A recent study has highlighted the longer-term effects drought conditions have on the ability of catchments to secure water for productive use. Whether it is groundwater accessed by bores or surface water collected by stream flow and stored in dams, the impact of changing hydrology in Victoria’s catchments has been starkly presented in new research that indicates that many of Victoria’s river catchments did not recover for years after the Millennium Drought.
The study found that one third of Victoria’s river catchments had not recovered seven years after the drought ended in 2010. Hydrological droughts — the ways our rivers and aquifers respond — can continue long after the meteorological drought ends.
Catchments play a crucial role in sustaining ecosystem health and the research highlights the complexity in catchment response, and by extension the need to understand and manage catchment health at a local level.
Kilter Rural employs a team of environmental scientists and analysts to ensure its irrigated farmland operational practices are balanced with the objective of improving local and regional biodiversity outcomes From a catchment hydrology perspective the farmland is operated in sympathy with natural water flows, whether this is in the design of redeveloped irrigation or of revegetation programs. The rare instances of excess drainage from high-efficiency irrigation is directed into ephemeral ponds or onto environmental plantings.
Regular monitoring of natural assets underpins a commitment to delivering an environmental dividend, including:
- the water-table to ensure salinity depth remains at acceptable levels, and
- the condition of natural assets including native vegetation, soil and fauna under pending Accounting for Nature accredited methodologies.
One example of making a local regenerative impact has been the strong improvement in soil fertility in farmland managed by Kilter Rural between Swan Hill and Kerang. Kilter calculates that since 2015, management practices have helped remove an average of 1.9 tonnes of salt per hectare from the top metre of soil which had previously experienced many decades of salinisation from poor irrigation. These same soils are now producing industry-leading field tomato yields, including Australia’s largest organic field tomato production. This productivity uplift is just one example of how Kilter aims to examine, diagnose and remediate the environmental challenges that present within the farming landscapes. It is a testament to the benefits of a holistic approach to landscape management including the protection and remediation of native vegetation, soil, fauna and water.
To learn more about how we are currently applying these learnings in our open investments speak to our team.