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One of the first interventions we made on the property was trying out some very rough erosion control on this scoured patch on our boundary. Earthworks from recent fencing had disturbed the soil and invited headcuts to form. With help from Pete and Freya, we tentatively set up a couple of lo-fi erosion strategies, informed by the work of Watershed Artisans (formerly Dryland Solutions) and Brad Lancaster, both of whom we’ve gushed about before. We reshaped the main headcut to soften the overflow, and positioned some kind of mutant One Rock Dam/Zuni Bowl at an intersection between two small headcuts – not something I’d do again. We also positioned a One Rock Dam on contour above the entire area in an effort to slow and disperse water flow.

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A scoured, erosive patch, December 2012.

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Same patch, now with One Rock Dam above, reshaped headcut (on the right-hand side), and weird, One Rock Dam thingy on the left, January 2013.

We planted the area out in June 2013, and the kangaroos promptly ate every last planting. We replanted in July, and armoured some of the plantings with wire mesh and star-droppers. We revisited the spot a couple of days ago, 15 months after the first intervention. Some of the plants, including those in the cages, had died or been eaten, but many were springing back despite their punishment. The One Rock Dam above the erosion area has been successful, now covered with a thick mat of dry grass, and around the base of the rocks green shoots are pushing up, perhaps a consequence of dew running off the sides of the rocks and into the soil around their base. So too, the reshaped headcut is thick with dry grass, showing that it held and germinated seed over the winter and spring, rather than acting as an erosive channel. Against all odds, the weird intersection One Rock Dam kind-of worked as well, holding sediment, slowing flow, and even now in bare soil, offering the promise of a few green shoots.

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And now: the water flow has been slowed enough to promote grass growth in the channel, rock structures are buried under matted vegetation, April 2014.

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Even in some of the driest times of the year, the One Rock Dam on contour offers moisture for new growth, April 2014

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Weird One Rock Dam in erosion channel intersection, now covered with matted, dry vegetation, holding sediment on the upstream side and holding moisture for new growth, April 2014.

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What doesn’t kill you: a melaleuca has another go, April 2014.

It’s a dynamic, thoughtful process: observing, making an intervention, observing further. A process that hopefully moves us towards developing a way of understanding and working with the land and water nested within the unique conditions of this bioregion. It’s good to stay away from certain spots for a while, to resist the urge to intervene too often. Perhaps a next step would be to build brush weirs on contour over the bare patches further down. We’ll wait and see.

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