The Challenge

The Western Division of New South Wales is made up of mostly arid and semi-arid land. Soil type and unreliable rainfall means that this area is mostly unsuitable to any form of intensive agricultural practice, especially once coupled with the prolonged droughts and shorter rainy seasons in between in recent years. The soil is dehydrated and erosion levels are high. There was a need to find a way to rehydrate the soil and also capture as much of any rainfall as possible to allow the land to rehabilitate.

The Solution

Western Local Land Services employed an approach called Ecosystem Management Understanding (EMU). This approach was initiated in 2000 by a man named Ken Tinley who developed it together with Hugh Pringle, who has been instrumental in the creation of the project. Through the use of several techniques such as water-ponding, diversion banks and contour furrowing, landholders were able to direct water and calm it and spread it over floodplains and gilgais.

The Impact

As a result of this project, any rainfall received is being spread further and utilised more effectively than before. One landholder in particular saw water directed away from an erosion gully and spread over the adjacent perched floodplain. Previously, it would have taken over 200 mm of rain for this spreading to occur, but with the EMU techniques in place it was achieved with only 21 mm of rainfall. Now not only can the floodplain rehydrate and regenerate, but the erosion gully is also able to rehabilitate.

Another landholder noted that, after a significant amount of rain, the water was calmed and spread over waterholes and gilgais rather than rushing across the landscape and causing more erosion. This lead to increased vegetation growth and rehydration of the parched soil.

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