Cleaner water on farms creates a cleaner catchment

2 March 2020

Photo of Farm Manager Andrew Taylor standing in newly revegetated area of the Saratini Macadamia orchard.

Farm Manager, Andrew Taylor, has seen a huge improvement in erosion control following the implementation of a Clean Coastal Catchments (CCC) incentives program on Saratini Farms at Teven north west of Ballina.

The CCC funded erosion control works on Saratini's macadmia orchard have recently been put to the test during ten days of torrential rain on the NSW North Coast.

“The difference is chalk and cheese,” said Mr Taylor comparing the change in sediment run off since the project was completed.

“We had very heavy rain here in February, but the water running off the macadamia orchards is almost clear. In the past during storms like these, we would get heavy gully erosion exposing rock, and the run-off would be brown with soil washed off the farm.”

“We are seeing a huge difference, we’re losing far less soil, and that means we’re keeping more of it on the property and not in the rivers.”

The Clean Coastal Catchments Project is working with 50 macadamia farms on the North Coast to improve land management practices that reduce the impact of agricultural production on the marine estate.

The aim is to stop erosion on farmland so that less soil flows into coastal rivers to contaminate water quality in estuaries and marine habitat downstream.

Incentive funding is being rolled out in partnership with the NSW Local Land Services (LLS) agency, providing landholders with grants worth up to $5000.

“Money has been spent on projects such as new contour banks to improve drainage and changes to orchard configuration that increase sunlight between the orchard canopy,” explained LLS Senior Land Services Officer, Kel Langfield.

“Letting in more sunlight encourages grass cover that binds the soil together and reduces the bare patches between trees that are prone to erosion.”

On Saratini Farms, trees in the direct path of water flow lines were removed, the slope was reformed, and seed was sown to re-grass the area when the earth works were completed.

“It’s working beautifully,” said Andrew Taylor.

“The wider flow path and the grass is slowing down the water, there’s no channelling and we’re not getting any signs of erosion.”

Clean Coastal Catchment erosion control projects have been overseen by Jeremy Bright, Macadamia Development Officer with the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

“These projects are going to significantly reduce the amount of suspended solids, nitrogen and phosphorous that is flowing off farmland and into coastal waterways,” said Mr Bright.

“This type of work also has the added benefit of making orchards more resilient. Gains can be made from redirecting water flows away from the trees and keeping the harvestable nuts from being washed away.”

“This is a win win for farmers and the environment”.

Clean Coastal Catchments is helping to make macadamia farmers more profitable by improving drainage and reducing erosion in their orchards, while also making a big difference to water quality in the coastal catchment and the marine estate.

The Clean Coastal Catchments project is funded under the NSW Government's 10-year Marine Estate Management Strategy, developed by the NSW Marine Estate Management Authority.

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