Richard Marver, Contour Environmental and Agricultural Consulting and CHRRUP Project Officer Sara Jeppesen at Winvic Station near Kilcummin.

PLANNING PAUSE… taking a break from surveying at Red Hill Station are (from left) NQ Dry Tropics Senior Project Officer Jaymie Rains, Dalrymple Landcare Committee’s Heather Jonsson, grazier Kylie Stretton and Contour and Agricultural Consultant’s Richard Marver.

Burdekin property planning takes a front seat

IT was Benjamin Franklin who said: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail”.

Eight Burdekin extension officers on a learning journey to support graziers develop land-based property management plans focused on water quality and ecology are definitely planning to succeed.

The program is a joint initiative of the Queensland Government’s Enhanced Extension Coordination project and the Reefwise Grazing of Burdekin Rangelands project which is funded by the partnership between the Australian Government’s Reef Trust and the Great Barrier Reef Foundation.

NQ Dry Tropics’ Enhanced Extension Coordinator for Burdekin grazing, Sharon Cunial said the program aimed to spread knowledge and capabilities through extension channels in the Burdekin.

“We’re supporting graziers to bring the future to the present,” she said.

“A desktop review of climate data and spatial government information, coupled with a property visit to document graziers’ knowledge, priorities and concerns, contributes to developing a plan and a poster to help guide future land management decisions.”

Based on published ecological theories and principles, the process is extensively used in the rangelands of Western Australia.

Extension officers from NQ Dry Tropics, CHRRUP and Dalrymple Landcare Committee were guided through the process by Richard Marver from Contour Environmental and Agricultural Consulting.

Recently, extension officers rolled out pilot plans for three grazing families from Hervey Range, Charters Towers and Clermont.

Kylie and Shane Stretton, from Red Hill Station on the Burdekin River, were very positive about the process.

“We take our responsibility and the privilege of being stewards for this land very seriously,” Ms Stretton said.

“The planning process allowed us to speak honestly about our grazing and land management, biodiversity protection, pests, rainfall utilisation, property development, forage budgeting and land condition.

“It allowed us to walk the paddocks of Red Hill, discuss issues around soil health, erosion management and pest control, and come up with a prioritised wish-list of what we would like to see happen here to manage grazing into the next inevitable drought.”

The Marks family, from Winvic Station near Kilcummin, also participated in the process.

“The planning process with CHRRUP and NQ Dry Tropics was great,” Alice Marks said.

“We were able to put our visions and goals we’ve only had in our heads onto paper in a priority order.

“It was great to be in control of the process, and have the technical support sitting at our kitchen table as we went along.

“It surprised me how quickly we covered a five-year development plan that should help increase productivity while looking after our soils and grasslands.”

NQ Dry Tropics Senior Field Officer with the Reefwise Grazing of Burdekin Rangelands project Linda Anderson expected the process to produce an holistic land management plan that would support graziers’ compliance with the recently introduced reef regulations.

“It is critically important to have documented plans to deal with degraded paddock areas,” Ms Anderson said.

“However we need to keep the whole of business in perspective, and this process incorporates the wider picture for which graziers are managing.”

She hopes the property planning services may, in the future, be available more widely to Burdekin district graziers.

NQ Dry Tropics Senior Field Officer with the Reefwise Grazing of Burdekin Rangelands project Linda Anderson (left) with Heather Johnsson from the Dalrymple Landcare Committee.