Central Qld Permaculture - Tips for hot, dry climates

Discussion in 'Planting, growing, nurturing Plants' started by Benn, Jul 24, 2003.

  1. Benn

    Benn Junior Member

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    Hi everyone,
    I just moved to Gladstone, Central Qld, from NSW. Living on 50ha property, working with young people "at risk" introducing them to permaculture.
    The hot, dry climate (with some frosts) is new to me. The property is ex orchard (only mangoes still surviving), so mainly grass, with some natives along a seasonal creek. There are chooks and a pig tractor system already established. I am considering olives, dates, figs etc a la geoff "greening the desert". Although the area is not quite as harsh as the dead sea valley. Am I totally off track with this? Are there other sp I should be looking at?
    All our water at the moment comes from two bores and a very low spring-fed billabong. The bore water is very hard, so I'm reluctant to plant systems that will require a lot of irrigation. I hope at some stage to get some dam(s) put in, but has to be passed by committees etc and may take a while.
    Another issue is that most of my time is taken up with the young people and preparing programs, so I don't want to plant heaps and then have no time to maintain the systems.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Although this has a bit of a whinging tone to it - I do realise how lucky I am to have this job, and I'm having a ball :D
    Cheers,
    Benn :p
     
  2. permaculture.biz

    permaculture.biz Junior Member

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    Hi Benn,

    Good on ya for what you're getting into. I'd recommend highly getting a copy of Jeff Nugent's Permaculture Plants book to steer you in the right direction. Jeff's on this list and his ear's probably just pricked up - you can get his book at Permaculture Plants. A trick of mine - though certainly not exclusive to me - is when I go to a new area I scout around and look over fences and get a feel for what vegetation types and species themselves are possible in an area, looking for analogues all the way. That way you limit the experience of failure especially if you are looking at having a dryland system in the absence of decent water.

    Don't just limit yourself to food plants - there are a host of other utility species available that have ever increasing values. Dryland timber production is a cost effective means of sustainably developing landscapes for high value longer term rewards. Furthermore forest management is less time consuming than tree crop management which fits your bill. There are many species in QLD that have a very high value. The QLD DPI Forestry website has plenty of notes on all of this.

    Do you have a plan of the property? Aerial photos in QLD are cheap (around $40) as are orthophoto maps.

    On the water front - look at swales as an approach. In summer rainfall districts they are particularly effective. Dams set up in a keyline framework are the way to go. Certainly any cultivation/row development should direct water from gullies to ridges.

    All of this stuff you are talking about doing needs to be planned appropriately - even moreso when commitee's are involved. A good plan can knock their socks off and get all round enthusiasm for the project - not to mention open the way and present yourself better for additional funding.

    Good Luck,

    Darren Doherty
     
  3. Benn

    Benn Junior Member

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    Thanks Darren,
    Thats just the sort of info I need. I'm working on an overall plan for the property at the moment - daunting and exciting at the same time. Thinking of getting a small number of beef cows to cut back on the slashing that is currently done. Dividing paddocks with swales planted to low maintenance tree sp (timber sp would probably be a good idea here, as well as nut and forage trees). Does anyone have any info on pasture rotation and ideal rest periods?
    Cheers,
    Benn :D
     
  4. permaculture.biz

    permaculture.biz Junior Member

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    Hi Benn,

    The strategies you mentioned sound good - although take a look at integrating keyline in with all or at least some of it. Look also at locally suited fodder shrubs for edges of subdivision fencing.

    As far as pasture management is concerned electric fencing is the prime tool for keeping pastures managed as well as you can. Another issue is the soil mineral needs - I mention this every time I know but it's very important for stock health and to improving the palatability and nutrition of pastures- particularly on old properties without a good agronomic history. As for optimal rotation schedules you will need to find that out by getting your fencing system installed (designed in mind of efficient stock movement - laneways, access to water etc. ) then put a small herd in and time how long it takes to bring a paddock down to 2" then move them to the next paddock. Keep moving them (e-fence contour/keyline strip grazing is a great tool) and over time you will be able to get a feel for how long you'll be looking at. Pasture growth rates is a function of so many things - rainfall, pasture species, agronomic factors, season, stocking rates, grazing species etc. etc.

    Above all else the prime directive here is to plan well to provide for the needs of the system and create flexibility for changing circumstances - that is the dictum I follow in every design I ever have done or ever do.

    Cheers,

    DD
     

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