Sustainable farming solutions for the Fleurieu Peninsula
06 June 2017
Hon Ian Hunter MLC
Minister for Sustainability, Environment and Conservation
A sheep and beef property near Myponga is implementing innovative farming solutions to improve productivity and protect natural resources, including by restoring native vegetation to watercourses and thereby benefitting Gulf St Vincent.
Ten years ago, barely two per cent of the large 1445 hectare property known as Ashley Park was covered with native vegetation.
Now, with funding support from the Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural Resources Management Board, the former natural covering of local trees and shrubs is being restored at a rate of up to 15 ha/year.
The target over time is to revegetate 20 per cent of the property, which property manager Alistair Just says will improve biodiversity values and productivity.
A work plan which began in 2016, and will continue through to 2019, is jointly funded by the NRM board and the National Landcare Program ($67,000) and the landholder ($73,000). The work includes woody weed control, revegetation of watercourses with local native species, erosion remediation, rabbit control, and repairing and installing fencing.
A major benefit of this work will be improved water quality in some of the 50 kilometres of watercourses which flow through the property. This will benefit Gulf St Vincent, which is the ultimate destination for the water from this catchment.
Environment, Sustainability and Conservation Minister, Ian Hunter, said that Mr Just is to be congratulated for his commitment to improving the property and managing its natural resources wisely.
“Mr Just is seeing water quality improve, birds returning to the revegetated areas on the property and stock benefiting from better managed pastures,” he said.
“I am delighted to see that all the hard work that has gone into making this property a sustainable enterprise is paying off,” Minister Hunter said.
The 1445ha property is located at Sellicks Hill, on the boundaries of Yankalilla and Onkaparinga councils. It has been in the Just family since 1902, and Alistair Just has been managing it since 2007.
The property is grazing 500 cattle and 8000 sheep on perennial pasture, some of which is irrigated. Lambs are ‘finished’ on the irrigated pasture – the higher quality feed from this pasture means these lambs will be heavier and more profitable.
An overall aim of the project is to fence, stabilise and revegetate all water courses on the property. Paddocks are being fenced off from watercourses to exclude livestock. The stock instead drink at specially provided watering points.
Work is also being undertaken to realign boundaries, to create smaller more manageable paddocks which provide better shelter for stock.
“When we started in 2007, my vision was to get more trees and shelter on the property,” Mr Just said.
“There are plenty of case studies which show that fencing off 20 per cent of your property doesn’t negatively impact productivity – in fact it provides more shelter for stock from wind, and [with more moisture retained] the grass stays greener. And you get more biodiversity on the property, and this helps to control pest insects.
“We’ve hosted workshops on my property for neighbouring landholders, NRM board members and staff– they support me so I want to support them. It’s good for other landholders to be able to see that the big properties can also do sustainable revegetation work. We also host school students and work experience students – if I want to ensure I have farm hands in the future, they need to be supported now,” Mr Just said.