One catchment at a time

The Mulloon Institute welcomed key ministers to its campus near Queanbeyan and Bungendore last week in the lead up to the inaugural Drought Summit.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Deputy Prime Minister Michael McCormack, Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources David Littleproud and Senator Jim Molan were able to see first-hand how landscape repair and rehydration work is already boosting drought resilience and agricultural output on the Mulloon Institute’s farms.

Mulloon Creek in 2015. The area was steadily revived over the course of four decades via careful management.

Mulloon Creek in 2015. The area was steadily revived over the course of four decades via careful management.

According to the institute’s chairman Gary Nairn AO, the future of agricultural productivity in Australia will rest on farms being resilient to drought and being able to survive increasingly extreme ranges of climate. 

“We want to say to farmers and governments that we have a solution; we have a way to rehydrate and regenerate the Australian landscape and make our landscapes more resilient to extreme climatic conditions,” said Mr Nairn.

While regenerative agriculture is a term becoming more common as stories continue to surface of farmers who embrace it doing well in these trying times, it is something that the Mulloon Institute has been practicing and researching for over ten years.

The Mulloon Institute’s flagship project in southern New South Wales is a unique catchment-scale model for holistic landscape repair that can be adapted by communities across Australia to heal and rehabilitate the land and turn it into stable, resilient and productive landscapes.

Mulloon Creek in the 1970s. The creek and surrounding area were suffering from erosion and lack of vegetation.

Mulloon Creek in the 1970s. The creek and surrounding area were suffering from erosion and lack of vegetation.

An initial trial project in 2006 incorporating the Natural Sequence Farming (NSF) work of Peter Andrews OAM was established at Tony Coote’s Mulloon Creek Natural Farms property east of Queanbeyan with great success. 

Over 10 years that project resulted in a 60 percent boost to productivity on adjoining agricultural land while the creek was transformed into a healthy, vibrant ecosystem capturing flood sediments, recycling nutrients and providing valuable habitat.

The wider catchment also saw improvements in water quality, water yield, and enhanced biodiversity from tackling soil erosion, habitat fragmentation and weed proliferation.

This has now been expanded to the Mulloon Community Landscape Rehydration Project (MCLRP) which encompasses the entire water catchment, spanning 23,000 hectares and 50 kilometres of creeks and tributaries, and involving more than 20 landholders.

Left to right: Peter Andrews OAM, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Gary Nairn AO. Photo: Kelly Thorburn.

Left to right: Peter Andrews OAM, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Gary Nairn AO. Photo: Kelly Thorburn.

It is anticipated to have an equally significant impact on local agricultural productivity, waterway and landscape health, albeit on a far more extensive scale.

The drought isn’t over, but future proofing is needed to prepare for the next one.