Dual focus for new Climate Champ

Location: ‘Ametdale’ 20km south of St Lawrence; ‘Melaleuca’ in the Marlborough area

Enterprise: Beef cattle breeding ('Ametdale') and fattening ('Melaleuca')

Producer: Ian MacGibbon

Soil type: 'Ametdale' – coastal, forest flats rising to ranges; 'Melaleuca' – flood-out country on the Connors River with Brigalow soils

Pasture type: 'Ametdale' – predominantly native, with some improved pasture; 'Melaleuca' – predominantly Buffel grass

Ian MacGibbon recently joined the MLA-supported Climate Champion program with a view to learn as much as he can while “not reinventing the wheel”.

The former Rabobank Queensland manager, who moved to full time cattle production in 2007, hopes his participation will help give grassroots' producers more say in where climate research dollars are invested.

“I’m not born and bred in the industry and I’m not keen on reinventing the wheel,” Ian said.

“In banking I used to see some people doing extremely well with resilient pastures and making the most out of limited rainfall, and then I’d see others with the same opportunities not doing as well and their country suffering.

“I believe we have to figure out best practice for managing the country so we not only get the animal performance box ticked, but also achieve resilience of the country.

“The problem with focusing on animal production only is that it could lead to a future decline in productivity. We need to work with nature, not against it, and find the right land management balance to maximise results.

“Once we’ve done that the information has to be presented in a way that people will be willing to adopt it.”

Ian has yet to delve into all of the climate decision-support tools available on the Climate Kelpie website but is looking forward to learning more about them.

“At the moment I watch the SOI (Southern Oscillation Index) and use the seven-day forecast and El Nino outlook to try and assess our chances of getting a reasonable start to the wet season,” he said.

“Last season started out very well with an early break and was good up to February, but it’s drying out very quickly now. We missed out on late storms in April/May so we have grass but its nutritional value is declining quickly.

“Our response is to wean early so we have mainly dry cattle going through the winter. We’ll take the nutritional stress off the breeders and get ready for a supplementary feeding program coming out of winter.”

He applied for the program after hearing about the experience of fellow Central Queensland producer Colin Dunne, a Climate Champion from 2010 to 2013.

The Managing Climate Variability Climate Champion program aims to help farmers manage climate risk by:

  • giving farmers the best climate tools, products, practices and seasonal outlooks, and an understanding of how they might use that in their farm business
  • giving climate researchers a chance to interact with farmers and get feedback about what regions and industries need from research

More information

Decision-support tools for managing climate

Find out about the Climate Champion program here

Ian MacGibbon E: ametdale@bigpond.com

‘Ametdale’ 20km south of St Lawrence; ‘Melaleuca’ in the Marlborough area
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