Lindsay Smith, retired farmer and Chairman of Snape Reserve, near Little Desert National Park, talks to John Francis about the impact of drought, mineral sands mining and tree planting on river health, and how farmers have adapted to drought.
Further InformationTRANSCRIPT OF DROUGHT STORIES INTERVIEW EXCERPT 13
Lindsay Smith: I think, ‘til we get environmental flows, and management of that under control again, and we’ve got some major problems on our river anyway, we’ve got two areas called Polkemmet, and the other one’s Tarranyurk, where we’ve got major seepage, from our Parilla sands, and perhaps we should be buying that land back and putting the eucalypts back on the top, because that’s the problem with it, it’s built up and it’s now flowing into the river. It would have flowed into the river, but it wouldn’t have flowed in at the rate it’s doing it today. So, even with the lesser rainfall we’re still getting these flows, so I think, I’d hate to see, that pollies, and the management, over-commit our system again.
John Francis (interviewer): Yes.
Lindsay Smith: And I think we should work on the lowest denominators, I have a big fear, of mineral sands, every mineral sands mine, wants 10 thousand megalitres a year, and that would wipe out all the savings of it, if it went haywire, so I just hope common sense prevails.
John Francis: Do you think that, you know, tree clearing by the early farmers, you know, when they’ve just gone in and completely denuded areas of any vegetation, has been a major contributor towards climate change, and the droughts?
Lindsay Smith: Oh it’s certainly contributed, and I dare say in the future it’ll, it will be monitored, and be able to correctly estimate what’s going to happen. It’s interesting, the Greening Australia have done some tree measuring up at Snape Reserve, because of the growth we’ve go on our early revegetation, they are checking the amount of carbon it’s collecting, trees have been measured, and sent away to Canberra for assessment, so there is a lot of work going in the background, already.
John Francis: Mm.
Lindsay Smith: But we kind of got over-enthusiastic, to clear our country.
John Francis: Mm.
Lindsay Smith: And I think if we’d done the approach today, it’d be done a lot different.
John Francis: Mm. So, as that is one of our lessons learned, and do you think there’s any other lessons that we can be, and that we can learn from what happened in past practices, and what we can do to future proof ourselves from severe droughts like this?
Lindsay Smith: Oh, I think, one of the biggest changes I see, and it always staggers me, with the amount of rain that we’ve been getting over the last few years, is the changes in agricultural methods; oh I’m seeing less crop burning, less fallowing, different methods are being used today, to, when I was home on the farm we normally worked the fallow once a month, to maintain the weeds, now that doesn’t happen today, to, some people are down there spraying their paddocks twice and that’s it, and they sow their crop in; we certainly are getting less dust storms than we used to, and we’ve been through some very dry conditions, so it would have been normal to expect some fairly good dust storms (laugh).
John Francis: Mm.
Lindsay Smith: But, we’ve still got a long way to go, yet, you know, but…
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