Reef grazing industry development projects

The Reef grazing industry development projects aimed to reduce the impact of runoff from Mackay-Whitsunday cattle properties onto the Great Barrier Reef and consisted of two components:

  1. Conducting an end of dry season Rapid Land Condition Assessment (RLCA)
  2. Developing pasture yield photo-standards for the Mackay-Whitsunday region.

1. End of dry season Rapid Land Condition Assessment (RLCA)

The end of dry season RLCA documented land conditions under different grazing types following on from assessments conducted during the wet season (Jan/Feb 2011). Re-sampling at the end of the dry season, when there is less ground cover, should have better identified erosion risks.

The 221 established sites were re-sampled using the same methods as employed in 2011, with two photos taken of each site, ensuring the same location and field of view as previous shots.

Outcomes from the end of dry season RLCA included:

  1. updated database products, with additional new field data and a photo comparison tool to compare photos taken at the same site on different dates
  2. updated digital mapping products, showing current road networks, site locations, land types and land use
  3. a final report including:
  • a comprehensive analysis and summary of end-of-dry season field results
  • a detailed comparison of original and end-of-dry season field results
  • recommendations for future land condition monitoring in the region.

2. Development of pasture yield photo standards for the Mackay-Whitsunday region

The aim of this component was to evaluate yield variability and produce photo-standards for the six main pasture types in the Mackay-Whitsunday region:

  • Urochloa decumbens (signal grass)
  • Digitaria eriantha (pangola grass)
  • Chloris gayana (Rhodes grass, primarily the Callide strain within this region)
  • Setaria sphacelata cv Kazungula (Kazungula grass)
  • Brachiaria humidicola (Tully grass)
  • Paspalum plicatulum (Rodd’s Bay Plicatulum).

Developing specific photo-standards for the Mackay-Whitsunday region enabled:

  • better identification of pasture yield in relation to height, density and dry matter content
  • increased knowledge of 3P grasses and how they differ in yield
  • better assessment of pasture yield for stocking rate and carrying capacity estimations
  • producers to better assess pasture quantity and quality as the season progresses.

Outcomes from developing pasture yield photo-standards for the Mackay-Whitsunday region included a digital booklet of photos, associated yields and appropriate instruction material. These are available to producers, extension officers and participants in activities such as Stocktake and GLM workshops.

When: 1 September 2011 to 30 June 2013

Where: Queensland, Mackay-Whitsunday region

Contact: Michael Sullivan E:

Collaborators: Reef Catchments NRM Group (Mackay-Whitsunday region) and Department of Agriculture and Fisheries

More information

For more details, please download the final report (PDF 1.4 MB).

Reef Rescue was part of the Australian Government’s Caring for our Country program and projects were conducted in partnership with regional NRM groups in the catchments bordering the Great Barrier Reef.

Learn about pasture photo-standards.

Find out about Stocktake workshops and Grazing Land Management EDGE workshops.