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Finishing livestock under centre pivot irrigation
There are large amounts of irrigated land (generally centre pivot) in Tasmanian that are suitable for the production red meat. These areas have only recently been irrigated for cropping purposes however the soils in the region are not robust and as a result long rotations between cropping phases are necessary. Traditionally the irrigation infrastructure has been moved to a new site after cropping has finished, the pasture is sown down and the pasture returned to a dryland state.
A number of farmers have expressed an interest in running livestock (beef and lambs) under these irrigation systems but are not convinced that they are profitable. The farmers considering these opportunities want to know that the systems can be profitable, can be run on a large scale and will not compromise the environment. The majority of irrigated or high rainfall production systems in Tasmania are not characterised by scale and as a result were to some extent deemed irrelevant.
Rather than set up a large scale trial to address the concerns of these producers it was decided that it may be better to conduct a study tour to South Australia, where large scale irrigated (pivot) red meat production systems have existed for a significant period of time. The study group discovered that despite having the infrastructure to run large mobs under pivot irrigation this was not generally occurring in South Australia. In fact a number of members in the study group were already running larger mobs that the producers visited in South Australia.
The key learning from the trip was that it is ultimately management of the fodder base (particularly pasture management) that will determine profitability and any work carried out in Tasmanian to look at management of scale must incorporate best management practice in the area of pasture management. The study tour concluded that managers in South Australia are struggling with many of the same issues that are faced in Tasmania. That further work should be undertaken to look at best management pasture principles can be implemented at scale. The study group would be very keen for at least part of this work to be hosted in Tasmania and recognise that it has much broader application than just Tasmania.
This page was last updated on 24/07/2017
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