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Beyond the Bale : May 2010
& Wool revisited May 2010 BEYOND THE BALE WOOL PRODUCTION 15 and chair of the program's Sustainable Wool Advisory Group Tom Dunbabin, the Land, Water & Wool program has put the Australian wool industry at the forefront of world knowledge on sustainable grazing- land management. "Prior to the program, woolgrowers were faced with the difficulty of finding relevant information on sustainable natural resource management techniques applicable to their industry which still addressed the commercial realities of running a complex grazing business," Tom says. "In many ways, Land, Water & Wool filled that gap. The program worked with more than 4200 woolgrowers to identify and find answers for the environmental research questions of most importance to them. "It increased woolgrowers' awareness and adoption of improved environmental management practices at the farm and regional scale. "These environmental practices can be used, in support of marketing programs, to demonstrate to our customers that Australian woolgrowers are producing wool -- a natural product -- in a way that is compatible with good environmental stewardship." Tom says the information resources from the program continue to provide practical ways for woolgrowers to improve the environment, while helping them make more money. "The manuals, guides, fact sheets and case studies are as relevant today as when they were first issued," Tom says. "I urge all woolgrowers to take a look, and find management options that will benefit both the environmental health of their property and their bottom line." More information: All the publications from the Land, Water & Wool program, including the Managing for Sustainable Profit report, which contains the key findings from the program for woolgrowers, are available at www.wool.com/lww. Also of relevance is the 'Protect Your Farm's Natural Assets' module from the Making More From Sheep best practice manual at www.makingmorefromsheep.com.au world's best top makers and spinners. 'Blaxland' was purchased by James' father in 1958, and has been managed by James and Caroline since 1985. Their aim has been to develop the pastures and lift the productivity of 'Blaxland' to generate sufficient income for their family, while also repairing environmental damage and developing a more sustainable farm ecosystem. Like many woolgrowers, they want to "leave the farm in a more sustainable state than when we took over". James and Caroline have restored tree cover at 'Blaxland' in the form of planted blocks and windbreaks. They estimate they have planted nearly 100,000 trees so far, in 20 kilometres of tree lines and 20 hectares of block plantings. "Our aim has been to provide shelter for both stock and wildlife, creating blocks and corridors, increasing biodiversity and encouraging a healthier ecosystem," Caroline says. "The blocks are useful for sheep off- shears, while the windbreaks around each paddock shelter livestock and pastures no matter what the wind direction. The blocks also provide habitat for small birds, while the shrub and tree lines provide the protection to allow them to move across the property. "We have saved thousands of dollars worth of stock each time we use the blocks for sheep off-shears. In other words, we have paid for every tree we will ever plant." The Streets fence out remnant native vegetation of high conservation value to help protect and enhance the natural values of such areas. They also use wetlands and rock weirs to mend gully erosion on their property, and have fenced off some of their dams as a nature conservation measure. "Woolgrowers have to increasingly consider the environmental implications of all their business decisions, and think of themselves as environmental business managers," James says. "As well as being important for the marketing of the Australian clip, woolgrowers really do have a duty of care to look after and enhance the resource base. We can all do something to make a difference." Four-row multi-species windbreaks providing stock shelter, wildlife corridors and links between vegetated areas across Caroline and James Streets' farm at Walcha, NSW. Tasmanian woolgrower Tom Dunbabin: "Farmers have a strong affinity and care for the land they manage. Their 'sense of place' is a fundamental core value for them, which can be harnessed to meet the environmental challenges facing agricultural land management."