Flooding washes away productive land

06 Apr, 2017 02:00 AM
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Dunn Rock farmer Darren Wiech (left), with Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan and her parliamentary secretary Darren West. The trio stand in front of Mr Wiech's key dam that has filled with silt.
What nutrients have leached out and what other damage I can't know until after seeding.
Dunn Rock farmer Darren Wiech (left), with Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan and her parliamentary secretary Darren West. The trio stand in front of Mr Wiech's key dam that has filled with silt.

DARREN Wiech predicts it will take at least two years to repair flood damage on his Dunn Rock property after February's heavy downfalls.

It has been two months since 230 millimetres of rain was dumped on his 4000 hectare mixed cropping and sheep farm over four days and the impact is becoming clear.

Mr Wiech predicts at least five per cent of his arable land was directly affected by the flood waters, with masses of top soil washed away, paddocks split by drainage channels and dams filled with silt.

Seven of his 4000 sheep were lost, along with 10 kilometres of fence line.

Mr Wiech estimated the damage bill at $70,000 with the indirect effects being incalculable.

"What nutrients have leached out and what other damage I can't know until after seeding when the crops are up," he said.

"My fertiliser bill is $350,000 a year, how much of that I've lost I can't tell you."

Accessibility was still a major issue on the Dunn Rock property, with several paddocks and tracks heavily compromised.

"The back paddock is normally one paddock, it's in four paddocks at the moment,'' he said.

"There's a little hectare piece that the gully has cut out that you physically can't get to.

"We won't get time to fix it now but after harvest this year hopefully I'll have time to fill in those gullies so we can seed them next year."

Mr Wiech said he would have to supplement water for stock and spray use after his main dam filled with silt.

With plans to start seeding in less than a month, he is racing to repair access routes and essential fence lines.

"I'll patch things up before seeding and then I'm happy to deal with it six months down the line and fix them up properly because I just don't have the time to fix them up properly now,'' he said.

"For me it's going to be a two-year project to get back into shape."

WA's new Agriculture and Food Minister Alannah MacTiernan visited Mr Wiech's property last week, as part of a tour of flood-affected areas.

Mr Wiech was pleased to see Ms MacTiernan with her "feet out on the ground".

"It's just really, really good to see her face to face and stand in the paddock with her," he said.

"For that I take my hat off to her."

Mr Wiech hoped the visit would speed up bureaucratic processes to help local shires repair road and infrastructure damage.

"The Ravensthorpe Shire took it off their own bat and fixed the roads up temporarily so we could physically get the kids to school because before that we couldn't drive on the roads - they were that bad," he said.

"The Lake Grace Shire couldn't do it because they were scared they were going to lose the money from the funding.

"As farmers we don't want to be hamstrung by red tape, the roads needs fixing."

Mr Wiech said regulations meant farmers could wait up to 10 weeks before some roads were repaired.

"That's too late for us, we've got multi-million dollar businesses that we're trying to run, we can't afford to wait 10 weeks," he said.

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The Minister of Ag can use WA's Gene Technology Act 2006 to manage GM & GM-free crops for market
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Time will judge if they can implement what growers are asking for. Not what a director
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