• SECTION 2

    Costs of Poor Riparian Management

The costs of giving stock access to your riparian land

The land alongside your waterways is probably the most productive on your farm, but it is also the most vulnerable to the damaging impacts of stock.

Thanks to its deeper soils and higher moisture content, riparian land often has good, green feed when the rest of the farm has dried off. Riparian areas offer more shade and shelter, and in hot weather it can be tempting to give your stock access so that they can cool off in the water.

It probably seems counter-intuitive, then, to restrict stock from your riparian land. Riparian areas are, however, easily damaged by stock that eat and trample the vegetation, destroy the soil structure, and release large amounts of dung and urine in and around the waterway.

Subsidies and other incentives are usually available to farmers to install watering systems when they agree to fence-off their riparian areas.

Erosion, the loss of shade and shelter, weed infestation, and algal growth: all caused by giving stock unrestricted access to the creek. Photo: Jillian Staton.

Some of the problems that can develop as a result of poor riparian management, and their negative impacts on farm productivity, waterway health and the community, are described below.

Photo: Siwan Lovett

Damage

Destruction of riparian grasses, trees and shrubs caused by eating and trampling.

Cost

Animal welfare issues, as a result of lost shade and shelter.

Reduced biodiversity, due to loss of food and habitat.

Ecosystem loses ability to capture and recycle carbon.

Photo: Stuart Naylor.

Damage

Erosion, because plant roots can no longer bind the soil.

Cost

Loss of valuable land and top soil.

Banks become unstable and dangerous for stock and people.

Photo: Stuart Naylor.

Damage

Loose, unprotected soil is dislodged by stock trampling and wading, and enters the waterway (turbidity and sedimentation).

Cost

Drainage problems caused by sediment build up.

Aquatic life declines due to lack of oxygen and restricted passage.

Photo: Jillian Staton

Damage

Increased water temperatures, due to loss of overhanging riparian vegetation.

Cost

Proliferation of nuisance algae.

Decline in native fish and other important aquatic organisms.

Loss of recreational amenities eg fishing, swimming, kayaking.

Photo: Stuart Naylor.

Damage

Urine and dung produced by stock in and around the waterway pollutes the water supply.

Cost

Spread of disease and parasites that affect both stock and humans.

Water no longer fit for stock or human consumption.

Algal growth.

Photo: Stuart Naylor.

Damage

Stock destroy the soil structure (pugging and compaction).

Cost

Native vegetation and grasses unable to grow.

Weeds proliferate.

Erosion, turbidity and sedimentation.

Photo: Stuart Naylor.

Damage

Riparian vegetation cannot slow the flow of water.

Cost

Erosion and sedimentation.

In heavy rain events, the risk of flood and loss of infrastructure (eg bridges, crossings), stock and human life.

Photo: Jillian Staton.

Damage

Riparian vegetation cannot filter the nutrients and sediment contained in run-off.

Cost

Fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides pollute the water supply.

Algal growth.

Turbidity and sedimentation.

Photo: Lori Gould.

Damage

The water table rises, because deep-rooted plants are not cycling rainwater.

Cost

Loss of valuable land through salinity or waterlogging.

Download a PDF copy of Section 2: Costs of poor riparian management.

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We have incentives available for managing stock around waterways on your farm…

Through our Rivers of Carbon program we can help you manage stock around waterways. We will visit your property and work with you to develop a plan for your waterway that may involve fencing, off-stream water, small-scale erosion works, and re-vegetation. 

Once we have an agreement in place on what we want to achieve together, we generally cover at least half of the costs involved in implementing the agreement. Click the button below to learn more about our program:

Rivers of Carbon program

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