08 Nov Julie-Ann Malan
Ms Julie-Ann Malan is a central Queensland University PhD student investigating the optimal placement of off-stream watering points for cattle to protect riparian ecosystems and improve in-stream water quality. She is also the HeArt of the Basin- Fitzroy River Health partnership scholarship recipient for 2017.
Offstream Watering Points For Cattle: Protecting Riparian Ecosystems And Improving Water Quality ?
Agriculture is a prominent global contributor to land and water degradation. With an international push to increase food production to feed the world by 2050, the agricultural industry is likely to continue to expand. The presence of cattle within riparian zones is a common feature of grazing ventures, but can negatively impact on the functionality of riparian ecosystems. A healthy riparian ecosystem is essential to maintain instream water quality by increasing bank stability and prevent soil loss within river systems, which in turn may affect coastal water quality. The provision of offstream watering points (OSWPs) as an alternative watering source for cattle may lessen or prevent the impact cattle have on the riparian zone. A systematic review was conducted to identify: 1) which factors influence how cattle use OSWPs, and 2) if the provision of an OSWP is an effective best management practice to reduce the time cattle spent in riparian zones, potentially limiting the impact cattle may have on instream water quality and riparian habitat particularly stream bank vegetation. A total of 37 from 1135 research papers searched, satisfied the initial selection criteria for the review with seven providing sufficient information to conduct a meta-analysis. Out of the 37 papers a total of seven factors and five sub-factors influencing cattle’s use of OSWPs were identified. There is evidence that OSWPs did reduce the time cattle spent in riparian zones, however with great variation (63.7%) among studies. The review further highlighted that substantial knowledge gaps exist within the literature linking the interaction of cattle, OSWPs and riparian habitats indicating the need for further research.