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Erosion Control, Revegetation and some Millpost History

Following on from last week's blog on tree-planting and direct seeding at Millpost, I write with an example of recent activity which emphasizes the current harsh conditions.

It is too hot and dry to plant trees so what can you do? First, some background on our soils (or lack thereof) and white-fella history.

Soils in NSW are classified from Class 1 (deep, fertile and arable) to Class 6 (shallow and/or rocky). Millpost has only Class 4,5 and 6 soils, none of it good enough for cropping. These soils are relatively infertile and often highly erodible.

In fact, Millpost has more erosion and gullies than can realistically be fenced off and revegetated. In any case, allocating precious steel in the form of fences is only a band-aid solution. Alternative strategies are required.

Prior to the 1860s, most of Millpost remained unalienated Crown Land. Then followed a brave attempt to make land available to the less well-to-do. Small portions of land (40-100 acres) were leased on condition that “improvements” were made and the lessee lived on the block.

From 1870 to 1900, a whole string of battlers tried and failed to make a go of living at Millpost. Many of these small blocks were clustered along an old track which was a public road from Bungendore to Queanbeyan. There is still evidence, in the form of crockery shards, bricks, old fruit trees, of some of the huts that were built on the small blocks.

One section of the old track went straight down-hill and the wheel ruts from buggies started an erosion gully. There are paving stones along one edge (below left) that were laid to stop the buggy wheels from slipping. We placed branches and logs in this gully years ago and threw some wattle seed in. Some of these came up and were protected from sheep, until recently. It was time to throw more branches in to enhance protection for the wattles.

Harry and I have been lopping a lot of willow, poplar, oak, elm and ash for sheep fodder. Last week I carted about 15 ute and trailer loads of this branch material and threw them into the gully which is now an impenetrable mass of criss-crossed branches. Sheep cannot make their way through this branch barrier. (Pictured below, along with some successful seedlings and the red smoky sun)

Last spring I poured boiling water over lots of Acacia rubida (Red-stemmed Wattle) and A. dealbata (Silver Wattle) seeds. The next day the swollen seed was mixed with clay to make pellets, Fukuoka-style, and when dry were broadcast into this erosion gully. I don't know yet how many survived the dry conditions but if they have, they will be safe from browsing sheep.

It may be too dry for tree-planting, but revegetation efforts can continue by use of this low-cost, low-labour strategy.


David Watson

29/01/2020


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Millpost Merino is an Australian Superfine Merino yarn grown single source at a family run farm at Bungendore on the Southern Tablelands of NSW near Canberra.

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Millpost

PO Box 12

Bungendore

NSW 2621 Australia