Home' Smart Farmer : February 2011 Contents February 2011
with AMY CANE, Customer Relations Officer, Percat Water
Farmers trade $3b water
despite drought easing
IN 2009-10, the value of water
trading in Australia reached
about $3 billion. This is an
increase of 7 per cent from
2008-09 and a 100pc increase
from $1.5b in 2007-08.
These figures released in the
National Water Commission's
Water Markets Report 2009-10
demonstrate the growth in
Australian water markets over
the past year, despite the easing
drought conditions and
This growth is reflected in the
increasing volume of both allo-
cation (temporary) and entitle-
ment (permanent) trading and is
a sign that water markets are
providing many benefits to
licence holders. These benefits
include the ability to move water
to higher value users while gen-
erating some level of economic
The Murray Darling Basin is
Australia's principal water mar-
ket. More than 90pc entitlement
and allocation trading occurred
within the MDB in 2009-10.
Entitlement water trading
increased 20pc from the previ-
ous year, while allocation water
trading increased 22pc from last
South Australia traded about
126 gigalitres of entitlement
water and 19pc of this was trad-
ed within Central Irrigation Trust.
South Australian licence holders
continue to be the net importer
of water allocations. New South
Wales is the biggest supplier of
allocation water to SA and
Victoria with 77pc of the total
allocation water bought by SA
licence holders coming from
Although there was an
increase in the value and volume
of water trading within the MDB,
other regions in SA experienced
a decrease in entitlement and
The River Murray is the most
active market in SA followed by
the Lower Limestone Coast and
Northern Adelaide Plains
Prescribed Wells Areas.
Entitlement and allocation
trading is light in these areas.
Trading volumes will increase
over time. Many of these areas'
Water Allocation Plans are cur-
rently under review, such as the
management zones in the Lower
Limestone Coast. When the final
WAPs are released, licence hold-
ers will have a clearer under-
standing of the trading rules and
farmers may have trading oppor-
• Need to know more?
By TRACEY HARDWICKE, District
Officer of Northern Foothills, Adelaide
and Mount Lofty Ranges NRM Board
OOLATAI grass has adapted
well to Australia's temperate
climate, after being introduced
to New South Wales in the 1930s for
pasture and soil stabilisation.
About 12 years ago it was intro-
duced to the Adelaide region as a
landscape plant. It has now become
established throughout reserves and
gullies within the foothills and plains
of northern Adelaide where it is pos-
ing a threat to biodiversity.
Coolatai grass is a densely tufted,
tussock-forming perennial grass that
grows between one and two metres
high. An identifying feature is the
pairing of seed heads that make up
the flowering spikes. This attribute
differentiates it from native grasses
such as Kangaroo grass (Themeda
triandra) which may appear similar.
Biology and impact
Coolatai grass can create conditions
around its roots which are hostile to
the germination of any seedlings apart
from its own. It also has a short flow-
ering to seeding cycle and can set seed
several times during the year.
These attributes have allowed it to
form large creeping colonies which
have infested public reserves, road-
sides and parks, often outcompeting
and replacing important remnant
native grasslands that provide food
and habitat for native birds and fauna.
An example of its domination can be
seen in the Cobbler Creek Recreation
Park near Golden Grove.
Coolatai grass also impacts on graz-
ing land by dominating paddocks that
are not intensively grazed or man-
aged. Tall plants become rank and
unpalatable to stock, which allows it
to crowd out favorable species.
In some situations the large biomass
of the Coolatai grass tussocks become
dry in summer and can pose a signif-
icant fire risk.
Prevention and control
Coolatai grass is a declared weed
which means landholders are
required to control it on their land
and must not transport or sell the
plant, or any produce carrying the
It spreads readily by human activi-
ties such as mowing and slashing,
therefore it is critical that hygiene
measures are adhered to.
• Do not remove seeds or plants from
• Thoroughly brush down equip-
ment, boots, machinery and vehicles
when leaving an infested site.
• Undertake control work prior to
seed set (spring and summer) and
work from small outlying patches to
• Decontaminate livestock prior to
moving off the property.
• Do not buy or sell contaminated
Coolatai grass is difficult to control
once established and requires repeat-
ed treatments and a persistent
approach. The Coolatai Steering
Committee is conducting trials in
Cobbler Creek Recreation Park to
identify the best herbicide options
and treatment techniques. However,
small or isolated numbers of plants
can be effectively removed by chip-
ping or grubbing.
How to get involved
The Adelaide and Mt Lofty NRM
Board, along with the Department of
Environment and Natural Resources
and councils for Tea Tree Gully,
Salisbury and Playford, are working
together to contain and reduce the
population of Coolatai grass.
A working bee was held late last
year with a group of volunteers to
remove Coolatai grass from a high
biodiversity area of Cobbler Creek
Recreation Park. The work of volun-
teers is greatly appreciated and adds
enormously to the value achieved by
other on-ground works programs.
• Need to know more?
8523 7700 or
The flowering spikes of Coolatai grass.
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