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Importance of land condition in grazing and pasture management

Land condition is the capacity of land to respond to rain and produce useful pasture. The 3 components of land condition are:

  1. soil condition
  2. pasture condition
  3. woodland condition (where trees and pasture coexist).

1. Soil condition

Where soil condition is good, the soil:

  • absorbs and stores rainwater
  • stores and cycles nutrients
  • provides habitat for seed germination and plant growth
  • resists erosion.

You can measure the condition of soil by the condition of the soil surface - look for any evidence of erosion. Other indicators of soil condition include the amount of ground cover and rainwater infiltration rate.

2. Pasture condition

Where pasture condition is good, pasture:

  • captures solar energy
  • uses rainwater efficiently
  • conserves soil condition
  • cycles nutrients.

You can measure the pasture condition by the pasture composition, density and health of 3P (perennial, palatable and productive) grasses.

3. Woodland condition

Where woodland condition is good, woodland is able to:

  • grow pasture
  • cycle nutrients
  • regulate groundwater.

You can measure the woodland condition by the balance of woody plants and pasture in different land types and at different locations in the property or surrounding area.

Land degradation

Grazing land can become degraded through poor management, high total grazing pressure and extreme weather events. The land can:

  • produce poor quality pasture
  • lose its ability to grow and sustain pasture
  • become eroded by wind or water
  • become invaded by weeds
  • have high salt content in the soil.

Land degradation may be irreversible or expensive to rehabilitate, and has a major impact on the biodiversity and productivity of the land.

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