David and Adele O’Connor of Springsure property “Mountain View” have been awarded the Reef Rescue award in the grain category for their outstanding work through the program.
Mountain View has been in the family for 127 years and sits South of the Springsure watershed of the Comet and Nogoa River Catchments with several creeks originating in the area. The O’Connor’s have reduced the amount of nutrients, sediment and chemicals flowing into these creeks and improved their bottom line by introducing a grazing and cropping management regime that rests pastures and improves pasture-cropping practices.
The O’Connors have implemented numerous improvements to their farming operations through the Reef Rescue program, including conversion to zero till planting and the purchase of equipment such as a hand held weather meter which allows for improved monitoring of pesticide movement.
Significant improvements the O’Connors have noticed include, increased feed availability and pasture composition and reducing tillage in pasture cropping and improving herbicide efficiency has reduced fuel and chemical inputs. Of particular note is the prevalence of the endangered King Bluegrass (Dicanthium queenslandicaum).
“The most important thing about these changes to our grazing and cropping systems are the improved long-term sustainability and resilience of the proeprty,” said David.
“This means that our children should also be able to make a living off this property too.”
The O’Connor’s share what they have trialled and learnt by hosting and attending workshops and field days. They have also completed the Grains BMP program and have participated in the Emerald pilot group for the Grazing BMP program.
Adele has also been able to share her knowledge and experience with groups outised the local area by accepting an invitation to be a guest speaker at the FBA Muster 2012 and represent FBA graziers in Canberra.
The key thing that the O’Connors have learnt through through the process of changing their grazing management is that better management rather than more land is needed to improve productivity and increase profitability.
Another important realisation has been that the local waterways have been degrading for a long time.
“My Grandfather spoke of there being three creeks where now there is only one larger, wider, deeper creek,” said Adele.
“Gradual erosion over generations has created creeks that act more like drains than waterways. Through our changes we have started to turn this around and we hope to continue to improve soil water capacity by rehabilitating our creeks and gullies.”