The Dendra Systems team with Stacey Vogel (CottonInfo  CRDC) and Dr Rhiannon Smith (UNE)

Maules Creek farmers Andrew and Heike Watson and their family recently hosted a revegetation demonstration field day at 'Merriendi'.

Local farmers, residents and Landcare groups joined industry experts, researchers, and drone and tubestock specialists to share the latest revegetation methods and information.

The popular event was organised by CottonInfo, the Australian cotton industry's joint extension program.

It centred on research by Dr Rhiannon Smith from the University of New England comparing using drones for native revegetation in cotton landscapes against tubestock and direct seeding methods.

Stacey Vogel from CottonInfo and the Cotton Research and Development Corporation (CRDC) said the demonstration day was designed for local cotton growers and residents interested in native revegetation and improving biodiversity.

"The field day was a great chance to learn first-hand from growers and a range of experts and see different revegetation tools in action," said Ms Vogel.

"Dr Smith introduced her exciting research into cost-effective revegetation methods and outlined new tools and methodologies for direct seeding.

"Ecosystem restoration experts, Dendra Systems from the UK, demonstrated their cutting-edge AI-guided tree-planting drone technology.

"Rob Porter from Landcare Australia spoke about planting with tubestock and important considerations for restoration projects.

"Robyn Watson shared insights from her forty years working to restore riverine environments across their family farms and as a member and leader of the local Boggabri Landcare-Rivercare Group. And Andrew Watson spoke to the benefit of investing in revegetation for their family farm business. Advantages like erosion control and habitat for natural crop pest predators like birds, bats, and bugs.

"We also enjoyed a barbeque provided by the Boggabri Sacred Heart primary school Parents and Friends. And many people also stayed on to help the Watson’s plant trees along the Namoi River."

Ms Vogel explained that the demonstration day feedback was very positive and that the event was part of a larger biodiversity project.

"We've had a really great response to the field day with people wanting to know more about revegetation, the drones and methods of restoration.

"Cotton growers are increasingly interested in getting involved in native revegetation and improving biodiversity on farms," she said.

The Maules Creek field day and Dr Smith's research is part of the Cotton Landcare Tech Innovations project funded by CRDC with support from the Australian Government's National Landcare Program Smart Farming Partnership round 1 initiative. 

The three-year project builds on international best practice to develop and implement cutting edge technologies to help the Australian industry report on and better manage on-farm biodiversity.

For more information or to get involved, visit https://www.crdc.com.au/cotton-landcare-tech-innovations.

Pictured top: The Dendra Systems team with Stacey Vogel (CottonInfo and CRDC) and Dr Rhiannon Smith (UNE).