Explorers and squatters disliked the mallee because it contained very little water or grass for stock. Therefore, the land in the Murray Mallee region with access to the Murray River floodplain was first used for sheep grazing. In the 1870s, instead of viewing the Mallee as useless because it could not support a small intensive European farm, it took on enormous value when considered as an extensive farming system for cereal crops.
Large scale Mallee vegetation clearance schemes rapidly followed. Charles Mullens developed a crude but effective technique for cleaning extensive areas of mallee scrub for wheat growing. This enabled mallee land to be profitably utilised by greatly reducing the expense of clearing. In 1913/14, the completion of railway lines led to the main period of settlement in the Murray Mallee region. The 1920s were the major period of vegetation clearing and development, and wheat growing was the main enterprise. In 1948, the Murray Mallee District Soil Conservation Board was formed, to provide leadership and soil conservation and landcare.