Pasture is a critical resource in grazing operations. The interaction between grazing and pasture management influences the profitability and sustainability of an enterprise.
Pasture management is the process of ensuring pasture persistence, maintaining soil nutrition for growth and making the best use of the pasture.
Grazing management is the total process of organising livestock to make the best use of the pastures grown.
The Southern pasture audit map tool shows the distribution of pasture types across southern Australia.
Improved pastures can play an important role in lifting the productivity and profitability of an enterprise. Management considerations for improved pasture include:
- Pasture growth - by understanding pasture growth, producers are able to maximise pasture utilisation while maintaining good land and pasture condition.
- Pasture establishment - preparing and sowing or seeding an improved pasture.
- Pasture management - ongoing management of the pasture to maximise the productivity and persistence of the pasture.
- Grazing management - organising livestock to make the best use of the pastures grown.
A native pasture is a permanent or semi-permanent pasture made up of plant species that are normally found growing wild in a particular area. Management considerations for a native pasture include:
- Pasture growth - understanding the different phases of pasture growth and how grazing pressure can affect plants at different times during their life cycle.
- Grazing management - organising livestock to make the best use of native pastures without adversely impacting on the pasture composition or land condition.
- Fire - enhancing land condition through the prescribed burning of vegetation, controlling regrowth and promoting desirable plant growth while suppressing undesirable plant growth.
- Tree-grass balance - trees play an important role in grazing land ecosystems and maintaining a tree-grass balance is important in sustainable production.
Weeds cost Australian agriculture in excess of $4billion annually through their effects on the quality and quantity of the pasture resource base, physical animal injury and plant toxins consumed in the grazing process. Management considerations for weed control include:
- Principles - producers should be aware of the six principles of weed control and be mindful of them when devising their weed management plan.
- Implementation - producers need to address a series of key questions when planning and implementing an effective weed control and pasture improvement program.
- Priority weeds - weeds are often categorised into broad groups depending on their characteristics and impacts.
Forage crops can be an important tool for producers provided the right crop is selected and carefully managed during establishment and grazing to ensure maximum productivity is achieved. Management considerations for forage crops include:
- Selection - There are a range of forage crops available to producers and the right crop will depend on several variables.
- Establishment - Soil nutrition, weed control and sowing or seeding are important considerations when seeking to establish a forage crop.
- Management - Once established, careful management is required to ensure that the crop is fully utilised in its most productive and nutritious phases of growth.