Sustainable rangeland management programs

Activities within the Sustainable Rangeland Management Program are carried out within four sub-program areas:

Grazing management

The prime interest of the department in rangelands lies with its ability to support sustained production of animal product.

Optimising carrying capacity and animal performance are clearly important areas of endeavour.

On the other hand, inappropriate grazing practice may be detrimental to rangeland stability, future productivity, and community support. There is a bi-directional interaction between pastures and grazing animals.

Sustainable production systems are those that are based upon an understanding of this interaction and how to manage it to the benefit of the enterprise, and to the satisfaction of the community.

Current research being carried out in this area includes:

  • Pigeon Hole project that is testing the effect of different utilisation levels (15-40%) of black soil pastures on rangeland condition
  • risk management tools that aim to improve ease of stocking and carrying capacity decisions.
  • rotational grazing evaluation at Newcastle waters
  • carrying capacity calculator development.

Fire and woody vegetation management

The role of fire in sustaining ecological states that are pastorally productive is now well recognised.

Little is known about the specific effects on each rangeland community, or how to integrate its use into practical pastoral management.

This sub-program covers investigations into the effects of fire on the ecology and pastoral productivity of rangeland, communication of the results, and the integration of this knowledge into pastoral management.

Current research projects being carried out to investigate the relationship between fire and the rangelands include:

  • barkly burning trial investigating the effects of fire frequency on pasture quality
  • collaborative bushfire training and burning trial
  • effect on fire on Mitchell grass tiller production
  • shrub burn that is investigating the effect of trees on pasture production.

Rangeland pasture production

The profitability and productivity of the Northern Territory grazing industries is intimately dependent upon the productivity and stability of the pastures that it utilises. There are factors that diminish this productivity such as invasion by trees and shrubs, and there are opportunities for greater productivity by husbandry that will favour desirable species.

Research projects relating to rangeland pasture production includes treegrass, which investigates the effect of trees on pasture production

Management and support

The management of native rangelands is extremely important in preserving the continuation of pastoral production and the diverse range of flora and fauna. The Primary Industries group assists land managers and their staff through providing information and technical support relating to the sustainable production within their enterprises. Extension activities can be catered to the requests of individual stations and complement the short courses offered which include:

  • Barkly rangeland management course
  • Victoria River district rangeland management course.

Barkly herd management course 

In remote areas such as the Barkly Tableland region of the Northern Territory, it is difficult for station staff to obtain sufficient training and skills, which is essential for retaining staff and maximising the profitability and productivity of the region’s beef industry.

As attracting and retaining staff is already a significant issue in the Australian agricultural industry, it is important that those who do opt for pastoral industry careers are given ample opportunity to develop their knowledge base and understand the basic practices that underpin a profitable enterprise.  It is for this reason that the department holds a biennial Barkly herd management course that has been running since 2002.

The course allows middle management such as head stockmen, overseers and assistant managers (and possibly managers) to interact with experts in various fields and learn from each other as to the best management practices for the Barkly region. The forum runs for two to three days and is usually run over two stations on the Barkly. 

Topics are varied from forum to forum to ensure returning participants are given new information. Topics may include staff retention, grazing land management, sustainable intensification, reproduction, woody weeds, bull selection, animal welfare, heifer management, correct procedure techniques (dehorning and castration) and benchmarking and its importance to the profitability of a beef business. 

At every forum department staff provide participants with an understanding of the implications of current Northern Territory research results. Presenters are urged to ensure sessions are interactive and provide key take home messages, ideas and strategies that each participant can implement in their own situation.

Barkly rangeland management course

Cattle stations throughout the Barkly region are using the Barkly rangeland management course as a component of their training and education package.

The package is designed to allow individual stations to tailor the course to suit their needs and interests.
To ensure that each course has a local flavour, much of the information presented is based on district research and experience, using a selection of presenters to cover a range of topics.

A variety of practical activities are undertaken. Plant identification, weed management, and pasture monitoring are some of the practical exercises.

Animal nutrition is a major issue for cattle production. This aspect of the course links the pasture condition to animal performance and herd management.

The purpose and practise of pasture monitoring is used by many of the district stations as part of their rangeland management. Participants are given a combination of theory and practical sessions over the duration of the course. The classroom sessions provide an introduction for the group activities undertaken in the paddock.
Topics covered in this course include:

  • pasture identification
  • pasture dynamics and management
  • pasture monitoring
  • fire management
  • poisonous plants
  • weed management
  • cattle nutrition management.

Last updated: 27 March 2018