Brian Pastures Research Facility

Situated in the North Burnett region of Queensland, located approximately 18km SE of Gayndah, Brian Pastures Research Facility is a 2140 hectare property owned by AgForce and leased and operated by Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF).

The facility receives an annual average rainfall of 710mm, with 70% of this falling between October and March.

A depiction of the landscape from 1965 describes Brian Pastures with:

‘Bloodwoods and ironbarks are the main trees on the ridges, which are dominated by Black speargrass. On the flats, Bluegums are frequent and forest bluegrass is an important associate of speargrass’.  

Today Brian Pastures has a rich mixture of improved pastures and legumes that has significantly increased carrying capacity, along with leucaena paddocks and cultivation under irrigation.

The landtypes on the facility vary from Ironbark on granite to loamy alluvials. The range of these land types has provided opportunity for a wealth of research applicable to many regions of Queensland.


A rich history…

By Queensland standards, Brian Pastures is an old property. It comprises of country originally selected by Humphreys and Hubert in 1845 and ran sheep until it was found that Black speargrass was detrimental to both wool production, welfare and meat quality.

The Australian Meat Board purchased Brian Pastures in 1952 for pasture research and the management was vested in the Queensland Department of Primary Industries. The main objective of the facility was to explore various means of increasing beef production through improved nutrition and husbandry, principally through pasture improvement.

The facility was initially stocked with Herefords, with a cross breeding program started in the mid 1970’s to produce a Sahiwal cross. In 1987 Brahman bulls were introduced from Belmont Research Station near Rockhampton to increase Bos indicus content in the herd. Today the highly recorded research herd comprises predominately of Brahman, Droughtmaster and Santa Gertrudis breeds.

By 1988 almost 300 research and development projects had been undertaken at Brian Pastures.

… of research contributing to the development of Queensland’s beef industry

Brian Pastures has been iconic in its contribution to pastures and beef research in Queensland. The first recorded project on Brian Pastures involved replacing native pastures with sown species and lucerne.

By 1959, research was in full swing including projects on:

  • Establishment and management of legumes in native pastures
  • Sown pasture and species performance
  • Fodder crops (e.g. depth and time of sowing of Cowpea)
  • Fertilisers and plant nutrition/ physiology
  • Stylo seed harvesting
  • Timber control (some of the first trials using the Tordon® axe)
  • Cattle husbandry (early weaning, eye pigmentation and cancer, timing of calving)

Around 250 legumes and 300 grasses were evaluated between 1954 and 1970. Research at Brian Pastures pioneered the use of leucaena and incorporating stylos for pasture improvement. Many producers followed the Brian Pastures lead in sown pasture development in the 1950s and 60s.

The facility has some of the oldest known plantings of leucaena in Queensland. The initial plantings of the Cunningham variety were sown in 1975, right through to the Tarrambah variety being sown in 2000. In total there is over 122ha of leucaena being utilised on Brian Pastures.

These early leucaena establishments in the Burnett region used the concept of small, fenced areas with 3m row spacing planted on the higher quality soils to act as a protein bank for cattle when native pastures are deficient in protein. Lessons learnt have contributed to current Leucaena establishment recommendations of planting at wider row spacing and planting across the paddock.

More information on leucaena establishment and management can be found HERE.

Weather data was recorded daily by staff from 1954 up until 2012 and submitted to the Bureau of Meteorology.



A living laboratory

The facility is continuing to build on this proud legacy of research and with future project plans evolving to address the critical RD&E questions that face industry in the present day and for the future. This includes demonstration and extension activities for industry, such as the successful biannual Brian Pasture Field Days.

The research facility today has the ability to conduct research on both native and sown pastures, incorporate the use of Ag Tech with improved connectivity, and to investigate feed and supplement responses in a 44 individual pen feedlot complex (as shown in the above image).

Research projects currently underway include:

This project aims to quantify the productivity and ecosystems services of silvopastoral systems (SPS), with dual management of livestock and trees as a pathway to became carbon neutral by 2030 (CN30).

Two experiments have been established at Brian Pastures with the aim of evaluating:

  • Silvopastoral systems with hardwood species vs open pastures (SPS 2)
  • Silvopastoral systems with leucaena + timber trees + pasture (SPS 3)

While SPS 2 compares the establishment of grazing systems with trees planted and open pastures, SPS 3 aims to investigate options for planting hardwood trees within existing and new leucaena plantings.

Tree corridors in SPS 2 will be excluded from cattle until the trees are large enough to withstand grazing pressure (approx. 3 years after planting)

For more information about this project, including results so far head on over to the Steak ‘n Wood project page.

A pasture dieback trial commenced in 2018 on Brian Pastures. The paddock selected for this trial was severely affected by dieback in 2017/18. There are 13 different treatment regimes being trialled to determine their impact upon dieback and suitability for prevention/ regeneration efforts.

Initially the trial was to operate over a three-year period, however extended funding has allowed continuation of the project for up to 10 years.


  1. Identify possible causal agents of dieback in sown pastures on Brian Pastures
  2. Evaluate techniques that might halt or restrict the dieback during the early stages
  3. Evaluate techniques that restore pasture productivity
  4. Map the extent of dieback and its spread over time

Head over to the QPRP page for more information about this Queensland wide project.

The Repronomics project utilises the facility’s highly recorded multi-breed herd to record female fertility traits to enhance of the accuracy of the linked EBVs.

In 2001 the Beef CRC began recording data on Brian Pastures and continued until 2011. The Repronomics project built on this work through the development of Phase 1 (Accelerated genetic improvement of reproduction in tropical beef breeds) which ran from 2014-2019 and subsequently Phase 2 (Building and delivering effective genomic selection for northern Australian cattle) which continued onsite until June 2024.

On average there were 720 females and 15 sires within the project.

In 2024 the Repronomics project is under negotiation concerning a potential further phase and a transition to an industry funded and run reference herd.

For more information on the Repronomics project head on over to the NT Repronomics project page.

These long-term pasture growth sites were established in 1986. They are the longest reported continuous series of pasture growth measurements of subtropical native pastures in Australia and possibly the southern hemisphere.

The objective of the SWIFTSYND methodology is to generate relationships that can be modelled to simulate pasture growth at a site through the climate cycles. This data is used to calibrate information for the pasture growth model know as GRASP, which feeds into the FORAGE reports you can access from The Long Paddock website.