Just 20mm of rain and look what smart ponding earthworks can do for you

Western success for nature and graziers with clever ponding


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Successful ponding after just 20mm of rain near White Cliffs after rangeland rehabilitation work. Photo courtesy of Western Local Land Services.

Successful ponding after just 20mm of rain near White Cliffs after rangeland rehabilitation work. Photo courtesy of Western Local Land Services.

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Putting a stop to water loss on farm

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It used to take 200mm of rain to see ponding on Western Division properties like this (as seen here), but this ponding occurred at White Cliffs recently after just 20mm of rain.

The ponding is the result of a few years of hardwork, a lot of earthmoving and a successful collaboration between landholders and Western Local Land Services, especially through LLS officer Paul Theakston at Cobar. It's putting smiles on a lot of faces with landholders having to get through one of the worst droughts on record.

After the recent rain, many landholders, including Annette and Barry Turner, Polpah, are even yet to get out and see the magic containment of water that will boost growth in the rangelands.

The LLS released pictures showing how well the rangeland rehabilitation system was working. "With many landholders not getting any decent falls for the best part of two years, they were yet to see how the landscape would benefit from the changes," the Western LLS said.

"Any questions the landholders had were certainly answered as the pictures tell the story, but one particular case study gives an insight into just how beneficial the works can and will be. On a particular property that recorded 21 mm of rain, water that would have previously flowed down an erosion gully was calmed and spread over the adjacent floodplain over 300 hectares. Previously, 200 mm of rain was required to activate this same floodplain and in addition to this, the erosion gully can now start to rehabilitate."

Keeping the moisture on your property is proving a winner in the Western Division.

Keeping the moisture on your property is proving a winner in the Western Division.

Mick Deppeler, Deppeler Earthmoving, Cobar, did much of the earthworks on the properties and he said it was great to see the benefits flowing through. "More or less we just turned a drain into a bank," he said. "It has to be on hilly ground and obviously it works. The water stays on your property and grows grass."

Related: Western Division graziers are using the highs to get through the lows

Annette Turner said the rehabilitation work had been a godsend to managing Polpah. They recently had nearly 70mm of rain. She said the LLS had been "fantastic" in helping them refine the rehabilitation system.

The LLS says that when a landscape is improved, there is a productivity and ecological outcome. Western LLS orginally engaged 12 property owners through the Ecosystem Management Understanding (EMU)TM plan. "The extent of the healthy floodout plains was mapped and the impacting gullies were recorded. A series of earth banks were designed and constructed to divert waterflows away from the gullies and spread water across the broad watercourse. These banks simultaneously pond water, re-creating a chain of shallow ponds throughout the watercourse system."

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