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Managing Climatic Variability in Queensland’s Grazing Lands — New Approaches

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Jonston, P., McKeon, G.M., Buxton, R., Cobon, D., Day, K., Hall, W. B. and Scanlan, J. C. (2000) Managing Climatic Variability in Queensland’s Grazing Lands — New Approaches. In: Applications of Seasonal Climate Forecasting in Agricultural and Natural Ecosystems. Atmospheric and Oceanographic Sciences Library (21). Springer. ISBN 978-0-7923-6270-8

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The grazing industries based on beef cattle and sheep are the major land use by area in Queensland, occupying greater than 80% of the State and contributing over 30% of total value of agricultural products in terms of meat, live animals and wool. Animals feed mostly on native and sown perennial grass pastures growing across a range of climates, soils and vegetation types. At both a location and regional scale, year-to-year variability in rainfall and other climatic variables is high, with the El Nino/Southern Oscillation phenomenon as a major cause.

Preliminary studies on the use of seasonal climate forecasting indicate potential for better management decisions such as —

(a) herd management by forecasting rates of reproduction and mortalities, and

(b) pasture management by improved use of pasture burning, improved legume establishment and assessing risks of overgrazing.

The management of stocking rate in Queensland’s variable climate is very important for the profitability and sustainability of grazing enterprises. Current approaches to achieve both goals include using —

- ‘safe’ carrying capacity, which is based on low levels of utilisation of pasture growth on average

- flexible grazing management, which involves changing animal numbers each year at the end of the growing season

- tactical grazing management, which involves rapid rotation of stock through a large number of paddocks as in ‘time controlled grazing’, and

- ‘tactical rest’, which involves rules for seasonal changes in stocking rate based on condition of perennial grasses.

Current research and experience with these approaches is described and the possible role of seasonal climate forecasting discussed.

Item Type:Book Section
Subjects:Agriculture > Agriculture (General) > Agricultural meteorology. Crops and climate
Live Archive:05 Jan 2024 00:43
Last Modified:05 Jan 2024 00:43

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