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The Brigalow Catchment Study: II. Clearing brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) for cropping or pasture increases runoff

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Thornton, C.M., Cowie, B.A., Freebairn, D.M. and Playford, C.L. (2007) The Brigalow Catchment Study: II. Clearing brigalow (Acacia harpophylla) for cropping or pasture increases runoff. Australian Journal of Soil Research, 45 (7). pp. 496-511. ISSN 0004-9573


Article Link: https://doi.org/10.1071/SR07064


The Brigalow Catchment Study (BCS) was established to determine the impact on hydrology when brigalow land is cleared for cropping and grazing. The paired catchment study was commenced in 1965 using catchments of approximately 15 ha, with natural vegetation dominated by brigalow scrub (Acacia harpophylla). Three contiguous catchments were selected near Theodore in central Queensland to represent the extensive brigalow bioregion of central and southern Queensland and northern New South Wales (~40 Mha). The hydrology of the 3 catchments was characterised during a 17-year calibration period (1965–81). The catchments were considered hydrologically similar, with sufficient data available for an empirical comparison between catchments. In 1982, two of the catchments were cleared, with one developed for cropping and the other sown to improved pasture. The third catchment was used as an uncleared control. Hydrologic characteristics were then compared for the following 21 years. In their virgin state, the catchments behaved similarly, with average annual runoff being 5% of annual rainfall. Once cleared, total runoff from the cropping catchment increased to 11% of annual rainfall and total runoff from the pasture catchment increased to 9% of annual rainfall; however, timing of the individual runoff events varied between land uses. In order to confirm that changes in hydrology were a function of land use and not just seasonal variability or sampling error, several analytic techniques were used: a simple comparison of runoff totals, comparison of events, comparison of probability of exceedance for daily runoff, and comparison of predicted and observed runoff using a water balance modelling approach.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:land development, hydrological change, catchment, runoff, brigalow
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agriculture and the environment
Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Soil conservation and protection
Live Archive:19 Feb 2024 00:19
Last Modified:19 Feb 2024 00:19

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