Strategies to manage groundcover

Case study 1 - Ecosystems Management Understanding

The purpose of the Ecosystems Management Understanding (EMU) approach is to recognise natural patterns and processes in the landscape and work with them to promote the health and recovery of landscapes and habitats. It allows landholders to identify and analyse the constraints and opportunities that will make a real difference in managing arid lands effectively in an ecologically sustainable manner.

EMU works on developing on-ground solutions to achieving a sustainable pastoral enterprise. Landholders in the Western region have used EMU to restore areas which have suffered from degradation and erosion. Measures such as diversion banks, contour furrowing, water ponding and mesh filters can be used to rejuvenate landscapes.

Case study 2 - Using drought lots to manage groundcover

One method of managing groundcover in pastoral areas during dry times is the use of drought lots. This involves placing sheep in small yards or paddocks and feeding them a ration of grain and hay.

This allows landholders to maintain livestock numbers, whilst reducing damage to their pastures. It is vital to protect the landscape during dry times, as overgrazing will lead to reduced groundcover, wind erosion and a prolonged recovery period.

Case study 3 - Summer fallow management in cropping systems

The purpose of using a minimum tillage system in cropping enterprises is to maintain groundcover over the summer fallow period. This reduces the risk of wind erosion occurring, protecting valuable topsoil and improving landscape condition.

Minimum tillage works by leaving stubble from the previous crop standing over the summer period. Weed control is conducted by mostly chemical means or grazing. Minimum tillage will also reduce the evapotranspiration of soil water.

Case study 4 - Cover crop system

The purpose of using cover crops in cropping enterprises is to increase groundcover, soil organic matter and biodiversity. This reduces the risk of wind erosion occurring, whilst also providing an opportunity for the business to earn an income.

A cover crop can be sown as a mixture of species. The main aim of the cover crop is to grow a large amount of biomass to leave cover on the soil. Cover crops can be grazed, harvested or cut for hay, however the aim should be to leave as much cover remaining on the soil surface as possible.

For further information on any of the above, contact Land Services Officer, Tanisha Shields on 0447 642 131 or email.