Jinglefox, Dalgety : Farms With A Future


Case Study: Jinglefox, Dalgety

Farm Overview

Situated between the Snowy River and The Snowy River Way near Dalgety, Jinglefox is a 370 hectare property, owned and operated by sisters Tineke and Nicola Tamis who took ownership in 2003.

The property is mostly undulating on granite-based soils with a drop-off to the Snowy River being steep. Average annual rainfall is 480mm, but annual rainfall is seldom near average. Storms, mainly in summer, can cause major rainfall events, but drought is also common.

Being in a cold temperate climate, winters are severe with persistent and heavy frosts, and summers can be very hot “Jinglefox recorded 3 weeks at 40C+ one summer during the millennium drought”, say the sisters.

Winds are a major factor on the farm with storm-force winds occurring nearly every year. Summer winds are hot and dry, from the North West and Winter winds are from the South and are bitterly cold.

The sisters predominantly farm cattle and sheep, with plan to plant heritage apples and pears for cider making.

Background of the farm

Jinglefox has historically been a merino sheep as well as cattle farm.

Although photos taken of the property in August 2002 prior to purchase, show many paddocks had been ploughed and re-sown, the drought caused these pastures to remain bare. Stock pressure on the remaining paddocks meant they were severely grazed, along with gully erosion, especially on the steeper portion of the farm.

The previous owners had made a start on planting tree belts to defend against the wind, mainly Pinus radiata, and also some Monterey cypress and Leylandii.

Changes that have been made

Tineke and Nicola run the farm as naturally as possible. Purchased inputs are kept to an absolute minimum, but not to the detriment of animal welfare. They use a loose mineral-lick for livestock on an ad-lib basis, to help them stay healthy, naturally (based on Pat Coleby’s work).

They do not drench their cattle and only drench the sheep when necessary, and shearing is timed to reduce seed contamination in wool, and to reduce fly-strike.

Ewes are fed a trickle of lupins before and during lambing. It is hoped in future to replace this with pasture that remains productive for longer, plus fodder shrubs and trees.

The sisters’ aim for 100% ground-cover, 100% of the time, which addresses multiple challenges:

- improving water infiltration by slowing water movement across the landscape

- reducing evaporation by wind

- maintaining a more even soil temperature allowing greater soil microbial numbers

- growing more, thereby providing more stock food and sequestering more carbon in the soil.

 

Water security has been a focus and the sisters have upgraded and extended water reticulation, to allow subdivision of paddocks and more rotational grazing (Allan Savory and Jody Butterfield).

Branch barriers have helped to prevent storm water collecting against fences and pushing them over and leaky weirs were established in a major gully, to slow erosion and allow plants to stabilise the gully.

The use of a Yeomans Plow to aerate very compacted soils, to allow faster water infiltration and increased retention has recently starting and is showing good results, so will likely be expanded.

Wind has been a huge challenge at Jinglefox, so many tree belts are being planted to slow wind, providing pasture protection and stock shelter and shade including white poplar (populous alba bolleana) for:

- upright, suckering habit with fast establishment

- deciduous, to recycle nutrients from deep in soil profile

- inoculated with ectomycorrhiza for enhanced carbon capture

- tannins in the branches will reduce ruminant greenhouse gas emissions when fed to livestock

- trees coppiced to make brush mattresses for erosion control

There have also trees being planted in paddocks to create a savannah effect – reducing temperature extremes for pasture and livestock.

 

Weeds – A Major Challenge - due to the presence of major weeds such as Serrated Tussock and African Lovegrass and the need to prevent these weeds from spreading and affecting neighbours, the sisters have entered into a short term solution with council and agreed on a weed-spraying program.

Plans for the Future

Areas have been set aside for tree planting for forage.  As well as providing fodder, it is envisaged these mixed native/non-native plantings will provide bird habitat (insect control) and food for bees (pollination). Paddock trees will include oaks as well.

The long-term solution for weeds is a sequence of:

- slashing to: reduce paddock trash; make access easier; encourage tillering of desirable grasses whilst reducing vigour of weeds

- liming to: adjust pH; improve cation exchange capacity (CEC); allow establishment of legumes

- Yeomans Plowing to: aerate soil; sow legumes, grasses and forbs

The focus for the Ground Work Day will be on:

·         Trialing of methods for control of weeds (Serrated Tussock and African Lovegrass) without use of chemicals

·         Obtaining advice on monitoring protocols; and

·         Monitoring the results of the chemical and non-chemical methods of weed control.

 Join In the Ground Work Day

Acknowledgements: SCPA-South East Producers, LLS, Jinglefox