Forage budget | Landholders Driving Change

Forage budgeting – it’s just good management

 

ADJUSTING stocking rates to meet current feed supply, animal requirements, and ground cover targets is considered best management practice within a grazing business. Now is a good time to start planning for the next dry season.

TECHNICAL SUPPORT AVAILABLE:

  • April-May (for end of wet season budgeting)
    October-November (for end of dry follow-up)
  • Across the BBB catchment

Start your stocktake now

 

NOW is a good time to start planning for the next dry season.

Adjusting stocking rates to meet current feed supply, animal requirements, and ground cover targets is considered best management practice within a grazing business. And best management practice in the grazing industry is about implementing grazing principals that are most effective at achieving a productive, profitable and sustainable grazing business.

A forage budget will help you decide if it is safe to carry more stock, carry the same number for longer, or if there is not enough pasture to safely carry the number you have for the length of time you want. Safely carrying more stock for longer can help boost profits.

On the other hand, calculating that you will run out of feed early can help to minimise expensive supplementary feeding and assist in preserving land condition.

A forage budget also allows for the opportunity to devise a targeted sell-off plan if grass growing rain is not received during the planned grazing period. This means you could sell your cattle earlier than those who decide to hold stock and are taking the risk that seasonal conditions won’t deteriorate further and result in a decline in animal condition.

Forage budgeting technical support is available to all graziers in the BBB catchment.  Contact your LDC team to arrange for an approved consultant to undertake this service on your property.

As part of this service the LDC team and partners will install photo monitoring sites to record and monitor visual changes.  Installation of photo monitoring sites is also offered as a stand alone service.

Why do photo monitoring?

By photographing and taking written observations of species present and percentage groundcover, over time we are able to pick up trends in pasture condition – an increase or decrease in preferred desirable species, and changes in woody vegetation.

From this information decisions can be made about stocking rates, percentage of feed utilised, plant rest periods, appropriateness of land use and potential intervention requirements.

The forage budgeting service is part of the LDC’s BBB Grazier Support integrated program that is being rolled out this year.  For more information: BBB Grazier Support program.

CONTACT:

  • Brendan Smith on 0417 408 587
  • Rodger Walker on 0408 828 276
  • Adrienne Hall on 0428 158 859
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Figure 1. Total fine sediment reduction by project type and erosion source. Inset shows the proportion of the total project area for each project type.

These estimates have been calculated using two methods: 

1) The pollutant reduction component of the Alluvium/Great Barrier Reef Foundation (GBRF) investment tool for hillslope and streambank erosion management projects; 

2) The Reef Trust Gully Toolbox method for gully erosion management projects. The LDC Water Quality Report 2020 (Waterhouse et al., 2020) highlights that a number of assumptions underlay these calculations, therefore these figures should be treated as the best available estimate of sediment reductions to date.

Preventing sediment from reaching the Great Barrier Reef

Each wet season sediment is washed into local waterways and out to the Great Barrier Reef (GBR). 

Most sediment is very fine, and can stay suspended for a long time and can travel great distances. Valuable topsoil is lost from production, and increased concentrations on the reef can be harmful to seagrasses and corals. 

Landholders in the BBB have completed 69 on-ground water quality practice changes, and it is estimated that these have contributed a fine sediment reduction of 6,154 tonnes per year from reaching the GBR. 

Of this, approximately half of the sediment savings are attributable to grazing land management changes on hillslopes and streambanks, and the other half as a result of gully remediation treatments across a broad range of scales, as shown in the graphs above. 

The table below also highlights the relatively small area of intervention in the gully management projects compared to the large sediment savings that these can achieve - 60 per cent of the sediment savings over only 4 per cent of the project area.

Table 1. Estimated sediment reductions (tonnes) from projects completed in the LDC Project to date.

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*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

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*The Exploring New Incentives activity area has provided an opportunity for graziers to adopt improved land management practices through a range of activities. For some of these properties, it was the first time they signed contracts for on-ground works.

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The LDC project monitors four gully sites (represented in this table) with gold standard equipment and analysis, carried out by CSIRO.

Results have been compiled in a preliminary report from Bartley et al (2020), with the final report expected to be released by the end of 2020. The preliminary report shows all four sites have indicators of improvements, notably the Strathbogie and Mt Wickham sites.

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Reef regulations - grazing, standard conditions

  1. For land in good or fair condition (more than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), continue using measures to maintain land condition.
  2. For land in poor condition (less than 50 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition.
  3. For land in degraded condition (less than 20 per cent ground cover at 30 September), steps must be taken to improve land condition OR prevent areas from further degrading or expanding.
  4. Keep records of measures taken and also of agricultural chemicals, fertiliser and mill mud or mill ash applied to land.
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