Land management after a bushfire
Call the PIRSA recovery hotline if you need help with land management.
After a bushfire, burnt areas can be protected from further damage, and rehabilitated through minimising land, water and wind erosion.
Minimise soil disturbance by:
- keeping stock off the land
- stopping vehicles from driving across the land
- fencing off particularly vulnerable areas.
Use shade cloth and iron droppers to set up temporary wind breaks to stop soil accumulating around troughs and gateways.
Fence off partially burnt paddocks
Where only part of a paddock is burnt, consider putting up temporary (electric) fencing. This will protect the burnt land and allow plants to grow, provide surface cover and anchor the soil. Weed control can be used when plants are at a surface cover growth stage.
Rain on bare, sloping land, and particularly on sandy or clay soils, won’t soak in but will run off. Slow the flow of water by building sediment fences along drainage lines and on hillsides. There is a video to help you build a sediment fence.
Areas susceptible to wind sweep can be ripped using a tyned implement such as a rabbit ripper or pipeline laying ripper. This will bring clods of soil to the surface to act as a wind barrier on the soil surface. Ripping on sandy soils is ineffective unless subsoil clay is brought to the surface. Clay spreading or delving might be an option if suitable clay is available or present in the subsoil.
After a fire, rain can move ash and silt into dams. Check dams for dark water, a bad smell and black or bright green scum. Aerate the water to improve the quality so it can be given to livestock. Build sediment fences to trap debris and soil before it reaches a watercourse or dam.
Growing feed on burnt land
Plants that bury their seed or have growing points below the surface should survive a fire. Perennial plants with larger crowns (more root mass underground) can be expected to survive, so established phalaris, lucerne and native grasses should regenerate well.
Some annual grasses produce very little dormant seed so fire could drastically reduce the number of these.
Wild oats, brome grass and silver grass seed can persist for a long time in the soil and will be most likely to regenerate.
Salvation Jane and Geranium will take advantage of the lack of competition on bare ground and grow prolifically.
Medic and clover seed on the soil surface will have been damaged or destroyed by fire but buried seed will have had some protection.
Farm recovery after a bushfire – Agriculture Victoria
Natural Resources – a South Australian Government website offering land management advice for specific regions.