation and revegetation areas.

*All project activities are agreed upon through a negotiation process taking into account your farm management plans and the benefits to biodiversity.

How to apply  |  Find out more  |  Map of Mortlock Catchment

Contact:  Anika Dent  |  (08) 9670 3104  |

Green Army community info sessions delayed

Community information sessions for round five of Green Army funding have been delayed until April 2016. Attendees will not need to register again for the new dates.

Further details will be released shortly.

Grants for Asian Market Export

DAFWA’s Grants for Asian Market Export aim to better equip Western Australian agrifood exporting businesses to develop and implement strategies to capture export market opportunities and attract investment. Grants are between $20,000 to $200,000. Funded through the State Government’s Royalties for Regions program.

EOI applications close: 21 April 2016

Read more

Other Funding

Green Army Round Five – For large-scale programs for specific environmental or heritage assets. Opens: March 2016. HERE

GRDC Grower & Adviser Development Program – for study or professional development for grain growers and advisers. Closes: April 2016. HERE

Shire of Northam – Community Grants – For  projects or events that benefit the community. Closes: 15 April 2016. HERE

Premier's Agriculture & Food Fellowship Program – for conducting world-leading research and development in Western Australia. Closes: 29 April 2016. HERE

Australian Geographic Sponsorship – Up to $15,000 in science, environment, adventure, or community. Current round closes: 30 April 2016. HERE

Ethel Mary Read Research Grant Fund – For researchers who are just starting out to cover minor costs. Closes: 30 April 2016. HERE

2016 Australian Museum Eureka Prizes – for research & innovation, leadership, science communication, and school science. Closes: 6 May 2016. HERE

WA National Science Week Small Science Grants – Grants to $2,000 for community groups, plus micro-grants of $200. Closes: 6 May 2016. HERE

Community Capability Grants – Small Projects – to improve volunteer capability and organisational governance. Grants up to $10,000. Closes: 30 May 2016. HERE

Peter Rankin Trust Fund for Herpetology – small grants-in-aid for herpetological projects, to $1,000. Funding for June 2016 to July 2017 now open. HERE

NRM Dashboard Spotlight

Eutrophication (phosphorus)

The development of agriculture and population centres in the Wheatbelt has greatly increased the amount of phosphorus entering the region’s waterways.

When the amount of phosphorus in a waterway is greater than 0.06 milligrams per litre, the likelihood of potentially toxic microalgal blooms occurring in tributaries and river pools is far higher.

The average amount of phosphorus in the Helena, Woorooloo, Lower Avon and Middle Avon sub-catchments is 0.00 to 0.02 mg/L. These waterways are below a eutrophication risk threshold.

In the Mortlock East and Mortlock North sub-catchments, this measurement is 0.09 to 0.11 mg/L, which is above the 0.06mg/L threshold of potential concern for eutrophication.

View the Wheatbelt NRM Dashboard
Data source: Based on data collected by Department of Water, WA between 2001 to 2010.
Sustainable Agriculture

Trials & demonstrations

Assessing legume pasture varieties in combination with forage shrubs in the low rainfall eastern Wheatbelt

Aerial photos of Steve and Linda Rose’s property in Moorine Rock clearly show the scars of low productivity that have developed overtime. But help is at hand.

The Roses will soon be trying out new ways to boost their farm’s productivity and prevent further degradation from spreading thanks to a pasture forage demonstration site on their farm with Wheatbelt NRM.

Rows of palatable forage shrubs will be planted in the scar zones with interrows wide enough to accommodate their boom spray. These interrows will be sown with summer legume pastures as part of the cropping program.

It is hoped this forage-pasture-cropping combination will provide a complete nutritional diet to livestock, increase available feed with minimal costs long-term, and minimally impact cropping viability, possibly even improving it.

The trial aims to highlight the advantages of identifying marginal areas in paddocks and treating them to improve productivity, while suiting the local climate and the land owners’ priorities.

Economic analysis of impacts & management of subsoil constraints

Summary of subsoil constraints that affect profitability and productivity in SW Australia, from a DAFWA report:

Acidity – Approximately 70% of south-western Australia is moderately to strongly-affected by acidity (11 million hectares). This costs WA growers an average of $141 per hectare per year ($1.6 billion per year in lost production potential).

Compaction – While most of WA's croppable land is affected by compaction, approximately 75% is estimated to be moderately to highly-affected by compaction (12 million ha). This costs WA growers an average of $54/ha per year ($0.9 billion per year in lost production potential).

Sodicity – Approximately 62% of croppable land in south-western Australia is susceptible to subsoil sodicity (10 million ha). This costs WA growers an average of $52/ha per year ($0.6 billion per year in lost production potential).

Transient salinity – Approximately 11% of croppable land in south-western Australia is affected by transient salinity (2 million ha). This costs WA growers an average $19/ha per year ($92 million per year in lost production potential).

While results are indicative due to inherent limitations of the study, addressing these issues was shown to be profitable, with the following techniques highlighted:
  • liming to address soil acidity increasing profitability by approximately $63/ha per year
  • deep ripping/deep working with controlled traffic farming to address compaction increasing average profits by $35/ha per year
  • gypsum for the amelioration of sodic soils estimated to increase average profits by $9/ha per year.
Download full PDF report

New wildlife housing for Wyalkatchem

Wyalkatchem Men’s Shed and the local school have teamed up in a bid to help native wildlife.

Students will spend the next two years monitoring which animals use the 16 nest boxes scattered throughout the streets, wildlife reserves, and golf course of Wyalkatchem.

The nest boxes have been built by Men’s Shed members through funding from Wheatbelt NRM.

Shed chairman Peter Lawrence said he was passionate about the next generation helping to preserve the dwindling number of native animals, including Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos, Red-tailed Phascogales, microbats, and owls.

“In some parts of the Wheatbelt, we have less than six percent of original vegetation left, which doesn’t give wildlife many options when it comes to places for breeding,” Peter Lawrence said.

“By building these nesting boxes we’re in some way helping to alleviate the problem.”

Pictured above is Ross Crute from Wyalkatchen Men's Shed with students from Wyalkatchem District High School and some of the nestboxes they will be monitoring.

Mortlock Connections snapshot

There are many farmers still living in the Mortlock Catchment who remember seeing Bush Stone-curlews and the Fat-tailed Dunnarts on their farms, and who recall swimming and fishing in pools along the Mortlock River.

Decades later, these pools no longer have fish, they’re too shallow for swimming, and the dunnarts and curlews are a rare and treasured sight.

Over the last two years, Wheatbelt NRM has worked with landholders to improve the catchments of the Mortlock River, Mortlock River East and Mortlock River South and the Swan/Avon River (into which they flow).

During this time, the Mortlock Connections project has contracted 30 landholders to deliver:

  • 446 hectares of revegetation
  • 16,340 hectares of feral animal control
    – including 3,010 hectares of remnant vegetation protected from feral animals
  • 1,584 hectares of reduced grazing pressure
  • 49 participants taking part in on-ground activities.

Wheatbelt NRM is currently offering funding to landholders in the Mortlock to protect or connect remnant vegetation on or near their properties through. The funding can be used towards feral animal control, biodiverse revegetation, environmental weed control, and fencing of remnant vegetation and revegetation areas.

Read more  |  Funding available

Catching ferals to protect wildlife & vegetation

Wheatbelt NRM has cage traps available for loan to landholders and land managers to help trap feral pests in the Avon River Basin.

Loaned traps are only available for loan for the purpose of helping protect remnant vegetation from feral foxes and cats.

In exchange for the loan, Wheatbelt NRM expect that landholders will be able to provide the organisation with ongoing monthly capture data. In addition, the traps need to be used for a minimum average of seven nights a fortnight. Read more

Contact:  Casey Skalski  |  (08) 9670 3102  |

Sustainable Communities

Want to help host the 2016 BioBlitz?

Wheatbelt NRM is seeking expressions of interest (EOI) from Landcare groups, community groups and grower groups to co-host a BioBlitz in the Avon River Basin during September 2016.

BioBlitzes are a fun and informative way of engaging the local community and raising their awareness of links between the natural environment and agricultural systems.

Applications close: Tuesday 26 April 2016

Read more  |  View 2015 Toodyay BioBlitz Report

WALN Community Landcare Forum

WA Landcare’s second Community Landcare Forum will centre around the theme of ‘Strengthening Landcare in Western Australia – a Brighter Future’ and is aimed at hands-on landcarers, planners and policy makers.

When:  20 May 2016, 8.30am – 5pm
Where:  Fairbridge Village, Pinjarra
Register:  call
0467 232 121

Read more  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

International Climate Change Youth Photo Competition

A global photography competition, created to raise awareness on climate change amongst the youth of the world, giving them a voice that will be heard by world leaders and negotiators alike.

Seen through the lens of the world’s younger generation, their interpretation of climate change will be all the more poignant.

Open to all youths aged 7 to 18 years. Read more

Deadline:  29 July 2016
Aboriginal NRM

Gourmet Bushfood

Wheatbelt NRM recently attended a bush tucker event in Cranbrook with the Southern Agricultural Indigenous Landholder Service (SAILS).

Traditional Noongar bush foods were prepared by chefs from Fervor Foods using gourmet techniques. They served up a delicious feast of emu chorizo, kangaroo tail braun, sandalwood nut crackers, smoked kangaroo, youlk, and saltbush.

There was a great turn out from Aboriginal landowners and community members who travelled from as far away as Roelands, Northam and Esperance.

It was a wonderful chance to visit two well managed properties, sample gourmet bushfoods and learn unique ways to promote traditional Noongar bush tucker.

Fervor Foods – Website  |  Facebook

Life in the bush

"Every year my Grandmother used to take us out in the bush out here, collect berries, and she'd take us and show us all bush food. If we ever got lost what to eat. What would keep us alive. What one was to use for if we was thirsty. All that. Berries was one. Bush potatoes, we used to call them. We used to dig them up. They was these big brown potatoes. They was very sweet and plenty of juice in them."

Recollection from Iris Slater.
[Excerpt from ‘Keeping the Campfires Burning’ 2016 Calendar, Birak/December]
Job Opportunity

Chief Executive Officer

Full time, Perth

Farmanco Consultants – one of Australia’s largest Farm Consultancy practices – is looking to appoint a Perth-based CEO.

The CEO position is responsible for managing the day-to-day operations of the business, raising the organisation’s industry profile, and reporting directly to the Board.

Farmanco Consultants have over 650 clients across the Wheatbelt, Great Southern and south coastal regions of WA, and have recently opened an office in Albury, NSW.

Read job advertisement  |  Farmanco website
Other News

Do you use forage shrubs in your farming system?

Feedback from farmers in the central Wheatbelt is wanted to help find out: why farmers choose to use forage shrubs, how they use them, and what impact the shrubs can have on degraded land.

This survey is being conducted by a Master of Dryland Agricultural Systems student from Curtin University, together with Wheatbelt NRM.

Read more  |  Complete the survey  |  FLYER

Farm-scale Soil Modelling Research Survey

UWA Soil Science PhD student Jolene Otway is looking at how to turn poor performing land into long-term productive systems by collating existing information and combining it with local farming knowledge. Her project aims to produce an open source evaluation and decision making tool for on-farm land management. Landholders are invited to help Jolene by completing the survey below.

Landholder Survey   |   FLYER


Australian farmers more confident ...
Canola germinating in Western Australia's Central Wheatbelt ...
Promising start to growing season for WA Wheatbelt farmers ...

Farmer supplies Perth restaurants with wild saltbush and samphire ...
Farmers urged to map Aboriginal cultural heritage on their land ...

New weather satellite delivers for WA forecasters ...

Charles Darwin’s disdain for diverse WA ...
Foxes caught in the act destroying turtle nests ...
Feather Map of Australia ...
Other Events
Facey Group AGM, 5 April 2016, Wickepin. HERE

Exotic Plant Pests of the Grains Industry, 7 April 2016, Merredin. HERE

Facey Group Women in Agriculture Virtual Field Walk, 7 April 2016, Wickepin. HERE

Wheatbelt Conference 2016, 7-8 April 2016, Narrogin. HERE

Agricultured Sundowner Cocktail Party, 9 April 2016, Perth. HERE

What does it mean to live in a Biodiversity Hotspot?, 14 April 2016, Mundaring. HERE

Enrich Mixed Forage System, 19 April 2016, Pingelly. HERE

UWA’s Mycorrhizas in Agricultural & Natural Ecosystems, 21-22 April 2016, Perth. HERE

WNRM's Merredin Bat Night, 23 April 2016, Merredin. HERE

Climate Change Research Strategy for Primary Industries Conference,
27-28 April 2016, Sydney. HERE

Atlas of Living Australia Science Symposium 2016, 11–12 May 2016, Perth. HERE

National NRM Knowledge Conference, 6–8 June 2016, Coffs Harbour, NSW. HERE

SAVE THE DATE! – 2016 National Landcare Conference & Awards, September 2016, Melbourne, VIC.
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