Award winning ABC local radio and TV gardening presenter Chris Ferreira recently presented Heavenly Hectares Property Planning Course in Geraldton to local life-style block owners and hobby farmers. This popular short-course helps participants design productive and sustainable blocks.
Mr Ferreira said, “In over 20 years of teaching I have never got tired of seeing the enthusiasm and excitement participants have for wanting to transform their properties to make them more sustainable, safe and productive. It is a real pleasure and it leaves me with the overwhelming sense that our land is in good hands”.
Partnering with the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council (NACC), Mr Ferreira’s presentation was tailored to help local blockers understand the landscape a whole lot better so that they can make the right decisions and gain the most from the rural experience.
According to Mr Ferreira, “for the trained eye the landscape is literally bursting with clues on what are the strengths, weaknesses and other characteristics of your land, what productive potential it has, what may be wrong with it and what will be needed to make it work effectively. All of which starts with being able to read your landscape.”
Mr Ferreira’s ‘whopper tips’ on how to read and manage your landscape include:
- For land with rocks near surface – it means sloppy ground prone to erosion that can be difficult and expensive to work, and hard to make a go of grazing and cropping, but it may be ok for returning to bush or perhaps selected tree crops such as bush foods and nut tree
- For hard, uneven ground – it is an indication of heavy clay that is prone to waterlogging, so draining and choice of crops, seeding, fertiliser and weed control are usually needed.
- Bare sandy soils – it means the land has been overgrazed and has low fertility level, often drought prone, water repellent and prone to bring this place back to black.
- Pricky weeds – indicates nasty mismanagement of the They will usually mean the soil is degraded, so some serious charity work will be needed to bring this place back to black.
- Dying trees can be symptomatic of a whole range of problems including waterlogging, salinity, overgrazing or dieback disease, drought stress, climate change – all suggesting that the land has been worked hard and that some careful management and repair work will be needed.
NACC’s Regional Landcare Facilitator Stanley Yokwe said, “small landholders in our region like elsewhere in Australia are faced with a number of issues (pest and weed control, erosion, none-wetting soil, soil compaction and acidification, fire management, and matching production to soil types), and often lack skills to recognise these issues and manage them appropriately”. NACC works with farmers to manage these issues and is now extending that service to small landholders to assist them in managing their land sustainably while increasing productivity of their properties.”
The Heavenly Hectares Course participants looked at their individual property aerial photos to identify land management issues. From right Sue Ryall, Bryan Phillip, Andrew Darbyshire and Nic de Vries.
These event was jointly delivered by the Northern Agricultural Catchments Council and The Forever Project with funding from the Australian Government’s Department of Agriculture.