Environment restoration benefits crops

Downs cotton crops in need of more rain


Cotton
Jamie Grant, Kielli, Jimbour, said the prolonged dry meant many growers couldn't take full advantage of rain that fell in December. Picture - Helen Walker.

Jamie Grant, Kielli, Jimbour, said the prolonged dry meant many growers couldn't take full advantage of rain that fell in December. Picture - Helen Walker.

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Jamie and Susie Grant are hoping to restore riparian grasslands and woodlands on their Jimbour property, Wyalong.

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Jamie and Susie Grant, Kielli, Jimbour, have always been innovators and early adopters of best management practices, and more recently their focus has turned to restoring riparian grasslands and woodlands on their property, Wyalong. 

Completion of the project may still be 12 months away, but Mr Grant said the restoration of 150 hectares along Jimbour Creek was about demonstrating the cotton industry’s commitment to caring for the environment.

"Jimbour Creek runs east to west, connecting the eastern Bunya Mountain foothills with the Condamine River," Mr Grant said.

"This provides an important corridor for fauna movement across the plains and an important habitat for local fauna including natural predators which are contributing towards our IPM (integrated pest management).

“The IPM benefits we receive from Jimbour Creek corridor are evident in that we have been able to pick our refuge crops adjacent to the creek unlike surrounding fields further away." 

The Grants initial restoration management actions have been to undertake invasive animal control.

"As a response to increasing feral pig numbers we are implementing an area wide feral pig management plan and have recently participated in an aerial shoot," Mr Grant said. 

"Our next step is to clean-up the weeds along the creek to increase native groundcover, while reducing erosion and habitats for pest insects. 

“We are hoping research soon to be undertaken along the creek by a CRDC-supported project with Griffith University will provide some insight into what plants exist in our seedbank and how we can tweak our management practices to encourage natural regeneration of native grasses and trees." 

The Grants believe implementing and continually improving best practice, whether it be pesticide management, good work health and safety practices or riparian restoration, is essential for the sustainability of their farms and business.

They planted just over 1000ha of dryland cotton across their properties at the end of December off the back of rain earlier in the month, but Mr Grant said it wasn’t ideal rain that everyone was in desperate need of, starting out with hail followed by severe storms. 

“We were fortunate enough to have it, but even though we got 140mm it’s nowhere near as good as it sounds because a lot of it didn’t do much good.

“After six years of drought, we had very little cover on our ground, and the hail smashed any cover crop we had, so we were back to bare ground and that sealed up and ran off.

“Consequently, everyone’s got patchy strikes because you’ve got dry and wet patches.”

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