Welcome to the latest Ag Chat newsletter, offering advice, seasonal updates and information for landholders of what is happening at Western LLS across all areas of agriculture. First, let's meet the team:
Gemma Turnbull — Team Leader based in Bourke
Tanisha Shields — Senior Land Services Officer based in Balranald
Claudia Bryant — Land Services Officer based in Broken Hill
Luke Stacey — Senior Land Services Officer based in Buronga.
Max Brownlow — Senior Field Officer based in Broken Hill
See the contact details for the team at the end of this newsletter.
NVDs — a key part of keeping market access open
National Vendor Declarations (NVDs) are a legal document that are key to Australian red meat's traceability and market access. The NVD communicates the food safety and treatment status of every animal every time it moves along the value chain — between properties, to saleyards, or to processors (for example, chemical treatment and exposure history).
Buyers rely on the NVD for accurate information on the livestock purchased and processors rely on the information to ensure only the safest food enters our food chain. Consignors must provide an NVD when cattle, sheep, goats and pigs of any age are:
sent to an abattoir or saleyard
moved to a property with a different Property Identification Code (PIC)
given away or sold as pets
The NVD must be provided to the person receiving the stock by no later than the time of their arrival. You must keep NVDs for purchased livestock for seven years for cattle, sheep and goats, and two years for pigs, to allow the tracking of animals if the need arises.
In 2020, some changes were made to the NVD. These changes include updated NVD versions, the release of a new electronic National Vendor Declaration (eNVD) system and the decommissioning of the eDEC system.
The new LPA eNVD is mobile-friendly, reducing time and double-ups, with stakeholders in the supply chain able to log in and view consignments.
Changes to the NVD in 2020 provided an easier, more efficient and cost-effective way for producers and supply chain stakeholders to interact with the integrity system.
Mesquite — why we should spray
Mesquite (Prosopis spp.) is a woody weed that invades open grasslands, rangelands and the banks of watercourses, forming thick, impenetrable, thorny thickets. Mesquite can be either a single-stemmed tree (up to 15 m in height) or a multi-stemmed shrub with drooping branches (3-5 m high).
The whole plan has an untidy appearance with single branches extending outside of the main canopy.
Why is it here?
Being native to the Americas, Mesquite timber (in its native range) is used for fence posts, woodworking and fuel. Mesquite trees were planted on many of Australia's north-west stations in the 1920s for shade and ornamental purposes. It was also planted around mining sites for soil stabilisation and dust reduction.
The original plants were spineless and showed little tendency to spread. However, within a few years some trees reverted to wild types with spines and weedy tendencies.
It has now spread throughout mainland Australia and unfortunately is quite common in Western NSW, particularly in the Unincorporated region.
Why is it a problem?
Mesquite is an aggressive invader of rangelands. It forms dense thickets which shade out more useful forage plants, interfere with stock mustering and black access to watering places. When cattle eat copious amounts of leaf and pods, digestive problems frequently occur. Mesquite has sharp spines which injure animals and puncture vehicle tyres. It is a drought resilient, vigorous grower and given the appropriate conditions it can be extremely resilient and invasive, particularly in areas prone to flooding. These seeds pass through the digestive tracts of livestock unharmed and are easily spread.
What to do?
It is for these reasons that Mesquite has been declared noxious in NSW and is a 'Weed of National Significance' across Australia. Mesquite can be managed by a variety of control methods. The control program for mesquite will depend on the size of the infestation and the species present.
Pop saltbush is a common name for saltbush species Atriplex Spongiosa (bottom left) and Atriplex Holocarpa (bottom right). These species can be distinguished by the length of the stalks on leaves and size of fruiting bodies. A. Holocarpa leaves have clearly visible stalks on leaves and larger fruiting bodies are 4-12 mm long rather than A. Holocarpa which fruit rarely reaches over 6 mm long. These species can be differentiated and identified by using the Atriplex fruiting body line drawings in plants of western NSW.
These species are long lived annuals that increase in good winter rainfall years. Pop saltbush's palatability can vary with location and is not selected by stock over other saltbush species. It is, however, a source of feed when other more palatable winter annuals have dried off.
Pop saltbush flowers in spring to summer so should be rested in this period if managing to increase its presence in pasture. This species is more common in areas where the perennial components of pasture have been weakened.
Increasing perennial saltbush in pastures rather than annual pop saltbush should be a priority. In the interim however, pop saltbush can act as groundcover, late winter feed and weak shelter for other palatable species.
For advice on managing pasture contact a member of the Ag team.
Applications open for the next intake of the Land Services Program
Applications are now open for farming businesses to throw their hat in the ring for the Land Services Program, a new initiative that began in 2018 and incorporates the areas of agricultural production, business skills, natural resource management and biosecurity within a whole farm planning framework.
The Program has been developed to build capacity, promote innovation, and facilitate practice change of land managers within the Western region, with participants receiving access to training and services estimated to have a total value of $16,000 over the course of the Program.
Some great resources have been developed to showcase what the Program is about and how it has already helped a number of farming businesses.
For further information contact Tanisha via the details at the end of the newsletter.
The who, what, why and how of integrity systems (webinar)
Join us for a webinar with Kathleen Allan from Integrity Systems. Kathleen will provide attendees with an overview of Integrity Systems, including their role in the Australian red meat industry's three key on-farm assurance and through-chain traceability programs — Livestock Production Assurance program, LPA National Vendor Declarations and National Livestock Identification System.
You are encouraged to send through any questions prior to the webinar. If you are unable to attend the webinar live, please still register to be emailed a recording in the days following the event.
Managing the growth of ewe weaners at weaning time (webinar)
Join us for a webinar with Rob Inglis, Livestock Production Manager with Elders, where we will provide an update on the progress of the Producer Demonstration Site project in the Western region. Attendees will be updated on the current findings of the project, including ewe weaner weights, pasture assessments and upcoming project events, as well as how to manage your ewe weaners at weaning time.
You are encouraged to send through any questions prior to the webinar. If you are unable to attend the webinar live, please still register to be emailed a recording in the days following the event. The project is supported by Meat & Livestock Australia through their Production Demonstration Site program.
Monitoring pastures with drone technology — calling for EOIs
We're offering a great opportunity to landholders to participate in a new project that aims to increase individual capacity to adopt drone technology in an agricultural and natural resource management setting. The project will also assess the accuracy of drones to complete seasonal monitoring when compared to traditional methods.
This will be achieved through using drone mapping on areas at key times for pasture changes and then ground-truthing these areas compared to current best-practice monitoring techniques.
How can landholders be involved?
There are a number of opportunities to participate in this project:
drone pasture mapping of your property over two years (limited spots)
4 x drone mapping courses being held across the region
2 x field day demonstrations focusing on using drones in pasture mapping
free access to drone mapping software until June 2023
observe drone mapping, even if you don't have a drone
connecting with a network of drone users in the Western region
LLS staff will support participants in all of the above aspects of the project.
For further information contact Claudia via the details at the end of the newsletter.
Reminder — opportunities to undertake rangeland rehab works
Landholders, community groups and stakeholders can receive funding assistance to undertake works that will help to improve agricultural productivity and ecological sustainability. There are two programs currently open, with applications due by Monday 12 July.
This short film showcases what can be achieved by participating in the Ecosystem Management Understanding or rangeland rehabilitation programs.
In case you missed it
NSW Government mouse support package update
The NSW Government has announced a number of support measures for landholders, business owners and households impacted by mice. Information about the support packages, as well as other services and resources in relation to mice, are available on the LLS website — click here to access this information.
MeatUp forum in Broken Hill only days away
We are looking forward to seeing many Western region landholders and stakeholders at the MeatUp forum in Broken Hill on Wednesday 23 June. For those that are yet to purchase tickets or have made a late decision to attend, please go onto the Meat & Livestock Australian MeatUp webpage to purchase tickets. Click here to view a flyer of the forum and if you will be at the forum be sure to attend the presentation from our very own Tanisha on 'Improving Tactical Decision Making' — go Tanisha!
Grazing management field day (Tilpa/Ivanhoe)
Landholders are invited to attend this workshop which will focus on grazing management. Where: Tiltagoona Station (located between Tilpa and Ivanhoe) When: 12 pm - 5 pm, Monday 28 June Presenters: George Millear (workshop host) and Dick Richardson (Grazing Naturally).
RSVP to Claudia with lunch and afternoon tea provided. This project is supported by Western LLS, through funding from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program.
Far West Rangeland Rehydration Alliance field day, presented by Western Landcare NSW
Landholders and community groups are invited to this field day which will focus on making improvements to the landscape and local environment. Where: Community Hall, White Cliffs (included field trips in the afternoon) When: Saturday 17 July, from 10 am - 5:15 pm with dinner to immediately follow at the White Cliffs Hotel. Presenters: Dr Hugh Pringle (Ecosystem Management Understanding founder), Dr Susan Orgill (NSW Department of Primary Industries) and Martin Driver (Australian Network for Plant Conservation). RSVP to Patrick Koo, Local Landcare Coordinator, on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0435 302 828.
Until next time...
Thanks for reading this newsletter. We encourage you to save the contact details for Gemma, Tanisha, Claudia, Luke and Max and feel comfortable to contact them if you have any questions about your enterprise from an agricultural perspective.
The Ag team is always working to bring projects, events and information that is current and relevant to all landholders in the Western region. This can be in the form of face to face events, online webinars, fact sheets, case studies, newsletter articles and social media updates. If there are any topics you want covered or questions answered in the next edition of Ag Chat, simply hit reply or contact one of the team.