A 1000 hectare chunk of typical Dalrymple Shire grazing country in
north Queensland is being used in a new Department of Primary
Industries grazing trial to develop and demonstrate strategies to
help graziers cope with rainfall variability.
Led by Charters Towers Principal Scientist Peter O'Reagain and
District Experimentalist John Bushell, the long-term trial is
taking place on John and Ronda Lyons' Wambiana Station, 60km
south-east of Charters Towers to assess and demonstrate the ability
of different cattle stocking strategies to cope with rainfall
The CRC provides funding for the project which has also received
funding from the the Drought Regional Initiative, Natural Heritage
Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. A different
stocking strategy is being applied to 10 paddocks and their effects
on animal production, pasture condition and long-term economic
performance are being evaluated.
Peter O'Reagain said the inability of current grazing practices to
cope with variable rainfall was probably the single biggest threat
to the ecological and economic sustainability of the grazing
industry in north Queensland.
"The trial will allow producers to objectively assess the relative
costs and benefits of different management strategies which, once
established, will be introduced to graziers through a major
extension program," he said.
The project also wants to develop innovative new strategies to
minimise drought loss by linking the latest advances in climate
modelling with grazing management. For example, one of the
strategies tested will involve a proactive adjustment of animal
numbers before the "wet", based on SOI or sea surface temperature
based predictions for the coming season.
A grazier advisory committee has also been formed to advise on
different aspects ranging from what strategies to test to what
burning regime should be implemented.
John Lyons said he was happy to be associated with the trial.
"Whatever the outcome, all of us will have learnt a lot about our
environment. And that can only make us better land managers."
By Anna Cahill