EverGraze upgrade offers timely tools

23 September 2016

Producers can plan for the months ahead with confidence with the support tools and resources on the recently upgraded EverGraze website.

Part funded by MLA, EverGraze was a national research, development and extension project that designed, tested and implemented farming systems based on perennials to increase profitability of livestock enterprises and at the same time reduce ground water recharge and soil loss by water and wind in the high rainfall zone of southern Australia. The research findings, tools and resources which were outcomes of the project live on through the Evergraze website.

According to former EverGraze Extension Coordinator, Geoff Saul, producers can use the tools to customise research outcomes into practical management options for their own enterprises.

“In the past when we carried out research and the results of treatment ‘a’ performed better than treatment ‘b’, producers had to extrapolate these results for their own environments and enterprises,” Geoff said.

 “The EverGraze tools allow producers to customise and trial broad-based research results for a given farm or area, before implementing any on-farm changes.”

What's new?

Feedback from producers and consultants led to upgrades to key EverGraze tools to improve the ease of use and accessibility.

"The tools are easier to find, some of the tools have been refined and we have included a range of tutorial videos to provide a step-by-step approach to help users make the most of the tools,” Geoff said.

Stocking rate calculator upgrade

“The stocking rate calculator grew out of producers asking to be able to work out their DSE/ha over the production year,” Geoff said. 

“Producers often struggled to pinpoint what time of year to calculate for and the dry sheep equivalents (DSE) ratings for different classes of livestock. Everyone has different ideas about DSE ratings.   “So we have used standard values for DSE across sheep and cattle, based on  national feeding standards to allow everyone to talk the same language. 

“Users can work out their monthly stocking rate and annual average stocking rate, and benchmark their operation against industry standards for the region.”

Producers also can use the tool to assess how their stocking rate fits with the likely pattern of seasonal pasture production. 

A powerful component of the tool, according to Geoff, is the ability for producers to assess the priority of different enterprises at different times of year (e.g. lambing ewes vs dry sheep) and how potential stocking rates might match up with potential seasonal feed supply. 

Summer feed on offer

For producers looking to match livestock needs and feed availability during the potentially-challenging summer months, the EverGraze Feedbase Planning and Budgeting Tool  contains and invaluable summer pasture budgeting component.

The feed on offer (FOO) tool uses producer-driven data including area, stock number and starting FOO, combined with seasonal pasture growth rates to help producers plan for the coming months.

“The tool encourages producers to think ahead, from the start of December through to April, to determine how long their feed will last, when the next lot of feed will come on and when they may need to start look at selling stock or allocating some stock to feed containment areas,” Geoff said.

A winter FOO tool also is available.

Ongoing impact

The EverGraze website continues to provide a wealth of evidenced-based information, case studies and regionally relevant resources.

MLA Sustainable Feedbase Resources Program Manager Cameron Allan is confident the ground breaking project will continue to deliver on-farm impacts well into the future.

“EverGraze engaged more than 7000 producers and advisors, affected practice change on more than 4400 farms, across at least 900,000 ha, with an estimated return on industry investment of more than 5:1,” Cameron said.

More information:

Cameron Allan E: callan@mla.com.au

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