Last week a farmer called us to discuss the value of incorporating shelterbelts into fodder plantings. Those who lamb in June will sometimes use fodder stands at this time, giving their pastures time to get away after the break. This is the time when sheep and lambs tend to be most vulnerable to windy cold fronts as they are still acclimatising to winter conditions.
Felicity, our Program Manager for Sustainable Industries, recalled a planting that had been done last year on a Dempster farm in Goomalling to enhance ground cover and feed gaps. The problem? The paddock has varying levels of salinity, so fodder expert, Phil Barret Lennard of Agvivo, suggested that the highly saline areas be planted with Old Man River and Anameka saltbush, with the less saline areas to be planted with a range of shelter species including Salt River Gum, Salt Gum, Sandhill wattle, One-sided bottle brush and Jam Wattle.
Well-designed shelterbelts typically include three to six rows of fairly dense plantings with species that will provide consistent cover from the ground to the upper story, such as with the species described above. They help prevent wind erosion but also provide important shelter for stock, with sheep benefiting especially during lambing and off-shear periods. The economic benefits from shelterbelts are proving to be well worth sacrificing a small amount of fodder for.
Our knowledge base is full of suggestions to landholders on how to deal with non-arable or marginal lands We have comprehensive information and studies we are always happy to share.
This project is supported by funding from the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.