Marcus Richardson, Larakoona
Table Top, NSW
Marcus Richardson runs Larakoona, a 2200-acre Angus beef property in southern NSW. The property nestles up against the striking Table Top Mountain near Albury and the property’s dams were, by 2018, showing the effects of severe drought. For Marcus, as for many farmers, the drought and low water levels provided an opportunity to muck out silted-up dams on the property.
Crucially, Marcus had also begun to think about how he might be able to protect these vital assets into the future. Marcus attended a Sustainable Farms field day at Wirrianda, and saw how the farm dams – fenced between three and twenty years ago – provided an excellent demonstration of the construction and effectiveness of the hardened access point, as well as how the grassy buffer zone around the dam captured sediment and dung.
Marcus observed the improved water quality in the fenced dam, and was impressed by the aesthetic appeal of the enhanced dam with its fringing trees and active birdlife. He recalls that looking at the Wirrianda dam and hearing from the Sustainable Farms field ecologist “gave me the opportunity to see firsthand the improvement of the dam environment [that] fencing creates…” and to recognise the multiple benefits that would come from fencing dams, including reducing the need to remove metres of silt from his dams in future.
Marcus has now fenced six dams at Larakoona with the support of funding provided by Murray Local Land Services and distributed by Holbrook Landcare. Some of these dams have been actively planted with native plants. As part of this investment, Marcus also trialed different options for stock access and types of fencing.
As well as the many benefits the newly improved farm dams will provide for production, biodiversity, water security and aesthetics, they are now being monitored as part of the Sustainable Farms farm dams study. Thus, they will contribute to this unique research and extension project, enabling farmers access to ongoing evidence for how best to improve these key assets.
"It’s a big change of mindset for a farmer to say, 'I’m going to restrict stock access to a water point.' It’s a big practice change. But I wanted to be doing a little something during the drought, and I thought, this has a production benefit, an environmental benefit and an aesthetic benefit. I think it wins three ways. Triple bottom line." – Marcus Richardson
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