Farm­ers wel­come good falls

Albany Extra - - Front Page - Peter Milne

Rain was a fine sight for many in the Great South­ern this week, in­clud­ing Nina Grylls, 4, but some farm­ers were still deal­ing with top­soil loss af­ter dam­ag­ing winds last week.

Lit­tle rain and high winds have caused a dev­as­tat­ing loss of sandy soils across the Great South­ern and the risk of fur­ther soil ero­sion re­mains.

Stir­lings to Coast Farm­ers re­search and de­vel­op­ment co-or­di­na­tor Nathan Dovey said lit­tle rain, wind speeds up to 100km/h, dry sow­ing and sandy soils com­bined to cause what some farm­ers thought was the worst blow in 20 years.

“There is long-term dam­age, we just don't know how much,” he said.

Stir­lings to Coast Farm­ers chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris­tine Ker­shaw said farm­ers in the area were strug­gling. The wind ero­sion had come in the af­ter­math of the fires that had not only caused dam­age but also trau­ma­tised some vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers.

Shire of Gnowangerup man­ager of works Yvette Wheatcroft said large windrows of sand had had to be picked up and dumped back in pad­docks to clear roads.

She said there had been sig­nif­i­cant loss of fenc­ing where sand built up against fences that had ac­cu­mu­lated piles of straw in previous weeks.

Depart­ment of Pri­mary In­dus­tries and Re­gional De­vel­op­ment re­search of­fi­cer Justin Lay­cock said af­ter re­cent rains, it would take a month for enough ground cover to grow to pro­tect pad­docks from ero­sion. He said 50 per cent ground cover was re­quired to mit­i­gate wind ero­sion, which could re­duce yields by up to 25 per cent.

The depart­ment’s fore­cast is rain­fall for June-Au­gust is most likely to be in the low­est 30 per cent of his­tor­i­cal records.

Mr Lay­cock said with low rain­fall pre­dicted, ac­tions that could pro­tect pad­docks in­cluded leav­ing at least 600kg of dry mat­ter per hectare and feed­ing stock in con­fined pad­docks or feed­lots.

Pic­ture: Jackie Grylls

Pic­tures: Nathan Dovey

Sand blown into sheep yards in the South Stir­lings.

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