A report for Mallee Sustainable Farming Inc, commissioned by Natural Resources South Australian Murray Darling Basin and the Mallee Catchment Management Authority in Victoria, provides a summary and analysis of a survey of 80 Mallee farmers with seeps issues across the South Australian and Victorian Mallee region. It is aimed at making an initial assessment as to the extent, severity and possible causes of Mallee Seeps. This information will be used to help find practical solutions and secure funding for further research, extension and assistance.
The Mallee Seeps Survey essentially comprised of 15 questions that either asked for specific responses of hectares involved of location details, or multiple answers farmers could choose appropriate responses from, with some questions allowing for more than one answer. There was also opportunity for farmers to provide other answers with personal comments. A copy of the Survey is shown below in Appendix 1. The majority of responses were recorded online by the farmers using a link to SurveyMonkey, while some completed paper surveys or were interviewed over the phone, after the survey was advertised at numerous field days and through emails, newsletters, rural media, social media and personal contact.
Of the 80 respondents, 70 gave a location of their nearest town, and these sites are generally represented within Map 1, revealing a wide spread of locations across the SA and Vic Mallee, with some areas being more concentrated than others. Agricultural workers from these regions have estimated that the survey has been answered by approximately 1/3 of known farmers with seep issues across the districts. This is therefore considered to be an excellent response rate across the district and very representative of the breadth of the issue, given that that these surveys were gathered over October/November 2017 at a time when farmers were either preparing for or undertaking harvesting activities.
The report concludes with some estimations as to the potential extent and costs that could result over time if the problem is allowed to progress without remedial management. This is based on the current information provided within this survey and then extrapolated into future possibilities based on realistic assumptions that have been discussed with colleagues working within this field. While it is difficult to make accurate predictions for the future with the application of many variables, it does provide a clear indication as to the need for research and development, demonstration, extension and assistance in the area of mallee seeps, if there is going to be significant action taken to remediate this serious issue.
View the full report here