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Improving drought grazing management in the non-arable ranges of the Northern and Yorke region
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Improving drought grazing management in the non-arable ranges of the Northern and Yorke region
Lead organisation: Northern and Yorke landscape Board
Hub members and partners involved: Natures Equity, Livestock SA, Cousins Merino Services
Project Category: Hub Projects
Project summary: 

The ‘Improving drought grazing management in the non-arable ranges of the Northern & Yorke region.’ project aims to expand on recent extension activities conducted as part of the ‘Removing barriers to the conservation of the Pygmy Bluetongue Lizard’ project. This project would pivot grazing management teachings towards dry season management and drought preparedness, two topics of particular importance north of Goyder’s Line. Teachings would revolve around calculating stocking rates, evaluating feed availability, improving grazing management to maximize outcomes in dry seasons and, drought planning.

Project description: 

The ‘Improving drought grazing management in the non-arable ranges of the Northern & Yorke region.’ project aims to expand on recent extension activities conducted as part of the ‘Removing barriers to the conservation of the Pygmy Bluetongue Lizard’ project. This project, administered by Northern & Yorke Landscape Board, saw three ‘Grazing Naturally’ workshops delivered by Dick Richardson’s ‘Natures Equity’ across the Northern Mount Lofty Ranges with the aim of:

–          Improving grazing management practices, encouraging the use of natural feedback mechanisms as triggers to stock movement

–          Addressing identified knowledge gaps of landholders including approachable feed on offer quantification methods.

While these extension activities took place across the Mid North, within Pygmy Bluetongue Lizard habitat, interest in Dick’s teachings meant that graziers as far north as Craddock attended.

This planned project would pivot Dick’s grazing management teachings towards dry season management and drought preparedness, two topics of particular importance north of Goyder’s Line. Teachings would revolve around calculating stocking rates, evaluating feed availability, improving grazing management to maximize outcomes in dry seasons and, drought planning.

The grazing management practices taught build more resilient livestock production systems. These practices optimise pasture utilisation, enhance pasture health, improve water infiltration and retention, support biodiversity, enable adaptive management, and contribute to water and soil conservation. Together, these factors enhance the overall drought resilience of grazing operations and reduce their vulnerability to water and feed scarcity during dry periods.

Two workshops covering the basic theory behind this would be conducted in the Southern Flinders, with 5-10 landholders anticipated at each. Following this, two separate on-farm practical demonstration days would showcase the practical applications and give graziers the tools to implement the theory. One farm demonstration would take place around Wilmington, and the other around Orroroo.

Two half day workshops on eID tags, their rollout across the country and their benefits will also be organised in collaboration with Livestock SA. These will focus in particular on the benefits of data-driven decision making. This approach allows for more informed decision-making, such as adjusting grazing strategies, optimising water allocation, or implementing early destocking plans based on real-time information.  The information delivered will append that of the dry season management workshop, furthering the understanding of drought preparedness and resilience. Held at Eudunda and Carrieton, these workshops aim to address enquiries for clarification and education within these communities.

Two half day soil workshops focusing on soil management would provide attendees with a deeper understanding of the factors influencing soil moisture retention and water availability in drought-prone environments. Potential topics include improving moisture retention via organic matter management and conservation tillage, as well crop selection and rotation strategies and, soil moisture monitoring. One on one follow-up with interested landholders, including property visits.

Activity 1 – Non-growing season grazing management theory workshop

Objectives:

–          Recap Dick’s grazing naturally principles.

–          Train and discuss dry season grazing management, drought preparedness and drought resilience

–          Provide theory around stocking rates and carrying capacity

Activity 2 – On-farm demonstration and practical training sessions

Objectives:

–          Provide on-farm demonstrations on how to plan grazing over dry seasons and build drought resilience into your grazing management system

–          Deliver hands-on training in the use of planning tools to calculate stocking rates, feed demand and carrying capacity

–          Teach in paddock grazing assessment methods

Activity 3 – eID obligations and implementation

Objectives:

–          Provide graziers with information around their obligations under the rollout of compulsory eID tags

–          Deliver content relating to on-farm benefits of eID tags, with particular reference to data driven decision making during dry periods

–          Biosecurity and traceability information provided to graziers

Activity 4 – Drought resilient soils workshops

Objectives:

–          Work with landholders to determine which challenges they face in regards to retaining soil moisture

–          Deliver two half day workshops based on improving drought resilience of grazing properties via soils management

–          Provide follow-up on farm advice to interested attendees (or small groups depending on numbers).