Despite having experienced better spring rain than many other areas of the state, farmers in the Albury region will soon be making decisions on stocking rate and grazing strategies that will set the scene for erosion risk in summer and autumn.
Dust storms across the region highlight the tragic soil and nutrient loss from farms to the north and west in the grip of the drought. Producers in the eastern Murray have a chance to influence soil and nutrient retention in the face of a bleak forecast by conserving groundcover, which plays a key factor in greatly reducing erosion.
A goal of maintaining at least 70 per cent groundcover has been shown to reduce the risk of wind and water erosion, protecting that precious topsoil and preventing the sediment and your nutrients washing off into our local streams. Leaving vegetation in the paddock also means pastures are better able respond to sporadic summer rains or an autumn break to come back faster and provide feed earlier.
They are also more resilient to weeds like capeweed and Paterson's curse.
It's important farmers are vigilant about groundcover assessment, especially in late spring, while there are still decisions to be made about reducing stock numbers. Srategies could include the use of feedlots and sacrifice paddocks that will make it easier to maintain groundcover over the majority of their property. Your local Landcare group or Local Land Services can put you in touch with the information and tools to make well informed decisions, as well as a network of people facing the same dilemmas.