Australian Rangeland Society

The following presentations were awarded prizes and certificates after the NRM in the Rangelands Conference

 

Paper presentations

 

Luke Mashford1, Sarah Mashford1, Paul Theakston2, Hugh Pringle3, Sarah McDonald4, Simon Clarendon5, Kirsty Yeates6, Ian Toole4 and Susan Orgill7

1Katalpa Station, White Cliffs, Australia, 2Western Local Land Services, Cobar, Australia.  3Ecosystem Management Understanding, White Cliffs, Australia, 4NSW Department of Primary Industries, Trangie, Australia, 5NSW Department of Primary Industries, Tamworth, Australia.  6Australian National University, Canberra, Australia.  7NSW Department of Primary Industries, Wagga Wagga, Australia.

 

‘Rangelands rehydration: a landscape scale approach to increasing ground cover and soil carbon’

Pastoralists are looking for cost-effective solutions to regenerate the rangelands and remain viable into the future. We combined a field survey with high-resolution remotely sensed imagery to quantify changes in groundcover and soil organic carbon (SOC) in a project designed to restore landscape function in the rangelands. The ‘Selecting for Carbon Project’ was funded by the National Landcare Program (Small Grants) and involved pastoralists identifying practices that increase soil carbon, ground cover and pasture composition in the rangelands as a pilot project. This study was located on “Katalpa Station” in south-western NSW; 50,000ha grazing property with 250mm average annual rainfall. Since 2017, over 400 water ponds, 25kms of water spreading banks and 50 check-banks have been strategically located to harvest water, nutrients and promote groundcover.

Water ponding banks are 0.5m high and 2.0m at the base and constructed to facilitate ponding of approximately 10cm depth. Soil properties, including SOC, were measured to 0.30m across the rehabilitated areas to quantify improved soil condition. Pasture composition was also assessed to evaluate the impact on plant diversity and ground cover. We present evidence of increased plant diversity, groundcover and SOC stocks (t C ha-1 to 0.30m) with rangeland rehydration techniques. These production and environmental outcomes were achieved through the synergy of pastoralists and rehabilitation experts working together within the overarching EMUTM approach. Our study is part of a bigger program of work aiming to demonstrate that consideration of landscape patterns and processes with appropriately selected rehabilitation techniques can influence large areas by capturing more rain drops, nutrients, and ultimately carbon through plant growth.

 

 

Paul McDonald

Southern Queensland Landscapes Toowoomba, Australia; and University of Queensland

 

‘First Nations and Water’

The non-Aboriginal view of water in Australia is one of water planning, allocation, management and use.  This approach makes little sense to our First Nations Peoples given the importance placed on water in culture, spirit, survival, and the past, present and future.  Water as a commodity is now entrenched in Australian law through the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 and the water legislation of the various State jurisdictions.  Aboriginal People have over 60,000 years of knowledge and understanding of water in Australia and their science and practice around water is worth exploring.  The presentation will work through a general understanding of First Nations Cultures as it applies to water and end with the personal understanding and experience of individuals from several Nations in the Murray Darling Basin.  It will be presented by Adjunct Associate Professor Paul McDonald and Kooma Man, Ross Mitchell.

 

 

Lightning Presentation

 

Jane Tincknell and David Phelps

Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Longreach, Australia

 

‘Pots of hope: Assessing landscape recovery through seedbank viability testing’

Shire drought declarations began across Queensland’s central west region in April 2013, with the region fully drought declared in January 2014. The region has remained drought declared since then. The Mitchell Grass Downs is the predominant bioregion of the area and, as the name suggests, Mitchell grass (Astrebla spp.) is the main grass species. The prolonged dry conditions have severely impacted Mitchell grass tussock health.

Several graziers across the region have expressed concerns about the potential for Mitchell grass pastures to recover when rainfall returns, with some considering sowing Mitchell grass seed as a way of hastening landscape recovery. The aim of this project was to assess the capacity for landscape recovery from existing soil seed banks when favourable growing conditions return.

Using a simple soil core sampling and seed germinating technique, Mitchell grass seedlings grew from soil samples collected at each of the sampling sites indicating there is sufficient seed in the landscape to begin the recovery process.  Once sufficient rainfall is received, landscape recovery could be slow as indicated by the low numbers of seedlings that grew from the samples collected. In addition to the Mitchell grass seedlings, a wide variety of annual grasses and forbs also grew. With appropriate grazing land management, these other pasture species will aid landscape recovery and provide useful stock feed.

Landscape recovery will be predominantly from seed in some situations. If seed reserves are low, a number of successive wet seasons in conjunction with careful grazing management, including wet season spelling, will be required to ensure Mitchell grass seedlings are able to reach maturity.

The authors thank the following people; Jenny Milson and Leanne Hardwick, DAF Longreach and Emily Corbett, DAF Mareeba for their contribution. We are grateful for the property owners allowing samples to be collected.

 

 

Poster Presentation

 

Greg Bath1, Kate Brown1, Col Paton2, Megan Willis1 and Megan Gurnett1

Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, Brisbane1, Townsville and Toowoomba.  2Ecorich Grazing, Goombungee, Australia.

 

‘Stocktake GLM – the App for Grazing Land Management’

Stocktake GLM is the new and improved smart device application that has replaced StocktakePlus for use by land managers and consultants for grazing livestock enterprises including cattle, sheep, and goats. The app steps users through setting up a property to undertake land condition monitoring and forage budgeting. It also securely stores monitoring data and records for comparison over time. Following redevelopment recent additions include up-to-date spatial and land type mapping, pasture growth models and a revised methodology for calculating grazing pressure using adult equivalents.

The updated Adult Equivalent (AE) methodology now accounts for additional components of energy requirements by grazing stock, such as weight gain and energy expended while walking, which were not previously accounted for in StocktakePlus. The methodology thus provides a more accurate measure of grazing pressure on pastures by ruminants. As with past versions Stocktake GLM allows users to compare the number of animals of different weights, classes and species that can be carried in a paddock or property. A simple generic selection list uses the age and class (not weight) to determine an AE rating which is then multiplied by an intake constant. Inherent in the selection is background data that takes into account average regional stock liveweights, weight gains, herd pregnancy status and genetic makeup.

Stocktake GLM is a free decision support tool available for graziers and land managers, backed by a strong technical support team with a new developer and multiple experienced in-field testers. It is available on both Apple and Android platforms with a simple registration. Stocktake workshops are run on demand and provide guidance not only with setting up the app but getting practical experience with establishing monitoring and undertaking a forage budget.