GrazingFutures will support the resilience of grazing businesses by assisting graziers recover from the current drought and educate them to be better equipped to prepare and manage future droughts and business conditions. Grazing businesses will be better informed to manage drought times as an every-day part of their business. The Western Queensland grazing industry contributes significantly to regional economies, and thus, when the industry is profitable, then regional communities generally perform well. In short, resilient grazing businesses contribute to resilient communities.

The project team will work with grazing businesses recognising that, as landholders, they are custodians of their land. Through best practice extension the project team will support grazing businesses to identify where they need to improve, work with them to grow their knowledge and skills and assist them implement improvements. GrazingFutures will develop graziers’ skills through the best available science and provide opportunities for graziers to share their industry knowledge and experience.

GrazingFutures will partner to provide project leadership across all areas of Western Queensland to better integrate grazing extension. The project is built on collaboration and enhanced alignment across organisations, Regional NRM groups, AgForce and industry. GrazingFutures provides a coherent plan to more effectively share resources and better target the support provided to the grazing industry. It is built on measuring and understanding the impact the project has and where necessary, refine what, and how, we deliver. As a consequence of the additional investment and collaboration, GrazingFutures will help build the capacity of agricultural advisors across the region.

Partnership, collaboration and investment

GrazingFutures will adapt the highly successful industry-led, Grazing Best Management Practices (BMP) program and partner with AgForce, Natural Resource Management (NRM) Groups, FutureBeef, Leading Sheep and the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS). The project also links with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) and a range of mental health programs. All five regional NRM groups across the project area have agreed to partner with DAF in the GrazingFutures project together with the industry organisation AgForce. This partnership and collaboration is unheralded across this significant rangeland region of Queensland.

Funding for GrazingFutures has been allocated from the five-year Drought and Climate Adaption Program (DCAP) which is a component of the Queensland Government’s Rural Assistance and Drought Package. The DCAP policy has identified:

  • Farm business assistance should be aimed at improving drought preparedness through training and decision support tools;
  • There is assistance to improve risk management and drought preparedness; and
  • The Qld Climate Adaptation Strategy seeks to address risks to the economy, environment, infrastructure and communities from current and future climate impacts.

A significant strength of this project is that it is producer-centred and operates within the comprehensive framework of Grazing BMP, providing a very sound basis for collaboration. Whilst the project is currently funded by DCAP there is the opportunity for other investment in the project and alignment of additional programs. This would build on the existing collaboration, deliver additional outcomes in parallel and provide the efficiencies of an established project and partner relationships. Further, as well as building the knowledge and skills of grazing businesses GrazingFutures is, in a structured manner, building the skills of project staff, which may further support practice change and drought resilience in the grazing community of Western Queensland.

Project objectives

  1. Prioritise the delivery of workshops, training and targeted support within the themes of people and business, grazing land management and animal production based on verifiable industry needs, data and regional drought conditions.
  2. Support grazing businesses in western Queensland to improve business resilience, drought recovery and future drought preparedness.
  3. Improve the skills and capability of grazing industry support officers from both the public and private sectors to facilitate improvement in business resilience, drought recovery and future drought preparedness of grazing businesses in western Queensland.
  4. Partner with government, non-government agencies and other partners to deliver comprehensive support to grazing businesses and value add to existing services.
  5. Analyse and document key learnings from grazing businesses adopting objective measurement to enhance drought recovery, increase future drought preparedness and plan for other business risks.

When: 1 January 2016 to 31 January 2021

Contact: Joe Rolfe, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

Collaborators: AgForce, Natural Resource Management Groups, FutureBeef, Leading Sheep and the Rural Financial Counselling Service.

Case study: Lara Downs

Colin Burnett of Lara Downs, north of Julia Creek, attended a GrazingFutures-NextGen Nutrition and Grazing workshop in February 2017. He subsequently joined the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries led SavannaPlan-BeefSense NextGen mentoring program which focused on improving industry knowledge and confidence in managing grass, people and finances. These experiences led him to successfully apply for, and complete, a Nuffield Scholarship (How the north west Queensland beef industry can survive and prosper (PDF, 1.2 MB)) in 2019.

In June 2019, Colin sat down with Cloncurry Beef Extension Officer, Lindsey Perry, to discuss the operation and thinking at Lara Downs. The Nuffield experience, particularly the New Zealand leg, impressed on Colin the importance of maintaining land, herd, people and finance banks. In the Lara Downs Station Case Study (PDF, 1.5 MB) Colin provides notes about each of these aspects of a grazing enterprise.

Case study: Mulga – your stock, your supplement – with Clynt Johnstone

Clynt Johnstone attended the Mulga and Nutrition Workshop in Cooladdi in 2017. Clynt changed his supplement ration to improve cost effectiveness and productivity through growth rates in weaners and reproduction rates in breeders using the knowledge and networks he gained from attending. He sees the importance of understanding the nutritional requirements of his stock, matching it with the feed available and targeting nutritional deficits to maximise production. Read more about what Clynt learnt and the changes he made in this case study (PDF, 560KB).

Case study: “Hope is not a plan” – with Russell and Donna Lethbridge

Russell and Donna Lethbridge of Werrington Station has shown that operating a grazing system that mitigates the risk of climate variability does not need to be complex, however it does need to have room for “buffers”. To create this flexibility within his grazing business, Russell has made a number of changes over the years to his management practices that has not only increased the business’ productivity, but also decreased the breeder mortality rate from 5% to 0.5%. To read more about the management strategies used to achieve this result, download the Werrington Station case study (PDF, 2 MB).

2017 summer rainfall outlook with Roger Stone

In this webinar Professor Roger Stone (USQ) discusses the outlook for the upcoming 2017 wet season for the Queensland Central West in particular, and the factors affecting the general predictions and outlooks across Queensland.