Finding a balance between productivity and sustainability can be challenging, but the McCormack family has applied those farming practices, including successful riparian projects spanning more than 20 years, to achieve just that.
Tom, his son James and daughter-in-law Natasha McCormack farm Red Hill, Lost River, west of Crookwell.
They shared how they have applied sustainability principles on their farm at a field day they hosted together with Rivers of Carbon and Upper Lachlan Landcare groups.
Attendees toured the 1214-hectare property, viewed various gully restoration projects and learned about the benefits of riparian restoration in farm management.
Red Hill was settled in 1863 by Tom and James McCormack's ancestors. The mixed grazing operation focuses on prime lamb production from first-cross ewes, plus they run Merinos and, Angus and Hereford cattle.
The improved and native pastures exist on basalt and granite soil types, receiving an average annual rainfall of 800 millimetres.
The high altitude of 850 metres means Red Hill experiences very cold winters, with wind predominantly blowing in from the north west.
Tom, the fifth generation to farm Red Hill, explained that the property was windswept and bare except for pockets of trees, so in an attempt to slow the winds and reduce lamb mortality rates, he began planting tree runs in the 1980s.
Now, there are between 15 and 20 kilometres of tree runs, all double-fenced.
James said his father had worked hard over a long period of time to establish tree runs and rejuvenate riparian areas on the property.
"I have probably been the main beneficiary of that," he said.
The tree runs are planted with natives, mostly wattles and eucalypts known to the area have been the most successful on Red Hill.
James said high wind areas were selected for the sites and placed alongside existing fence lines to minimise costs.
"They need to be looked after during the first 12 months, with watering when necessary and weed management," he said.
"While the riparian areas need weed and grazing management."
The McCormacks measure the positive outcomes of the applied sustainable farming practices, wildlife corridors, and shelterbelts against the improved animal welfare outcomes, higher sheep and lamb survival rates during lambing, the environmental impact, and aesthetic improvement to the landscape.
Planted paddocks are commonly used for lambing and after shearing.
"We lamb in June and August to take advantage of spring feed, and they are pretty tough months," James said.
"Where we planted a tree run two years ago, we probably only lost two or three lambs due to exposure from a mob of about 100 ewes.
"All the lambs would sit up against the tree run for protection from the elements, so it's doing the job, too. Seeing the change in an exposed paddock like that in two years was quite amazing."
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