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  • Writer's pictureGlenn Christie

Impacts of Heavy Rain

I was pondering the LinkedIn posts showing video of road washouts & whirlpools resulting from truly staggering amounts of rain across this weekend here in arid South Australia.

I lamented the sheer amount of topsoil, nutrient, soil crust & seed bank that has been scoured off these properties & deposited way, way downstream…

This amount of rain can be truly destructive & heartbreaking… Then; then, I thought about these amounts of rain on our revegetation sites, (there be 4 big ones), in the Port Augusta region; the Ash Dam, Bird Lake, Cultana Army Base & PAREP Solar & Wind Farm. They have coloniser plants on them; numbers in the region of 15 plants per m2; they have healthy populations of soil critters & lizards; these sites & their soils can absorb these sorts of rains… If this is the case, then all this water has soaked in & will absolutely fire up all sorts of germination, transpiration (& seed production….).

This got me to thinking; the last Ash Dam monitoring was in mid October last year (4 years of data folks; 320 hectares of revegetation in the arid zone; landscape scale data to “die for”). That monitoring showed there was a total of 26 million plants on site…. That was October….

Then came 105mm of rain across November, (which I reckon would’ve doubled the number of plants to 50 million…) & now, these past 4 days, another 50mm.

☔️☔️☔️☔️ = 🌱🌱🌱🌱 Let’s stick with 50 million plants, (there’ll be far more but…) & go with a seed production of 10g each (on average). I love doing these sums, so I got to it. 50 million x 10g = 500,000,000g = 500 tonnes I’ll say that again; 500 tonnes of seed produced by 50 million plants across 320 hectares… Wanna know the value of 500 tonnes of arid zone, salt tolerant seed? 🤔 Our current per tonne price (with a 40 species mix) is $150/kg (& that’s way cheap compared to our competition)… So…. $75 million; yep, clean your glasses folks; $75,000,000 worth of seed…. This will be produced for zero outlay, (because we were able to choose & seed our preferred mix of colonisers 4 years ago on the Ash Dam). Think of how much leaf litter & (inevitable) dead plants all this seed will produce; the leap in carrying capacity; the extra amount of beetles, ants, wasps, bees, termites (earthworms?), spiders, lizards & small flycatcher birds this seed will enable.. How much soil will be made from this eruption of productivity?! How much faster will the growth of shrubs & trees be because the soil is so supercharged with captured moisture & nutrients catalysed by this rain & all these colonisers? And what would be the carbon value of this supercharged productivity? Huge, potentially destructive amounts of rain in the arid zone can be captured, tamed & turned into value; both carbon & ecological. Oh, so much to ponder, (& to challenge current restoration thinking with!). Thoughts? 🤔

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