Yesterday I got to meet and interview a soil scientist in the Coal River Valley. He had also been a farmer for much of his life (sheep). He worked with the Tasman Landcare Group, which is a local environmental stewardship nonprofit, in their effort to educate farmers about soil; in particular the changes to soil in this historically dry region now that they had access to government irrigation schemes. With the introduction of the Tasmanian Irrigation's (a public/private state corporation) scheme, water is piped into this region and new storage reservoirs for summer months have been built. The result has been significant change in land use and land cover in just a few years time. Now row crops, vines, orchards (one picture below is a walnut orchard) are planted throughout the valley. In the past, sheep farming had been dominant, and a lot of land in more marginal farming areas had remained untouched. My host invited me to his home, where we sat at his kitchen table, sweet dog at his feet, and his wife served us tea and cookies. He shared lots of local knowledge about life before and after the irrigation schemes, the impacts of water scarcity and climate change on this region, and an estimate that vineyard development has doubled in the last couple of years. Then we climbed in his truck and he gave me a little driving tour of the region, pointing out land use change, ownership and development patterns, and locations of irrigation scheme infrastructure (one picture below shows the large rotor irrigation equipment). The pictures are not the best from this day because of overcast weather, but I am including a few shots from the road... plus I had to stop and sample some local cheese on my way home.
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