Things of stone and hay - students build dams to prevent soil loss

Published:02 December 2019

TOP IMAGE: Seated are Raymond Dregmans (Horticulture student), Kay Pearson (Horticulture Teacher), Todd Watts (Conservation and Land Management student), Julie Dash (Conservation and Land Management student). Standing are Jayde Vycke (Conservation and Land Management student), Jesse Miles (Conservation and Land Management student), Bernie Claussen (Senior Land Management Officer with FBA). BELOW: Construction of porous check dams to prevent soil loss in gullies.

CQUniversity students have quite literally gone up a few dry gullies to hone their practical experience of HorticultureConservation and Land Management.

Ridgelands landholders Chantal and Chris Booth welcomed the students, who were guided by Horticulture Teacher Kay Pearson and the Fitzroy Basin Association (FBA) Senior Land Management Officer, Bernie Claussen.

The students gained practical credits towards a range of units by pitching in and using hay and stone to construct a total of six porous check dams, which help prevent soil loss in gullies.

These dams encourage sediment to drop out of the water column, enabling debris (including seeds) to be caught, promoting the establishment of vegetation along the gully floor.

Students travelled from Cairns, Biloela and Rockhampton to be involved.

Conservation and Land Management student Julie Dash welcomed the chance to get hands-on knowledge.

"We learned how the FBA works with the CSIRO and various landholders to understand the soil erosion issues, in order to plan the check dams and diversion banks," Julie says.

Cairns-based Registered Nurse Mark Phillips said he thoroughly enjoyed the Ridgelands excursion and even saw some parallels between his current profession and his longer-term interest in land management and conservation.

"It was interesting to learn for example that trees have their own immune system," Mark says.

"We can use education, prevention and early intervention to reduce disease in the body and likewise the same concepts can be used to avoid land degradation.

"I have worked on remote Indigenous communities as a nurse and am interested in returning to those areas one day to help bring the environment back to health."