Graziers flock to workshops

April 30, 2019

Far Northern graziers are moving to smaller paddocks and denser stocking for shorter periods as ways to improve their pastures and livelihoods.

More than 60 graziers from Cape York to Ingham heard from cattleman Dick Richardson and soil health specialist David Hardwick at a Terrain NRM ‘Grazing Naturally and Building Soil Health’ workshop on the Atherton Tablelands recently, to build on changes to their pasture management.

Eacham beef cattle producer Michael Hoare said a combination of smaller paddocks, changed rotation cycles, organic fertilisers and soil aeration was slowly but steadily improving his pastures, while Tarzali dairy and beef producers Robert and Veronica Hamilton said additional fencing would be their next step in stock management changes.

“We have a lot more fencing to do and re-grassing of our country – then we can make changes to our stock rotation methods and possibly speed up the process with weaned calves,’’ Robert said.

“We’re focused more now on what’s happening under the soil surface.”

Guest speaker Dick Richardson said there were practices all graziers could benefit from regardless of whether they found themselves in drought or flood conditions.

"Grazing should be more intense for a shorter duration - after that it's a matter of keeping some of the country in a shorter, more productive state with repetitive grazes during the growing season while other parts get the opportunity for a long-term spell.”

He said managing grasslands with grazing animals, using paddock-specific patterns, could capture water and build soil carbon and whole ecosystem health.

The workshop was part of Terrain NRM’s Upper Johnstone Integrated Project, funded through the Queensland Government’s National Resource Investment Program, and its Digging Deeper Plus program funded through the Australian Government’s National Landcare Program.

Terrain’s Jen Mackenzie said there was a strong demand across the Wet Tropics.

“We began with one all-day workshop on grazing naturally and building soil health but we extended to a second workshop when graziers kept contacting us wanting to be part of it,’’ she said.

“There is a huge appetite for a combination of soil, ecology and grazing information in the Wet Tropics – people are saying it’s good to have a better understanding of the science behind pasture management. It helps them to see why they are having good and bad results and what changes are needed.”

The Upper Johnstone Integrated Project is working with graziers to reduce sediment loads entering the Great Barrier Reef by targeting erosion hotspots and grazing land management practices, while Digging Deeper Plus is a soil management program including soil health sessions and individual soil action plans.

For more information phone Terrain NRM on 4043 8000.