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Beyond the Bale : Aug 07 - Sep 07
By Jane Milburn Where once he grew 1200 hectares of prime hard wheat, ueensland woolgrower Duncan Banks now grows old-man saltbush. The rains failed once too often, so instead of persisting with dryland winter wheat at Dirrandbandi, Duncan planted saltbush for sheep and cattle grazing. Saltbush was native to the Maranoa region, west of the Darling Downs, until it was grazed out by rabbits and livestock in the 1902 drought. Duncan replanted it from seedlings, which should grow into hardy, deep-rooted, drought-tolerant bushes. On their 4000-hectare property 'Dunwold', Duncan and his wife Gerry believe that when the saltbush country is in full production it will lift their carrying capacity to 10,000 DSE (dry sheep equivalent). The entire property is managed using cell grazing, which allows certified organic food and fibre production. They have fenced the saltbush into 20ha paddocks that are intensively grazed for 10 days and then rested for six to nine months to rejuvenate. This is a management tool to handle climate variability and change, which Duncan expects will return a margin similar to cropping once the saltbush is established. Nigel Brumpton and his wife Rosemary, from 'Baynham' at Mitchell, have been growing saltbush for the past 12 years and have planted about 450,000 bushes. The plan is for saltbush plants to maintain stock through drought and to break up some of the hard claypan country for better water infiltration. Nigel plants the saltbush in the same way he would a crop, by fallowing the land for about 12 months to build up the soil-moisture profile. He then uses a tree-planter A drought-inspired survival strategy Restoring native saltbush to dryland properties provides a hardy source of fodder for the hard times continued page 18 PHOTO: EVAN COLLIS Saltbush: "The sheep seem to like it." 17 CLIMATE CHANGE BEYOND THE BALE
Aug 07 - Sep 07 Supplement
Jun 07 - Jul 07 Supplement