Productive Land Repair

26 May, 2004 10:00 PM
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LINKING productive enterprises to land repair was the theme for a well-attended field day at Denbarker.

About 85 landowners attended the event, held on the property of Tony and Alison Smith, and organised by Green Skills. Resource management, farm forestry, and diversification as a management strategy were addressed by Mr Smith, Green Skills personnel and officers from the WA Agriculture Department.

Opening the field day Bruce Manning, CEO of the Great Southern Development Commission, said the area under their natural resource management totals 39,000 sq km of which 28,000 sq km is devoted to primary production. "This is 72 per cent of the land area or 2.8 million ha," Mr Manning said. "This earns us $624m annually. But within the area there are risks and challenges, as well as strengths."

Mr Manning said the risks to bio-diversity were many, among them subsoil acidity and declining water quality. Referring to acidity he said more than 30pc of Great Southern (GS) farmers are applying lime regularly, while 20pc of the land mass needs liming today.

The WA State Lime Strategy analysis indicates 200 years of lime reserves in WA - some under CALM land. "In each decade about 20pc of broad acre agricultural land enters the high risk category of acidification," Mr Manning said.

Among the GS region's strengths, he said, were the resilience of the communities - particularly so in Jerramungup - the enthusiasm of individuals, commitment by agencies such as Waters and Rivers and Agriculture department officers, and innovation and value-adding practices.

"One of the success stories is the return to potability of the water of the Denmark River and catchment," Mr Manning said. "This achievement resulted from a mix of land care by everyone involved, and sustainable commercial activity within the catchment such as occurs on Tony and Alison Smith's land."

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