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Addressing feed supply and demand through total grazing pressure management

Did you know that feral animals can double the grazing pressure of pastures compared to livestock?

Project start date: 01 February 2017
Project end date: 01 October 2018
Publication date: 11 March 2019
Livestock species: Sheep, Lamb, Grassfed cattle
Relevant regions: Southern Rangelands

Summary

The sustainability of the rangelands region relies on the successful management of grazing pressure from livestock and other herbivores, which involves adjusting livestock numbers in response to available feed and strategically resting pastures.

This project quantified the impacts of grazing pressure management on primary production and natural resources and identified relevant knowledge gaps, to produce a research and development investment plan.

Results from this study provide an opportunity to deliver production gains to more than 1.9 million km2 of Australian rangelands.

Objectives

Despite current investment in total grazing pressure management, there are knowledge gaps about viable management options, which prevents sustained productivity growth and limits the pastoral industry’s ability to adapt to climate variability. This project aimed to strengthen the ability for MLA to target research, development and adoption investments with the greatest benefits to producers and outline opportunities for research and development co-investment.

Key findings

Three investment priorities were identified, each with two specific R&D activities:

  1. The technical capacity for industry to manage all herbivores –
    -   assess feasible solutions to identify an imbalance between feed supply and herbivore demand
    -   pilot and validate a tool to predict paddock hot spots and prime times for herbivore activity
  2. The production and environmental benefits of managing total grazing pressure
    -  on-farm benchmarking of production and environmental value of total grazing pressure management
    -  establish a mechanism for trading and delivery of environmental services for the red meat industry
  3. The widespread adoption of effective management processes –
    -  establish a network of industry co-learning sites
    -  identification and demonstration of cost effective total grazing pressure management options

A further investment priority was identified, which ensures that policy and legislation address the legal capacity for industry to manage all herbivores in a humane and effective manner.

Benefits to industry

To help maintain social licence, the red meat industry must verify a minimal negative environmental impact and demonstrate continual environmental improvement through the management of total grazing pressure.

Publications

  • Waters C, Reseigh-O’Brien J, Pahl L, Atkinson T, Burnside D and Revell D (2018). Addressing feed supply and demand through total grazing pressure management. NSW Department of Primary Industries.
  • Waters C, Reseigh-O’Brien J, Pahl L, Atkinson T, Burnside D and Revell D (2018). Investment Plan. Addressing feed supply and demand through total grazing pressure management. NSW Department of Primary Industries.
  • MLA (2018). Prospect Statement. Addressing feed supply and demand through total grazing pressure management.

More information

Contact email: reports@mla.com.au
Primary researcher: NSW Department of Industry