MacPherson family's cost-effective way of rejuvenating their Malanda farm and waterways

Updated January 24 2022 - 1:07pm, first published 6:00am
Property Overhaul: Tash, Fern, Flynn and John MacPherson at their Malanda farm with Terrain NRM's Vanessa Drysdale. Photo: Supplied

Eighteen months has made all the difference at the MacPherson family's Malanda farm - where there have been big changes to fight erosion and improve their pastures.

After purchasing the Malanda property in 2020, Tash and John MacPherson decided to rejuvenate their land and on-property waterways.

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Turning to natural resource management organisation Terrain NRM, the family was able to improve their cattle property, by providing alternative water sources for their cattle, fencing water ways, and planting more trees.

Changes prevent erosion, improve pasture

Tash Macpherson said the results were a win for their cattle pastures and the overall environment.

"When we bought this property in mid-2020 we de-stocked it for a year,'' Ms Macpherson said.

"The land really needed a break. There was bad erosion - big wash-outs along the waterways where the cattle had been, and springs that were a boggy mess."

Through the project, three creeks have been fenced-off, smaller grazing paddocks have been created, 5000 native trees have been planted to strengthen creekbanks, and an off-stream watering system has been installed with a bore, water tanks and troughs.

A Zuni bowl was also constructed to stop erosion advancing in one of the paddocks.

Erosion solutions: As part of the work, a Zuni bowl has been installed and native trees planted to stop erosion advancing.

Mrs MacPherson said there were many benefits.

"It has been exciting to see the changes - from the improvement in our pasture to platypus returning to our creeks,'' she said.

"We bought this property knowing we wanted to improve it, and we began with de-stocking and cleaning up the dam.

"Then to get this help (from Terrain), we've been able to make big gains quickly. It is bringing our vision to fruition in fast-forward - of vastly improving water quality as it leaves the property and increasing biodiversity along our creek lines while still maintaining our cattle operation."

Terrain NRM's Vanessa Drysdale said the combined work on the MacPherson property would save an estimated 180 tonnes of sediment from flowing to the Great Barrier Reef each year.

Ms Drysdale said the Zuni bowl was a carefully designed lining of rocks at a steep drop in the gully erosion.

"This was an active gully system that had eroded several hundred metres in wet seasons over the last few years, and wasn't going to slow down without intervention,'' she said.

"The traditional solution is a rock chute, but Zuni bowls are a more cost-effective treatment method that has proved its worth on Tableland and Daintree farms over the last few years."

The MacPherson property is one of 11 properties where earthworks, tree-planting, fencing and off-stream watering infrastructure strategies have provided long-term solutions to erosion issues.

The project is focused on reducing sediment losses to the Great Barrier Reef lagoon while helping graziers by addressing erosion problems and improving pastures and livelihoods.

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Terrain's Upper Johnstone Integrated Project also includes workshops on soil and grazing management practices, which have been taken up by about 150 landholders.

The Upper Johnstone Integrated Project is funded through the Queensland Government's Natural Resources Investment Program.

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