Improving the quality of pastures

Quality and quantity of pasture are both important for grazing livestock.

Pasture provides livestock with nutrition, vitamins, minerals and trace elements. These all support animal health and productivity.

The best ways to improve pasture quality will depend on the land type and climate.

Common methods include:

Pasture growth

Pasture growth is affected by:

  • rainfall
  • ground cover
  • soil type and condition
  • evaporation
  • slope and tree cover
  • long-term weather.

Overgrazing occurs when too many animals are grazed on a pasture or there is prolonged grazing. Grazing frequency and intensity should be managed to maintain healthy pasture.

Soil health

Better quality soil leads to better quality pasture. Soil fertility affects protein levels in pasture.

Nitrogen is the major limitation to grass growth. Phosphorus is the most common limitation to legume growth.

Other factors include levels of:

  • organic matter available (providing plant nutrients and helping to bind soil for better water infiltration)
  • pasture cover.

Monitoring pasture condition

Monitor your pasture condition regularly so you can see changes early. Change your grazing or pasture management to stop your pasture condition from getting worse.

Monitoring includes photographing and inspecting paddocks annually to check pasture composition, condition and yield. Document this information so you can compare with previous seasons.

Monitoring tools can help you make decisions about pasture and grazing management on your property.

  • VegMachine software uses satellite images to help you track changes in landscape cover over time and identify the best places to build fences to manage grazing pressure.
  • Pasture photo-standards can help you determine how much pasture is on your land, and manage grazing and pasture accordingly.
  • Pasture Growth Alert report provides an assessment of pasture growth and resilience risk of your property, to help you in your stock and property management decisions.
  • Near Infrared Reflectance Spectroscopy (NIRS) technology helps you to assess the diet of livestock and understand the change in pasture nutrition.