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The evolution of water control in modern farming systems: a case study of D & S Turner, Brookton, WA

Knell, G. and Butcher, T. (2019) The evolution of water control in modern farming systems: a case study of D & S Turner, Brookton, WA. 2019. [Publication] [Special Collections]

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Summary

Darrell and Suzanne Turner’s WISALTS journey began after Darrell’s father David became a firm believer of the WISALTS method. Their family’s first introduction to Harry Whittington’s work was in early 1970’s when Harry established a bank from one of their waterholes to the Aldersyde-Kweda road. They witnessed the bank running water and to this day it still does.

It was in the mid 1980’s that the first test of major renovations began, Tom Mills (WISALTS Quairading) came and surveyed an 8 kilometre bank. This bank was constructed as a double push dozer bank which had a good result initially, this confirmed to Darrell and his father that they were on the right track. However, over time the clay broke down and the bank began to leak in the sandy areas, which created other problems. To counter this problem, WISALTS decided to test whether lining the sand seams with a plastic barrier would stop the leak.

The majority of work began in the mid 1990’s with the installation of banks and plastic in the deeper sand areas. This method proved more effective than the traditional double push method, however, there were still some issues with water moving around the edges of plastic. By the late 1990’s after a WISALTS discussion with Harry and Laurie Adamson (WISALTS Quairading) it was decided that plastic should be used in all the banks as it gave a more effective and durable seal. At this time Darrell began working with Noel Powell, purchasing a shared excavator to make this labour-intensive job more efficient. From 1998 to 2005 Darrell and Noel worked together to install many kilometres of plastic lined banks on their farms and properties throughout the district.

Recently Darrell has begun filling in the banks and leaving the plastic lining. This has allowed machinery to operate over the plastic barriers and the paddocks could be worked as normal without the obstacle of the banks.

The results from installing Interceptor Barriers (plastic lined trench with-out a surface bank) gave a significant reduction in waterlogged areas and a more even distribution of water over the landscape. It stopped the water accumulating in seepage areas (sand plain seeps) and retained the water higher in the landscape for the crop to use. The recent filling in of banks has also eliminated weed problems caused by the banks.

The plastic lined method has also helped to stem water flow from neighbour’s properties (see case study 1). This has allowed areas to remain productive and prevent or slow the spread of salinity.

Darrell’s rational for installing Interceptor Barriers are driven by increases in productivity with environmental benefits as a bonus.

The vision for the future is a continuation of installing plastic barriers starting at the top of the hill and a program to fill in the old banks to take advantage of GPS technologies and weed control. With knife points, stubble retention and 100% cropping there is no longer a need to manage surface water flow.

This publication is part of the WISALTS (Whittington Interceptor Sustainable Agriculture Land Treatment Society Incorporated) Collection.

Item Type: Special Collections
Collection: WISALTS Collection
Copyright: © 2019 WISALTS
Notes: 1 digital file : 3 MB
URI: http://researchrepository.murdoch.edu.au/id/eprint/46823
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