Redbank Farm Landcare
Redbanks is a 380 hectare property, in north-west Tasmania operated by the Nichols family for over 20 years. An exemplary enter-prise for profitability and sustainability, almost one-third is natural bush, wetlands and revegetation areas. The farms natural assets combine with diversified rotational production, from poultry to cropping (1000 tonnes of potatoes annually, plus peas, poppies, broccoli, wheat and triticale), beef cattle and farm forestry. Regional Landcare issues include localised overclearing, erosion and water pollution. Since the Nichols adopted a nature conservation management plan in 1998, they have also launched several initiatives to improve crop yield, including manure application from intensive livestock areas, cover crops on bare ground during Tasmania’s wet winters, best-practice cropping rotation, mulched rip lines and a farm policy of only tilling flat ground. The steeper areas have been converted to commercial tree plantations or revegetated with native species to create wildlife corridors between bushland remnants. Nearly all creeks and waterways have been fenced and revegetated with local species. Shelterbelts provide cover for stock and crops. The 100 hectares of native bushland contains some of the most pristine remnant forest in the region, including white gum forests, blackwood stands and valuable old habitat trees. The farm also hosts a family of wedge-tailed eagles, and the threatened freshwater lobster and burrowing crayfish live in local creeks. Even with these best-practice initiatives, the Nichols still encounter challenges. Run-off from laneways has caused erosion and pollution, rectified by developing sumps and underground drains. The fenced-off areas of native bush and waterways have been invaded by blackberry bushes; these are removed either by hand or using bio-active Roundup. These areas have also become a haven for the Bennetts wallaby, which are kept off the paddocks and plantations by wallaby-proof fencing and occasional controlled culling. Most importantly, the Nichols have educated those around them that Landcare values do not conflict with production values by showing very clearly that the two can operate in harmony with great success.
Name: Andrew Nichols