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Adoption of Best Management Practices


Replacement of native vegetation with shallow rooted pastures and crops since European settlement of Victoria has contributed to an increase in many forms of land degradation - including salinity, soil erosion, soil acidification and soil structural decline. Certain cropping practices adopted by farmers, such as intensive cultivation of soil before sowing, fallowing or stubble burning can also accelerate these conditions.

Photo: View of Pyrenees Range (from Mt Cole)

The regional catchment management strategies developed by Catchment Management Authorities set out objectives for reducing land degradation processes. One of the major components of the catchment management regional strategies is to promote sustainable agriculture and land management practices. These practices include conservation cropping, introduction and management of perennial pasture species, regeneration of remnant vegetation and tree planting. These are often referred to as 'Best Management Practices'.

This project was funded by the former Natural Heritage Trust and provided an opportunity to understand the trends in adoption of Best Management Practices (BMP) in cropping and grazing industries across Victorian catchment management regions. It has also provided the opportunity to identify what the achievements have been and where further work is required.

Results have been broken into three key components: conservation cropping, pasture and community attitudes.
Photo:  Land Use Birchip David Smith

Conservation Cropping

Soil structure decline, soil erosion, loss of soil nutrients and soil salinity are major land degradation issues on cropland in Victoria. These conditions can be accelerated by certain cropping practices adopted by farmers. Intensive cultivation of soil before sowing, long periods of fallow between crops and total removal or burning of stubble can be major contributors to these forms of degradation. The use of tillage methods, stubble management practices and fallowing have been selected as indicators of the use of sustainable cropping practices.

In this site you can find the summary report on the
adoption of conservation cropping practices in Victoria with links to full reports for major cropping regions: Mallee, Wimmera, North Central and North East.
Photo:  Land Use Cropping David Smith

Pasture management

Replacement of woodlands and native perennial grasslands with introduced annual pasture species has resulted in an increase in salinity, soil acidification and soil erosion. The establishment and improved management of deep rooted perennial pastures on agricultural land is a long standing practice to control many forms of land degradation. These practices are widely recommended in catchment management plans as strategies to reduce the rise of ground water tables and to reduce the rate of soil acidification. Perennial pasture resowing rates and top dressing of perennial pastures are selected as indicators of the extent of
adoption of sustainable pasture management practices.
Photo:  Granite Hills near Waubra

On this site is the summary report on the adoption of pasture management practices in Victoria which has links to full reports for all Victorian catchment management regions.

Community attitudes

The successful implementation of Catchment Management Strategies relies on the degree of commitment of the community towards environmental and sustainable resource management programs. Australia is predominantly an urbanised country. Therefore not only the rural community but also the attitudes of the urban population play a vital role. Without the support of the urban population these programs will not be politically sustainable. This section presents the results of a longitudinal monitoring of Victorians' concerns for catchment protection issues and environmental issues in general.

Follow this link to the summary report on the Community attitudes to environmental issues: statewide and regional overview in urban and rural Victoria which in turn has a link to a more detailed report.
Image:  BMP Montage small
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