Best practice for graziers in the Reef catchments

Queensland graziers are continuing to adopt many land management practices that reduce soil erosion and improve pasture in the Reef catchments.

Use our industry-specific information and links below to keep informed about the latest research and land management practices in sustainable grazing.

Our extension officers can help you:

  • analyse your land and pasture and develop a land management plan for your property
  • implement grazing systems that are profitable and productive
  • reduce nutrient and sediment run-off into local waterways and the Reef
  • connect to industry specialists
  • find out about the latest research and AgTech.

Sustainable pasture and grazing management

Good grazing and pasture management is vital if you graze livestock and want to keep your land productive.

Practising moderate and variable stocking rates can be sustainable and profitable. Overstocking can cause pasture degradation and soil erosion, which increases financial loss and impacts on business profitability.

Spelling, to destock a paddock completely, or reducing stock numbers, is part of sustainable pasture management. Removing cattle during the growing season (wet season spelling), supported by safe stocking rates, can help restore degraded paddocks and increase animal productivity.

A long-term grazing trial at Wambiana Station near Charters Towers found heavy stocking rates:

  • made the least profit and caused degradation of pastures
  • increased run-off and sediment loss, compared to using improved grazing management strategies.

Meat & Livestock Australia provide information about running a sustainable grazing business, and FutureBeef has guidelines for grazing land management.

Erosion and sediment management

Reducing sediment run-off and gully and streambank remediation are important for sustainable grazing.

Cattle movements, poor vegetation and changes to drainage lines contribute to the formation of gullies.

Gully erosion was monitored during a trial in the Burdekin range land. Tracking showed most erosion occurred at the gully headcuts rather than elsewhere in the gully.

A study on the effects of grazing on gully erosion rates in the Upper Burdekin catchment found these strategies reduce gully erosion rates:

  • fencing off gullies and limiting grazing in these areas
  • maintaining a thick cover of native tussock grasses with a large basal area and perennial shrubs in and around gullies and their drainage areas to reduce run-off
  • keeping stocking rates within sustainable levels. Use 10–30% of the forage at the end of the growing season
  • prioritising gullied paddocks for wet-season spelling at least every second year to maintain the perennial composition of pastures
  • seeding with a mix of native perennial grasses to assist gully revegetation, if conditions are suitable. Exotic grasses tend to have less effect on soil surface condition.

Improving grazing resilience and adopting sustainable solutions

The Grazing Resilience and Sustainable Solutions (GRASS) program supports graziers in the Burdekin, Fitzroy and Burnett Mary regions. The program focuses on improving land in poor condition and can help you create an action plan for land management.

You're encouraged to participate if your land has areas that are poor (C) and degraded (D) within the Reef catchments.

Apply for the GRASS program by phoning the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF) on 13 25 23, or by contacting your local participating Natural Resource Management (NRM) group or DAF extension officer.

The GRASS program is funded through the Queensland Government's Reef Water Quality Program and delivered by DAF, the Burnett Mary Regional Group, the Fitzroy Basin Association and NQ Dry Tropics.

Information hub on best practice for graziers – FutureBeef

FutureBeef is an information hub supporting extension services and sharing information about grazing productivity and sustainability.

A joint project between government and industry, FutureBeef provides:

  • the latest research results on best management practices
  • access to knowledge, skills and expertise
  • information on improving your profitability together with your land condition and animal welfare.

Australian Beef Sustainability Framework

Sustainable beef production is defined by the Australian Beef Sustainability Framework, which tracks how industry is performing over a series of indicators each year.

The framework was developed in 2017 by the Australian beef industry to meet the changing expectations of customers, investors and other stakeholders.

Case study: Keeping cattle out of riparian zones

Read about Canal Creek graziers who were able to protect and improve creek systems with help from the Grazing Resilience and Sustainable Solutions (GRASS) program funding.

Other case studies showcase how managing grazing in and around wetlands can benefit both the business and environment, including:

Grazing industry videos

Watch these videos for graziers.

Watch more videos on grazing from FutureBeef and Meat & Livestock Australia (MLA).