Paddock Between The Ears

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The Paddock Between the Ears - Leveraging social capital to build natural capital

The Hunter LLS Paddock Between the Ears program is jointly funded by the Australian Government’s Future Drought Fund, supporting Hunter land managers to improve drought planning and farm production outcomes. The program focus is all about networking, sharing drought planning knowledge and practical experience, and together bringing a new can-do attitude to building drought resilience. Even a run of good seasons will not fade the memory of the impact of drought and bushfire across the region so now is the right time to focus on changes to adapt, set goals and better prepare for the inevitable dry times. The Paddock Between the Ears incorporates a range of initiatives: Eco-Action sites; Farm Makeover Incentive Program; Hayseeds mentor project; and Grazing management field days and workshops. Linking all these projects together will be the story-tellers, sharing their reality stories, tips and advice on Hunter LLS Facebook, YouTube and Poddy podcast channels, at events and in our Ag Extension newsletters. Share their journeys and join The Paddock Between the Ears community taking the first step towards boosting drought resilience, farm production and wellbeing outcomes.

Eco-Action Demonstration Sites

There are some great ideas around for building drought resilience in the farm landscape so we decided to demonstrate a range of small projects in the Hunter region inspired by the Australian National University’s Sustainable Farms program. Hunter LLS is establishing these Eco-Action sites on Travelling Stock Reserves and other hi-vis locations for land managers to see the results for themselves. Each accessible site will showcase a range of ‘do-able chunks’ for makeover projects that improve the health of farm water resources, wetlands, pastures, shade trees and shelter belts. Each Eco-Action site is designed to demonstrate ecosystem services in action, with each natural asset providing a natural system, filtering or cooling water, shading livestock or pastures, and in turn building resilience in the farm environment. We will record and share the progress of the drought planning, decision-making and site works as we fence and revegetate dams and wetlands, regenerate paddock trees, and install off-stream stock water systems. Each small project is designed to inspire land managers to explore the opportunities for their own farm makeover.


Farm Makeover Incentive Program

Hunter Local Land Services is supporting land managers to take the first step towards building drought resilience on their farms. The Agricultural Extension team is delivering a Farm Makeover Incentive Program as part of The Paddock Between the Ears Project. The aim is to show landholders through one small decision to makeover a natural resource on their farm, they can improve drought planning and farm production outcomes.

Landholders can apply for Farm Makeover grants to help fund a small project or ‘doable chunk’ to improve a natural resource asset on their farm.

See how the Farm Makeover Incentive Program has helped landholders on their properties.

Protecting Critical Farm Water Resources with Sophie Nichols
Hunter Valley producer, Sophie Nichols explains how The Paddock Between the Ears - Farm Makeover Project has helped her continue a legacy of preserving farm water assets, building drought resilience and natural capital on the family’s Lower Belford property. Sophie has a plan in place to stage her farm makeover on the small family property which supports organic produce and livestock production enterprises, along with eco-friendly tourism.

Preparing for Drought Through Whole Farm Planning with Jono Fitzgerald
The first thing that attracted small-scale Hunter River beef producers, Jono and Kristy Fitzgerald to their Luskintyre property was the amazing stand of Hunter Lowland Redgum Forest, also an Endangered Ecological Community in the Lower Hunter. Share their story as Jono discusses their whole farm planning journey, protecting their natural capital assets while improving grazing management, planting trees, and reducing erosion around dam water storages. This is their The Paddock Between the Ears - Farm Makeover project journey better preparing the property for drought conditions.

Protecting Creek, Dam & Wetland Water Assets in Your Drought Plan with Jamie Maddocks
Hear how the Maddocks family have worked on a series of small projects to build drought resilience and improve the condition of natural capital on their Allyn River Valley farm, near Vacy in the Lower Hunter. Their The Paddock Between the Ears – Farm Makeover Project has built on their efforts to improve the condition of their local creek system, by protecting their Melaleuca wetland, naturally filtering water into their dam catchment storages. The flow-on benefit from improving the quality of the stock water supply on their property is that they are now planting feed and habitat trees for a local koala colony in the fenced off area and improving habitat for platypus.

Bringing Back Shade and Shelter for Livestock and Native Birdlife with Marcus Kirkwood
Share the Kirkwood family’s journey improving natural capital and drought resilience on their Hunter beef property. Through staged investment in establishing small tree-lots, they have not only returned birdsong to the hills of the Westbrook Valley near Singleton but created a series of refuges from the summer heat for their Angus breeding herd. Their the Paddock Between the Ears - Farm Makeover Project is establishing another two tree lots shading pastures and livestock and re-establishing woodland pockets for native birds.

Wire & Water Programs to Improve Pastures, Grazing, Shade & Shelter with James Edward
Get inspired to build Drought Resilience & Natural Capital on-farm by following beef producer, James Edwards’ The Paddock Between the Ears - Farm Makeover Project story. On the junction of Rouchel Brook with the Hunter River, below Glenbawn Dam, James is working towards improving grazing management on his holding enlisting regenerative ag principles, splitting paddocks up, fencing out riparian zones, and supplying off-stream watering via a header tank and stock-trough system. The wire-and-water program plan will allow for staged pasture establishment, tree planting, and resting of paddocks between grazing rotations. A central laneway sets the property up for low-stress stock movements. Not only does this plan improve the functionality of the farm, it also ensures the family legacy of continually improving the condition of native vegetation and water assets continues.

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