Grazing Naturally workshops

IMPROVING PASTURE, PRODUCTVITY AND THE LAND

9 MARCH 2020

Grazing cattle to improve productivity while managing the land more sustainably was the focus of a workshop on the Tablelands recently.

Far Northern landholders heard from grazing ecosystem specialist Dick Richardson on improving soil health and pasture performance across properties, one paddock at a time.

New Malanda landholder Natasha MacPherson said information about rotational or cell grazing would help shape cattle production plans for the family’s property.

“This land was historically over-grazed, with cattle having full access to watercourses on the property. This has caused erosion and sediment runoff,’’ she said.

“For us this has been about learning how cattle and the land can get the best out of each other and how we can improve soil health and diversity in our pastures – all while maintaining beef production and improving the quality of water leaving the property.”

Mr Richardson follows a grazing naturally method where a priority paddock is grazed repeatedly and intensely during the pasture-growing season and can later be spelled for up to 12 months.

The aim, among other things, is to optimise the sugar flow in soils and to increase their ability to capture and hold water.

“It’s a bit like preparing a lawn – mow it, water it, feed it, mow it again and repeat,’’ Mr Richardson says. “In no time you’ll end up with a lush thick carpet of grass.”

The workshop was part of Terrain NRM’s Upper Johnstone Integrated Project, funded through the Queensland Government’s Natural Resources Investment Program.

The Upper Johnstone Integrated project includes earthworks to re-shape gullies, weed management and tree planting to strengthen river and creek banks, and a fresh look at grazing practices in the Wet Tropics including creating smaller paddocks and adding off-stream watering infrastructure.

Terrain NRM’s Vanessa Drysdale said Dick Richardson had led a series of workshops in the region over the last couple of years, and the response from graziers had led to more demand for the sessions.

“The workshops are aimed at giving graziers a better understanding of their grasslands and how to fine-tune management for better outcomes when it comes to productivity and sustainability,” she said. “They are helping to build a network for graziers too, so there are others to bounce ideas off.

“And in the long-term it’s also about improving the land and water quality through these changes to management practices in high-risk areas, resulting in less sediment in waterways and the Great Barrier Reef lagoon.”

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