Rehydration through landscape modification
- Degraded soils, poor water infiltration and diminished grazing capacity.
- Deep ripping trailed, successfully established forgeable ground cover but lacks scientific validation.
- Sparse weather record is insufficient for agronomic decision making.
Historical clearing and overgrazing by past owners of Merrylands near Cobar NSW has left it degraded. Soil crusting and sealing is preventing valuable water infiltration and ground cover establishment which has reduced gazing capacity and productivity of the land.
During the 2017 drought, deep ripping areas were trialled on the property aiming to increase water capture and establish plant cover. Encouragingly despite the drought, early benefits were pronounced. However, there is a deficiency of scientific data explaining the climatic and agronomic relationships which led to these benefits. This knowledge gap continues to hinder development of educated approaches to future adaptation opportunities for the Western Region and rangelands of NSW.
Additionally, like the majority of the western NSW, this property has a poor coverage of publicly available climate, weather and agronomic data. The lack of suitable available information significantly impedes the ability to make sound long-term farm strategies that will address a changing climate.
The climate Smart Pilots team is working with Local Land Services to establish new deep ripping sites to develop knowledge to establish the suitability of ripping practices as an adaptation response for Western NSW. A series of landscape function analysis procedures are being conducted to scientifically monitor and assess the productivity of both the new and existing ripped sites.
In parallel, the project also will establish a weather and agronomic data recording network. Data provided by the network will measure the effectiveness of the deep ripping works for the project life and remain in place to continue monitoring into the future. Soil moisture and temperature sensors will also be installed to determine the water infiltration efficiency across each of the trial sites.
The assessment results and data will underpin guidance for the adoption of effective strategies to other parts of the western region and rangelands of NSW.