MLA – grazing | Landholders Driving Change

Producer Demonstration sites

LDC has been successful in securing funding from MLA to establish two Producer Demonstration Sites (PDS). 

MLA partners with producer groups to achieve improved business productivity and profitability outcomes. 

The MLA PDS program supports groups of livestock producers to adapt, validate and demonstrate the business value of integrating new management practices and associated skills into local farming systems.  

The key outcome of a PDS is producer adoption of the demonstrated management practices resulting in improved business performance.

The LDC project’s two PDS will focus on:

  • regenerative grazing practices (a five year project) and;
  • an integrated approach to weed control (a three year project). 

MLA, with support from LDC, will provide the producer-led demonstration sites with facilitation and extension, monitoring and evaluation of on-farm practice change, and communication and reporting, to oversee the demonstration.

Click here for information on the integrated weed control PDS.

Regenerative grazing site

THIS project involves five properties testing regenerative grazing practices across a wide range of grazing environments and commercial situations and scale in the BBB.  

It will demonstrate how livestock can improve soil biology, and stimulate production of quality pasture through livestock impacts while improving herd performance.

The five-year project will trial regenerative grazing practices including:

  • mobbing up of cattle;
  • planned grazing based on matching stock numbers to carrying capacity (forage production);
  • high density short duration grazes with long pasture recovery periods; and 
  • retaining suitable ground cover at the end of the dry season. 

The project will provide critical herd performance, pasture management and soil health data for the increasing number of graziers undertaking regenerative grazing practices in the BBB and the broader Burdekin area.

Participating grazing properties will:

  • undertake regenerative grazing practices;
  • dedicate paddocks at a suitable scale to demonstrate practices;
  • provide relevant infrastructure and technology, for example, walk over weighing;
  • undertake monitoring and evaluation,  and training and technical support, if required; and
  • host field days and other events to highlight the outcomes to the beef industry.

The PDS will also support the Collinsville region’s Regenerative Grazier Network, an informal network of about 12-15 enterprises.

These businesses have been supported by NQ Dry Tropics since a Holistic Management training program was implemented in 2015.

Many of these businesses have also completed Resource Consulting Service (RCS) Grazing for Profit, and similar training.  

The network has met on each other’s properties, attended field days, and sought technical support on a wide range of issues in recent years, and have been actively involved in the implementation of projects related to water quality and productivity improvements – funded by a range of Federal and State government programs.

A number of these businesses have also worked on projects with NQ Dry Tropics and with organisations such as CSIRO, Griffith University, James Cook University and Queensland’s Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).

This is an excellent overview of regenerative grazing principles developed by RCS Consulting:

https://www.rcsaustralia.com.au/rcs-regenerative-grazing-principles/

Dr Christine Jones talks about roots and healthy soil during a workshop at Strathalbyn Station in the BBB.

Regenerative agriculture

Regenerative agriculture works to:  

Support soil systems

Return nutrients to the soil to increase microbial health and diversity.

Increase biodiversity

Encourage and support flora and fauna species co-habitation.

Improve water cycles

Repair erosion and reduce and remove water pollution.

Strengthen soil health and vitality

Improve water retention, compost and pastures and tree root systems.

Support bio-sequestration

Increase dry matter compost and soil structure to lock carbon back into soil.

Increase resilience to climate fluctuation

Build resilience through ground cover and water storage.

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KEQ #1

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.

KEQ #2

*GLMWW = Grazing Land Management Wire and Water

KEQ #3

*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.

KEQ #4

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.

KEQ #5

KEQ #6

KEQ #7
KEQ #8

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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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