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NB2 Sustainability Pillar

Sustainability in Australian grazing systems is not a new concept. Australian farmers and graziers have been successful in adopting technologies and practices that have resulted in better land use, maintenance of the quality of pastures and improved productivity for many years.

However, climate variability, particularly around rainfall, is at times a major impediment to short-term sustainability outlooks – at least for those looking in from outside. We know that sustainability is more than just a word, it is a long-term process.

Defining what we mean by sustainability is challenging because it means different things to different people. Terms such as carbon farming, soil health, biodiversity and cell grazing are all used often with no clear definition. What is clear is that there is no single system that works for everyone, but there are principles of sustainability that have benefits for productivity.

It is difficult to deny that declining pasture quality and associated environmental issues are of concern across large areas of northern Australia. Management plays a significant role when assessing sustainability e.g. can we modify grazing behaviour to improve uniformity of grazing?  Increasing watering points is not a new concept and has been a strategy since the 1950s.

The sustainability pillar of NB2 is a work in progress. It is a challenging pillar in many respects and is probably the one that we will see the most divergence of opinion on what sustainability means. As such we have decided to adopt the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework definition, i.e. the production of beef in a manner that is socially, environmentally and economically responsible; through the care of natural resources, people and the community, the health and welfare of animals, and the drive for continuous improvement.

The sustainability pillar will be closely integrated with the adoption, feedbase and herd pillars of NB2, and industry. We want to have an integrated proactive approach to sustainability where we set the guidelines.