Wayne and Karen Moroney, dairy farmers from Eskdale, have reclaimed 40 acres of blackberry-infested land for grazing with the intention of using it to raise their heifers. — Community Stories: Reclaiming Productive Land From Blackberries

Wayne and Karen Moroney, dairy farmers from Eskdale, have reclaimed 40 acres of blackberry-infested land for grazing with the intention of using it to raise their heifers.

This was the focus of a series of field days supported by the Mitta to Murray Blackberry Action Group, the North East Catchment Management Authority’s ‘Mentor Farms Program’ and the Mitta to Murray Landcare Network.

The process of reclaiming the 40 acre block began in February 2014 with chemical treatment, followed by the removal of dead blackberry canes between April 2014 and February 2015. In March 2015 the blackberry regrowth was sprayed, the block was ploughed and treated with lime and planted with oats.

The reclaimed land is now being used for grazing young heifers, the future milkers of the dairy, which in the past have been sent off property at great expense to the business.

 

‘My dad used to send heifers away to northern, warmer river flats for finishing off, but that’s an expensive option. It’s much easier and cheaper to manage from an existing resource’, Karen said.

 

Wayne and Karen have invested a great deal of time and resources into this project with approximately $8,000 spent on contractors and materials, including fencing materials, chemicals, lime and fertiliser.

According to Karen the 80 hours of labour put in themselves was equally important. ‘Like many dairy farmers, we are time poor and other priorities kept coming up’, Karen said. The fact that money is a limiting factor means paying contractors $50hr to do the initial blackberry control was not an option. The Moroney’s are acutely aware of the need to maintain this 40 acre resource for years to come by promoting competition against weed species, in particular blackberry. A carefully managed grazing and weed management program will go a long way in achieving this. Read more stories in the latest VBTNews