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Landcare in the Coal Valley

Coal River Products Association was formed in 1967 in response to the bushfire disaster, and has since acted to promote sustainable and profitable farming in the valley. The University Farm, commenced in 1984, was the beginning of organized Landcare activities, focusing initially on whole farm planning, then on fencing out and treating the problem areas. University students were involved in all activities, commencing with Daniel Sprod who led the first stage of planning. Rob Morey, a leading local farmer, had been developing his own property along the same lines, and led our Landcare committee of CRPA for many years. We initially concentrated on three problem areas, namely salinity patches low in the landscape, steep rocky hillsides on the upper areas, and on the Coal River itself, which was infested with willows. Demonstrations were set up on the University Farm (photos 1-4, see below), on a steep hillside at Birmingham Creek (photos 5-6), between Campania and Colebrook, and on the River.

Work since has continued along these lines, with a number of grants large and small. The river work included a Rivercare Plan (again by Daniel Sprod), and work in stages to remove willows (photos 7-8, fence out problem areas, and either plant or encourage natural revegetation (photo 9), which has generally been the most successful. This has necessarily included follow-up work over several years, with Kevin Harding our river coordinator.

Weed management in the valley has also been a major focus of our work, particularly African boxthorn(photos 10-11), which has the capacity to negate other landcare work by growing in fenced off areas and making other activities impossible.

Landcare activities in recent years have been focused on managing the good cropping and pasture land within our farm plans, with different tillage methods and machinery, use of biosolids and other amendments. We are currently involved in a major project to prepare our farmers for climate change, which involves having resilient farms capable of adaptation to changing conditions. This is, after all, what we have already been doing over the years.