Tropical Savannas CRC > Research > Tropical Savannas CRC - CRC Research 2008-09 > Best practice grazing in northern Australia

Best practice grazing in northern Australia

This project aims to increase adoption rates of innovative best-practice grazing management for beef producers throughout Queensland, Northern Territory and the Kimberley and Pilbara regions of Western Australia. These practices will benefit up to 3 million square km of northern Australia by identifying cost-effective solutions for:

  • restoring and maintaining productive capacity;
  • improving water quality and soil health;
  • improving risk management; and

This project integrates, enhances and extends key findings and knowledge generated from completed grazing research funded by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), TS–CRC and other research organisations throughout northern Australia.

Phase 1, of which this pilot project formed a part, developed innovative best-practice grazing management for enterprises across a range of geographic locations, production scales and management goals. 

It integrated and synthesised the results of existing research with producer knowledge within a bio-economic, whole-enterprise modelling framework to identify a range of best-bet grazing management options for each region of northern Australia.

Phase 2 (to be undertaken by MLA, State/Territory  DPIs (Dept. Primary Industry) and CSIRO in conjunction with Regional NRM Groups subsequent to this project) will implement, test and increase adoption of these practices through on-property demonstration sites, field days, forums, training workshops and MLA/DPI producer publications.

Project objectives

  • Integrate and synthesise the results of existing research with producer knowledge within a bio-economic, whole-enterprise modelling framework
  • Identify a range of best-bet grazing management options for each region of northern Australia
  • Provide the basis for Phase 2 of the project (to be undertaken by MLA, State/Territory  DPIs and CSIRO in conjunction with Regional Groups subsequent to this project), which will implement, test and increase adoption of these practices through on-property demonstration sites, field days, forums, training workshops and MLA/DPI producer publications

Grazing by cattle is the major land use across the tropical savannas and, despite investments in R&D on sustainable management, there remains much to do to achieve development and widespread adoption of practices that are both sustainable and profitable. 

Recent research has improved our knowledge of the management and impact of key factors in grazing land management, including control of grazing distribution, management of stocking rate, wet season spelling, and fire, but there are still significant knowledge gaps and uncertainties.  Addressing these on a case-by-case basis is not likely to be the most effective investment of limited R&D resources, especially when significant constraints to adoption include uncertainties about the optimum mix of practices to use and how best to integrate these into the enterprise.

A more targeted and effective investment in research, demonstration, and extension activities is likely to occur from a coordinated approach that seeks to:

  • Gain the full value of past and recent investments in grazing trials and other R&D through its analysis and integration, targeted at addressing key management questions.
  • Identify the best mix of practices for an enterprise, within a particular area and production system, based on bio-economic modelling and consultation with producers and other specialists.

  • Demonstrate the ‘current best bet’ combinations of practices in each region through use of ‘implementation’ sites on-property.

  • Further develop the ‘future best bet’ combinations of practices in each region through use of on-property research.

The work is directly relevant to the TS–CRC objective of ensuring the savannas are healthy and managed to provide long-term benefits to those who use them.  The project will deliver within the Key Result Area of ‘Sustainable management systems’, in particular the development of management strategies and decision support tools for fire, grazing, and restoration.

Contacts

Dr David Garnett
CEO
Tropical Savannas CRC
Tel: 08 8946 7101

Fax: 08 8946 7107

Charles Darwin University
DARWIN, NT 0909