April 2010

Red-Eared Slider Turtles – heard of them?  Heard of Cane Toads?  From what research officers at DPI’s Ellinbank facility described, some of their research may be critical to whether Victoria has to contend with a pest problem as damaging as the cane toad blight in Australia’s tropical north.

This study was among those presented to the WOF group when our monthly visit in April took us to Ellinbank.  Here we were hosted and feasted on current research presentations.  Now, back to the Red-Eared Slider Turtles which were brought into Australia as ‘pets’ from the USA and which, when foolishly released into dams and creeks seriously threaten native aquatic species.  DPI officers cautioned that this research is new and thus tentative.  We all felt that we needed to spread the word to keep an eye out for unusual dark shelled and red-eared turtles in local dams, streams and public reserves.  See them – call the DPI!

Other topics presented included studies into behaviour and psychology of dairy cows.  A benefit of this work is appreciating how to maximise cows’ trust and stability in order to minimise potential loss of milk production.  Down the hill we inspected large feed pads and undercover feeding areas where experiments are undertaken into the impact of different regimes of fodder and cow management.  The DPI milk a total herd count of up to 500 cows, with various studies into feeding strategies, methane minimisation and drought preparedness in place.

Climate and rainfall patterns, as linked to global barometric changes, are part of the climate change studies.  Separately there is a well-researched and supported program for new landholders needing to understand the land: soil health, weed management and pest control, for example.  This valuable help is freely available upon enquiry through new.landholders@dpi.vic.gov.au.

All in all, DPI impressed everyone with the range of activities being undertaken on our doorstep.  We saw the evident commitment of the staff involved in such important support for the rural community in Gippsland.

Women of all ages are welcome to join Women on Farms.  The key criterion is an interest in farming and farming women – you do not have to be a farmer to participate.  Our next monthly visit will be on Tuesday 4 May to a ‘free stall barn dairy farm at Nilma North.   Phone the Secretary for more details – Jean Irvine on 56221236, or for the 2010 calendar of activities go to  www.womenonfarms.org

For enquiries about this article, please contact:

Mary Hughes, Ph. 03 5628 4195.