Clarevale and Margaret Farm Braidwood : Farms With A Future

Clarevale and Margaret Farm, Braidwood NSW Case Study

Farm Overview

‘Clarevale’ and ‘Margaret Farm’ are two adjoined properties that are owned and operated as one by Victoria Royds. Victoria has been managing these properties since 2012 using Holistic Carbon Farming as a framework.

Located approximately 4km East  of Braidwood, the 465ha property is divided into 31 paddocks with the main business being the breeding of Angus cattle for live sale. Situated on the Tablelands, the property is in a cold temperate climate area, with annual rainfall of between 700 and 750ml.

The terrain is undulating, with some creek flats and steeper slopes amongst the acreage. The soils are predominantly sandy loam on a granite base with some clay underneath.

The property is currently running 270 breeders and 10 bulls, although in better seasons can carry up to 340 breeders. Victoria runs the cattle in one mob unless she is separating them for weaning.

Background of the farm

Prior to Victoria’s management, the property has been set stocked and heavily cultivated over the last 80 years, with regular applications of super phosphate. The fences were old and in poor condition and the paddocks were large in size (some 50-80ha). There was little remnant vegetation (1 remnant stump dead 80 years) and few trees apart from older pine windbreaks and native tree plots planted in the mid 1980’s.

The property was primarily open grassland with little shade or shelter for livestock, pasture or wildlife. The paddocks had short grasses and large areas of saffron thistle. The soil was hard, and compacted with little active biology, contributing to poor water retention throughout the paddocks, dams and creeks.

Changes that have been made

Significant changes have been made on the property since 2012 including changing to Holistically Managed Grazing with accompanying increase in number of paddocks from 18 to 31 and a further 17ha  set aside for 3-5 years with tree and shrub plantings along with a further 13ha fenced out as a riparian area.

A lot of work has also been put into water, adding swales to hold water higher in the landscape and in the soils, fencing off creeks and installation of tanks, pumps and troughs to move away from using dams as watering points for stock. This has resulted in better quality water for the stock and cleaner dam areas to encourage wildlife and birds.

A large focus has been on planting native trees and shrubs, with 11,000 planted since 2012. These plantings are made up of tree lanes for shade and shelter, riparian areas along the creek, planting out erosion gullies and as biodiversity corridors.

In addition, a focus on chemical-free farming using compost teas, biodynamics and mineral licks for cattle allows dung beetles, insect, bird and bug life to flourish adding to the natural biodiversity of the farm.

Plans for the Future

The focus for Clarevale and Margaret Farm is to continue healing the water cycle increasing soil carbon  and biodiversity.

The focus is to continue revegetating large areas of the land with trees and shrubs. Victoria believes this is the priority on the property as it directly impacts multiple areas including:

·         Improving the water cycle through the evaporation and transpiration of trees.

·         Providing wind protection for stock and pasture grasses.

·         Providing shelter and shade for stock, pasture and wildlife.

·         Improving biodiversity.

·         Improving the ground cover to hold more water in the system

There are a number of areas for planting including:

Fencing out dams and planting in and around the dams to help clean the water, stop evaporation and create habitat.

Creating field hedges along new and existing fence lines.

Connecting tree planting areas to make corridors for bird, insect, reptile and wildlife habitats.

Acknowledgements: SCPA-South East Producers, South East Local Land Services, Upper Shoalhaven Landcare,Clarevale and Margaret Farm.