Irrigation farm planning promotes cultural heritage management

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A recent irrigation farm plan application from beef farmers in Stratford triggered an in-depth extension process which resulted in positive outcomes for the irrigators, the environment and cultural heritage values.

Agriculture Victoria developed a concept plan as part of the normal farm planning process which outlined a significant area of cultural heritage sensitivity on the property.

The proposed irrigation re-use dam was inside the cultural heritage overlay (Figures 1 and 2), and as such, triggered a more in-depth review process.

Areas of cultural heritage sensitivity overlay on property

Figure 1. Areas of cultural heritage sensitivity overlay (beige) on the property (yellow line).

The extension officer used two government survey tools: the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Guide, and the Aboriginal Cultural Heritage Register and Information System (ACHRIS).

These tools were pertinent in determining whether cultural heritage management plans or cultural heritage permits would be required. In this instance, the online assessments indicated that there was no need for further investigation.

The extension officer advised the farmers to speak with First Peoples State Relations and (GLaWAC) for further clarification.

First Peoples State Relations advised that because the reuse dam did not require a licence it would not trigger the requirement for a Cultural Heritage management plan or permit, but that if any artifacts were uncovered during earthworks they must halt immediately and contact First Peoples State Relations staff (Figure 3).

Following this advice, the landowners still wanted to minimise the earth works in this area to help protect any possible cultural heritage.

During the consultation process on the farm plan, the irrigation extension officers had also provided feedback that the amount of pipe work for the re-use dam system could be significantly reduced if the location, shape and depth of the dam were changed.

The final plan saw the re-use dam designed much shallower and longer, greatly reducing the cost of pipe required and the risk of potentially disturbing cultural heritage artifacts.

Revised irrigation farm plan snippet showing final location and redesign of re-use dam

Figure 2, Revised irrigation farm plan snippet showing final location and redesign of re-use dam.

This was an excellent example of extension services provided by Agriculture Victoria providing the best outcomes for the environment, cultural heritage protection and financial outcomes for the landowner.

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