Israels Road, Verona : Farms With A Future


Case Study: Israels Rd, Verona


Farm Overview
The block on Israels Road is owned by Ida Pederson. The property itself is 11 hectares with approximately 8 hectares currently being utilised to build up a small heard of Galloway cattle for meat as well as setting up a vegetable patch as a test plot to be expanded into a larger market garden.


The property is situated at Verona, approximately 30km north of Bega. It faces north east in a typical coastal hinterland climate with 660ml annual average rainfall. The predominant ground cover is diversified native pasture growing on basalt soil with decomposed granite and deep clay subsoil. Moisture retention is good, although in heavy downpours causes erosion issues both into and out of the dam.


Background of the farm
Originally part of a larger dairy farm that was subdivided around the 1980’s, Ida purchased the property in 2014. Most recently is had been set stocked and heavily grazed by cattle and horses which had caused the soil to be compacted and therefore water retention poor.


Whilst the block is mostly cleared with some regrowth of black wattle, angophora and hickory wattle it appeared quite weedy with infestations of fireweed, blackberries, fleabane and thistles, although a mixture of native and introduced grasses appear  it is also dominated by native poa tussock in some areas.


The stock previously had permanent access to the dam causing bank erosion and muddy pools. The dam is very large and water quality was uncertain although it was ‘flushed’ several times with the heavy rain events of the last couple of years. Unfortunately this also caused the dam spillway to erode.

Changes that have been made
The first year Ida destocked all livestock to improve plant coverage and organic matter, hand pulled weeds and slashed some of the paddocks to retain organic ground cover. This also allowed plants to go to seed and improve the biodiversity of the farm.

Soils are a good cover of basalt based soils on granite subsoils with some heavy pockets of clay. Soil testing was done which showed the soil is low in calcium and potassium and high in magnesium.

 

Ida and her partner are slowly building up a small heard of Galloway cattle that will be grazed in a managed system to build soil health. They are putting in internal fences and splitting the block into 13 paddocks to achieve this, also ensuring there is access to shade in all paddocks. Soils will be further improved by providing the cattle with Pat Coleby mineral licks, effectively adding any nutrient deficiency back into the paddocks via the cattle.

Water quality has also improved with destocking and rather than use the dam for stock watering directly, a 22,000 litre tank has been installed along with underground poly piping to provide water for the stock and vegetable gardens.

Plans for the Future
Fixing the dam overflow is important for water security. As well as understanding how to improve water quality and water management using appropriate wetlands plants as a key to dam and water health as well as spreading water into the landscape from the neighbouring property.

Completion of the fencing is key to effective management of grazing, which will then improve soils and biodiversity.  Once the fencing is complete, the cattle will be fenced out of the dam and wetland area that could potentially harbour liver fluke.

The planting of wind breaks and deciduous trees will provide shelter and shade as well as building soil and slow down the movement of water.

The addition of key minerals and elements that are lacking from the soil will also be key to long term soil health along with selective introduction of herbs. Compost making utilising weed species available on the farm is aimed at adding more organic material.

Focus of the Ground Work Day

The ground work day at Israels Rd, Verona will focus on:

  • Managing water quality
  • Water plants and planting out dams
  • Water management and erosion control using earthworks

Book Here to attend the Ground Work Day on Tuesday 24 October 2017


Acknowledgements: SCPA-South East Producers, LLS, Israels Rd, Verona