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Defining and predicting the 'break of the season' for north-east Queensland grazing areas

Balston, J. and English, B. (2009) Defining and predicting the 'break of the season' for north-east Queensland grazing areas. Rangeland Journal, 31 (1). pp. 151-159.

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Publisher URL: http://www.publish.csiro.au/

Abstract

For pasture growth in the semi-arid tropics of north-east Australia, where up to 80% of annual rainfall occurs between December and March, the timing and distribution of rainfall events is often more important than the total amount. In particular, the timing of the 'green break of the season' (GBOS) at the end of the dry season, when new pasture growth becomes available as forage and a live-weight gain is measured in cattle, affects several important management decisions that prevent overgrazing and pasture degradation. Currently, beef producers in the region use a GBOS rule based on rainfall (e. g. 40mm of rain over three days by 1 December) to define the event and make their management decisions. A survey of 16 beef producers in north-east Queensland shows three quarters of respondents use a rainfall amount that occurs in only half or less than half of all years at their location. In addition, only half the producers expect the GBOS to occur within two weeks of the median date calculated by the CSIRO plant growth days model GRIM. This result suggests that in the producer rules, either the rainfall quantity or the period of time over which the rain is expected, is unrealistic. Despite only 37% of beef producers indicating that they use a southern oscillation index (SOI) forecast in their decisions, cross validated LEPS (linear error in probability space) analyses showed both the average 3 month July-September SOI and the 2 month August-September SOI have significant forecast skill in predicting the probability of both the amount of wet season rainfall and the timing of the GBOS. The communication and implementation of a rigorous and realistic definition of the GBOS, and the likely impacts of anthropogenic climate change on the region are discussed in the context of the sustainable management of northern Australian rangelands.

Item Type:Article
Additional Information:© Australian Rangeland Society.
Keywords:Climate; forecasting; management; sustainable; beef cattle production; Southern Oscillation Index (SOI); tropical Australia; liveweight change.
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural meteorology. Crops and climate
Animal culture > Rangelands. Range management. Grazing
Animal culture > Cattle
Deposited On:04 Jun 2009 02:09
Last Modified:16 Nov 2010 06:20

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