SUTTON LANDCARE

Past meeting notes


14 June 2016 - Peter Raynolds, a cattle grazier from near Braidwood, led our discussion of the proposition advanced by Zimbabwean ecologist and environmentalist, Allan Savory that livestock properly managed and moved to mimic nature, are essential to improving a degraded pastoral environment.

We watched a short video of Allan Savory setting out this proposition which has become the basis for Savory's holistic farming approach. Peter has started to implement these methods on his family's property. He is running crash grazing trials of varying duration and is actively implementing holistic farming principles with encouraging results.


12 April 2016 - Sutton Landcare's AGM commenced at 7:30pm.  The President's annual report is attached here.  There were some changes in office bearers:  Our president, David Vincent, stepped down after a decade of absolutely outstanding service to the group.  Until a new president is appointed, the meetings will be run by committee members.  Tony Redman also stepped down as Secretary, and the new Secretary is Marchien van Oostende.  Christine Pahlman continues as Treasurer.

At 8pm we were treated to a presentation by Peter Hazel on the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project.  It is situated near Bungendore and is based on the natural sequence farming principles pioneered by Peter Andrews several years ago.  It was clear that the obvious success of the Mulloon Creek experiments could be repeated in the Yass Valley, given some perseverance by local landowners.  More details here.


14 February 2016 - Greater Goorooyarroo Project revegetation

On Sunday 14 February 2016, Sutton Landcare Group visited two Greater Goorooyarroo project revegetation sites where plantings have been undertaken to improve landscape function and productivity. 

 

We were led by Jeni De Landre, Project Manager with Greening Australia, who has overseen all the revegetation initiatives under the Goorooyarroo Project.  Alison Elvin from Natural Capital helped us with identification and appraisal of surrounding native grasses. Alison is a recognized expert in this field.

We visited two sites, one showing the results of direct seeding, the other being completely transformed by Greening Australia's Whole-of-Paddock Rehabilitation plan.  Click here for more details.


13 October 2015 - Dr Charles Massy, a merino sheep breeder and wool grower and currently visiting fellow at the ANU Fenner School addressed us on Regenerative Agriculture-Solutions for the Anthropocene Era.

Charles defined regenerative agriculture as a rebuilding or regeneration of degraded agro-ecological landscape systems towards previous health. These systems are complex. They adapt to changes in climate and man- made events such as land clearing and ploughing. Sustained disturbances can lead the systems to crash and it may take years for them to reorganize and recover.  The greatest factor behind land degradation is a lack of ecological literacy by farmers of these complex adaptive systems.

Charles considers that human activity on the planet has broken through key safety barriers resulting in change and biodiversity loss. Our management of the solar energy cycle has been poor through excessive vegetation loss. And poor tillage practices have weakened the water cycle through excessive runoff and evaporation.

The rundown in soil organic matter and microbial activity from excessive tillage and the application of artificial fertilizers and chemicals has reduced the nutrient content of foods with adverse effects on human health.

To regenerate our landscape we need to change our thinking and practices from an industrial agricultural model to a more holistic approach which works in step with Mother Nature rather than fighting it.

The rewards, in terms of greater landscape resilience through enhanced biodiversity, healthier livestock, more nutritious products through more biologically active soils, and a more satisfying and sustainable farming experience are being reaped by those farmers that have already made the change.

 

11 August 2015 -  Our guest speaker, Dr Bradley Opdyke , Senior Lecturer and Research Scientist at the ANU Research School of Earth Sciences, addressed us on “How studying the History of Lake George can give us clues about our future climate in a warming world." 

In early 2015 the Australian Research Council funded a research project that looks into the history of the Lake George Basin and catchment area. A large team of scientists are participating - from the ANU, The University of Sydney, The University of Wollongong, and Geoscience Australia. They are looking at the groundwater history, the landscape evolution, the recent tectonics of the area, archaeology, and the paleoclimatic history.

Bradley introduced the broader picture (covering thousands of years) then concentrated on the possible things we might learn that will help us plan for the changes coming in the near future.  Click here for more details.


9 June 2015 - We screened the movie called "Open Sesame:  the Story of Seeds".   The 2015 movie told the story of seeds by following the challenges of 83 US plaintiffs in a collective lawsuit against Monsanto - challenging Monsanto’s seed patents and seeking to protect organic seed growing from genetically modified organism (GMO) contamination.  

The movie noted - a recent FAO study showed that 90% of crop varieties grown in the US 100 years ago are now extinct.  Regarding genetically-modified seed, the movie claims that only 2% of seed available in the US is not GM.  The Global Seed Vault in Norway does not provide new stocks of seeds, its role is to safely store duplicate seeds from seed collections around the world.  Many small privately-owned seed farms have been established in the US to preserve and supplement locally grown native seed supplies, but their scale is miniscule compared with the five major US seed companies.

Click here to see more details of the movie.


14 April 2015  -  Sutton Landcare’s AGM was held at 7:30pm.  Most office bearers were re-elected.  The President’s annual report is attached here.  It mentions three presentations during the year by visiting experts and a highly successful bird walk around Sutton, along with a trial release of St. John’s Wort mites on Sutton Common.  Two extra business items were:

1.  John Betts Landcare Award – this prestigious award was presented to Ray Malam by Melinda Johnson on behalf of the Yass Area Network.  This award acknowledges Ray’s outstanding contribution in setting up Sutton Landcare Group and providing sound leadership of the group over many years.

2.  Ray provided a report on the opening of the memorial Bruce Bray Riparian Walk near Gunning.  For details see  https://upperlachlan.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/grand-opening-of-the-bruce-bray-riparian-walk/.   Bruce was a long-time and very active member of both Jerrawa Creek and Sutton Landcare Groups.

 

At 8.00 pm our guest speaker, Mr Bruno Ferronato from the University of Canberra, addressed us on the ecology of eastern long -necked turtles. See summary attached.  While increasing urbanization of the Canberra region contains threats to their survival, such as being run over on roads, it also offers advantages – more water sources through ponds and lakes.  The Sanctuary fence can be a problem, but Bruno has been working on several solutions to this.


10 February 2015 - Dr Nicki Munro, an ecologist from ANU, addressed us on restoring woodland health through the reintroduction of previously lost mammals such as the Eastern Bettong.

Eastern Bettongs (a very small member of the kangaroo family) were reintroduced to Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary to see if they could reinstate some of the processes that have been lost from our woodlands. They do this by digging. And digging!! Dr Munro explained some new research at Mulligans Flat on the digging behaviour of bettongs, and why digging is so important to the health of woodlands.

Click here to see a more detailed report on Dr Munro's presentation.


9 December 2014 -  this was our Christmas party and planning meeting.  The venue was Jane and David Vincent's farm "Gollion" 93 Westmead Lane Sutton.  After we enjoying oven-baked focaccias and pizza for dinner, Marchien van Oestende briefed us on the Friends of Grasslands conference that she attended recently in Albury.  Following that, our President provided a summary of activities undertaken during 2014 and explored proposed activities for 2015.

Sunday 12 October 2014 - Around 30 people turned up at the school at 7:30 am for a birdwalk around Sutton village.  We divided into four groups led by well-known ornithologist Tony Lawson (from Canberra Ornithologists’ Group) and three other well-informed birdies:  David McDonald, Alistair Drake and Nick Nicholls.

 The areas covered included the bushland behind the School, the ridgeline behind the Fire Station, and along the creek near the Pony Club. In little over an hour we spotted in total 37 bird species, see report.

 A quick internet search indicates that none of these birds are rare, but the Superb Parrot stands out an endangered species.  Due to alteration of its natural habitat, the Superb Parrot is rated as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.  Land clearing is the principal problem.

 After the birdwalk we enjoyed a hearty breakfast provided by Sutton Landcare.



12 August 2014 - Associate Professor Mark Lintermans from the University of Canberra, addressed us on freshwater fish in the Canberra region.  He is a freshwater scientist and a national authority on threatened freshwater fish,   His address focussed on the distribution and ecology of freshwater fish in the upper Murrumbidgee catchment.  He highlighted the major threats to these freshwater fish, and what can be done to assist the recovery of freshwater habitats in our region.


Click here to see a more detailed report on Professor Lintermans' presentation.


Other local Landcare news:

 

.  Funding for new tree plantings and for fox/rabbit control programs is still available.  Contact Jeni De Landre (Greater Goorooyarroo Project Coordinator) on 6253 3035.

 

.  A group of the rare Bush Stone-curlew were released into Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve in Gungahlin in August 2014.

 

.  The Atlas of Living Australia (ALA) ACT and Southern Tablelands Weedspotter mobile phone application is available for iPhone and Android smart phones from the Apple iTunes Store or from Google Play.

 

.  The next Sutton Landcare activity will be a birdwalk around the village on Sunday 12 October 2014 commencing at 7:30am, with breakfast provided at the school afterwards.  Everyone welcome.

 

.  Double congratulations to Sutton Landcare ex-president Ray Malam who has been awarded the inaugural Yass Area Network Landcarer of the Year award, and also the prestigious John Betts Award for 2014.




8 April 2014 Alan Cole addressed us on the topic “Why are our paddock trees dying?”   Alan is a professional forester, with extensive experience in many parts of Australia. 

Alan’s presentation started with a history of Australian forests from the time of European settlement until the present.  He then described in detail some forest damage agents still evident today, and balanced this with a summary of natural recovery mechanisms.

He concluded by outlining how we can help mitigate forest degradation.  He included a list of some suggested trees to plant locally, and some not to plant locally. 

 Click here to see a more detailed report on Alan’s presentation.


10 June 2014
  Bill Watson, addressed us on the extraordinarily popular Capital Region Farmers Market and related issues. Bill is a member of the Rotary Club of Hall where he has been Director of the Market and responsible for compliance. Bill has had a long and distinguished career as an analyst and researcher in rural , environmental and natural resource issues at the former Bureau of Agricultural Economics, as a visiting Fellow at the CRES unit at ANU, and is also the Principal of Watson Agriculture Resources and Environmental Consulting.

Bill’s address provided an in depth analysis of the nature , history and objectives of this market, market rules- in particular compliance and the authenticity of suppliers and produce- and issues of legislation, waste disposal and competition. He also outlined projects funded by the income earned by the Market.


11 February 2014 - Our first meeting in 2014 was an evening visit to Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve and Woodlands Sanctuary.  After a picnic meal at the woolshed, Jeni De Landre (Greater Gooyooyaroo Project Coordinator) and Karissa Preuss (Ginninderra Catchment Coordinator) briefly explained their involvement with the Reserve.  Then Kate Grarock (Sanctuary Ecology Officer) provided a short talk about the Reserve, its aims, and some of the research under way.  After this we packed up everything and Kate led us on a dusk walk through the bush to spot some bettongs.  Despite the noise of 24 people walking, we observed 2-3 bettongs and a few owls and wallabies.  Everyone agreed that this was an excellent group excursion.  See poster for more details.

A comprehensive brochure on Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve is at   http://www.tams.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/390699/Mulligans_Flat_and_Goorooyarroo_Nature_Reserve_Brochure.pdf

 


10 December 2013This was our Christmas party and review meeting, at which we also discussed the SLG program for 2014. 
The venue was Jane and David Vincent’s property, “Gollion” 93 Westmead Lane   Sutton.



8 October 2013 - Dr Sue McIntyre, a fellow at the Fenner School at ANU, addressed us on the ecology underpinning the strategy for the Greater Goorooyarroo area, which straddles the northern border of the ACT and surrounding NSW.  This area of about 30,500 ha includes nationally significant Box–Gum woodland remnants.

Her comprehensive and sometimes challenging presentation covered four main areas:

. Fallen timber:   much favoured by ecologists as a shelter for fauna.  There are many other benefits.   

. Understorey restoration:  Most Australian soil is low in phosphorus so fertilizing with superphosphate was common in previous decades.  Native plant regeneration works best on low fertility soil, so pasture fertilized in the past 5-10 years is problematic.

. Grazing as a management tool.  There is no evidence that rotational grazing increases biodiversity of native pastures, however it has other obvious benefits.  Burning (widely used in QLD) can be an effective tool to mitigate the effects of selective grazing.

. Water courses:  gully erosion is best controlled by stock exclusion and allowing time for recovery by native pasture.

See poster for further details.  Dr McIntyre has published extensively on the above topics, and many others.  Google will help you find them.

  

13 August 2013 - Dr Denis Blight, Executive Director of the Crawford Fund, addressed us on the potential for landcare to assist Australia's Food Security Aid Program. 

His presentation was very broad ranging.  He highlighted the potential for agricultural research as an element of Australia’s food security aid program.  He described the roles of the Crawford Fund in sponsoring international agriculture training programs and relevant international conferences.

Given that global demand for food is rising, due largely to a burgeoning middle class (estimated to be 4 billion people now), and with growing demand in particular for more meat, dairy foods, fruits, and vegetables, a key issue is – how can we adequately feed an extra 2-3 billion people without damaging the environment? 

The solution is an integrated approach, taking into consideration factors such as:  conservation agriculture, broader adoption of agricultural research findings, better use of arable land and less use of marginal land, appropriate use of fertilizers, greater use of technology (eg. laser levelling of land, satellite surveillance, mobile phone data to track weather conditions), and in some circumstances corporatisation of farms, but noting that very small farms in developing countries (driven by land title policies) can still be productive if the farmers are well informed.

A Ministerial study in 1998 concluded that Australia's experience in landcare is often not directly applicable to a developing country environment.   Australia can help global food security by undertaking more agricultural research, providing more training opportunities for foreign agricultural scientists, and providing more well-directed aid programs.

A succinct description of the history and aims of the Crawford Fund can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crawford_Fund.


On Saturday 15 June 2013- around 30 people from Sutton and Yass Landcare groups visited Talaheni, the 250 ha farm near Murrumbateman of Soils for Life farmers and Climate Champions John and Robyn Ive.  Since 1980 they have used strategic paddock design, revegetation of ridges, and rotational grazing to rescue a severely degraded landscape characterised by very acid soils and considerable dryland salinity, turning it into a productive farm with high environmental resilience.

John’s presentations, in the shearing shed and in the paddocks, amazed us all.  He showed us graphs and tables of data collected religiously (every Sunday!) over decades on key parameters such as groundwater salinity, and soil pH as well as temperature and rainfall.   See poster for more details.  

 John's paper entitled "Can drought really help your revegetaion effort?" gives further detail on the strategies he and Robyn used to revegetate the ridgelines.  An excellent summary of John and Robyn's innovative and meticulous approach to farming can be found at www.soilsforlife.org.au/case-studies.html 

 

9 April 2013 – Annual General Meeting at 7.30pm.  President David Vincent delivered his annual report to the meeting, followed by the Treasurer’s report. 

 

Next item was the election of officers for 2013-14.  All occupants were re-elected unopposed, and we welcome Melissa Bayley as a new committee member.

 

Other business:

.  the next meeting will be a visit on 15 June 2013 to the farm of Soil Champions John and Robyn Ive at Talahini, near Murrumbateman.

.  Ngaire Bennett reported that another group round of fox baiting will commence soon, followed by rabbit baiting.  All members are encouraged to participate.

 

Guest presentation.  At 8pm, following the AGM, Dr Richard Simpson, Senior Research Scientist from CSIRO’s Sustainable Agricultural Flagship Program, addressed us on the issue of Peak Phosphorus and the work of his team on improving phosphorus efficiency in soils.

 

Most phosphorus produced worldwide is used for agricultural purposes.  Usage has steadily increased, largely driven by the need to feed the world’s rapidly increasing population.  Over-use is not uncommon.  Global reserves of good quality phosphorus are limited.  Until recently it was feared that global supply would peak in about 2033, but major discoveries in Morocco now suggest that the peak will be much later. 

 

Dr Simpson summarized thus – supply of phosphorus worldwide is not likely to peak in the near future, however the cost of phosphorus will continue to rise, and it is important that we target our use of this limited resource (for instance by only applying as much as we need, and considering greater use of legumes and alternative fertilizers). See poster for further details.

 

 


12 February 2013 – Greening Australia’s  Jeni De Landre and GA consultant Sandy Booth gave more than 40 people a detailed briefing on the strategic planning for the Greater Goorooyarroo Project.  

 

The project area incorporates Gungahlin in the ACT and the surrounding Sutton-Gundaroo region of NSW, and is considered to be among the most functional and resilient box gum woodlands in Australia. 

 

The strategic plan has been developed in close consultation with the local community to achieve continuing improvement in biodiversity, connectivity and function of this landscape over the longer term.  The plan provides the skeleton for action groups to pursue initially:

.  whole of paddock rehabilitation

.  connecting corridors for birds and small mammals

.  buffer zones against invasive plants and animals

.  protection of remnant vegetation

.  reintroducing understory species

.  weed and feral animal control

 

This is an exciting project for local landholders given the comprehensive planning already in place and substantial funding available for its implementation.  Copies of the Plan may be obtained from the Project’s coordinator Jeni De Landre on jdelandre@act.greeningaustralia.org.au

 

Opportunities now exist for local involvement in the formation of the overall Action Group for the project and Task Groups to tackle the specific areas mentioned above.   Those who filled in survey forms on the night can expect to hear from Jeni shortly.



11 December 2012This was our Christmas party and review meeting, at which we also discussed the SLG program for 2013. 
The venue was Jane and David Vincent’s property, “Gollion” 93 Westmead Lane   Sutton.



On Sunday 11 November 2012, approximately 50 people from the Sutton and Yass Landcare Groups took a guided bus tour of the National Arboretum Canberra.  Thanks to David and Jane Vincent for arranging this event.

 

Our guide briefed us on the history of the Arboretum project, and pointed out many tree plantations as we drove around in the bus.  In no particular order, they included Bunya pines, several Birches, Bottle Trees, Himalayan Cedars, Purple-leafed Smokebushes, Dragon Trees, Persian Ironwoods, several Pines (including Wollemi Pines) and Oaks (including Cork Oaks).

 

Details on the many types of trees already established at the Arboretum are described in the excellent book National Arboretum Canberra, available onsite for only $10.

 

The views from the many high points at the Arboretum are amazing.  The futuristic Visitors Centre nearing completion certainly complements the vistas.  Other man-made highlights were the Eagle sculpture, the Wide Brown Land sculpture, and the overall landscaping.  See poster for some photos.


A visit to the Arboretum is highly recommended.  At this stage it is open to the public on the second Sunday of every month.  It covers 250Ha so there is a lot to see.


16 October 2012 - Professor Damian Barrett addressed us on Coal Seam Gas and Agriculture: Water issues and Opportunities

Professor Barrett's address covered the extent of the coal seam gas industry in Australia, how it interacts with the agricultural sector, what is hydraulic fracturing (or fraccing) and what are the risks to water resources and opportunities.

Professor Barrett currently leads the Water in the Resources Sector research program at CSIRO.  He is also an Adjunct Professor in the Centre for Water in the Minerals Industry at the University of Queensland.

The evening provided an opportunity to learn from an expert with more than 20 years of experience what the research is telling us about a topic which is generating considerable controversy in rural Australia.  See poster for more details.


14 August 2012 - Ted Deveson spoke on the environmental history of locust and grasshopper infestations in Australia.

Ted is the forecasting and information officer at the Australian Plague Locust Commission in Canberra.  He is currently researching the environmental history of locust and grasshopper infestations, focussing on the main pest species, the Australian plague locust, which is an occasional visitor rather than a resident of this district

Gardeners and farmers in southeast NSW will know that in some years grasshoppers can be a destructive pest. Often there are several species involved, each with different lifecycle timing, and this can extend the time period that there are large numbers in paddocks and gardens. The biggest grasshopper problem in dry years is often caused by the smallest species, known as the ‘wingless grasshopper’.

 The presentation showed some of the most common species found in the local region, and outlined grasshopper lifecycles and their general ecology.  He mentioned that grasshoppers have some natural enemies - including blow flies, parasitic wasps and nematode worms.  A wide range of insecticides are available.  Biological control using wasps has shown limited success due to timing complexities and sheer lack of numbers.  A fungal spray is also available, and there is promising research on the use of bacteria as a countermeasure. Ted dealt broadly with locusts and pest grasshoppers in inland Australia, how they are different, and the patterns of ‘plague’ infestations.  He also covered the history of recorded locust outbreaks since European settlement, their linkage with climatic cycles and possibly with historical environmental changes.  See poster for more details.


12 June 2012 - Dr Malcolm Gill, who spent many years at CSIRO as a fire ecologist and is now a Visiting Fellow at the Fenner  School of Environment and Society at ANU, spoke on fire ecology.  Malcolm was a member of the Victorian Bushfire Inquiry following the 2003 Canberra fires and an expert witness to the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

His talk covered many aspects such as the role of fires in the landscape, how rural development has impacted on fire behavior, and the environmental benefits and detriments of fires.  He raised technical, philosophical and regulatory issues.  Points
of interest included:
.  human deaths due to bushfires is an emotive issue:  Australia-wide there were 1290 car deaths in 2010-11, and 173 deaths in the 2009 Victorian bushfires.
.  the conservtion value of fire is complex.
.  backburning can make things worse, but a valuable tool if undertaken under mild conditions.
.  the new fire danger rating system (up to Catastrophic) based on fire rate of spread is a step forward.
.  in the Victorian Bushfire Report, a report by CSIRO's Dr Justin Leonard on the design of buildings in fire-prone areas is well worth reading.
.  predictions suggest that the fire danger in the Canberra region will increase in the coming decades.
.  what to do - prepare well but also plan for the unexpected, be aware that mental preparation is as important as physical preparation, don't hide in the bath, and check your latest property insurance policy. 

See poster for more details.



4 April 2012 - Dr Bradley Opdyke, from the ANU College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, spoke on "Why the future is looking wet for south east Australia".  His presentation focussed initially on climate change over the last 10,000 years, including graphs showing increases in carbon dioxide levels and water temperature over this period.  He detailed the significant retreat of the Arctic ice sheet in the last two decades.  He discussed the Indo-Pacific Warm Pool (the warm ocean region near Indonesia and PNG) and how this is the source of our own rain.  His take-home messages were to expect:

.  higher temperatures, leading to fewer El Nino events and hence fewer dry periods.

.  higher average ocean temperatures, leading to more consistent Summer rain.

.  Winters will continue to warm and be drier than in the 20th Century

See poster for more details.


14 February 2012 – Dr Baden Williams, retired CSIRO expert on soil salinity and groundwater chemistry, spoke on the making and use of biochar to improve soil fertility and carbon sequestration.  Having constructed several small-scale biochar production facilities, his finding is that biochar is probably not worth the effort.  On the upside, biochar does sequest carbon and we can earn approx $20 for each tonne of carbon sequested.  But biochar is very expensive to make, transport and use. The overall cost is far greater than the $20 per tonne benefit.  Also it needs a lot of energy to produce anaerobically and currently a lot of carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere.  Biochar does have substantial moisture-holding potential because of its very large surface area per volume, however we can gain similar moisture-holding benefits by using compost and mulch which are low-cost solutions.  It appears that biochar will only make economic sense if the carbon price escalates enormously.  This seems unlikely given the ongoing success of R&D into renewable energy sources. 

See poster for more details.

 

13 December 2011 - Pizza and calzone meeting at the Vincent’s farm.  We discussed the following potential topics to work through for 2012:


.  Biochar
.  Fire Ecology
.  Big picture view of climate drivers as global warming increases
.  Locusts
.  Coal seam gas and effects on groundwater
.  African Lovegrass
.  Aboretum visit.


18 October 2011 – Dr Brian Cooke, from the Institute of Applied Ecology, University of Canberra, spoke on biological control measures for foxes and rabbits.  His research on rabbit calicivirus has won him world-wide acclaim.  He is working with researchers in Germany and Spain to understand why rabbits are developing resistance to calicivirus and the long-term consequences.  Alternative biological controls are being developed.

See poster for more details.

 

9 August 2011 – Dr Brian Murphy, senior soil scientist in the Department of Premier and Cabinet (in Cowra), spoke on managing the challenges of soil degradation – moving on from soil conservation practices of the past.  The Department has developed a new Land and Soil Capability (LSC) scheme, which evaluates soil degradation on a broad basis encompassing climate limitation, water and wind erosion, soil structure, organic matter, soil carbon decline, terrain type, salinisation, stoniness, soil fertility, soil acidity, water-holding capacity and flood hazard.  These criteria allow land to be allocated one of eight classes.  Higher LSC number indicates a higher level of input, expertise and investment to manage the land well.  See separate report and poster for further details.

 

14 June 2011 – Dr Penny Olsen OAM, noted ornithologist, author and Visiting Fellow at ANU, gave a talk on raptors in the Sutton region, including ways to identify various birds of prey (high fliers, skulkers, hoverers, and owls), their roles, and their conservation.  See separate report and poster for further details.

 

12 April 2011 – John Weatherstone, gave an illustrated talk on farm trees, based on his experiences at his property Lyndhurst Park near Gunning.  His talk covered direct seeding, the benefits of planting wattles, the importance of mounting up tubestock, the need for some deciduous trees, the overemphasis of plants trees with local provenance, and the importance of building habitat value.  See separate report and poster for further details.

 

22 February 2011 – Jacqui Stoll, from CSIRO Sustainable Ecosystems, gave a presentation on how to improve biodiversity in the paddock, with emphasis on the role of native pastures in maintaining native biodiversity and healthy landscapes.

 

14 December 2010Working bee at “Sutton Common”.   Despite the wet weather, some spraying and weeding of Sutton Common was undertaken before the annual Christmas meeting and discussion of topics for next year.

 

9 October 2010 – Soils Workshop, hosted by David and Jane Vincent, chief presenter Dr Maarten Stapper.  Dr Stapper gave a broad-ranging introductory session on soil chemistry and soil characteristics in the local region.  Points included depleted carbon levels, the need for microbes, and the disadvantages of nitrogen and phosphorus-rich fertilizers.  He also touched on the negative aspects of genetically-modified crops and the wide use of antibiotics in commercial farming.  David Vincent led a session on dry compost, compost tea making, and worm farming.  See separate report.

 

10 August 2010 – Dr Albert van Dijk, and Linda Kuil, from CSIRO’s Division of Land and Water spoke on research into water availability in the Murray-Darling Basin.  The main focus was on dams and river flows in the Murrumbidgee and Yass regions.   Most research was on hydrology and the size of dams.  Sustainability of water sources was not addressed because that is a socio-political matter outside the scope of the CSIRO studies.  See separate report.

 

31 May 2010 – Clem Davis, visiting Fellow at the ANU, spoke on Climate Drivers for SE Australia.  His talk covered the basic factors driving global weather patterns, then moved on to more local factors  - the effects of the El Nino/La Nina Southern Oscillation, Indian Ocean sea surface temperatures and so on.  Included was the cool easterly change enjoyed by Canberra on summer evenings.  See separate report.

 

13 April 2010 – Alison Elvin, a noted local expert on wetland ecology.  She spoke on plants for dams and wetlands, their identification and roles.  There was a follow-up field trip on 17 April 2010 involving visits to McLaughlan’s Creek at Sutton Oval, and a dam on the Malam’s property.  Alison identified plants growing there and explained how plants can be added to improve water quality and biodiversity outcomes.  See separate report.

 

 9 February 2010 Dr Don Fletcher and Claire Wimpenny, experts in Eastern Grey Kangaroo ecology and management from the ACT Parks Conservation and Lands Department. 

There was a wide range of views in the community on the contribution of kangaroos to the sustainability of our grassy box woodland and farming environment and the appropriateness of the local kangaroo population.  For this reason, more than 50 people attended, many being members of Wildcare, a wildlife protection group.  Discussion was animated to say the least.  The ACT Government’s agenda covers population dynamics, fertility control, monitoring urban movements, and the effects of management treatments on surrounding grasslands and woodlands.   See separate report.

 

8 December 2009 – Christmas meeting at Vincent’s farm, with wood-fired pizza and calzone.  Watched the Peter Cundall video Patch from Scratch.  This demonstrated how to set up an organic vegetable garden, rotate beds, companion planting, fertile soil and how to keep away pests and diseases.

 

21 October 2009YAN Seminar, Your land, Your Soil and Your Future, Yass Memorial Hall

The seminar was very well organised (mostly by Jane and David Vincent), was attended by about 250 people, and the food was excellent.  The eleven speakers covered a wide range of topics, including the importance of organic carbon, the benefits and dangers of organic farming, natural sequence farming, holistic farming, worm farms, biodynamics, and compost tea.   See separate report.

 

 18 August 2009Dr David Shorthouse, Visiting Fellow at the ANU's Fenner School of the Environment and Society, presented on two projects involving both the Mulligan’s Flat and Goorooyarroo nature reserves.  The Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary is healthy Box Gum woodland that sustains a good representation of woodland plants and animals.  This provides an excellent scientific reference for ecosystem restoration and hence good educational and ecotourism opportunities. 

David also spoke about the Greater Goorooyarroo Box-gum Woodland Recovery project.  This project’s long term vision is to connect the 6000 ha of restored Box-gum woodland with the 35000 ha rural matrix, bounded by the Federal Highway, Barton Highway and Nanima Road.  Although funding for this proposal was unsuccessful in a recent Caring for Country application, it is hoped that his visionary project can move forward with the potential of smaller grants.  See separate report.

 9 June 2009 - Emma Keightley from ACT and Region Frogwatch spoke to the group.  After the talk Emma answered questions and Graham Moseley told about his experiences doing the frog census.  In September a training session is held for people interested in the October Frogwatch census.  Emma distributed posters showing frogs of the local area.

Since her talk Emma has sent Sutton school a free schools kit with a CD of frog calls.

 14 April 2009 - Dr. George Main, a curator from the National Museum of Australia. He spoke about a new gallery called Creating a Country – History and Place which is currently being developed –  George focussed on two areas to be included: The Gundary Plains south of Goulburn and the Wagga Wagga area. He showed images of artefacts, letters, photos etc which will be included in the exhibition and read from letters by early settlers in the 1820’s of the abundance of wildlife, practices of the local Aboriginal people, changes brought about by grazing and the coming of the railways etc. etc. George explained how the gallery will take about three years to research and construct.

February 2009 - Dr Jonathon Banks, ex-CSIRO entomologist - organic orchardist from Piallago, spoke on beneficial and problem insects.   His presentation covered how to use strategically beneficial insects and simple low-cost procedures to maintain fruit yields and eliminate the need for chemical sprays to control problem diseases and pests.  See separate report.

 

9 December 2009 – Pizza and calzone meeting at the Vincent’s farm.  Watched the DVD  The Good Earth on Farmer Brown.

 

14 October 2008 –Joanna Pajkowska and Tatjana Nedelkoska, environmental scientists from the Private Land Conservation and Stewardship section of the Department of the Environment on Biobanking (Sydney).  The biobanking scheme provides ongoing financial payments to farmers to enhance conservation farming on their land.

 

12 August 2008 - John Feehan OAM, a world expert on dung beetles, gave a presentation on the benefits of using dung beetles, including species for our own area.  He brought along physical displays of bung beetles and dung beetle tunnels.  He offered a free beetle ID service.  See separate report.

 

11 June 2008 - Adam Muyt on Biodiversity Stewardship Incentives Scheme and its replacement the Grassy Box Woodland Stewardship Program

 
30 April 2008 - Carbon Trading Seminar organised by Yass Area Network.

 

27 October 2007 – Early morning guided nature walk by Rainer Rehwinkel and Mike Coley on the Yellow Box-Blakely’s Red Gum grassy woodland east of Sutton school.  Included descriptions of trees and grasses, and several varieties of birds.  BBQ breakfast.  See separate report.

 

 October 2007 – Charles Wilcocks, on biosecurity and climate variability.

 

14 August 2007 – Owen Whittaker on Biodiversity.

 

12 June 2007 – George Gundry on The Real Business of Agriculture.  George spoke about the economic benefits of running a grazing property while following holistic farming principles.

 

17 April 2007 – Natural Sequence Farming

 

13 February 2007  – Ben Cavuoto from Greening Australia, assisted by Sarah Fethers from the National Botanic Gardens.  A seed collection workshop at Sutton Common.

 

November 2006  – Ben Cavuoto from Greening Australia. Seeds for Survival workshop at the National Botanic Gardens.

 

12 September 2006 – Alyssa Schembri from NSW Weed Warriors in Orange – an initiative aimed at primary aged students on the breeding and releasing of biological control agents to suppress weed species in the local area.

 

5 June 2006 – Ian MacArthur, Executive Officer of the Southern Tablelands Farm Forestry Network.  He explained the increasing demand for wood fibre goods from Australia, China and India.  The STFF Network members grow native, exotic and pine species in varying sized areas and with different aims.  The Network provides advice and support.

 

4 April 2006 – Dr Rebecca Montague-Drake, Centre for Resource and Environmental Studies ANU, on the Role of Native Vegetation and the Effect it has on Wildlife.  She spoke about the studies of David Lindenmayer and his group into animals and plants in local woodlands.  She presented our Group with a copy of Woodlands: a disappearing landscape.

 

28 February 2006 – Dr Delia Catacutin, World Agroforestry Centre spoke on Landcare activities in the Philippines.  The Australian Landcare initiative is slowly spreading all over the world, including both developed and developing countries.  An international steering committee has been set up to promote Landcare International.

 

11 October 2005 -  Jen Hardwicke, Dept of Agriculture Queanbeyan, on benchmarking and understanding soil chemistry.  The first of four 3-hour workshops.

 

August 2005 – Lesley Gilligan, workshop on native plants, demonstrating the pros and cons of planting out already germinated plants and cuttings.

 

7 June 2005 – David Pearce, The Centre for International Economics, spoke on:  Water – who wins and who loses in a scare world.  He addressed three main areas:  how water is currently used and shared, the Pratt Review, and an ACTEW study on urban and rural water issues in the Murrumbidgee Catchment Area.

 

7 April 2005 – John Dalton, NSW Landcare Coordinator, gave a presentation at the Back Creek Fire Shed on changes in the structure of Landcare and the role of Catchment Management Authorities.

 

12 October 2004 – Dr Michael Roderick and Graham Farquhar from ANU, on climate change and the surface water balance.

 

3 August 2004 – John Franklin and Brad Parker from DIPNR in Yass spoke on the GIS mapping system which allowed various existing maps (property boundaries, remnant vegetation, salinity etc) to be looked at individually or overlaid to create a total profile of an area.

 

1 June 2004 – Peter Hazel and his wife Dr Donna Hazel presented on natural sequence farming, the chain-of-ponds system, and how these might be initiated locally.  Peter distributed copies of an article on Natural Sequence Farming from Irrigation Australia.

 

27 March 2004 – Owen Pidgeon, Loriendale Orchard, Hall provided a guided tour of his organic orchard and discussed the philosophies underpinning organic farming.

 

3 February 2004 – Rebecca Glasgow, Landcare Community Support Officer in Yass briefed the meeting on local projects.  Dave Hunter discussed the loss of habitat of frogs over the past 20 years, and explained research into the spread of a fungus that is killing frogs.

 

18 October 2003 - John Weatherstone   12 members of Sutton Landcare Group combined with  Taylors Creek Landcare  for a field trip to Lyndfield Park, John Weatherstone’s 300 hectare property 9km from Gunning.  A showcase property for tree planting, land management and sustainability.  See separate report.

 

5 August 2003 - Gerry Gillespie, Regional Manager of the South East Office of Resource NSW based in Queanbeyan, spoke to the meeting. He outlined his background and changes in community and local councils’ attitudes to waste. Details were given of the economic costs of landfills compared with recycling options. Initiatives being trialled by Queanbeyan City Council include combining biosolids and green waste for use by their Parks Dept. Gerry showed samples and told us about recycling trials and local small scale industries in Asian countries.


3 June 2003 - Dave Hunter from the University of Canberra and National Parks and Wildlife Service spoke to the group and showed slides of Snakes, Lizards and Frogs of the Canberra region.  He covered identification, habits, habitat & threats as well as telling us about his field work and research. Dave answered lots of questions from the adults and children present.

 

1 April 2003 - We watched a 30 minute video on Salinity courtesy of Jane Vincent and the CIT library.

 

24 September 2002 - Nikki Taws from Greening Australia spoke about her role and the results of the Birdwatch Program in this area. Aim to assess the effectiveness of GA’s activities in the past 20 years in revegetation, vegetation management and remnant vegetation protection. Presence of birds used as an indicator of vegetation health. 132 sites surveyed, 100 revegetated, 32 control. Top twenty birds found were all native & small insectivorous birds. Birds need diversity of structure – age, size, species, connections etc. Windbreaks need to be wider than 25m and patch sizes 2ha or more.

 

8 August 2002 - Teresa Rose from DLWC in Cooma gave a talk illustrated by maps and slides. She explained her last 3.5 years working on the Benchmarking Project to monitor environmental flows in the Snowy River.

 

Interesting statistics:  Snowy River below Jindabyne dam is 350 km. Since dam built in 1967 water flows have decreased to 45 megalitres a day which is 1% of the original flow. Huge changes to the hydrology & ecology of the river in NSW & Vic. Hope is to increase the flow to 28%, with a spring flush to mimic the natural snowmelt. First flow release from Mowamba Weir will be an extra 3% on 28th August.

 

4 June 2002 - Stuart Pengelly, Rivercare Officer from Queanbeyan gave an illustrated talk about willows. He spoke about recent awareness of the willow problem, which willows need to be removed, why and how. Stuart then discussed other land management issues for riparian zones – gorse removal, stock access, water flow, erosion control, replanting etc.

 

19 May 2002 - combined Weeds Field Day with Gundaroo Landcare

Speakers: Geoff Butler, Neville Plumb & Jane Vincent

Weed ID walk on Gundaroo Common followed by BBQ lunch.


26 March 2002 - General meeting followed one hour of weeding and rubbish removal from Sutton Common. Too wet to use poison so we dug out weeds. Main weeds – pine & cootamundra wattle seedlings, firethorn & briar rose. Main rubbish – wire, old fence posts, papers & cans.

 

5 February 2002 - Matthew Smyth from the CSIRO Division of Entomology spoke about biological control of weeds.  He concentrated on his area of study which is Patersons curse.

 

7 August 2001 - Myriam Bormans from CSIRO spoke on  How to manage blue-green algal blooms in rivers and small reservoirs. Myriam included theory, experimental results and practical suggestions for landowners.

 

5 June 2001 - Rainer Rehwinkel from NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service Threatened Species Unit showed slides and answered questions about the flora and fauna of grassy woodlands in the Southern Tablelands.

He discussed options for the ‘Sutton Common’ including using the land as part of the Greenways Project or changing the status of the land from a vacant crown reserve. Rainer briefly outlined the process followed to form Brooks Hill Trust near Bungendore. Rainer and Ray Malam are to find out more details concerning these options.

 

13th February 2001-  Rainer Rehwinkel from the Threatened Species Unit of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, lead a field trip on the grassy woodland area behind Sutton School.

Rainer covered the topics:

                   What is a grassy ecosystem ?

                   Grasslands and grassy woodland remnants

                   Why are grasslands important ?

                   Options for conservation

                   How does the grassy remnant at Sutton fit into the bigger picture ?

He explained the species lists and graphs on his handouts.

Katie Hollingsworth distributed a handout on Tree Identification prepared by Jacquie White.

We then walked around the area whilst Rainer located and identified a variety of native and introduced flora.

 

5 December 2000 - Ian Laurie from Ivey ATP – Agricultural & Management Consultants in Wellington spoke, then helped members individually complete the survey Study into the costs of dryland salinity on agricultural landholders. This project is being funded by the Murray Darling Basin Commission and the NDSP.


4 October 2000 - Dr. Arnold Dekker from CSIRO Division of Land & Water, showed how water quality can be recorded using standard, aerial and false colour satellite images. He explained current Australian projects measuring changes to water quality and discussed reasons for changes. Arnold answered questions and with Katie Hollingsworth outlined the steps we should be taking to care for our land & water resources.

 

2 August 2000 - Clem Davis from the Bureau of Meteorology spoke to the meeting.  His talk covered the areas:  Structure of the Bureau, What is weather?  Forecasting weather, Risk management for farmers, El Nino & La Nina, Greenhouse Effect, Changes in weather patterns in South Eastern Australia.

 

June 2000  -  Ben Haseler, tree planting discussion and walk on Dick Smith’s property (Bowylie).  Included his advice after planting 130ha of trees over six years.  See separate report.

 

14 June 2000 - David Rouse, Director of Environment and Development for Yarrowlumla Shire Council explained the just-released Yarrowlumla Shire Council’s Local Environment Plan.

David covered the following areas:

. Why an updated plan was necessary

. Procedure followed so far and steps still to come.

. Changes to the 1993 plan and examples showing why they were necessary.

. Main areas covered by the 2000 LEP.

 

5 April 2000 - Simon Lang, Greening Australia’s Riparian Willow Project Co-ordinator was our speaker for the evening.  His talk, illustrated by slides, covered willow types, problems and control methods.  See separate report.

 

6 October 1999 -   Sue Briggs from NSW National Parks and Wildlife.  Sue showed slides and spoke about the current project she directs to assess the populations and habitat needs of various bird species in remnant woodlands of Central Western NSW.


4 August 1999 -   Joyce Wilkie   

After the general SLG meeting closed at 8pm we drove to Gundaroo to hear Gundaroo Landcare’s Guest Speaker.  Joyce Wilkie is a local organic farmer.  She spoke about nutrient cycling in the care and management of soils.

 

6 June 1999 - Bill Schumann from the Department of Agriculture in Queanbeyan spoke about acid soils, their identification, and the effects of spreading lime.

 

7 April 1999 - Guest speakers from Farming For the Future were Stuart McMahon, based in Queanbeyan, and Geoff O’Connor in the Goulburn/Moss Vale area. Their presentation covered:  What is Farming For the Future, what are the issues, what is the landholder’s role, and the Property Management Plan Concept. 

                  

Issues we raised included:  containing overheads, small land areas, weeds, establishing vegetation, not enough people involved in Landcare, foxes impact on lambs, lack of shelter, and land degradation - salinity, gullies, soil structures, dieback.

                  

Stuart McMahon outlined costs and content of the 2-session and 8-session Farming For the Future courses.  He then explained how other Groups have organised and benefitted from the program.

 

15 September 1998 – A general meeting focussing on Rivercare funding proposals.  Yass Landcare Coordinator, Katie Hollingsworth, then discussed salinity issues, distributed new salinity assessment sheets devised by Catchment Planning Officer Annabel Kater, and showed the location of saline sites in the local area on the CD-ROM  State of the Environment 1997 Australian Capital Territory, and on Annabel’s large maps. 

 

28 July 1998 – general meeting to discuss Rivercare funding applications, the impending withdrawal of the herbicide Frenock from the Australian market, licensing of farm dams, and to examine aerial photographs of local saline sites.

 

12 May 1998 - newly appointed Catchment  Planner, Annabel Kater, gave a presentation on her role and the role of Landcare groups in the Catchment Planning structure, and on the different levels of planning and liaison with Councils and Governments.  She also discussed new water reforms.

 

10 February 1998 – Yass Area Landcare Coordinator, Annabel Kater, explained the various Rivercare and Heritage Trust grants available.  Three applications were agreed for lodgement.

 

26 November 1997 – a river walk along sections of the Yass River and McLoughlan’s Creek near the village to identify likely areas for future rehabilitation work.

 

29 October 1997 – First independent meeting.  Rod Gorman from the Department of Agriculture gave a lecture and demonstration on weeds.

 

28 July 1997 – Group members attended the Gundaroo Landcare meeting to hear a presentation by John Feehan on dung beetles.

 

23 June 1997Sutton Landcare Group formed under the umbrella of the Sutton & District Community Association.  Initial focus to be on weeds, trees and river care.

 

24 April 1997 – a public meeting from which arose an interim steering committee to examine the viability of a Sutton Landcare Group.  Ray Malam (chairman), Jane Nock and Paul Kable (members).




 
 
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