Surveys will land in farmer’s mailboxes across the Wimmera this week as part of Australia’s longest running research project of its type.
Professor Allan Curtis and Dr Emily Mendham from Charles Sturt University are leading the rural landholder survey for Wimmera Catchment Management Authority.
The University sent the surveys to a random selection of landholders of small and large properties late last week.
The confidential survey, Social Drivers of NRM in the Wimmera, asks questions about long-term property plans and farmers’ views about the wetlands, rivers and streams on their land.
It also asks for views on native vegetation clearing, carbon farming, Aboriginal heritage and funding for on-farm environmental projects. Other topics include types of farming, farming practices, farmers’ preferred sources of information, succession planning and why your farm is so important to you.
It is the fourth survey in a long-term project to help guide bids for government investment into land and water management. Professor Allan Curtis has also led the previous Wimmera surveys in 2002, 2007 and 2011.
Wimmera CMA board chairperson Karen Douglas said survey results gave the CMA a comprehensive understanding of past and future trends in land management and the requirements and needs of landholders.
“The CMA pores over these results because they allow us to understand the issues facing farmers, and we can then strongly argue a case for projects and funding that will have the most impact and relevance for our region in the long-term,” she said.
“This knowledge from the grass roots also helps us strengthen the partnerships we have with the farming sector, which is really important when we are working on environmental projects on private land.”
Lah farmer David Drage, who has been a Wimmera CMA board member since 2013, filled out the 2011 survey because he was keen to contribute his farming knowledge and experience.
David’s family have farmed in the Lah district near Warracknabeal for more than 100 years. He said wanted to support the survey because he felt his story could help the CMA identify trends in the environment of the area he had lived his whole life.
“When I read through the survey I could see that a lot of powerful data would come out of the results and I wanted to support the CMA in trying to capture current and future trends.”