Soil acidity, low organic carbon and dryland salinity were just a few of the soil issues facing Bruce Storer on his Cunderdin property when he embarked on his latest project with us.
The Storer’s have a cropping and poll merino stud at Waeel, near Cunderin. As part of our Optimising Fodder Options for Mixed Farming project, Bruce wanted to explore options for increasing his summer ground cover and across two sites. He was also keen to provide autumn feed for his livestock without incurring wind and water erosion. Bruce also wanted to provide more shelter across all the seasons to improve livestock health.
The project so far
In 2020, Bruce planted biodiverse forage shelterbelts on the southern boundary of his farm. It was envisioned that these belts would provide additional forage and shelter for sheep when grazing on stubble.
The site was highly compacted which resulted in the loss of some of the forage shrubs. However, the tree species appeared to thrive and Bruce undertook an infill replanting of the shrubs.
On the Storer’s second site – a low lying area adjacent to another cropping paddock – 15,000 Anameka saltbush plants were planted in early 2021. These plantings are expected to help reduce water logging and provide important forage and shelter near a paddock where sheep graze stubble.
Bruce opted for a more high density planning to ensure good coverage and significant feed value as most of the area is un-arable.
Wet winter didn’t dampen survival rates
During our visit to the Storer’s farm in September 2021 we discovered that, despite significant waterlogging from above-average rainfall, plantings were doing well across 95% of the site. Several lines had been underwater for a number of weeks but with the water now subsiding, it was great to see many that were still persisting.
Bruce said, “I am happy with the number of shrubs that we have ordered. The area has been filled in nicely.”
The planting has complemented Bruce’s cropping program and we expect that the shrubs will be grazed alongside the stubble after the 2022 harvest. Depending on shrub growth, a light graze may also be possible in autumn 2022.
This Wheatbelt NRM project is supported through funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.