A Special Issue of The Rangeland Journal has recently been released focussing on ‘Managing drought and improving business resilience in Australian rangelands’.  This collection of 10 papers has been published as Volume 43 Numbers 2 & 3 2021.  Abstracts and links to each paper are given below.

Guest Editors
Fiona McCartney (QLD Department of Environment and Science)
Lindsey Perry (QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)
Giselle Whish (QLD Department of Agriculture and Fisheries)
Jacqui Willcocks (QLD Department of Environment and Science)
Andrew Ash (AJ Ash and Associates)





Managing drought in Australian rangelands through collaborative research and industry adoption

J. Willcocks, A. Ash, G. Whish and N. Cliffe


Achieving drought resilience in the grazing lands of northern Australia: preparing, responding and recovering

M.K. Bowen and F. Chudleigh

Achieving drought resilience in the grazing lands of northern Australia requires emphasis on drought preparation, in addition to appropriate action in response and recovery phases of drought. We describe a farm-management economics framework to inform decision making as an approach to enable more profitable and drought resilient extensive livestock production systems across northern Australia. Key to this approach is increasing the adoption of strategies that enhance drought preparedness.


From National Drought Policy to National Drought Agreement: the evolution of Australia’s drought response

Linda Courtenay Botterill

This paper discusses the evolution of Australia’s National Drought Policy from 1992 to 2020. It highlights the consistency in both the objectives of the policy and the only partial success in achieving those objectives. This arises from the tension between the political imperative to respond during drought events and the desire to promote self-reliance and drought preparedness among farmers.


Northern Australia Climate Program: supporting adaptation in rangeland grazing systems through more targeted climate forecasts, improved drought information and an innovative extension program

David Cobon, Chelsea Jarvis, Kate Reardon-Smith, Laura Guillory, Christa Pudmenzky, Thong Nguyen-Huy, Shahbaz Mushtaq and Roger Stone

The Northern Australia Climate Program (NACP) is a fully integrated research, development, and extension (RDandE) program operating across extensive pastoral regions of northern Australia. The NACP aims to improve existing climate models and forecast tools, develop new products to meet user needs and build the capacity of rangeland producers to manage the challenges posed by droughts (or failed wet seasons) and climate variability. The program is contributing to positive outcomes in terms of awareness and knowledge of climate forecasting and products, and their adoption and use in decision making (i.e. practice change).


Building cultural capital in drought adaptation: lessons from discourse analysis

Gillian Paxton

The transition towards greater drought adaptiveness will demand cultural shifts in the way that drought is defined and approached as an issue facing primary producers. This paper presents the results of a discourse analysis of media and government accounts which found two different ways of framing drought and its management in Queensland agriculture. Lessons for building the cultural salience of drought preparation and adaptation is discussed.


Mapping drought declaration areas from 1936 to 1964 for Queensland, Australia

S.A. Irvine

Maps showing drought declared areas in Queensland, Australia, have been an important communication tool. Drought declaration maps are helpful for studying historical droughts and related studies. There were no official maps of drought areas of Queensland before 1964. Historical railway documents describe drought locations because railways were a key part of drought support. Geographical methods were used to reconstruct maps of drought areas to 1936. The new maps then allowed for an estimation to size of the area of drought in Queensland from 1936 to the present day.


Queensland’s multi-year Wet and Dry periods: implications for grazing enterprises and pasture resources

G. McKeon, G. Stone, D. Ahrens, J. Carter, D. Cobon, S. Irvine and J. Syktus

Year-to-year variability in rainfall is recognised as a major issue in managing grazing enterprises across Australia’s grazing lands. ‘Queensland’s multi-year Wet and Dry periods: implications for grazing enterprises and pasture resources’ describes the process of classification, the relationships to known ‘remote climate forcings’, and some of the implications of multi-year Wet and Dry periods. This new understanding will be used as support for extension products (i.e. Wet and Dry period rainfall posters) to guide grazing land management for Queensland grazing properties.


An online system for calculating and delivering long-term carrying capacity information for Queensland grazing properties. Part 1: background and development

G. Stone, B. Zhang, J. Carter, G. Fraser, G. Whish, C. Paton and G. McKeon

This paper reviews previous approaches in calculating long-term carrying capacity (LTCC) of livestock in Queensland, Australia during the 1990s and 2000s. Components of the successful south-western Queensland implementation are examined, along with subsequent Grazing Land Management workshops conducted across Queensland over the past two decades. A new online system is described (The FORAGE Longterm Carrying Capacity Report), along with processes, inputs and outputs and how the key components required for successful implementation are currently delivered and can be improved.


An online system for calculating and delivering long-term carrying capacity information for Queensland grazing properties. Part 2: modelling and outputs

B. Zhang, G. Fraser, J. Carter, G. Stone, S. Irvine, G. Whish, J. Willcocks and G. McKeon

This paper describes the methods used in calculating and verifying LTCC in FORAGE and the modelling outputs for the LTCC report. The LTCC information obtained from the FORAGE system can be used as a starting point for discussion on grazing land management. A request for a LTCC report can be submitted from the Long Paddock/FORAGE website; the report is emailed back to the user when it is completed by the FORAGE system.


GrazingFutures: learnings from a contemporary collaborative extension program in rangeland communities of western Queensland, Australia

Joe Rolfe, Lindsey Perry, Peter Long, Caitlyn Frazer, Terry Beutel, Jane Tincknell and David Phelps

Reliance on drought subsidies instead of agile grazier response in low rainfall years prompted Queensland government investment in promoting business and drought resilience. The GrazingFutures extension project focuses on enhancing business management skills of extensive livestock producers in western Queensland, Australia. The region’s rangelands, span 1million km2 and are managed by graziers operating more than 2,400 livestock businesses are in productivity decline. GrazingFutures promotes practice change within grazing land management, animal production and people-business.