CottonInfo REO Amanda Thomas blogs about the 'Cottoning on to the Macquarie' NRM field day, held on Saturday 4 March:
The field day was a collaboration between CottonInfo, the Australian Government and Central West Local Land Services. We had the 40 spots in the kayaks snapped up by the cotton growers and their families. Stacey Vogel, the Natural Resource Management Technical Specialist on the CottonInfo team, has run many of these successful days across the cotton industry. All I had to do was get the message out the growers who jumped at the opportunity.
Ecologist Phil Spark from North West Ecological camped out for two nights before and collected a vast array of the local wildlife including eight species of Micro bats (one albino) as well as many species of frogs, lizards, fish, weeds and native plant species. The adults and children were able to find out about the importance of these species in the riverine environments as well as how useful they can be on cotton farms. For example, the microbats are a great predator of some of the higher flying insects such as Helicoverpa. We also learned about the importance of the habitat that supports these animals and our native plants on our farms and in our local catchment. Phil even played the calls of some of the animals while we were looking at them.
Stacey Vogel spoke about some of CRDC’s ecosystem service research outcomes including some really interesting information about which tree species can be beneficial for river bank stability, such as river red gums and how these trees, which can live up to 1000 years, store large amounts of carbon. Cameron Downing from CWLLS provided info as we were paddling along with Out and About Adventures our kayak guides for the paddle component of the day.
The children were fully engaged and asked questions throughout the wildlife talks and paddle. They were able to hold many of the reptiles (a few of them are Phil’s own) and learned about invasive species such as the European carp.
Given the grower participation and the great feedback we got from those who participated we would like to run another one of these days in the Narromine or Trangie end of the Valley. Please get in touch with me if you have an ideal location in mind and we can get the ball rolling.