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South East Circular

Edition 15, December 2015

Community advisory groups 

David Mitchell
Chair, South East Local Land Services
South East Local Land Services called for expressions of interest from members of the community earlier this year to join community advisory groups.

I am pleased to advise that those groups have now been established with the initial meetings held.

There are  four community advisory groups, with 22 members, representing Southern Tablelands, South Coast Highlands (pictured above), Far South Coast and Monaro Palerang.

The groups will play a pivotal communication role regarding local issues and priorities to our board and to local communities.

Further information: Community Advisory Groups
South East Local Land Services will be closed from 24 December 2015 to 3 January 2016.

I wish everyone a safe and happy Christmas we look forward to continuing to support producers and land managers across the South East Local Land Services region in 2016.

Community, Industry and Landscapes Fund projects

Jane Caldwell
Senior Land Services Officer - Investment and Planning

Successful projects have been announced for the South East Local Land Services Community, Industry and Landscapes Fund 2015-18.  

Projects approved through the Fund include a range of activities that will support local groups, the local landcare community and primary producers to deliver better natural resource management and sustainable agricultural outcomes.

Projects will run for up to three years (to June 30, 2018) and will assist groups to help restore local ecosystems, protect important natural assets and contribute to agricultural productivity improvements across dairy, oyster and grazing enterprises. 

Further information: Community Industry and Landscapes Fund

Bush Connect program

South East Local Land Services would like to congratulate the Australian River Restoration Centre; Berry Landcare; Far South Coast Landcare Association; Greening Australia (NSW and Capital Region); National Parks Association; Kanangra-Boyd to Wyangala Link Partnership; and Yass Area Network of Landcare Groups Incorporated for their recent success with the 2015 Bush Connect program.  

Together, these eight groups have been successful in attracting over $3.4million to the South East region for a range of natural resource management projects.

Further information:

Sheep reproduction - 2015 in review 

Matt Lieschke
Senior Land Services Officer - Livestock
For many sheep producers across the region, 2015 has been a roller coaster ride. The journey so far has seen an excellent joining period with high conception rates followed by a long, cold, winter where the combination of high pregnancy rates, poor feed quality, over-fat stock and worms caused headaches for some. Now that lambing is finished for most flocks, I think there are some really valuable lessons that we can take away.

One of the biggest things this year has highlighted (or perhaps reminded us about) is the impact of body condition on reproduction, or more specifically, conception rates. Comments from a number of producers and scanning contractors was that scanning rates were generally well up as a result of more twin-bearing ewes. This was a direct result of summer rainfall and ewes being in top condition at joining. Maiden ewes also joined up particularly well thanks to the excellent growing season in 2014.

I get the feeling that there is still come confusion among producers when it comes to ewe management prior to joining. Some producers aim to have their ewes on a “rising plane”; while others say as long as they are in good condition they’ll be right. So, what’s the correct answer?

Read the full article: Sheep reproduction - 2015 in review

Local disease watch

Bill Johnson
District Veterinarian, Goulburn
District veterinarians visit farms to investigate herd and flock problems in livestock. The information we gain from these investigations improves livestock production and animal welfare, and helps to ensure that Australia is free from certain animal diseases.

During the month, district veterinarians on the coast saw an increase in mastitis cases in dairy cows associated with wet conditions, and high levels of liver fluke. Inspections of lame sheep in all areas found a range of conditions, including virulent footrot, foot abscess, scabby mouth and infectious arthritis. Cattle with sore eyes had pinkeye in some herds, and a viral infection in another. Worms slowed growth of young cattle despite recent drenching, and a microscopic parasite mimicked worms in lambs. Worms also caused the death of an alpaca.

Read the full article: Local Disease Watch - December 2015

Secondary control methods for rabbits

Ben Serafin
Biosecurity Officer
As we move into the warmer months, it’s a good time to take a moment to think about developing an integrated rabbit management program for your property.  As with any pest control program using multiple control methods will bring greatest success.  These control methods are usually classified into two categories; primary and secondary.
Primary control is the method that will bring about maximum reduction of pest populations and should form the backbone of your management program.  Primary control for rabbits is 1080 or Pindone baiting, which if done correctly can reduce rabbit populations by 90-95%.  Secondary control methods are then implemented to further reduce populations and provide a longer-term reduction in rabbit numbers.
Read the full article: Secondary control methods for rabbits

Calicivirus update

Our office in Bega has recently received a number of queries regarding Rabbit Haemorrhagic Disease Virus (RHDV), commonly known as calicivirus, from livestock producers interested in reducing rabbit numbers on their land, and from owners of pet or meat rabbits wanting to know how to best protect their animals from this disease.
Read the full article: Calicivirus update

African Lovegrass threat

Rebecca Widdows
Land Services Officer, Yass

On Saturday 14 November, a group of interested local landholders gathered together to learn about the threat that the weed African lovegrass poses to our local farmland and natural environment.
The Yass Area Network of Landcare Groups (YAN), with support from South East Local Land Services, held a workshop to help local landholders and community members learn more about the weed.

A terrific line-up of guest speakers presented throughout the day. Peter Davis, Monaro farmer and holistic grazing manager, spoke about the threat that African lovegrass poses to productive pastures.

Due to African lovegrass die back over winter months, its large tussock growth form and associated deep roots, it can pose a major fire risk in winter.

Peter showed a photo of a control burn of African lovegrass in July, and the flame height was three times higher than the fire truck in the photo (see above).
Read the full article: African lovegrass threat

Willow control for Snowy River tributaries

Leon Miners
Senior Land Services Officer - Snowy River
Catchment-scale weed control activities along more than 20 km are well underway for the Cobbin and Grosses Plains Creeks and the Mowambah River systems, which are major tributaries of the Upper Snowy River Catchment.
Building on the success of the past Snowy River Rehabilitation Project, South East Local Land Services is now coordinating a top-down willow control program along these streams to reduce the risk of re-infestation into the Snowy River where over 186 km of willow and blackberry control has been achieved over the past 20 years.
Working with more than 30 landholders, Snowy Hydro and the Snowy River Shire Council, the project has now engaged with a number of landholders who did not participate in willow control works under the former Snowy River Project. Working with landholders in this program has also opened up huge opportunities for fencing, off stream water and revegetation activities as many reaches of these streams retain high biodiversity values and support Threatened Ecological Vegetation Communities.  
Willow control works will include a stem injection and foliar spray pass over November to December 2015 which will be followed up with strategic mechanical removal in autumn 2016 to protect important infrastructure and assets such as bridges.

Bega River bamboo banished

Shannon Brennan
Senior Land Services Officer (Rivers)

Removal of 1.2 ha of bamboo and privet alongside the shared pathway between the Bega River and Bridge Street in the Bega River Reserve has been a momentous occasion for the township of Bega.
Bamboo removal has led to significant media and community attention. Many local residents have recounted their memories of the bamboo along the river including collecting bottles from the old tip site on the river banks, to the old house and its resident, the former campground and collecting bamboo poles for use as tomato stakes.  

Support for its removal has been overwhelmingly positive with many people indicating they are looking forward to seeing this area take shape with these invasive weeds being replaced by native plants.  Community response regarding improved river views for people using the shared pathway has also been positive, including that from attendees of Park Run, a weekly fun run attended by over 100 people in the Bega River Reserve every Saturday morning.
Read the full article: Bega River bamboo banished

Berry busy 'making good decisions'

Amanda Britton
Senior Land Services Officer - Pastures
The second half of 2015 has been eventful and busy and destined to get busier with the Berry Rural Co-op holding its successful inaugural Pasture Competition and the Illawarra/Shoalhaven South East Local Land Services team delivering the Making Good Decisions project.

Pasture Competition 

Judging took place at the end of September. A few weeks before saw the south coast region suffer a major flooding event from an east coast low impacting negatively on agricultural and residential areas. Surprisingly the quality of the pastures we saw even after such a damaging event were very good. The rate at which pastures recovered following the flooding was very encouraging and as such made judging a tough assignment.

To launch the first year of the competition there were 35 entries from 18 farmers across the five categories. It was also encouraging to witness landholders trying and monitoring new products and management practice methods in order to achieve high quality feed to produce high quality and sort after end products.

Making Good Decisions program

There are many tools available in assisting landholders to make good economic and sustainable management decisions but it is the understanding of how to use these tools and then implementing a plan to utilise the results given that will make the difference to the business. Consequently, this year South East Local Land Services, in partnership with Catchment Action NSW, is providing Illawarra and Shoalhaven landholders the opportunity to participate in the Making Good Decisions program.  This program includes opportunities and training for landholders in agronomy, animal health and a beef enterprise health check-up.

Landholders across a wide range of soil types have the opportunity to participate in a soil testing and interpretation program whereby landholders are being offered a two for one deal eg: a landholder buys one or two soil tests and South East Local Land Services will cover the costs for the second and fourth test. A soil test interpretation report and a two day workshop will be provided to help make sense of the numbers giving landholders a chance to explore options that will improve or maintain the soil condition. These workshops will be held early in 2016. There is a maximum of four tests offered per farm.

Read the full article: Berry busy 'making good decisions'

Oyster farmers spreading the good news

Jillian Keating
Senior Land Services Officer - Coastal Partnerships
South Coast oyster farmers have been busy spreading the word about their role as estuary stewards and educating stakeholders on the connection between good water quality, catchment condition and healthy oysters.

Over the past month, farmers have led tours in three estuaries: Wonboyn Lake, Wagonga Inlet and Shoalhaven estuary. Supported by South East Local Land Services and the Oyster EMS Implementation Officers, these events have varied in their focus, and targeted different stakeholders and sectors of the community to suit the unique needs and issues of each estuary.

Read the full article: Oyster farmers spreading the good news

Reconnecting in more ways than one

Andy Taylor
Land Services Officer - Rural Landscapes Program
Harcross Holdings is a 700 acre beef cattle enterprise situated 20km south of Braidwood. The current land owner and manager, Adrian Cox, had a country upbringing, but forged a career in the city. When it came time to reconnect with the land he found a property he couldn’t pass up, now known as Harcross Holdings.

The most striking resource on the property is Mountain Creek and its tributaries, which reach out to all corners of the property. Mountain Creek runs through the middle of the property and has been a direct source of water for livestock since farming began in the 1850s. Adrian could see the impacts this was having on the creek banks and native vegetation and wanted to do something to protect the creek without losing the water amenity.

Adrian discovered that help was at hand through the South East Local Land Services, and requested assistance through the Rural Landscapes Program (RLP). The RLP can provide advice, and funding to landholders in Sydney drinking catchments, to help with grazing management, erosion control, riparian protection and revegetation. After a few discussions and a few site visits, a project was developed with a range of benefits to the land and the landholder.

Read the full article: Reconnecting in more ways than one

Values of supporting new and future Small Farms

Alice McGrath
Land Services Officer, Queanbeyan

A Small Farms Walk n’ Talk, held Saturday 21st November at Rossi near Bungendore, highlighted the value of supporting new owners of small properties and potential farm buyers with information to support good land management decisions. The day provided an opportunity for landholders to walk through and share ideas on the various aspects of property management. The walk n’ talk was the first event for the new Capital Region Small Farm Network and received a great turn out of existing and potential small farm owners of the area.

The Capital Region Small Farm Network is a newly established grassroots information service for people who live on small to medium sized rural properties in NSW and ACT near Canberra. The network has been established, following the successful Small Farm Network model from the South Coast of NSW. This network has been created by a group of passionate farmers in the Bungendore region who have identified a gap in the support offered to these landholders. 

Feedback from the day was extremely positive, with strong requests by those attending for more events with a focus on offering support to small farm owners in the region, “The Walk n’ Talk was a great day out, with lots of practical information provided by people with an impressive depth of technical knowledge, this information is just not easily available for people starting out, events like this help us to get realistic about what we can actually do” (Jennie, small farm owner from Bywong).

Read the full article: value in supporting new and future small farms

Property planning for the future

Peter Gow 
Land Services Officer - Batemans Bay
Local landholders gained new perspectives on how to manage their rural properties at property planning workshop recently held at Moruya.

The workshop, coordinated by South East Local Land  Services, had participants work through a process of setting a vision for how they would like their properties to be in five years’ time and how they might effectively achieve that vision.

Read the full article: Property planning for the future

Camera traps - an introduction

Ben Serafin
Biosecurity Officer
Remote cameras or camera traps are not new, however their use has greatly increased in recent years. Many private land managers now use camera traps for farm surveillance, pest animal management and wildlife monitoring.
The technology has improved, costs lowered, and more companies now produce camera traps. This means camera traps are available in a variety of prices, capabilities and modes of operation. Understanding how your camera works and its limitations are important in getting the most out of it.

Paul Meek (NSW Department of Primary Industries and Invasive Animals CRC), recently delivered a camera trap training day hosted by Riverina Local Land Services. Paul has extensive experience evaluating their effectiveness and their robustness for research and monitoring purposes.

Some key points:
  • Camera traps are not motion-sensing cameras but rather heat-in-motion-sensing cameras. This means they detect differences in temperature between a moving object and its surroundings (most cameras need a minimum two degrees' difference). This means when the ambient temperature is around 37 degrees, camera traps won’t work on mammals. Paul had trouble with this recently while doing some monitoring research on wild dogs in the Strzelecki Desert. Vegetation also has a heat signature, particularly during the day, that’s why you can get ‘ghost’ photos, particularly if vegetation is close to the sensor.
  • Each brand of camera has different sensors, detection zones and detection ranges, which you need to be aware of to get the best out of it. Importantly, the detection zones do not cover the entire picture frame, so setting your camera at the right height and angle is crucial (see below). 
  • Fixing the camera at the eye height of the target animal will give you the best chance of detection, as the area of highest heat signature is around the mouth, eyes and anus.
  • Face the camera south as much as possible; this will give you a more consistent temperature.
Further information: /
A new Wild Dog Alert system is currently under development which will use a network of camera traps with facial/species recognition technology, which is also under development. Once a dog is identified on a camera, an alert is generated and sent to the land owner or land manager.

The recognition technology has 97 per cent accuracy and will be able to identify individual dogs based on facial features. The biggest challenge is satellite and phone coverage.

Seasonal updates and wildlife workshop prove popular

Geoff O'Connor
Senior Land Services Officer, Moss Vale
South East Local Land Services organises regular seasonal updates throughout the region to provide local producers and land managers with an opportunity to access information relevant to managing livestock and pastures.

Attendees have indicated they find these updates valuable and very practical; a great opportunity to hear first-hand from livestock health and pasture management specialists in an on-farm format.
Also popular was the Who's Living on my Land workshop hosted by South East Local Land Services with Wingecarribee Shire Council and the National Parks Association of NSW. 

The focus was pest animal control and citizen science wildlife surveying, with 27 landholders, mainly from western areas of Wingecarribee Shire participating. 

Read the full article: Seasonal Update and wildlife workshops prove popular

Archibull honour for Gwynneville students

A few months ago Michael Knez and Megan Rowlatt visited Gwynneville Public School and spoke about the work of Local Land Services, biosecurity, Landcare and the work Landcare does with young people and landholders in our region.
Gwynneville Public School was one of the finalists in the Archibull Prize competition.

The Archibull Prize engages secondary and primary school students in agricultural and environmental awareness through art, design, creativity and teamwork. Among other activities the school is provided with a blank, life-sized fibreglass cow for students to create an artwork on or to use as the subject of an artwork. The school then showcases their own food or fibre industry that they have explored. The competition connects farmers, natural resource managers and industry and community experts with students.

Further information:


South East Circular is a monthly email newsletter containing information about our services, biosecurity alerts, technical articles and notices of upcoming events, training and funding opportunities. It also celebrates the innovations and achievements of the wide variety of land management partnerships, projects and programs across our region.
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