This case study was derived from: Sustaining Our Natural Resources – Dairying for Tomorrow’ Editorial Committee (2001) 'Sustaining Our Natural Resources – Dairying For Tomorrow, Project Report.' Dairy Research and Development Corporation, Melbourne.
Susan and Ian Powell, who own a 130 ha dairy farm at Wynyard on the north-west coast of Tasmania, see the implementation of policies on riparian zone management and revegetation as a saving rather than a cost within their enterprise. Astute management of remnant native vegetation, creeks and streams located on their dairy farm has significantly enhanced the property’s contribution to biodiversity within the region, provided clean water for cows and helped minimise potential off-farm environmental impacts.
Fertile soils and rainfall of 1,125 millimetres per annum mean that erosion can be an issue. The Powells don’t want the their land to end up in the creek beds, so preventing erosion is a high priority. About 1,000 trees have therefore been planted on the property’s steeper slopes in addition to their waterways maintenance program.
Figure 30: Ian, Susie and Ngaire Powell on their farm
Source: Dairy Australia, National Land & Water Resources Audit and the Australian Dairy Farmers (ADF) (n.d.) Dairying for Tomorrow (website) http://www.dairyingfortomorrow.com/ (Accessed: April 2005)
A creek that winds its way through the bottom end of their farm and a network of much smaller streams that run into it are edged by remnant native bushland. The fencing of these riparian zones was one of the first tasks undertaken when they bought the property in 1994.
The fencing program has driven the investment in a series of trough water-points, which has played a valuable role in herd health and is regarded as a far better option than letting cattle access the abundance of streams. Fencing off the waterways is not a cost for the Powells – they see it as a saving.
It means they are delivering clean water to their Holstein milking cows, as well as preserving their shelter-belts. But also, the Powells ask, how can you measure the value of being able to live with platypus and native birds? The Powell farm watercourses are also home to two endangered species – the Burnie burrowing crayfish, and freshwater lobster.
The revegetation program is now geared towards enhancing regional biodiversity. The Powells plant in three levels including an under-storey and the program has expanded past the steeper slopes to include some valleys and the addition of an under-storey layer to native vegetation found within the fenced off riparian zones.
To try and increase returns per hectare, the Powells will concentrate on pasture management. But as they progress down this path, Susan and Ian are content in the knowledge that they are doing this in accord with natural environment.