Australia’s rangelands cover 80% of the country and are home to 400,000 people. More commonly known as the ‘outback’, rangelands support about 6,000 pastoral businesses and many of Australia’s Indigenous people. They are culturally important to all Australians and a key component of Australia’s identity. Pastoralism and agriculture in the rangelands are worth $5.5 billion annually with tourism generating $2.7 billion annually.
This collaboration is establishing demonstration sites across Australia to showcase technologies and techniques that use mapping to improve rangeland management. Utilising digital precision mapping technologies at the property scale, each site is analysed using property utilisation and land condition tools to develop a plan for future management and infrastructure changes that could be implemented to improve drought resilience.
Delivered by the SA Arid Lands Landscape Board (SAAL) in SA, the project utilises remote sensing through Meat and Livestock Australia’s Australian Feed Base Monitor and subscription-based Pasture Key, to map vegetation cover and structure and determine feed volume in semi-arid shrublands and grasslands on South Australian pastoral stations.
Understanding the volume and quality of feed available to cattle in rangelands environments and making appropriate decisions on stocking rates and locations is critical to the health and wellbeing of not only livestock, but also the landscape and the pastoral business. This data is applied to guiding optimal grazing management to ensure maintenance of ground cover and promotion of plant species diversity through grazing management. Results of the project have been positive, with most project participants adopting the technology into their business operations and seeing grazing management improvements.
Key achievements and results:
22nd Australian Rangelands Conference
On 18-22 September 2023, SA Drought Hub partners and SA pastoralists involved in the national ‘Managing rangelands for drought resilience’ project attended the Australian Rangelands Society’s 22nd biennial conference in Broome, WA. Andrea Tschirner from SAAL along with project participants James Wright from Paroo Pastoral Company and Michael Burford from Mergenia Station presented on the SA component of the project, titled ‘Mapping and monitoring feed from space’. A range of topics were presented and discussed across the three days of the conference including feedbase management, total grazing pressure, economic development, biosecurity and pests, community engagement and participation, biodiversity, climate, and weather forecasting.
- Science at work in the southern rangelands (SA Arid Lands Landscape Board news article)