Our graziers learn from the Burdekin

November 25, 2019

They live more than 400 kilometres apart but graziers from the Tablelands and the Burdekin have plenty of common ground when it comes to soil health.

Five Tablelands graziers soaked up Burdekin knowledge recently on a field trip to cattle stations near Charters Towers and Ayr, where pastures have improved since changes were adopted several years ago including more intense grazing of paddocks for shorter periods of time.

Mt Garnet grazier Curtis Archer said the trip, organised by Terrain NRM, confirmed the potential of natural grazing practices that he and other Tablelands cattle station owners were currently introducing on their properties.

“We saw quite intense grazing, which involves more management of the cattle, but does seem to be paying off,’’ Mr Archer said.  “Rather than stocking more lightly, these graziers are creating grasslands through denser stocking for shorter periods.

“If we can slowly improve our country through working cattle a bit more intensely it’s a win-win.”

The four-day field trip, which was part of Terrain NRM’s Herbert Gully and Grazing Program, follows workshops in the Upper and Lower Herbert catchments with ecological grazing specialist Dick Richardson, who was also on the field trip.

“This was a chance to see properties and speak with graziers who Dick has been working with for a couple of years, to see what has worked and hear about what hasn’t for each property and to get fresh ideas,’’ Terrain NRM’s Jen Mackenzie said. 

“Collaborating with southern graziers and NQ Dry Tropics, the natural resource management organisation servicing the region as we do in the Wet Tropics, has been really worthwhile.”

Ms Mackenzie said practice changes included managing grasslands with grazing animals, using paddock-specific grazing patterns, keeping some land in a shorter more productive state during the grazing season and giving other land the opportunity for a long-term spell.

“These kind of changes can capture water and build soil carbon,” she said.  “In both regions, we are targeting better soil outcomes and pastures that also prevent more erosion issues.”

The Herbert Gully and Grazing Program, funded through the Australian Government’s Reef Trust Phase IV program, extends 340km from Herberton and Ravenshoe to Ingham.  It includes major earthworks to reshape gullies, fencing to keep stock from streambanks, off-stream water points, revegetation work and changes to grazing practices.

The Herbert and Burdekin catchments are two of the three biggest contributors of sediment loads to the Reef so programs in each region aim to reduce run-off while also benefitting properties.