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THE goal of converting their
400-hectare property into a
traditional farm operation has
taken Paul Neighbour and Helen
Lowrie on a mission to rehabilitate
degraded swamps and watercourses
on their land.
Paul and Helen were managing a
small bush block for many years
before they bought Back Valley in
2011, with its mix of productive
grazing land, native vegetation,
watercourses and swamps.
Paul says they have two primary
aims - pasture management with a
strong focus on soil microbiology,
and rehabilitating creek lines with
stock exclusion fencing and weed
Swamps and watercourses on the
property have been degraded by
roaming stock and infestations of
gorse, kikuyu and blackberry.
Wetlands such as those on Back
Valley are unique to the Fleurieu
Peninsula and home to a number of
plants and animals found nowhere
else in Australia.
Agronomist Andy Cole has just
started working with Paul on his
property and says farmers consider-
ing rehabilitating their land need a
good property plan which recognis-
es all its natural features so that they
can manage all aspects involved.
He says that while improving bio-
diversity is a major benefit of stock
exclusion fencing and revegetating,
farmers can reap many additional
"Rather than letting stock roam
over water courses, reticulated water
systems are a better way of ensuring
that stock get clean water. Livestock
respond better to clean water than
they do to polluted water," Andy
"Revegetation creates shelter belts
and if you have good shelter for
stock you will increase your pasture
productivity, and there is plenty of
evidence to suggest increases in
lambing and calving percentages."
He says other benefits include
reducing the likelihood of algal
growth, particularly blue green algae
which can be toxic to livestock; cre-
ating a buffer zone which keeps
stock effluent, farm chemicals and
fertilisers out of the water course;
and eliminating livestock losses
resulting from cattle getting stuck.
For now, Paul and Helen's on-
ground work is focused on con-
structing fences, installing water
points away from the watercourses
and swamps, and controlling weeds.
After effective weed control, they
will plant local native species to
rehabilitate the watercourse.
Paul and Helen achieved an enor-
mous amount with careful planning
and research, and financial and
technical support from the Adelaide
and Mount Lofty Ranges Natural
Resources Management Board,
which works with landholders keen
to improve the condition of their
Their long-term plan is clear.
"Our five-year plan is for a fully
functioning traditional farming
operation but with a strong focus on
the environment and improving the
property," Paul said.
Natural Resources AMLR staff
work with landholders to fence-off
water courses and revegetate banks
with advice, property management
plans, and incentives funded from
the NRM levy.
• Need to know more?
AMLRNRM: Willunga 08 8550 3400;
Lobethal 08 8389 5900; Gawler 08
8523 7700. Rita Reitano,
communication coordinator, 0438
Back Valley buffer zone flourishing
Paul Neighbour, Back Valley, Fleurieu Peninsula is studiously following an action plan to rehabilitate swamps and
watercourses degraded by roaming stock and infestations of gorse, kikuyu and blackberry on his property.
Pasture management focus
Stock ezxclusion fencing works
Revegetation creates shelter belts
No need to drain or rebuild
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