Resting pastures lifts profit

29 Jun, 2006 07:00 PM
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WA pastoralists heard how tactical resting from grazing can improve natural pastures and at the same time, significantly improve sheep productivity and profitability at two MLA Pastoral Prime Time forums held in the state's north last week.

CSIRO research fellow Ken Hodgkinson helped producers to identify the early warning signs that a natural pasture was about to collapse from too much grazing.

"Pastoralists can improve their business by recognising danger times for natural pastures and adapting their stock management to prevent adverse change," Dr Hodgkinson said.

"It's clear cut, it's got to do with the amount of rainfall that is occurring and grazing pressure."

Dr Hodgkinson talked about "death traps" for perennial grasses.

These come about if pastoralists graze their grasses too hard in the good times, and then when the inevitable drought occurs, they quickly die.

He explained that there are times when grazing needs to be significantly reduced to stop entering into that death trap phase.

"If perennial grasses go, you open up the natural vegetation to woody weed invasion and invasion of unpalatable grasses that lower animal production and sustainability of the system," he said.

"Modelling shows that profitability of resting during death trap times and how it pays dividends for sheep production."

MLA is hosting five MLA Pastoral Prime Time forums throughout the pastoral zones of WA, NSW, South Australia and Queensland.

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