Upfront Outback

Upfront Outback

Welcome to Upfront Outback

Previous Editions

What a difference!

If you’re one of the almost 4,000 followers of our Facebook page, thanks so much for being interested; if you’re not a follower, you need check it out so you know what you’re missing out on.

Facebook has become a prime vehicle for us to spread daily news of the great work being done in our region.  The following post of grazing land recovery photos was shared 48 times and reached over 10,000 people…

The marvel of good stewardship… first photo taken in 2015, the year after treatment of the Prickly Acacia with residual herbicide; the second photo taken two days ago. Nearly all the dead trees have fallen, and there is a smattering of recent germinations as the 4-year effect of the residual herbicide has worn off – in that time, most of the seeds in the soil have germinated and been killed for no extra effort… it’s now only a small job to round up these new plants. This country has been continuously grazed, but good stewardship by the landholder (and 29 inches of rain) has seen the grass return. A vastly different landscape with vastly different productivity and environmental values.

Etched on film

Over the past three months, our Grazing Futures video stories have attracted a lot of attention, with the Facebook versions going through the roof with 11 videos reaching 57,451 people and being viewed 24,458 times.  You can view the Youtube versions on our YouTube channel or, if you want the experience of the Facebook version, you may be able to hunt them down on our Facebook page… make sure you Like and Follow.  ?

Grazing Futures objectives are:

  1. delivering workshops, training and targeted support within the themes of people and business, grazing land management and animal production based on verifiable industry needs, data and regional drought conditions;
  2. supporting grazing enterprises in western Queensland to improve business resilience, drought recovery and future drought preparedness;
  3. improving the skills and capability of grazing industry support officers from both the public and private sectors to facilitate improvement in business resilience, drought recovery and future drought preparedness of grazing enterprises in western Queensland;
  4. partnering with government, non-government agencies and other partners to deliver comprehensive support to grazing businesses and value add to existing services; and
  5. analysing and documenting key lessons from grazing enterprises adopting objective measurement to enhance drought recovery, increase future drought preparedness and plan for other business risks.

Skinning cats

As the saying goes, there’s more than one way to do it, especially when it comes to the demise of Parkinsonia, a Weed of National Significance most usually found along waterways in the north of our region.

If instant gratification is your thing, then good old cut stump application of herbicide works a dream; if you’re the type who waits for the first coat of paint to dry properly before applying the next, then basal bark or foliar spraying would be your scene; if you can wait until the next trip to town to find out if you’ve won the lotto, you might like to try residual, soil-applied herbicide; but you’ll need the patience of Job if you want to go the bio-control route with naturally occurring fungi.

Originally identified from Northern Territory samples sent to Dr Vic Galea of the University of Queensland in 2004, native soil fungi have now been combined into the commercialised DiBak Parkinsonian capsule that is sealed into a hole drilled in the trunk of the Parkinsonia tree.  But it can take up to four years to work it’s magic.

We have been involved in a number of trials across the regions to introduce this control method to landholders and, in July, a representative of BioHerbicides Australia, the developer of the product, made an inspection tour of previously treated sites, assessing the effectiveness and rate of spread through the soil to other parkinsonia plants.

We also began trails of similarly applied metsulfuron herbicide capsules.  The chemical is only released from the capsule once it is sealed in the stem of the plant, so it’s safe for the user, and safe for the surrounding environment.  And, it can be applied all year round, meaning you can do it whenever you have a bit of spare time.

E-Beef impresses

Senior Adviser of Policy and Strategy for North Queensland Livestock Industry Recovery Agency, Elyse Herrald-Woods, was suitably impressed by the structure, management and outcomes of the E-Beef project.  After inspecting the Walk-Over-Weigh system at Dalmore, DCQ’s first E-Beef Smart Farm, she said the project showed clear productivity, profitability and improved grazing management strategies.  

The E-Beef project is assisting graziers to harness technology to fine tune grazing management strategies to lift productivity and profitability.  Each E-Beef Smart Farm is the nucleus of an innovation hub where surrounding graziers can monitor the data output from the Smart Farm and use it to inform their own management strategies.

Elyse was also briefed on the recent recovery assistance for graziers in the aftermath of February’s devastating flooding, DCQ Projects, and pest and weed control particularly prickly acacia control. 

Taking the lead

You know the message is getting through when landholders come to us a demonstration on how to best kill their few Prickly Acacia trees before they turn into an invading horde.

Our Field Supervisor, Peter Spence, and our Regional Agriculture Landcare Facilitator, Doug Allpass, took a midwinter jaunt into the country to demonstrate basal bark and residual herbicide application to a group of pro-active landholders who were determined to nip their potential Prickly Acacia problem in the bud.

Only one of the landholders was really familiar with the weed, while another was from outside the region, and wasn’t aware of it at all.  With only some scattered plants across the properties in question, their enthusiasm to get rid of them before the job gets too big is a great example for others.

Otura is the future

As an acronym, Otura (O-too-ra) may be a bit of a stretch, but at least it got you interested.  Call it the O2R Alliance or, if you’re a stickler, the Outback to Reef Alliance.  

The Outback to Reef Alliance was recently formalised through a signed agreement between the chairs of Desert Channels Queensland and its two sister regional NRM groups, Fitzroy Basin Association based in Rockhampton, and Burnett Mary Regional Group out of Bundaberg.

By building on the close relationship that already exists between the three organisations, the Outback to Reef Alliance will be a vehicle for efficiencies in project and organisational running costs… essential to maximise investment in on-ground activities.  Throw in some sustained funding and we have a model to provide continuity of services including delivering programs, projects and products on an ongoing basis.

Otura sounds like it could be the name of a benevolent Polynesian god of abundance… let’s hope there is some mystical power in suggestion.

Planning for Participation

Our previous Indigenous Facilitator, Jeff Poole was temporarily back in action for us during July, consulting with Traditional Owners for the development of our Indigenous Participation Plan… creating a formal document on how we promote Aboriginal grassroots engagement in our natural resource management activities… a big thank you to all those who gave generously of their time to participate.

While this Indigenous Participation Plan only applies to projects funded under the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program Regional Land Partnership program, our strong and enduring relationships with Aboriginal groups and individuals across the region has long been at the centre of achieving successful outcomes in natural resource management.

Formalising the approach we take to develop inclusive partnerships with Aboriginal people, organisations and communities will not change the way we operate… we will continue to build mutual respect and understanding, appropriately utilise and share unique knowledge and skills and, within the scope of our funding, provide effective and tangible support.

Desert Channels Queensland respectfully acknowledges Australia’s Aboriginal peoples and pays

respect to Elders, both past and present.  Desert Channels Queensland honours and values the deep spiritual, cultural connections of Traditional Owners in our region, and recognises their important role as custodians of cultural and ecological knowledge.

Dissing drought?

… never!… she will always have the last laugh!  But that doesn’t mean we can’t prepare, to the best of our ability, to minimise losses and even to find some opportunities in what seems to be more the norm than the exception.

We recently had a very thought-provoking presentation from economist, Fred Chudleigh, and research scientist, Dr Maree Bowen, both of the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries as part of their Delivering integrated production and economic knowledge and skills to improve drought management outcomes for grazing enterprises.

Funded by the Queensland Government’s Drought and Climate Adaptation Program, this project is investigating a range of strategies and technologies to make Queensland grazing businesses more profitable and drought resilient.  Economic analyses are being conducted for a number of regions across Queensland, and a range of management strategies and technologies aimed at making grazing businesses more profitable and drought resilient are being assessed.

In addition, the project is examining options in the drought response and recovery phases. Analyses have been completed for central Queensland, the northern Gulf and the Central West Mitchell Grasslands, and are underway for the Mulga Lands. 

Fred and Maree weren’t familiar with the Prickly Acacia threat and impact on the Mitchell Grass Downs, so we gave them an overview of the this Weed of National Significance, as well as our PA eradication program and its outcomes.