The Sustainable Agriculture program – working together to improve and protect the land

The Condamine Alliance Sustainable Agriculture program is dedicated to improving and protecting agricultural land in the Condamine catchment.

It does this by helping farmers obtain and apply new skills, knowledge and practices to better manage soil carbon and groundcover.

Groundcover is one of the best ways to guard against erosion and keep soil safe.

Over the past year, the Sustainable Agriculture program has helped 150 cropping and grazing farmers apply improved practices across more than 20,000 hectares to manage soil carbon and reduce erosion risk.

Stewart Hansen from Jimbour is just one of the many farmers in the Condamine catchment who understands the important role of groundcover.

Stubble saves soil

According to Stewart Hansen, the soil on his 185-hectare property near Jimbour is “just beautiful”.

So when 140 millimetres of rain threatened to wash it away during a recent downpour, he was grateful for the wheat stubble that held it fast.

“If we didn’t have the stubble on the paddock that night, it would have been a mess,” the long-time farmer said.

“I’d hate to think what it would have been like.”

“You can replace fences and stock but once your soil is washed away you can kiss it goodbye.”

Wheat stubble saved Stewart’s soil that night and he’s not going to forget it.

Since moving to ‘Lyndhurst’ from his previous farm near Murgon, he’s had the property professionally surveyed to check the contours and gradient.

Next, he plans to fence along the creek and grow groundcover between it and his lucerne and grain crops.

The big plan is to move to a zero till and controlled traffic operation.

“One of the first things I did when I moved to the property was remove the internal fences and plough everything,” Stewart said.

“I noticed that any bit of rain would cause little gullies to form because the soil is so soft.”

“I knew then that I had to have groundcover and stubble to control water run-off and prevent it from washing my soil away.”

It’s a good thing he did otherwise some of that “beautiful soil” would not be there today.

Quick facts about erosion management

What is it?

Soil erosion is the loss of soil caused mainly by wind and water.

Why is it important?

Wind and water erosion removes soil, nutrients and organic matters essential for plant growth. A single erosion event can result in the loss of soil that took tens, even hundreds of years to form.

What can we do?

Soil erosion is often accelerated under agriculture, especially on cropped land. The best ways to manage soil erosion are:

  • Retain stubble
  • Maintain groundcover
  • Grass or vegetate natural watercourses
  • Avoid overgrazing
  • Reduce or avoid tillage
  • Manage water run-off