December brings to a close the year-long program of NRM top tips, in alignment with our 2019 CottonInfo cotton calendar.
This month’s NRM tip is to improve connectivity of habitat patches and corridors. Corridors of native vegetation - be it woodlands, grasslands or wetlands - and how well they are connected to other patches of native vegetation on farm or in the broader landscape are very important to fauna survival. Corridors of native vegetation facilitate the movement of fauna through the landscape which is important for genetic diversity, adaptation to climate change and also to escape and survive catastrophic events like floods, fire or droughts.
For cotton irrigators creating water budgets, it is important to understand the return on a water investment. Current conditions, competition and the continued dry outlook hare resulted in the price for temporary allocation water steadily increasing.
Individual businesses should assess if the most profitable position is to be a buyer or seller in the temporary market, or to simply go about business as usual. The following example evaluates a purchase of temporary allocation to finish a cotton crop by considering the marginal return.
September is Biodiversity Month! Did you know almost 10 percent of all the species on earth are found in Australia? And that 400 different vegetation types are found on cotton properties in NSW and QLD?
To understand changes in biodiversity condition - be it negative or positive - as a result of land management or climate variability, we need to be able to benchmark, monitor and record these changes over time.
The availability of water in the landscape significantly impacts the presence of fauna including the number of beneficials (insects, birds & bats) present to assist in pest management.
Native vegetation near water sources such as water storages, rivers, creeks, wetlands and even channels are generally healthier and have much higher populations of beneficials and other types of fauna than vegetation that is not near water.
NRM top tips - July: Protect litter and groundcover to reduce erosion and weeds, and provide habitat
Groundcover is any material on or near the soil surface, including living and dead plants, plant litter, bark, leaves, manure and rocks. Most of us are aware of the importance of maintaining groundcover for protecting soils from erosion, moderating soil temperature and capturing rainfall and nutrients which are important for soil and plant health. Less well known is the important role groundcover, in particular surface litter, plays in providing habitat for fauna and sources of propagules (seeds, pores and suckers) for riparian and floodplain vegetation regeneration.
Did you know that over 70 species of terrestrial wildlife (reptiles, birds, frogs and small mammals) found on cotton farms use logs and rocks as habitat?
Unfortunately, simplification of habitat, ie the removal of the diversity of materials that form habitat such as logs, is threatening the existence of many of these species in agricultural landscapes.
Trees with hollows - both dead and alive - are a habitat requirement for many of our native animals. According to the research of Gibbens and Lindenmayer in 1997, around 17 per cent of birds, 42 per cent of mammals and 28 per cent of reptiles in south eastern Australia use hollows - including possums, gliders, microbats, parrots, owls, ducks, rosellas, kingfishers as well as many species of snakes, frogs and skinks.