Broadmeadows is one of the earliest areas in Central Queensland to be used for grazing cattle.
It sits on the floodplain of Nankin Creek before it meets the Fitzroy River estuary and has a history of sustaining cattle and wildlife on its well-watered marshes.
Over the past 150 years, a viable stud and commercial cattle business has been built up that co-exists with thousands of waterbirds, including swans and brolgas that regularly nest in the wetland.
The current managers, Robert and Michele Lang, are at the forefront in adopting successful strategies to reduce soil erosion on vulnerable slopes in the wetland catchment.
Grazing at Broadmeadows occurs on the floodplain, much of which is occupied by a swamp or ‘marsh’, as well as on low slopes draining to the floodplain.
Water couch Paspalum distichum is a mainstay of the enterprise because the wide shallow marsh where it grows remains wet or damp for most of the year, especially if there has been winter rain.
Prime weight gain is usually achieved by October each year. Stocking rate is generally around one beast to 1.5ha, or higher in the marsh pastures for short periods.
Rob Lang’s primary concerns in managing the property are to improve ground cover, control salt and reduce erosion to create better grazing practice. Some of the sloping upland areas of Broadmeadows are subject to gully erosion and increased salinity, and so are a focus of management planning.
“The principal intervention so far has been to create low bunds across some of the gullies, using C Class fill (with rock to 20cm) sourced on the property. These bunds slow and spread water flow across the slopes and thus reduce erosion. Native wetland plants including beetle grass have established above the bunds,” he said.
Maintaining good ground cover and remediation of erosion in these shallow gullies have economic benefits for farm production, ensuring localised feed and drinking water for stock during the dry season when surrounding dryland pasture has declined from its peak quality.
The small ponds above the low bunds also have the additional benefit of providing multiple small patches of habitat for wetland animals.
“After many years of attempting to stabilise erosion in the salted areas on Broadmeadows with the onsite parent material, which proved unsuccessful, we began using a ‘C’ Class product sourced on the property. The results have been extremely successful and have, to date, not resulted in the failure of any bunds we have constructed,” Mr Lang said.
Low bunds to slow runoff on slopes have reduced gully erosion and provided wildlife habitat and seasonal feed. Further work in progress at Broadmeadows includes the development of additional low bunds that slow and spread water flow on slopes (reducing erosion and increasing ground cover). The short low bunds are proposed for shallow gullies without well-defined channels and, during heavy rain and floods, fish could bypass them.
A case study on Nankins Plain and the Broadmeadows property has been completed by Fitzroy Basin Association and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries through the Queensland Wetlands Program.