New course takes a big picture approach to change in WA

25 February 2016

Livestock producers across southern Western Australia who are looking to make strategic changes to their operation are encouraged to participate in a new training program that takes a big-picture approach to improving profitability and sustainability. 
 
The Whole Farm Grazing Strategies (WFGS) program has been developed by Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA), Australian Wool Innovation (AWI) and Victoria’s Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR).
 
The course takes a new approach to extension and adoption, and will be conducted by an approved trainer over two years, in six or seven one-day sessions each year.
 
In southern Western Australia, four trainers have been approved so far to run the course, with groups comprising 10 to 15 producers and each session held at a different farm location.
 
The sessions are structured around seven themes:

    • Pastures for extensive livestock
    • Soils and landclass
    • Livestock: Strategies to address production, environmental and lifestyle requirements
    • The nuts and bolts of grazing management
    • Tactical management to balance feed demand and supply
    • Making on-farm strategic change
    • Producer presentations of change on-farm

    MLA Livestock Productivity General Manager Dr Jane Weatherley said the program delivers information, tools and decision-making processes from the EverGraze project and other related programs.
     
    “The program recognises that every farm is unique and producers need to decide the solutions they need to be more profitable and make life easier,” Dr Weatherley said.
     
    “Different options are discussed throughout the course, and through group discussion, farm walks and presentation of experimental results, producers decide the best option for their farm.”
     
    AWI Program Manager, Fibre Advocacy and Eco Credentials, Angus Ireland, said the program is mutually beneficial for livestock producers and the environment.
     
    “The training package helps livestock producers prioritise what part of their operation they want to work on and give mutually beneficial outcomes for their business and the planet,” Mr Ireland said. 
     
    “Training programs like the WFGS that bring livestock producers together in one space are valuable in providing them with the opportunity to network and learn from each other.”
     
    DEDJTR Director of Agriculture Services, Dougal Purcell, said a pilot of the WFGS course showed that producers improved their skills and knowledge by 47 per cent and improved their confidence to make improvements on their farm by 48 per cent.
     
    “Some of the changes that producers implemented included improved grazing management practices, setting up rotational grazing systems, more informed financial budgeting and growing improved perennial species to increase production,” Mr Purcell said.
     
    “This course can make a real difference to on-farm profitability".

    For more information please contact your local trainer.

    In Western Australia, course deliverers are:

             Lawrence Carslake
             Farmanco, Narrogin, WA
             lcarslake@farmanco.com.au
             0407 441 157

             Brent Pritchard
             Farmanco, Albany, WA
             brent@farmanco.com.au
             0488 428 333

             Alana Starkie
             PlanFarm Pty Ltd, Manjimup, WA
             alana@planfarm.com.au
             0406 494 927

             Mark Allington
             Icon Agriculture, Darkan, WA
             mark@iconag.com.au
             0428 927 034

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